5 Reasons to Add New Zealand to Your Bucket List
There’s a reason why visiting New Zealand needs to be at the top of your bucket list: jaw-dropping gorgeousness is just the tip of the iceberg.
Even though New Zealand is commonly referred to as “the place Lord of the Rings was filmed”, this gorgeous island paradise is more than just a spectacular movie set. It’s a vibrant and cosmopolitan Pacific Island nation, a melting pot of cultures set on a backdrop of beautiful beaches, majestic fjords and open grasslands.
As a native New Zealander, it took living overseas for me to truly appreciate what an incredible country it is. Here are my top reasons why booking a ticket to The Land of the Long White Cloud is a must for 2014.
1. The Untouched Beauty and Pristine Environment
This blows me away each time I go home, particularly because I live in the sprawling urban jungle that is Los Angeles. Being in New Zealand makes me stop and appreciate I’m alive. Environmental preservation is a huge part of New Zealand’s heritage. Land is protected and treasured, there’s also a relatively small population of nearly 5 million people so there are never crowds ruining the view or the experience. You often feel like you might possibly be the only person on earth. In fact, Kiwis themselves refer to their country as ‘Godzone’, short for God’s Own Country. It’s hard to put into words, but there’s a sense of universal connection that reverberates through this land and into your soul.
2. Diversity of Landscapes
For such a small country, New Zealand manages to cover all the bases when it comes to scenery. Vineyards, rugged black sand beaches, volcanoes and native bush. You name it, New Zealand has it.
In Northland you’ll find golden sands and friendly seaside villages. You’ll see dolphins, eat seafood fresh out of the water and walk amongst some of the oldest trees on the planet. In the largest city, Auckland, imagine an urban environment where everyone lives within a half an hour of beautiful beaches, hiking trails and a dozen enchanting islands. Add a sunny climate, a background rhythm of Polynesian culture and a passion for outstanding food, wine and shopping.
The South Island is majesty defined with dramatic fjords, alpine ranges and crystal clear lakes. You can hike, ride and helicopter around some of the most spectacular sights the world has to offer. Everything is so readily accessible in New Zealand.
This lakeside resort town is one of the coolest and most beautiful places on earth. Known as the Adventure Capital of the World, Queenstown sits on the edge of Lake Wakatipu, nestled amongst mountain ranges that make the flight in something else. This place is a natural wonderland, a playground for those who love the outdoors and being in it. There are activities for all ages, all levels of fitness at any time of the year which include hiking, bungee jumping, rafting, skiing, jet-boating, rafting, kayaking to name but a few. There are rolling vineyards, luxury retreat venues (/http://seekretreat.com/retreats/aro-ha-wellness/ ) and fantastic shopping. Queenstown truly has something for everyone.
4. Three words: Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
Another incredible part of New Zealand culture is the food and wine. Vineyards are prolific across the country and some of the world’s finest wines are produced here. My favorite is obviously the aforementioned Savvy B, but there are also the deep and delicious Cabernet Sauvignons of the Hawkes Bay region or the exquisite Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Nelson.
Something from either land or sea must accompany your glass. New Zealand cuisine is a mix of Pacific Rim, Asian and Mediterranean cuisine. New Zealand beef and lamb are always grass-fed and always hormones, antibiotics, steroids free. Seafood is fresh out of clean, local waters. Enjoying fish’n'chips on the beach is a must.
5. New Zealanders
Last but not least, my fellow countrymen and women make this place what it is. Kiwis are hospitable, helpful and love making visitors feel at home. Laid back springs to mind when I think of the New Zealand lifestyle, and we want you to leave feeling laid back too.
New Zealanders have travel in their blood, so we know what it takes to make a great vacation and a magical international experience. We’re also very proud of our country and will show you all the best spots You’ll leave feeling like a local.
Claire Robbie is a Kiwi living in Los Angeles. She teaches yoga and has a wellness retreat company, Jack & Olive Retreats (http://seekretreat.com/retreats/jackolive-newzealand/ ). Her company specializes in taking people to experience the very best New Zealand has to offer whilst having a healthy, luxurious and adventurous vacation.