Populated around only a thousand years ago, New Zealand is one of the world’s most pristine destinations, with a third of the land protected as a park or reserve and landscapes that range from snow-topped volcanoes, glaciers, fjords and mangrove-fringed inlets.
What to seeFor dramatic landscapes you cannot beat South Island, from rugged coastlines to glaciers, subtropical rainforests to fjords and mountains to vineyards. Highlights of this spectacular island include: Kaikoura, a small coastal town with year-round whale populations Christchurch, known as the ‘Garden City’ for its open spaces and manicured gardens Franz Josef Glacier, a slow moving ice giant that can be viewed up close or from a helicopter and Queenstown, a stunning resort surrounded by mountains and lakes and which is the gateway to Milford Sound, the dramatic fjord with sheer vertical mountain walls and unique flora and fauna.
In North Island, a must-see is the Bay of Islands north of Auckland. This region is not only offers breath-taking beaches and islands, but is also an area with great significance for the Maori population and the setting for the signing of the Waitangi Treaty between the British and Maori in 1840. Further south is the volcanic town of Rotorua, where bubbling hot pools, geysers and Maori culture flourish. Other highlights of North Island are the wine-growing regions of Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa and the capital city Wellington.