Most travellers dream of visiting New Zealand at least once in their lives.
Those who are fortunate enough to do so, often find themselves irresistibly drawn back time and again. So varied are the geographical and human landscapes of this perfectly balanced country that each visit reveals some new treasure to be tasted, savoured and remembered.
Lying in the south-west Pacific Ocean, midway between the tropical islands of the Pacific and Australia, New Zealand consists of two main islands, prosaically named “North” and “South”, with many intriguing smaller islands offshore.
A land of contrasts, New Zealand offers a myriad of landscapes to surprise and entertain the visitor – from stark snow-capped mountain ranges through forested hills to rolling grasslands ending at surf-swept beaches. From smoking active volcanoes to ancient ice glaciers; from lush thick rainforest to sparsely covered desert-like plains; from pure snow-fed blue mountain lakes to warm pristine Pacific Ocean white sand beaches – it is a breathtaking kaleidoscope of scenery. Moreover, many of these diverse regions are within a day’s drive of each other: “boring” is not an adjective that could be used in describing a journey through New Zealand’s fascinating amalgam of scenic delights.
Not only are the natural attractions many and varied, but the scope of activities available, catering to all tastes, is mind-boggling. Visitors can choose between the passive immersion in Mother Nature on a serene cruise or contemplation of great works of art at one end of the scale to wild heart-stopping activities at the other, and a host of choices in between. Despite its small overall size, travellers often find the two or three weeks allocated to a trip are insufficient to do justice to this cornucopia of brilliant experiences, and so resolve to return.
Since the Maori people named the country “Aotearoa” - ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’, climate has been of paramount importance to the people of New Zealand — many of whom make their living from the land. Generally New Zealand has mild temperatures, moderately high rainfall, and many hours of sunshine throughout most of the country. Having a backbone of high mountains and being completely surrounded by endless oceans means New Zealand’s climate is very changeable. Many New Zealanders adhere to the adage “If you don’t like the weather, just wait 5 minutes”. This means layered clothing is advisable at any time of the year when outdoors.
The relatively high rainfall and many sunshine hours give the country a lush and diverse flora — with 80 percent of the trees, ferns, and flowering plants being native. From the kauri forests of the far north to the mountain beech forests and alpine tussock of the Southern Alps, you’ll find a fascinating array of plant life, much of which is protected on the 13 National Parks throughout the country. These parks provide opportunity for a wide variety of activities including bird-watching, hiking, mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding, kayaking and trout fishing.
New Zealanders, who often dub themselves “kiwis” after the national symbol of the native flightless bird, are traditionally a hardy, entrepreneurial, and extremely friendly people; which is often seen as one of the countries unique selling points. Originally occupied by the Maori, a race of sea-faring Polynesians, immigration by Europeans (mainly British) since the 19th century, and a plethora of other peoples in the 20th century, has meant New Zealand now supports a very varied population too. Hence the former mainly British – based culture, cuisine and lifestyle has been seasoned by many other European, Asian and American influences. In the 21st century “Fusion” and “Pacific Rim” are culinary descriptives which can equally describe the entire modern New Zealand psyche.
While the sparsely peopled countryside is one of the draw-cards for visitors from more densely populated countries, towns and cities, both large and small, offer a wealth of diversions including a great diversity of restaurant fare, performing arts venues, craft and fine arts galleries, bars and clubs for nightlife. Of the major centres, Auckland, the largest both in area and number of inhabitants, and Wellington the compact capital, are at opposite ends of the North Island; Christchurch and Dunedin, with their greater evidence of British history in architecture and traditions, are in the South Island. From Ahipara to Aoraki, from Taranaki to Takitimu, let the experts at Magnetic South weave the magic of Aotearoa into a programme that is perfect for your clients.