Snow-capped mountains, beautiful bays, glaciers, rainforests and fjords. Thanks to its impressive landscapes, New Zealand is a hotspot for various sports, such as rafting, jet skiing, parachuting, hiking and mountain biking. Travelling around New Zealand is surprisingly easy. Self-drive holidays are popular and there is a wide range of accommodation, from hostels and quaint bed-and-breakfasts or eco-lodges to some of the world’s most luxurious hotels. Read more about New Zealand’s top attractions and apply for your visa here.
Experience New Zealand’s spectacular nature
North of Auckland, a three-hour drive away, is the beautiful Bay of Islands, one of New Zealand’s most popular holiday destinations. The more than 144 islands are a paradise for sailing and boating. The region is home to penguins, dolphins and whales and is a popular fishing spot. Visitors can kayak along the coast, hike the many trails, retreat to secluded coves, visit Cape Brett and the famous Hole in the Rock stone formation and explore the subtropical forests where Kauri trees grow. The picturesque towns of Russel, Opua, Paihia and Kerikeri are ideal starting points for exploring this area.
In the middle of the North Island and only a few kilometres from the glistening Taupo Lake - New Zealand’s largest lake - is Tongariro National Park. This park has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for two different reasons: its spectacular volcanic features and its importance to Maori culture. The volcanic peaks of Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, and part of Ruapehu were donated to the New Zealand government in 1887 by Maori chief Te Heuheu Tukino IV to preserve this land sacred to Maori people. Tongariro is one of the oldest national parks in the world, with towering volcanoes, turquoise lakes, desert-like plateaus, alpine meadows and hot springs. A highlight of the park is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, one of the most popular day trips in the country. Here, you can go camping, enjoy the many hiking trails in the park and see the interesting visitor centre.
Another location on the North Island that should not be missed is Rotorua on the Pacific Ring of Fire. This is one of the most active geothermal regions in the world, with boiling mud pools, hissing geysers, volcanic craters and steaming thermal springs. Visitors can hike through these wondrous surroundings, visit a number of interesting locations to learn about the region’s rich Maori history and culture, and then relax in the steaming mineral springs. Rotorua is also the gateway to the ski resorts of Mount Ruapehu.
The Franz Josef en de Fox Gletsjers, located in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park, are among the most accessible glaciers in the world. Guided hikes lead to ice caves and through glacier canyons. This fascinating frozen landscape can also be admired from above, by flying in a seaplane or helicopter to the top of the glaciers.
Bird, seafood and nature lovers will enjoy the charming coastal village of Kaikoura. Nestled between the Seaward Kaikoura Range and the Pacific Ocean, Kaikoura offers excellent coastal walks and tours to spot sperm whales, humpback whales, seals, dolphins and a wide variety of birds - including the graceful albatross.
Explore New Zealand’s vibrant cities
In addition to all this beautiful nature, New Zealand also has a number of cities that are worth visiting. Auckland, the “City of Sails”, is New Zealand’s largest city and the most populous Polynesian city in the world (with 1.6 million inhabitants). From the 328-metre-high Sky Tower, visitors can enjoy a spectacular view of the city and its hinterland. The city also offers excellent restaurants, a lively art scene and a hip waterfront district full of boutiques and cafés. A two-hour drive from Auckland is the film set of the Lord Of The Rings: Hobbiton. “Middle-earth” comes to life in this picturesque Hobbit village.
Nestled between the shores of glistening Lake Wakatipu and the snow-capped peaks of the Remarkables, Queenstown is New Zealand’s adventure capital and one of the country’s top destinations for international visitors. Bungee jumping, jet boarding, white water rafting, paragliding, rock climbing, mountain biking and skiing are just some of the activities that adrenaline lovers can do here. Apart from these adventure sports, Queenstown offers all the comforts, with first-class hotels, spas, restaurants and shops.
New Zealand visa (NZeTA)
Since 1 October 2019, all tourists travelling to New Zealand need a visa. The cost of the New Zealand visa is £49.95 per person. The NZeTA (“New Zealand electronic Travel Authority”) can be applied for online and is valid for two years from the date of approval. This visa allows you to travel to New Zealand an unlimited number of times during the validity period. Each stay with an NZeTA may last up to three consecutive months. In each 12-month period, a maximum of six months in total may be spent in New Zealand.