It is a sad modern-day reality that when we plan a vacation we must consider security, but many holiday destinations that used to be appealing are no longer safe to visit. Safety is not the sole criterion, however, and the traveler is usually seeking beautiful surroundings with mountains or beaches, interesting cities, cultural differences to learn about and possibly some physical challenges. New Zealand, in the south Pacific, offers all of these in abundance.
Comparable in size to the United Kingdom and comprising of two main islands, New Zealand is considerably less crowded with a mere 4.5 million inhabitants. Most of them live in the North Island which is more developed with more cities and industry. Nonetheless, there is plenty of scenic beauty in the North Island; lake Taupo is breathtakingly beautiful, where the visitor can enjoy water sports, great fishing, sky-diving, cruises; there are mighty rivers all over New Zealand where white water rafting is popular with visitors. Also in the North Island, there is a region of geothermal delights such as geysers, hot bubbling mud and mysterious sulfurous mists. The country’s largest city is Auckland, strikingly set between the Hauraki Gulf on its eastern side and the Manakau Harbor on the Tasman sea. Near to the city there are magnificent beaches for swimming and surfing. There is a ferry from Auckland to cross the short distance to Waiheke island, a miniature tropical paradise of vineyards and beaches.
Wellington, on the south coast of the North Island is the picturesque capital city of New Zealand, built on the hills surrounding the harbor. From here, the inter-island ferries cross to the South Island, a memorable journey through the Marlborough Sounds to the little town of Picton.
The South Island is very scenic and has become celebrated as the setting for Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, where the magnificently dramatic mountains formed the backdrop. Every bend in the road reveals yet another memorable sight. Kaikoura is just one of the quaint small towns on the east coast, with snow-clad mountains adding to its charm and which attracts visitors who want to experience whale-watching in the seas off its coast. The biggest city of this island is Christchurch which was devastated by earthquakes some years ago and this once-gracious city, gradually recovering its former glory, is well worth visiting. The holiday playground of New Zealand is undoubtedly Queenstown, claimed by many to be one of the loveliest cities in the world. It is surrounded by snowy mountains and offers first class skiing, making it a popular destination in the New Zealand winter, when summer in the northern hemisphere limits skiing there.
New Zealand enjoys a mild climate with plenty of sunshine; sea and mountains dominate both islands. Rainfall average is high which sustains great areas of natural bush and forest. It is a land of clear air with little pollution which means that care must be taken to protect against the sun’s rays. The spectacular Southern Alps extend almost the whole length of the South Island. The highest mountain in New Zealand is in this mountain range; Aoraki [Mount Cook] is 3724 meters high and the region attracts serious mountaineers.
It is an incredibly contrasting area of mountains, glacial valleys and beautiful lakes.
The Maori people settled in New Zealand before the arrival of Europeans and though few in number, with their language Te Reo struggling to survive, their cultural influence is still strong.
Traditional tattoos are commonly seen and the challenging Haka which is performed by the great All-Blacks rugby team is world- renowned.
There are no threats from Nature in New Zealand: no snakes or wild animals make a walk in the bush a hazardous undertaking; the only risk is getting lost! There are a number of walking trails of varying difficulty, some of them requiring several days to complete, with rest huts along the way.
New Zealand is a vacation paradise and one of the safest places on earth. There are plenty of activities for everyone in the family, all in an unforgettable setting of unsurpassed beauty and hospitable, friendly charm.