Monday, March 21, 2011

My top 10... err... 11 list of reasons to visit New Zealand!

In light of Blog4NZ I decided to come up with a list of my top 10 reasons to visit New Zealand. I wanted to show off the best of this country I have totally fallen in love with and I had a little trouble limiting it to 10! Forgive the additional one, I didn't want to eliminate anything else. Cheers!

#10: Stunning beaches

Beach near Anchorage, Abel Tasman National Park, South Island

Being a rather small country, there are beaches everywhere! You can't travel far without running into the coastline and it’s fun to explore the various types of beaches. Some are rocky, some are sandy smooth, some are perfect for surfing, and others make you just want to sit back and take it all in!

#9: Gorgeous mountains

Castle Hill, South Island

There are a few major mountains on the North Island that are definitely worthwhile to explore, but I have been blown away by the dramatic and overwhelming presence of the mountains on the South Island! Their variety and abundance seem to take over most of the island, stretching from the Remarkables near Queenstown to the Southern Alps up to surround Arthur's Pass and on to Nelson Lakes National Park. Sometimes I just can't stop gazing at them!

#8: Crystal clear waters

Waikato River, Taupo, North Island

I have never encountered such numerous bodies of ice blue water before in my life. Many glacial-fed streams seem to glow with purity and even the ocean water seems clear and bright!

#7: Incredible land and rock formations 

Photographer's Rock, Totaranui, Abel Tasman
National Park, South Island

I am sure every country has some sort of interesting or remarkable rock formations, but I discover them every time I turn around in NZ! I may be partial to the rocks as they always inspire some climbing in me, but the variety of natural wonders they display are incredible! There are the well-known ones like the Pancake Rocks, Moeraki Boulders, and Cathedral Cove, but there are also endless fascinating rocky beaches, rock climbing areas, and caves to explore! (Also, I can’t mention land formations without giving a shout-out to Golden Bay. If you look at a map of the area, you can see the proudly displayed outline of a kiwi!)

#6: Bush without predators

Weka, West Coast, South Island

Speaking of native flightless birds, they are the most common “large” animals you will encounter in the bush. That’s right, no lions, or tigers, or bears… oh my! That means that the most dangerous thing you will likely encounter in the NZ wilderness is: yourself. Sure, there are possums and stoats (both introduced and locally abhorred!) but they probably won’t bother you. There are keas that will tease you but for the most part the bush dangers lie in common sense and preparedness – there’s heaps to explore and NZ weather can change quickly!

#5: Diverse climate and environment

Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Tongariro National Park, North Island

As I said above, the weather can change rapidly, but there’s also a good variety of weather conditions within the country. Fiordland ranks as one of the wettest places in the world, while Nelson and Blenheim compete for the highest number of sunshine days in the country. Dunedin residents will describe their weather simply as “cold” while parts of the far North Island are almost tropical! One thing that stuck out for me before I traveled to NZ was my brother’s description of a walk he did here that led him through desert-like terrain, onto a glacier, and through the likes of a rainforest all in the same day. There is such variety in such a compact country!

#4: Travel friendly everything 

Wai-O-Tapu, North Island

Travel and tourism are alive and well in NZ and there is no denying it! At times I have fought to get “off the tourist trail” but it seems to follow wherever I go. NZ is so accustomed to tourists that as a whole it is very accommodating toward them. The thing is somehow the balance of tourism is mastered here. Travelers are well looked-after – between the abundance of backpackers (hostels), a well-established backcountry hut system, campervan-friendly facilities, various tour bus companies, and endless organized activities – but somehow the industry does not take away the sense of adventure and thrill of exploring, it enhances it!

#3: Adventure capitol of the world

Kawarau Bridge, Queenstown, South Island
(photo credit: AJ Hackett Bungy NZ)

There is no denying this was a huge draw for me to choose NZ as my destination! As a Recreation Therapist by trade, and an outdoor enthusiast by hobby, the fit seemed ideal. The activities are so varied and plentiful that anyone can find something of interest! I don’t think I need to spell out all of the activities (as they are so often highlighted) but NZ is home of the bungy, has spectacular backdrops for skydiving (and any other flight-based activity), readily accessible tramps, several outdoor rock climbing areas, water activities galore, and most any winter sport you can imagine! You name it; you can probably find it here.

#2: Breathtaking sunrises and sunsets

Castle Rock Access Road, Coromandel Peninsula, North Island

I am a self-described sunset chaser. I absolutely love watching the colors change in the sky and seeing the clouds dance and slide across the horizon! I have begun my day early enough to catch the sunrise on numerous occasions while traveling in NZ, simply for the exhilaration and peaceful calm I feel whenever I watch the day open up in front of me!

#1: Stargazing, stargazing, stargazing

No stars but an awesome night sky on West Coast, South Island

One of my absolute favorite places to be in the world is back in Pennsylvania in the middle of a lake, in the middle of the night, getting lost in the countless stars. While that spot holds strong in my personal memories, NZ’s nighttime backdrop is ever more dramatic! Two islands surrounded by sea do not produce a lot of light pollution. The stars are brilliant and (though unfamiliar since I’m in a different hemisphere) absolutely captivating!

But most of all: It’s just sweet as, bro!

Picnic dinner, Totaranui, Abel Tasman National Park, South Island

The laid-back attitude of Kiwis, along with their generous hospitality, is reason enough to come for a visit. Their “no worries” outlook on life can be just what you need when trying to get away from it all!


  1. Um...

    About that #3 pic... trick photography, or did you forget to mention something?

    1. Queenstown's beauty is stunning.Best place in the world for it!
      I am an outdoor person and i think sky diving will be on top of my list.
      Thank you for sharing this blog. Everything I want to know is here already.
      Also, I found this fantastic deal travellers to New Zealand shouldn't miss!

  2. I'm not totally up to date with my blog and thought things like that were best left for you to discover after the fact! Just had to include the pic here because I love it so much :)

  3. amazing Kirstin, apart from showing off our beautiful country, it shows what a fantastic outlook on life you have, thanks, I've borrowed it for my page xxx Claire

  4. Thanks for the shout out, Claire! And thank you for being one of the many to show me some good 'ole Kiwi hospitality! :) xx

  5. Queenstown's beauty is stunning.Best place in the world for it!
    I am an outdoor person and i think swimming in crystal clear beaches will be on top of my list next time.Thank you for sharing this blog. Everything I want to know is here already.Also, I found this fantastic deal travellers to New Zealand shouldn't miss!


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