New Zealand Overview
Welcome to your local guide to the wonders of the youngest and most dramatic country on the planet.
Spectacular scenery, bungy jumping, the All Blacks, great wine, Maori culture, Lord of the Rings – these are just some of the images that people conjure up when thinking about New Zealand. But there’s so much more. For a country that’s a shade bigger than the UK, New Zealand packs a mighty punch.
New Zealand tempts all comers with a huge variety of outdoor adventure and activities and ways to sit back and relax. Spectacular glaciers to hike on, picturesque fjords to cruise along, rugged mountains to climb, rolling hillsides and subtropical forest to trek, diverse wildlife to spot, and miles of quiet and gorgeous sandy beaches – it’s an all year round destination that offers something for everyone.
It’s also a county that’s easy to explore. Many of the iconic attractions and activities are all within easy reach of each other, making the travel planning process a little easier! With vast open spaces filled with incredible mountain terrain, deep blue lakes, lush forest and plenty of geothermal activity, you’ll soon understand why ‘Lord of the Rings’ was filmed here.
Location, Location, Location
Situated in the South-West Pacific, just over 1200 miles from Australia, New Zealand is made up of the North Island and South Island and a number of smaller islands. Separating the North and South Islands is the Cook Strait, a narrow stretch of water that’s just 20km at its most narrow point. From top to bottom, the country is close to 1600 kilometres in length, with varied scenery that includes over 9000 kilometres of coastline.
The North Island has the warmer climate, defined by a spine of mountain ranges running through the middle and gentle rolling farmland on both sides. Although lush and green, the central North Island is dominated by active volcanoes and geo-thermal activities including geysers, hot springs and boiling mud pools most notable in Rotorua and Lake Taupo regions.
The secluded beaches of Northland and Bay of Islands lay in the north, while a few hours drive south is Auckland, the country’s most populated city and home to 1.5m people. Situated at the southern tip of the island is the capital city of Wellington. This vibrant city is surrounded by the country’s most spectacular harbour, providing a rich mixture of cultural, dining and leisure attractions.
The South Island is a contrasting landscape of incredible mountain scenery and deep blue lakes. The massive Southern Alps will entice your camera out at every turn, as you marvel at a mountain range that’s bigger than all of the Europeans Alps combined. The Marlborough region, situated in the north of the Island, is a haven for wine lovers with a reputation for producing many of the world’s finest wines. Heading along the west coast, you’ll find a spot of adventure with guided tours of the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. The TranzAlpine is one of the world’s great train journeys, taking you through the Southern Alps to the ‘Garden City’ of Christchurch on the east coast.
Situated in the South, Queenstown is the ideal base for skiing and high-octane activities that include bungy jumping, jet-boating and paragliding. At the bottom of the South Island lies the Fjordland National Park, the setting of the spectacular Milford Sounds.Memorable features of this World Heritage include steep mountains, awesome waterfalls and deep fjords, all surrounded in lush forest.
For More Inspiration
To book an activity on our site, just head to our ‘Things To Do’ and 'Adventure' sections to get started. Or, you can read more details on the different regions by selecting from our ‘Regional Info' menu.
New Zealand Bite Size Facts
- The first democracy in the West that gave women the right to vote
- One of the highest car ownership rates in the world, with 2.5 million cars for 4 million people
- Won the most Olympic gold medals, per capita, amongst all the participant countries.
- The world's first commercial bungy (or bungee) jump took place in Queenstown in 1988
Pisa Conservation Area
Clyde Dam - Central Otago
"Travel and change of pace impart new vigor to the mind" - Seneca