Though the country may be a little battered, New Zealand is still a fantastic place to visit, and every tourist dollar helps the rebuilding effort. Feast your eyes on this stunning photo essay and get there if you can!
One month ago, a devastating earthquake struck near the city of Christchurch in the South Island of New Zealand. Since then, Kiwis have begun the difficult process of rebuilding—both physical structures and morale. Blog4NZ is a group of bloggers that have found a unique way to help.
This week bloggers all over the world are posting about the wonder that is New Zealand, in an effort to boost the nation’s tourist industry.
If you can’t make it there, help us and Blog4NZ by sharing this photo essay and shouting about what you love about the Land of the Long White Cloud.
1) Abel Tasman National Park
It may be New Zealand’s smallest national park, but Abel Tasman is always busy with kayakers, hikers and campers.
The coastal track offers stunning views and is accessible by land or fun water taxis. Look out for the curious (but natural) Split Apple Rock in the bay.
The abundance of art galleries in towns nearby feature artists no doubt inspired Abel Tasman’s beauty.
Nestled in the foothills of snowcapped mountains on the South Island’s east coast, Kaikoura is breathtaking.
Check out the fur seals lounging on the ocean-side rocks or try and spot the famed sperm whales.
You can also suit up and swim with the dolphins—the water is cold but getting up close and personal with dolphins in the wild is exhilarating.
Besides dolphins, you can spot wild red deer roaming Kaikoura.
New Zealand’s center of arts and culture, Wellington is the “capital of cool.”
This blogger spent many a day gallery-hopping and many a night in one of Cuba Street’s cozy bars.
Situated between rugged mountains and a beautiful bay, Wellington is also the gateway to loads of emerging wineries in the surrounding countryside.
Lonely Planet named Wellington ‘the coolest little capital in the world’ in their Best In Travel 2011 guide book.
4) Franz Josef Glacier
Where else in the world can you hike a glacier wearing shorts?
Franz Josef, along with nearby Fox Glacier, are completely unique because they descend from the Southern Alps to less than 300 meters above sea level. This means the glacier ends in a rainforest, so the temperature is relatively mild.
Franz Josef Glacier receives up to 2,700 ice-axe-wielding visitors a day
5) Lake Wanaka
Located in one of New Zealand’s sunniest climates, Lake Wanaka is not only awe-inspiring but a hot-spot for wake-boarders, water-skiers and jet-boaters.
Personally, I spent most of my time in town, lost in the gigantic three-dimensional maze at PuzzlingWorld!
Photo by Mara
Wanaka is home to popular music and skiing festivals.
6) White Island
New Zealand’s only active marine volcano and one of the world’s most accessible volcanos, White Island is frequented both by scientists and lava-seeking tourists.
Access to the island is restricted, but outfitters can arrange a day trip by boat or helicopter.
Captain Cook gave White Island its English name because it always appeared covered in a cloud of white smoke—though he failed to realize the island was actually a volcano.
New Zealand’s most famous tourist destination is this majestic fjord in the southwest of South Island and the nearby Milford Track is the country’s most popular hiking trail.
If you’re not camping, hop a tour bus from Queenstown—the ride is long but the misty waters and thundering waterfalls are worth the drive.
Author Rudyard Kipling called Milford Sound the eighth wonder of the world.
8) Lake Tekapo
Full disclosure: I nearly cried when I saw Lake Tekapo.
Maybe it was because my time in New Zealand was coming to a close and I was getting sentimental, but this lake just south of Christchurch is like nothing you’ve ever seen.
A retreating glacier formed the lake and leftover rock flour turns it a brilliant turquoise hue. Lovely lilacs on the shore complete the stunning scene.
Thanks to the views here, Lake Tekapo is popular for weddings—you can even get married on one of the nearby glaciers.
9) Marlborough Wine Region
Located just north of the Kaikoura Ranges, Marlborough is the place to sample New Zealand’s world-class wines.
Famous for its Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, visitors can vineyard-hop as well as enjoy bird-watching, kayaking and sailing in the Marlborough Sounds.
Many critics believe the Marlborough region produces the best Sauvignon Blanc in the world.
10) Mount Cook
Be careful while walking in Mount Cook National Park—you’ll probably trip over something while you’re gazing up at Australasia’s tallest mountain.
Adventurous types can hike or ski the glaciers or experienced mountaineers can strap on some crampons and make a serious go of climbing.
There are also plenty of scenic trails around the base of the mountain as well as the excellent visitors’ center honoring famed Kiwi mountaineer Edmund Hilary.
Nearby Maori tribes consider Aoraki (Mount Cook) to be their most sacred ancestor.
11) Cape Reinga
One of New Zealand’s northernmost points, Cape Reinga marks where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean.
According to Maori beliefs, the spirits of the deceased travel through here on the way back to the traditional homeland.
Certainly spiritual, Cape Reinga’s sandy white beach extends almost 90 kilometers and wild horses can be seen roaming the surf.
The Cape Reinga Lighthouse is one of the first lights that ships observe when arriving from the Tasman Sea and North Pacific Ocean
12) South Island
New Zealand’s South Island is full of unbelievable postcard-perfect scenes.
Though the South Island is larger than the North Island, it holds only a quarter of the population and is divided down the middle by the soaring snowy peaks of the Southern Alps.
The dramatic landscape of mountains, glaciers and rugged coastlines makes the South Island a popular location for movies.
This shot was captured on the side of the road on a car trip through the South Island.
A hotbed of geothermal activity, Rotorua is known for its hot springs, mudpools and spewing geysers.
It’s been a world-renowned resort and spa center for centuries due to the healing power of the hot springs and has acquired a more recent reputation as a top mountain biking area.
Minerals in hot springs have been shown to remove toxins and ease pain.
A small fishing village on the Otago coast, South Island, Moeraki was once a thriving whaling station.
Now it’s better known for the Moeraki Boulders, a clump of large and mysteriously spherical rocks embedded in the shoreline.
This amazing photo captures the moon rising over the Moeraki coast.
15) Tongariro National Park
If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to walk on the moon, visit the craters in this national park on a foggy day.
Over the course of this roughly 8 hour tramp you’ll encounter flowered meadows, forest, volcanic mountains and the unreal Emerald Lakes, brightly colored by volcanic material.
Hiking this spectacular landscape was one of my most favorite New Zealand experiences.
Photo by Mara
Tongariro topped Lonely Planet’s list of Best Day Treks in the world.
New Zealand is one of the most beautiful places in the world, full of stunning nature, friendly locals, loads to do…and not to mention some of the best fish and chips you’ll ever have.
Help us support this plucky country by visiting, blogging or posting what you love about New Zealand!
If you liked this you might also like: 12 Most Magnificent Lakes in the World.
Main Image: On the road near Queenstown by JPDesigners.