New Zealand

The-pine-at-hole-17Located approximately 900 miles east of Australia in the South Pacific, New Zealand is an island country that is comprised of two main islands, the North Island and the South Island, as well as numerous smaller islands.  Since it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans, New Zealand has a great deal of untouched land which features distinctive biodiversity of animal and plant life.  Travelers enjoy the lush landscapes of New Zealand as well as the excellent local food, wine, and accommodations!

Things to Do in New Zealand

5688_de_03_p_1024x768With its magnificent landscape and coastline, New Zealand offers visitors many exciting and relaxing adventures.  If you’re visiting Auckland, you’ll enjoy a day trip to Waiheke Island, which is accessible by ferry.  There you will enjoy charming shops, delicious food, and horse racing on the beach.

Visit “The Home of Middle-earth”, where the Lord of the Rings trilogy was shot.  More than 250 locations around the country were used for the film-making and include Auckland Central, Wellington Central, Queenstown Central, and Christchurch.

Learn about the Maori culture, an integral part of Kiwi life, in the Rotorua area of the North Island.  Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand that currently make up 14% of the country’s population.  Rotorua also boasts some fascinating hot springs and playful sheep shows.

Wine Tasting NZIf you’re after a more athletic form of adventure, consider skiing in New Zealand.  New Zealand has developed a reputation as an international skiing destination, and for good reason.  The ski areas, which are open from June through October, are uncrowded and wide open.  Glacier hiking at the Franz Josef or Fox Glaciers is also highly recommended.  Adventure seekers should also venture into Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world.  There you can find Nevis, one of the world’s largest bungee sites, and excellent skydiving!

Travelers with a love of food are pleasantly surprised by the amount of delicious food and wine available in New Zealand.  You can enjoy particularly thorough wine tours throughout the North and South Islands.

New Zealand Weather & Seasons

Beautiful-view-to-the-northNew Zealand enjoys a year round temperate climate with a moderate/high amount of rainfall.  Since it is situated in the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand experiences seasons that are opposite those in the Northern Hemisphere.  Summertime in New Zealand falls between December and February, and experiences temperatures as high as 90 degrees Farenheit.  Autumn is between March and May.    Winter is between June and August, and experiences temperatures as high as 60 degrees Fahrenheit.  Springtime is in September through November.  New Zealand’s fair amount of rainfall is evenly spread throughout the year, so there is no “wet season” here.

It is important to note that the weather in New Zealand varies significantly based upon your location, and can change unexpectedly.  Be prepared for sudden changes in weather and temperature if you’re going hiking or enjoying other outdoor activities.  Dressing in layers is key.

New Zealand Geography

NZ GeographyLocated in the southwest Pacific, approximately 900 miles east of Australia, New Zealand consists of two main islands, the North Island and the South Island, as well as many smaller islands offshore.  The North Island contains a “spine” of maintain ranges running through its center, with sprawling farmland on either side.  The central North Island is dominated by the Volcanic Plateau, an active volcano and thermal area.  The major cities of Auckland and Martinborough are on the North Island.

The backbone of the South Island in composed of the enormous Southern Alps.  To their east lies the farmland of Otago, Southland, and Canterbury Plains.  The major cities of Christchurch and Queenstown, as well as the Franz Josef Glacier, lie on the South Island.

Getting to New Zealand/Local Travel

Queenstown BoatInternational flights to New Zealand are plentiful, and you can fly directly from the US to New Zealand on Air New Zealand, Hawaiian Airlines, Fiji Aireways, Virgin Australia, and Qantas airlines.  Most international flights arrive into Auckland Airport, which is located in the northern part of the North Island.  Christchurch, Wellington, Rotorua, Queenstown, and Dunedin also receive a small number of international flights.  Direct flights from Los Angeles to Auckland are approximately 13 hours in duration.

Since most destinations are relatively spread out in New Zealand, driving is often the best way to get from one place to another, but buses and trains are also available.  Ferries can assist you with inter-island travel, as can short plane rides.  Remember that in New Zealand, drivers drive on the left hand side of the road!