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Its remote location and outstanding natural diversity have made New Zealand one of the world's great eco-tourism destinations. The country's North Island has the active volcanoes of Tongariro National Park, the hot springs of Rotorua and the seductive coves of the Bay of Islands. On the other side of Cook Strait, the South Island offers the deep-water splendor of Milford and Doubtful Sounds, glaciers secreted within the Southern Alps and the chance to splash around with pods of dolphins off Kaikoura. Scattered across the islands are glowworm dells and massive Kauri forests, yellow-eyed penguin colonies and wilderness rivers accessed via ...

Its remote location and outstanding natural diversity have made New Zealand one of the world's great eco-tourism destinations. The country's North Island has the active volcanoes of Tongariro National Park, the hot springs of Rotorua and the seductive coves of the Bay of Islands. On the other side of Cook Strait, the South Island offers the deep-water splendor of Milford and Doubtful Sounds, glaciers secreted within the Southern Alps and the chance to splash around with pods of dolphins off Kaikoura. Scattered across the islands are glowworm dells and massive Kauri forests, yellow-eyed penguin colonies and wilderness rivers accessed via thrilling jetboat rides. The farthest reaches of the islands are exposed by hot-air balloon flights, sea-kayaking trips, descents into tomos (caves) and skiing down the sides of extinct volcanoes. Coexisting with this grand South Pacific ecosystem is a Maori culture that asserts itself through the sacred marae (meeting house complex) and the fierce haka (chant).

Paul Smitz
About the Expert

Paul Smitz has coauthored a dozen guidebooks for Lonely Planet on places such as Australia, New Zealand, Malaysian Borneo, Brunei, various Pacific Islands, Prague, and Brussels.

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Paul Smitz for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: New Zealand is an island nation in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses (the North Island and the South Island) and numerous smaller islands.
  • Language: English, Maori, NZ Sign Language
  • Currency: New Zealand Dollar
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight