Mention New Zealand, and the first thought most people will probably have is  ‘extreme sports’.  It’s true that nobody does extreme sports quite like the Kiwis do:  bungee jumping, sky diving, zorbing, fly by wire – the list is endless! But you certainly don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie to take a tour of New Zealand, because there’s a whole lot more to this stunning country than hurling yourself off bridges, out of planes, or other similarly outlandish activities. Here are just a few of our favourite New Zealand highlights.

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Te Puia, Rotorua (image courtesy of Robert Lindsell)

New Zealand’s biggest selling point is, of course, its breathtaking landscape. Sheep vastly outnumber the country’s four million people, meaning that New Zealand’s rugged terrain is almost entirely unspoilt. And from the impressive Franz Josef glacier on the South Island to the mighty sandy dunes at the top of the North Island, via the majestic slopes of Mount Ruapehu (Mount Doom in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy), it’s also incredibly varied. Perhaps the most unexpected vista you’ll encounter in New Zealand is that of the bizarre geothermal landscapes in and around Rotorua, at the heart of the North Island. With its hot, bubbling mud pools, steaming thermal lakes and spectacular geysers, a trip to Te Puia Thermal Park is one of the highlights of any New Zealand tour.

History buffs and culture vultures are also well catered for in New Zealand.  Particularly notable is Auckland’s primary offering, the Auckland War Memorial Museum, which combines geological history with an intriguing insight into Maori and Pacific Island customs.  There are numerous important Maori sites across the country should you wish to learn more about the fascinating history of New Zealand’s native culture, while the former gold mining town of Arrowtown offers an introduction to more recent Kiwi history and its earliest European settlers.

Marlborough vineyards (image courtesy of timparkinson)

If wine tasting is more your cup of tea, you’ll love sipping a cool Sauvignan Blanc on a visit to the vineyards of the famous Marlborough region on the South Island.  Also make time to visit the greenstone (jade) factory at Hokitika, which is a great place to pick up souvenirs of your New Zealand tour, and as a bonus, you’ll also get to watch a demonstration of jewellery being made with attractive, contemporary interpretations of traditional Maori designs.

So there you have it; regardless of its adventurous reputation, there are far more sedate ways of enjoying warm and friendly New Zealand.  That’s not to say that you can’t indulge in a little adrenaline-fuelled fun if you want to,  and where better to do so than Queenstown, extreme sports capital of the world?  But it’s safe to say that there truly is something for everyone in New Zealand. We’re certain that throughout your travels in this remarkable country, you’ll be blown away by the warmth of Kiwi hospitality.

What would you like to see or do in New Zealand?

If you have visited New Zealand before, which highlights did you enjoy?

Leave a comment below and share your Kiwi experiences with us!

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