New Zealand is a very isolated country, about 2000 kilometers away from its closest neighbor Australia. But its isolation has helped it remain clean, green, and roomy. The history of the country dates back a millennium ago when it was settled by the tribal Polynesian Maoris. The Dutch arrived in the mid-17th century but did not inhabit or explore the islands. Captain James Cook re-discovered New Zealand in the mid-18th century and the British subsequently annexed it via the Treaty of Waitangi between the British and the Maori chiefs. The treaty was supposed to guarantee that the Maoris’ possession of their lands, fisheries, and forests would be protected, but breaches by the British colonial government led to the New Zealand Wars.
Tourism in New Zealand is definitely on the rise. Every year, more than three million travelers flock to this country. The filming of the Lord of the Rings in New Zealand and its award-winning cinematography has only helped the cause. Indeed, some of the most breathtaking scenery can be found in New Zealand – rolling green hills, golden beaches along craggy coastlines, deep green forests amid glacier-fed lakes and rivers, hairline fjords from Fiordland, tall waterfalls like the Browne and Sutherland, snowcapped mountains like the Southern Alps, and volcanic geysers and natural hot springs from the Rotorua.
With its diverse range of landscapes, New Zealand is perhaps the best place in the world to attempt extreme sports and activities. Many come to this country to ski, luge (sled), zorb (roll down the hill inside a sphere), paraglide, hot-air balloon, mountain bike, heli-hike, ice climb, rock-climb, canyon, rappel, bird-watch, scuba dive, windsurf, kayak, jet ski, sky-dive, whitewater raft, bungee-jump off bridges and gorges, and otherwise attempt any adrenaline-pumping activity the fearless mind can think of.
You can also observe some of the unique flora and fauna of New Zealand – kiwis, seals, dolphins, whales, geckos, kakapo and kea parrots, and interesting exotic plants like the black tree fern and the famous New Zealand kauri.
Wine tours are also popular. New Zealand wines have become internationally recognized. Many consider its Sauvignon Blancs the best in the world. New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs blend the exotic aromas of California with the limy acidity of Europe to produce the perfect hybrid. New Zealand’s sparkling wines are also critically acclaimed. The two best winegrowing regions to tour are Marlborough and Hawkes Bay.
The major travel destinations in New Zealand include Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Queenstown, Rotorua, Milford Sound, Dunedin, Coromandel, Napier, Canterbury, Kaitaia, Hokitika, Whangarei, Nelson, Kerikeri, and the Bay of Islands.