New Zealand’s Maori name is Aotearoa, which means “Land of the Long White Cloud.” It is also oftentimes referred to as the “God zone.” In both cases, the names paint a vivid picture of this gorgeous island nation. The beauty of the landscape is equaled only by the hospitality and warmth of its people.  A visit to New Zealand is no mere vacation; it is the experience of a lifetime.

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy was not set in Middle Earth but amidst the valleys, mountains, and coastlines of New Zealand. Chosen for its unique and unparalleled physical features, fans of the movies fell in love with the scenery as much as with the characters! The geography is an integral a part of the country itself. It is remote, about 900 miles from Australia, and is one of the last areas of the world to be settled. Because of this isolation, New Zealand has remarkable biodiversity and a number of endemic species. Visitors can treat themselves to prime bird watching and the best whale watching in the world.

New Zealand is separated into the North and South Islands, and has a number of smaller islands in its archipelago nation. Long and narrow, it has a tremendous stretch of coastline, and thus lots of opportunity to spot marine life. The geography also varies from sandy beach to soaring peaks. This, again, has informed life on the islands.

Bungee jumping, for instance, was born here, and visitors can embark on any number of adventures, including whitewater rafting, rainforest trekking, tandem paragliding, nearly vertical mountain biking, ATV rides, horseback rides – forget the romantic beach, you’ll be riding through raging rivers! – and much, much more.

You’ll need a vacation from your vacation! But luckily, New Zealand can relax as well is it can play. Lounge on a beach, take in the historical sites of capital Wellington, shop, dine, soak in the culture, and, don’t forget to take a ferry or car ride to Marlborough. This region has over 100 vineyards and produces some of the best sauvignon blanc in the world. Sample the passionfruit-infused wine in cellars and pair them with fresh seafood. If you are there in the spring, you can catch the renowned Marlborough Wine Festival.

New Zealand loves to entertain, and you can participate in lively festivals, including the Wellington Cup Racing Carnival, the Auckland Anniversary Day Regatta, the Rhythm & Vines Festival, or a Māori kai food festival. Bring your appetite for this last as they showcase the best local foods.

A country like no other, New Zealand is a destination that will leave you with indelible memories – and a desire to come back again!

Enid Glasgow