New Zealand. It's a country of contrasts. The North and South Islands are vastly different, but both offer their own unique and incredible experiences. The locals are some of the nicest in the world, and the surrounding landscapes equally beautiful. Every part of New Zealand is packed with adventure that every traveller needs to see.
Highlights of the North Island
On the northernmost tip lies 90 Mile Beach, named after its first length estimate, later found to be closer to 60 miles of a perfect straight beach. With incredible 100m sand dunes, sand boarding is the perfect beach activity! Rent a board for just a few dollars and you’re ready to go!
Found all over the North Island are intricate caves. The best part of these caves can only be seen once the lights are turned off! Even far from the surface without artificial light, the caves are beautifully lit by bio-luminescent worms.
Continuing further south turn towards the Coromandel Peninsula, there are two places everyone is sure to enjoy. The first - a hot water beach. The low tide exposes springs of fresh water coming up through the sand from rocks heated by volcanic activity. Dig a hole in the sand and relax as it fills with hot mineral water.
While waiting for low tide, check out Cathedral Cove just a couple miles away. Blue water, tall white cliffs, innumerable islands and a tunnel going through the cliff side makes it look like it's straight out of a science fiction film.
Further south is the town of Rotorua. This geothermal hotspot features a boiling mud pit, a steaming lake, geysers and hot creeks. But beware of the smell! High levels of sulphur make this place a little stinky, but it's worth it!
Down to the southern part of the north island is Mount Taranaki. Easy hikes around this volcano are always an option, but summitting is an experience like no other. Making it to the top will reward you with views over the ocean and far into the heart of the north island.
Highlights of the South Island
Be prepared for a change in landscape as you make your way to Wellington and board a ferry to Picton. The rolling green hills of the northern island transition into rugged snowcapped mountains on the southern island. No matter where you go you will be met with scenic lookouts. Following the western edge, stop at the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers and get lost in the beauty of the crisp blue ice
Close to the southern tip is the town of Dunedin, where the large round Moeraki boulders stand. This location also features penguins, the steepest street in the world and New Zealand’s only castle!
The final and definite must-see spot in New Zealand is the famous Milford Sound. Formed by glaciers thousands of years ago is the hidden fjord only reachable by boat, helicopter, or a long tunnel passing through a mountain! The thousand-foot tall black cliffs and sharp peaks shooting out of the ocean is spectacular.
Written by Derek Beaumont. Photos also by Derek.
See more of Derek's amazing travels on Instagram: @beau__96