New Zealand is one of the most stunning places to visit on earth and we don’t say this lightly. With its numerous national parks and forest reserves accounting for nearly 20% of the entire country’s land mass, its ecotourism industry and does not look to be slowing any time soon.
A fair amount of Malaysians make up New Zealand’s flood of tourists, most of whom visit the country as tourists or students. The weather is fair, the locals are friendly and the food is great, all of which is marked against a backdrop that has graced many a Hollywood movie. Consequently, if you are still thinking of a place to head to this summer, why not head towards the country where Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed? If it was good enough for the elves of Rivendell, it is certainly good enough for us!
Source: TripAdvisor @ Shane H
A 45 minutes journey north of Wellington City, this spectacular 2860 hectares park resides at the foothills of the Taragua Ranges and does not lack for activities and sights to absorb.
If you haven’t already guessed, one of its biggest claim to fame is being the site where Rivendell and the Fords of Isen were shot! There is magic in the air and if you listen closely, you might just catch the gentle pattering of elvish footsteps. Explore its elvish river pools and wheelchair friendly forest tracks or be more adventurous and go on the swing bridge of the Ridge Track to catch a glimpse of the Upper Hutt valley.
There are camping spots available near the Pakurathi River, which include modern amenities like power outlets and electric BBQs if you fancy a long stay. Other fun activities include horse riding, kayaking, swimming, hunting, mountain biking and cycling. Finally, don’t forget to visit the site where Rivendell was brought to life!
Image by Nationalpark.nz
The Tongariro National Park is New Zealand’s oldest national park and the site for the dreaded Mordor in the Lord of the Rings. Nowadays you are unlikely to encounter an army of trolls but you will certainly catch breathtaking views across a volcanic landscape that includes still active craters and Maori religious sites!
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a 19.4 kilometer hike that we strongly recommend going for if you have the time. Averaging around 7 to 8 hours, it is labeled an intermediate hike for nearly all ability levels although it does include some steep climbs. However, your efforts will be completely rewarded as you make your way across this World Heritage site, passing by the active Red Crater, Te Maari craters, lava flows of Mangatepopo Valley, Emerald Lakes and waters of the Mangatepopo Stream and Blue Lake just to name a few.
Other trails include the 43.1 kilometer Tongariro Northern Circuit where you will be sighting active volcanic craters, mist filled geothermal areas, glacial valleys and crystal blue lakes. If you want something even more challenging, try the 7 to 10 hour hike up Mount Ruapehu over the summer. Wildlife lovers will want to stay alert for sightings of the Kakariki (parakeet), Karearea (falcon) and Tui birds.
We recommend booking a guided tour if you intend on going for any of these hikes. The terrain is challenging and likely different from what you are used to, so having a local at hand is also comforting as well as being a fountain of information for everything you will be seeing!
At 12,300 feet in height, Mount Cook is New Zealand’s highest peak and one of its most famous landmarks. It is located in the heart of the Southern Alpine Range and is one of 19 mountains within the national park. With its rock and ice terrain, which is forged by the active tectonic movement underground, you would be forgiven for thinking you had travelled back into prehistoric times.
Come here expecting to see cloud-piercing, snow-capped mountains, turquoise lakes and enormous, ever-shifting glaciers. The 27 kilometres long Tasman Glacier is one of its top attractions where you can come close to icebergs broken off from or even a section calved off an ice face. You can go for mountain walks along the Hooker Valley Track, alpine hikes, mountaineering and glacier viewing and the night views are a dream. The reserve has a gold status for being almost completely free of light pollution so the starlit night skies will be something to behold. You definitely don’t want Mount Cook to be missing from your travel itinerary.
Fjordland National Park is otherworldly. With its cascading waterfalls, snow-capped mountains and 14 glacier fjords arising out of the mist of dark waters, one of the best ways to experience the fjords is by boat.
The 1000 metres high Milford Sound is one of its most famous fjords and was once described by Rudyard Kipling as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. It is a fjord with two waterfalls, Lady Bowen Falls and Stirling Falls, which combine with hundreds of temporary waterfalls after a heavy rainfall to form a spectacular sight. All types of cruises, even overnight cruises, are on offer but be warned, you will be visiting the wettest area found in New Zealand!
This park also has some spectacular hikes. There is a 54 kilometers Milford Track hike that begins at a lake and ends with a boat trip as well as Doubtful Sound for some wildlife spotting: bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and penguins come to play here and make for a delightful sight.
Image by Waitomo Caves Discovery Centre
For something more unique and unforgettable, make sure you visit one of New Zealand’s famous glow worm caves. Glow worms lend magic to the air with their entrancing bluish green glow, turning the inky darkness of its moist caves into a star-studded wonder.
We recommend visiting Waitomo Caves for some spectacular glow worm sightings. The name Waitomo comes from two Maori words: “wai” for water and “tomo” for hole, and are located a mere three hours’ drive from Auckland. There are a series of tours available for you to book ranging from a mere 45 minutes for a 200 metre walk up to 3.5 hours. If you feel particularly adventurous, look for the black water rafting tour option which will have you crawling, swimming and floating through the labyrinth of caves and underground rivers on a rubber tube. There are also options for abseiling or zip-lining within the caves to give you a different perspective and come up close with the glow worms.
Should you crave a little sunlight thereafter, the Waitomo area provides the perfect place for experiencing the rural New Zealand life. You can visit a local farm show, hike through farmland and up the Marokopa Falls and Mangapohue Natural limestone bridge or even go on a guided horse trek. Either way, you will quickly realise that a day spent at Waitomo simply would not suffice!
There is a reason why New Zealand is such a popular tourist destination but even with the steady flow of tourists entering the country, its natural beauty remains untarnished. Mere photos and words could never do it justice, so we recommend that you start making plans to see all of its wonders yourself! And if you book through Mayflower.com, you can enjoy an additional discount on your flight + hotel booking for New Zealand from 16 to 30 June 2019. Don’t forget to ask Mayflower for recommended guide options for any of the activities above too!
A faith-driven Sarawakian lawyer who believes that it is never too late to start crafting a socially impactful legacy. When not grappling with warranties and liabilities, she loves pursuing adrenaline-fueled adventures, improving her Español and playing the violin. You can find her at @vidadeliya or https://www.vidadeliya.com