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New Zealand

For a tiny country way down in the Southern Hemisphere, New Zealand punches way above its weight when it comes to tourism. Known for its eye-popping scenery, charming cities and a relaxed, inviting lifestyle, New Zealand (no surprise) is on a lot of Canadians’ wish lists when it comes to travel.This temperate country – which is less than half the size of Manitoba – consists primarily of two islands (though there are hundreds of smaller offshore ones), simply named North and South Islands.  Each has its charms, and it would be a shame to visit the country without sampling both.A lot of packages combine NZ with several other stops in the South Pacific, but if you can manage it, there’s enough to keep you happy and busy for two weeks (at least!) in New Zealand.Auckland on the North Island is by far the largest city with 1.5 million residents and shows its cosmopolitan roots with an international vibe and sophisticated shopping and dining scene. As primary landing point for international flights (14.5 hours from Vancouver) it’s a great starting point.  Be sure to also take a day tour by ferry to funky Waiheke Island, known for its vineyards, markets and “off-the-grid” counterculture. And we must not forget Wellington the tiny, perfect capital at the southernmost tip, famed for its botanical gardens.On the South Island you’ll find the Victorian charm of Christchurch, Milford Sound, with its famed, placid and scenic fjord easily accessible by day cruise. And of course, adrenalin filled Queenstown. Or you can hop on board the Tranzalpine Train to experience vistas of picture-perfect fields and the stunning Southern Alps (yes, there is downhill skiing in New Zealand!)

And of course New Zealand is home to all things Hobbit, as it was the locale for the filming of the Lord of the Rings movies and the film sets are open for tours. Want to be an honorary Kiwi – as New Zealanders are nicknamed – for a day? Take in the powerful play of a Rugby Union game or line up railside at a local racetrack.

Like most visitors to New Zealand, chances are you’ll be intrigued by the indigenous Maori culture, reflected in everyday life in art, music, crafts and food.

Your Discover South Pacific Specialist can help you decide what is the best way for you to visit New Zealand. Many travellers find an escorted motorcoach tour is a hassle-free and sociable way to tour.  Or, if you are fine with driving on the other side of the road, we’re happy to craft a self-drive vacation to take in the very best of both islands, perhaps with a farm stay for a taste of true Kiwi hospitality. Stay in a rustic lodge or boutique hotel; or experience New Zealand from a whole different perspective by cruising around it!

Above all, be prepared for the warm welcome and relaxed lifestyle that charms every visitor to this much-loved country, almost at the end of the world.