New Zealand is comfortingly familiar and fascinatingly different from the USA. Perhaps best known for the fantastical scenery in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies, this exciting country offers natural wonders and incredible sights that travelers can’t find anywhere else. Alan Flynn, a consultant for Worldwide Traveler, just discovered the magic of this destination on a recent trip. He has shared the five things you absolutely must do when traveling halfway around the world… and the one thing he wished he would have done during his New Zealand adventure.
Waiheke – Auckland
An island 35 minutes from Auckland, Waiheke is a relaxing retreat with more than a dozen wineries, white sandy beaches, and vibrant forests. Delve into history with the Stony Batter Walkway, where you can explore World War II gun emplacements and underground tunnels. After a day of wine tastings and discovery, relax with a dinner cruise around Waitemata Harbour. Not only will you see the lovely city lights, but you’ll also enjoy a scrumptious three-course dinner. You might even get to pilot the boat.
The TranzAlpine Train – Christchurch
Known as one of the most scenic train rides in the world, the TranzAlpine Train travels through the Canterbury Plains and the picturesque gorges of the Waimakariri River, and up New Zealand’s Southern Alps. Marvel at the majestic Arthur’s Pass, almost 3,000 feet above sea level boasting spectacular bridges and waterfalls. The train rolls through beech rainforests before stopping in Greymouth. With panoramic views, local delights, and comfortable cabins, the TranzAlpine Train is a relaxing, mesmerizing journey.
Glacier Experience – Franz Josef
Franz Josef Glacier is located 20 minutes from the eponymous town, and here you can take a helicopter adventure to the top of the glacier to behold 360-degrees of snow, ice, lakes, and waterfalls. “It’s like something out of a movie,” Alan says, and you can explore this real-life Hoth with a heli-hike – first a helicopter ride to the glacier followed by a hike through the icy landscape. After the exciting adventure, relax in the glacier’s hot pools for ultimate relaxation.
Milford Sound – Queenstown
“Queenstown is a cross between Aspen and Lake Tahoe,” Alan says, and Worldwide Traveler’s biggest sightseeing adventure in the area is Milford Sound. Located in breathtaking Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is a natural wonderland with tons of activities. Kayak through imposing canyons with tumbling waterfalls, snorkel in an underwater observatory with black coral, or take a scenic cruise to see dolphins, penguins, and other marine mammals.
Rotorua – Aboriginal – Village Tours
This unique area offers a plethora of adventures, starting with the stunning Whakarewarewa Forest, a redwood forest last seen in Disney’s remake of Pete’s Dragon. Your journey continues in Dinosaur Forest, one of the last prehistoric rainforests in the world with trees reaching almost 200 feet high. Venture to Taupo Volcanic Zone, a geothermic area with Te Puia, a geyser that erupts 20 times a day and shoots more than 100 feet into the air. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn about the Maori culture with culinary experiences, traditional stories, and fascinating art.
The One Wish-I-Did New Zealand Adventure
Put on your elf ears and travel to Middle-earth with full-day guided tours of The Lord of the Rings movie locations. Discover Edoras, the Rohan capital, and explore The Hobbiton Movie Set. Get a cold brew from the Southfarthing™ line at The Green Dragon Inn, a replica of the inn used in the movies. Then, see and hold actual weapons and costumes used in the movies, and marvel at the stunning landscape of the Remarkables mountain range, which was seen predominantly in the series.
Call your travel agent today to start planning your adventure! They’ll make sure you leave New Zealand with no regrets.