New Zealand is an island country which has two primary islands, the North Island and the South Island. The North Island is the more developed island where most of the population lives and the South Island is less developed but has more diverse and dramatic nature. New Zealand is a country for nature lovers and has stunning natural beauty everywhere that you look. Both islands have beautiful nature to see but the nature that makes up the two islands are completely different.
In my opinion, the North Island has more urban activities to do and the South Island has more nature related activities to do. I feel the best way to describe New Zealand is to separate it into four different topics which are the North Island, South Island and the amazing nature.
Most people don’t travel to New Zealand because they are excited about the food but New Zealand has some very unique foods that should absolutely be tried when visiting. Some of the foods that New Zealanders eat today are native to the islands and other specialties are Māori cuisine and cuisines with British origins.
Some of the foods that everyone should eat when traveling to New Zealand are:
- Hāngi – traditional Māori way of cooking where food is cooked in a covered pit lined with hot stones and fire. This sounds like the Māori version of a Hawaiian Luau.
- Roast lamb or lamb cutlets
- “Fish n’ chips” – A simple meal of fried battered fish and chips (fries), if you want a different version then make it a fish wrap with chips.
- Greenshell mussels – native shellfish that can be found all over New Zealand
- mince pie
- Pāua is abalone that can be prepared: raw, fried, in soups and even in barbequed for that nice, smoky flavor.
- Gold kiwifruits are milder, sweeter than the traditional green kiwifruits.
- Bluff oyster – eaten raw or fried but they are only in season from March to August.
The North Island is has beautiful rolling hills that remain green all year. The scenery is beautiful and on the surface it may look a little boring but don’t let that fool you. The North Island has some very special natural features that should be seen when visited. The two natural features that can be seen in the North Island are the Waitomo Glow Worms and the Rotorura thermal formations.
The South Island is better known for its extreme sports but the North Island has just as much adrenalin rushing activities. A few things that might be fun to do are zorbing, bungee jumping off the Harbour Bridge, hiking to the top of the Harbour Bridge or Tower Jumping off the Sky Tower.
New Zealand predominately consists of smaller towns but there are two major cities in New Zealand and they are both located in the North Island.
Auckland is by far the most known city in New Zealand but the capital is located in Wellington which is the second largest city in New Zealand. Most people know very little of the things that can be seen in New Zealand’s cities but there are lots of activities to keep visitors busy.
Must see Attractions
My list of must see attractions on the North Island are a combination of nature, city sites and entertainment. The list below are the places and activities that I think are the best attractions on the North Island.
My favorite experiences on the North Island was spending the day touring the Hobbiton Movie Set. Walking around the set instantly brought back visions of Frodo and Sam, Bilbo Baggins and of course Gandalf. It was fun to see the Hobbit Holes, the charming Hobbit village and to just enjoy being in a truly beautiful setting.
With just a little imagination, it was easy to hear the sounds of the Hobbit village and remember some of my favorite scenes from the Lord of the Rings Move. Of course, visions of Gandalf’s fireworks at the Bilbo’s part kept popping into my head.
One of the parts that I enjoyed the most was that there were so many really great photo ops. There are places to interact with the movie props and to get up close to the Hobbit Holes. Our favorite photo op was to stand inside the door of the Hobbit Hole and welcome our visitors.
Hobbiton Movie Set
After visiting the Hobbiton Movie Set, I wanted to watch the movie again just to see if I would notice anything new from the set.
The North Island is best suited for people that enjoy the activities of the city life but also enjoy daytrips into beautiful nature.
The South Island is thought of as being the prettier of the two islands and I think that it is hard to argue against it. The South Island also has beautiful rolling green hills but it has some of the most diverse natural beauty that I have seen in a small area. If you want to see natural beauty there is no better place to go than the South Island. Some of the natural features that can be seen in the South Island are fiords, glaciers, snowcapped mountains, pristine lakes and raging rivers.
In addition to being an outdoor lover’s paradise, the South Island is known for being a pioneer in extreme sports. The South Island is where bungee jumping and shallow water speed boating started. Queenstown is known as the adrenalin and adventure capital of the world.
The South Island doesn’t have the big cities that the North Island has but many of the towns in the South Island are nice art communities featuring nice original works from local artists.
Must see Attractions
My list of must see attractions on the South Island are a completely nature sites. The list below are the places and activities that I think are the best attractions on the South Island.
When it comes to beautiful scenery, it is hard to find a more picturesque place on the South Island than Milford Sound. It is a beautiful sight to see the steep mountains rise up from the calm waters where they quickly become covered with lush green vegetation then as the mountain continues higher into the sky, suddenly the vegetation give way to white snow covered mountain tops.
The Fjords are probably the most famous natural attractions in the country but the south island is loaded with attractions for nature lovers to enjoy.
The west coast is covered in a temperate lush rainforest which ferns and mosses growing on the trees. The east coast is a dramatic contrast to the west coast but I think it is equally beautiful just less rugged. The highlights of the east coast are rolling hills, calm harbors, seaside towns, springtime colors, unusual rock formations and scenic ocean views.
Hobbiton Movie Set
The South Island is the place for people that really like to spend time in nature but also enjoy relaxing in quaint seaside towns.
Although New Zealand is a relatively small country it has an unexpected amount of amazing nature. There is so much to see that it will take you several trips just to see all of the different types of nature that New Zealand has to offer. The following is a brief descriptions of the different types of nature that can be seen in New Zealand.
- Mountains – The Southern Alps of the South Island have jagged snowcapped peaks and the most famous peak is Mount Cook which is also the highest peak.
- Lakes – Below the mountain peaks of the Southern Alps are turquoise lakes where you may have the lake to yourself. In the North Island beautiful Lake Taupo was formed by a massive volcanic explosion.
- Fjords – The fiord region of the South Island is where the Southern Alps meets the Tasman Sea. The region has been designated as Fjordland National Park and has three fiords – Milford Sound, Dusky Sound and Doubtful Sound.
- Glaciers – Glaciers may not be what you would expect to see on an Island in the South Pacific but this island is relatively close to Antarctica. New Zealand has several glaciers but the most famous is Fox Glacier and Franz Joseph Glacier. There glaciers are sustained by the enormous amount of rain that falls on New Zealand’s west coast.
- Volcanoes – New Zealand has numerous dormant and active volcanoes. Some of the volcanoes are on the two main islands but other volcanoes have formed smaller individual volcanic islands.
- Geysers – New Zealand is a geothermal hotspot which is obvious by the number of volcanoes but this also creates geysers and hot springs.
- Unusual Rock Formations – New Zealand has two unusual rock formations that I really can’t describe but I will be making posts on them. They are Punakaiki (Pancake rocks) and the Moeraki boulders.
Mt Cook and Moeraki boulders
When it comes to nature, New Zealand has everything all packed onto two islands. The country has golden sand beaches, dense rainforests, snow caped mountains, massive glaciers, aquamarine glacial lakes, fantastic waterfalls, crystal clear rivers, rugged coastlines, magnificent fjords, rolling hillsides, secluded calm harbors and some really unusual rock formations.
Places to See
(Click on the photo below for more information on each topic.)