When filmmakers are looking for a fantasy landscape, New Zealand’s always top of the wish list.
Not only is the landscape diverse beyond imagining, the country’s compact and accessible, outdoorsy in all weathers and naturally designed for big adventures.
You could spend an entire family holiday on the amazing North Island beaches or hire a campervan and explore every national park, mountain range, marine reserve and colourful city. But, whichever way you ‘do’ New Zealand, it’s never short of phenomenal.
December to February is the New Zealand summer with temperatures between 20 and 32˚.
New Zealand has over 15,000km of coastline: from huge, sandy beaches in the far north of North Island to rugged shores trimming almost all round South Island.
Cinematic New Zealand’s mountain ranges, stunning glaciers, geysers, lakes, forests and enormous stretches of unspoiled wilderness are an amazingly accessible natural playground.
New Zealand’s fantastic for campervan holidays: not much larger than the UK, excellent roads and a countrywide network of campsites and parks on both North and South Island.
Auckland on North Island is New Zealand’s largest city and rated on the Mercer Scale as world’s third most liveable.
New Zealand has 14 National Parks covering 30,000km². Tongarira on North Island is also a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Dramatic Otago Peninsula on South Island has the world’s only albatross breeding colony and a colony of rare Little Blue Penguins.
Roughly the size of England and Wales, South Island’s landscape is the mind’s eye New Zealand of staggeringly beautiful Alpine ridges, huge glaciers, fjords, dramatic coasts and vast, untamed national parks.
The smaller of New Zealand’s two main islands, North is the administrative and political heart of the country. Flawless, sun-drenched beaches and great swathes of rich farmland, fascinating cities, ancient Maori culture and some of the most remarkable geothermal landscapes in the southern hemisphere.
Fantasy expeditions range from the chance to Hobbit about for a few days to several weeks of full Lord of the Rings’ questing. Middle Earth Itineraries
Arguably the most impressive of New Zealand’s diverse and dramatic national parks, Fjordland is in the far south west of South Island. Fjordland National Park
Ziplining, luging, racing, sky-swinging or stargazing, Skyline’s wild adventure for all ages in Rotorua, just over an hour from Bay of Plenty. Skyline Rotorua
Thrilling family rafting on the tallest commercially ridden waterfalls in New Zealand including Kaituna on the Okere River. Raftabout
Within driving distance of Auckland, Adventure Forest takes what comes naturally to New Zealand and adds vast treetop walks, pulleys, lines, swings and wild family fun. Adventure Forest
Kiakoura, north of Christchurch, is the undisputed centre of whale and dolphin watching in New Zealand. Kiakoura Whale Watching
Penguin colonies, fur seals and Pohatu Marine Reserve’s spectacular seascape make kayaking with local conservationists an unforgettable family adventure. Pohatu Penguins
Centred around the perfect volcanic cone of Mount Taranaki, Egmont National Park is wonderful for walking and hiking in summer and winter skiing. Egmont National Park
Put aside at least an afternoon to explore this vast interactive museum which also has an innovative kid’s event programme throughout the year. Museum of New Zealand
Built over a century ago, the town of Waihi is famous for gold, silver and fortune hunters. Today its unusual heritage makes a fascinating family weekend of discovery and beachy fun. Waihi Weekend Treasure Quest
Visitors to New Zealand are always surprised by how easy it is to explore. Hire a campervan or car on either North or South Island and there are hundreds of itineraries and well-marked routes designed for touring. Public transport’s excellent and extensive in cities and North and South Island are connected by daily ferry services from Wellington or flights from Wellington to Christchurch. Be aware of fuel if you’re driving in more remote areas, filling stations are few and far between.