For those who love the outdoors, New Zealand is the trip of a lifetime. The diversity of beautiful landscapes is staggering and the country is readily accessible for travelers. Of the two main islands, the North Island is impressive, particularly its thousands of miles of coastline, but the South Island holds the wild terrain that has made the country famous.
A certain Hollywood trilogy thrust New Zealand further into the public eye, but the atmoshpere has remained largely intact. Queenstown is now the world’s capital of adventure tourism. The silhouette of Milford Sound is recognized around the world. Still, traveling in New Zealand is enchanting and it’s easy to separate from the crowds. Within a short distance of the most popular natural attractions are pristine pockets of wild country that few people see.
That is one reason why New Zealand is so ideal: within a compact area it caters to the most ambitious outdoorspeople, those looking to relax, families, trampers (tramping is the local term for hiking), surfers, skiers and snowboarders, and just about everyone else. The Kiwis couldn’t be more amiable, and against the backdrop of robust and living Maori history, there is no place more magnificent than New Zealand.
For the towns in New Zealand that are prime for exploring the outdoors, including Queenstown, Wanaka, Te Anau, and Rotorua, see our New Zealand’s Best Adventure Towns. For a breakdown of adventure activities in New Zealand, including hiking, surfing, mountain biking, cycling, kayaking, and paddleboarding, see our New Zealand Adventure Directory.