10 Minute Read
Are still not sure if New Zealand is worth the long-haul flight and the big price tag that comes with it? We promise – it is! Here are the best reasons to visit New Zealand and give it a respectable position on your “to travel to” list.
You’ve Never Seen Outdoors Like This
If I had to describe New Zealand in one word, it would be green. It’s a completely different green than I’m used to seeing in Winona, Minnesota. New Zealand is home to a wide variety of luscious landscapes, which easy to see just by looking at their lawns. A typical New Zealand house is surrounded by a mix of trees, shrubs, flowering bushes and beautiful gardens. Here are a few examples…
Because New Zealand is geographically diverse and sparsely populated, you can do just about any kind of outdoor activity you want too. If the only thing you know about New Zealand is Lord of the Rings, the outdoors is one of the best reasons to visit New Zealand. For the outdoorsman, there is hiking (they even have something called the nine Great Walks), camping, canoeing/kayaking, walking on a glacier, and rock climbing…just to name a few. Are you more of a beach bum? You can enjoy surfing, windsurfing, parasailing, paddle boarding or just reading a good book on the beach. If you’re an adventure nut, you’ll find everything you ever wanted to do in Queenstown. Bungy jump and skydiving are just the tip of the iceberg there.
Truth be told, I’m not the outdoors type. I wasn’t very optimistic that I would enjoy hiking or some of the other outdoor activities we had planned. But, I’m so glad we did them because it’s one of the best ways to discover New Zealand.
Our Favorite Moments
- Hawks Lookout – A stunning lookout view near Motueka in the south Island. It’s an easy five-minute walk from your car to the lookout.
- Harwoods Hole Track – It takes about an hour to reach your destination on this track…the deepest vertical shaft in New Zealand.
- Abel Tasman National Park – One of the most gorgeous parks in the country. We spent a day sea kayaking and got up close to several seals. There are also tracks you can hike and places to camp overnight.
- Wharariki Beach – To get to this beach you have to take a short hike through hills of sheep fields, which is pretty spectacular. The beach views are just as amazing too.
- Akaroa – A quaint town near Christchurch with a great beach that’s easy to explore in a day.
- Milford Sound – A cruise through Milford Sound is an experience you won’t forget. With huge rocks and mountains on either side, the Sound has incredible views unlike anything we’ve never seen.
- Glenorchy & Wanaka – Both cities are a short drive from Queenstown and you can see snow-covered mountains while you swim.
- The Remarkables – This beautiful mountain range surrounds part of Queenstown and the suburbs.
Dip Your Toes in Experiencing a New Culture
For Americans, New Zealand can be a great place to visit because you get to experience a new culture in a place that still feels pretty much like home. If you’ve been hesitant to visit another country because of the language barrier, wild cuisine or general culture shock, you won’t encounter those problems here. New Zealand is a very Western country and it’s easy for Americans to get along here.
New Zealanders will often point to the relatively successful inclusion of Maori in daily life in modern New Zealand. Indeed, NZ has gone to great lengths to incorporate Maori language, culture, and art everywhere you look. School children learn Maori words in grade school, and Maori art and design is included from modern art to war memorial shrines (which they served in).
Maori are mostly located on the north island. Only one tribe inhabits the south, so if you’re looking to immerse yourself in that culture, your best bet is to look for locations in the north. If new culture is something you love, this is certainly one of the best reasons to visit New Zealand.
Plan it Right and You Can Do it on a Budget
Traveling to NZ doesn’t have to break the bank if you don’t want it to. The biggest expense will be your roundtrip flight, which can cost anywhere from $1,000-$2,000. The price will depend on the time of year and if you can find a good deal, so start tracking your flight options early through your favorite app or Google Flights. Once you’ve paid for that, you’ll want to plan on an additional $1,200 per person to cover your hotel/food for a two-week trip.
Your general cost of living when it comes to food, accommodation, and transportation is a mixed bag. So while groceries are expensive, plenty of free activities exist. Food and alcohol can be more expensive. For tips on that, see our guide to NZ grocery stores. Finding places to stay are a breeze with airbnb, so check out our guide on that. And transportation is pretty affordable. Flights go to all the main cities and public transportation is affordable and reliable.
If you’re looking for the adrenaline junkie tour of NZ, you just have to prioritize and understand that bungy jumping costs $200. So, once you realize that, start plugging stuff into your budget and decide on what you want to see and do.
- Walking and hiking tracks
- National and city parks
- Royal Botanic Gardens (each city has them and they are usually fantastic)
- Government buildings and tours (like the NZ Supreme Court in Wellington – so cool!)
- DIY walking tours of city downtowns (just google it)
- Beer and wine tastings
The key is deciding between the entertainment and tourist things you must do and those you would like to do. If you find your trip expenses are starting to balloon, review your list and start making cuts.
Overall, you can expect to spend $3,000-$4,000 per person on a trip to New Zealand. So get budgeting!
The Ice Cream is Worth the Trip
Okay…okay…I may be exaggerating a bit. BUT, the ice cream here certainly is something special. Before we left, several people told us how much they loved ice cream in New Zealand. In fact, a couple friends of ours told us they ate it every day on their New Zealand trip. Honestly, I thought it sounded like a funny story but didn’t really think there would be anything different about ice cream here. I was wrong.
If you are an ice cream fan, be prepared to set aside some extra budget for yummy treats. No matter if you pick up a tub of Tip Top at the grocery store or an ice cream cone from a local shop, it’s going to be some of the best ice cream you’ve ever tasted. Personally, I prefer plain old vanilla – and I think that’s where you can taste the difference the most. New Zealand ice cream is more rich and creamy than anything I’ve had in the United States. They also have several different flavors we don’t, including one called Hokey Pokey. This is a mix of vanilla ice cream and honeycomb toffee and you’ll see it in advertised all over the place.
If you’re looking for recommendations, here’s the most current list of New Zealand Ice Cream Awards winners. You can’t go wrong trying one of those. I promise – you won’t regret it.
And One of the Best Reasons to Visit New Zealand…You’re Never More than 2 Hours from a Beach
Since the islands are so small, even if you were in the middle of the southern part of the south island, Cromwell for example, exploring Lord of the Ring filming locations, a beach (on the coast or lake) is only a couple of hours away.
I mean, really, the country is about the size of Oregon.
It’s hard to beat being that close to the water. You can easily rent a car for a day or take a bus to any of the major beaches no matter where you’re are. Car rental and bus transportation is quite affordable too, so why not? Every day can be a beach day in New Zealand.
If you’re still not convinced, check out these articles:
- Great Reasons to Visit New Zealand from Nomadic Matt
- 15 Unusual Places In New Zealand That’ll Blow Your Mind
- 33 Things To Eat On Your Trip To New Zealand
And then read our guides to specific New Zealand destinations:
Well, those are our best reasons to visit New Zealand. So, whether you’re considering planning a trip to New Zealand or have your ticket booked, let us know in the comments. We’d love to answer your questions and help make your New Zealand experience even better.