Made in New Zealand: A hybrid heritage to share
We’ve crammed every geographic feature we can think of into our islands. We've arrived from all over the world to set up home. We're outnumbered by eight million sheep. We keep our backyard clean and green and play sport like there’s no tomorrow. And we love visitors, so come and explore New Zealand's hybrid heritage.
Sightseeing, New Zealand-style
In your see-it-to-believe-it geography tour watch two great oceans meet in a foaming blue boil-up, trek the slopes of barely sleeping volcanoes and soak in the natural spa of a hot water beach. See mud pools bubble one day and icy glaciers tumble the next. Or marvel at Moeraki’s boulders, which transform golden Koekohe Beach into a sci- fi movie set.
But don’t just look at the scenery – ski down it, dive beneath it, bike over it, climb up it, walk through it or fly over it. If you're feeling really brave, turn the landscape upside-down with a leap of faith at the original bungy site: Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown.
Meet the people
Maori were the first people to settle in New Zealand. Take a tour of Waitangi, the country’s cultural birthplace where chiefs signed the founding treaty with the British Crown. Or visit Rotorua, where you’ll be welcomed onto a marae, greeted with a hongi, fed with a hangi and maybe taught a haka.
Visitors from all over the world can feel at home in New Zealand. The Scots took up residence in Dunedin. There’s a genuine castle, they make their own whisky and have more pipe bands than Scotland. Pack your tartan and taste a wee dram. The French settled in Akaroa where, beneath a tricolour flag, you can don your beret, munch a croissant and play petanque.
Town and country
Get to grips with New Zealand's farming heritage by tour or farm stay. There are millions of sheep here, and they all need shearing. So fire up the clippers and have a go. Don’t worry if you give them a baaaa-d hair day; it’ll grow back for next year!
In NZ towns and cities you’ll find colonial cottages rubbing shoulders with high-rise towers. Modern eco stands side-by-side with art deco in Napier. In Wellington, the beehive-shaped Parliament stands opposite the Old Government Buildings, which claim the title of largest wooden edifice in the southern hemisphere. Step into genuine Victoriana in Oamaru, where intrepid locals ride penny-farthing bicycles to work.
Back to nature
Take to the hills for acres of emerald wilderness. Ancient kauri trees survive in tangled rainforest. The good news is there are no terrifying wild animals to bite, poison or otherwise savage you. New Zealand does have its very own pocket-sized dinosaur though: the tuatara reptile is thought to be around 200 million years old.
Listen to graceful birdsong symphonies in native forests. It can be difficult to spot the country's notoriously shy national bird in the wild, so a wildlife sanctuary could be your best option. But do head out on a fiord cruise for more sociable encounters with penguins and whales. Jump overboard and make friends with the local dolphins.
Tour Weta Workshop’s Academy Award-winning techno creations in Wellington. Stick around in the capital for a mesmerising fusion of fashion and theatre at the annual World of Wearable Art show. You’ll find out all about New Zealand's rich cultural heritage at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa,with hands-on history and eclectic displays.
Thousands of Pacific Islanders live in Auckland. Amid leis and lava-lavas feel the beat at Pasifika’s week long celebration of music, art and dance. All over the country, there’s sport to live and breathe. It’s in our DNA, so immerse yourself in the fervour of a rugby match or spend a day big boat sailing in Auckland, City of Sails.