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Jaillan Yehia

The Travel Tipping Point: 4 Reasons To Visit New Zealand

Written by Jaillan Yehia

Post Categories: Opinion

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New Zealand

New Zealand is one of those destinations which has steadily climbed up my wishlist over the years and has now finally reached the very top.

When I was in my early 20’s I visited Australia –  I spent a couple of months on the well-trodden East Coast route beloved of so many backpackers.

I knew that one day the more understated and subtle charms of the smaller Antipodean nation around 2,500 miles away would suit my travel style more, and call me back to Oceania.

Now that I’m a little older, and a lot more well-travelled I know that New Zealand is perfect for my next long haul holiday.

Here are my reasons to visit New Zealand; why I’ve turned my daydreams toward New Zealand lately – and why you should too:

1. For Icelandic-style Scenery

New Zealand

Some destinations just win you over due to their sheer natural beauty and other-worldly scenery. Once you’ve been to Iceland and fallen in love with the waterfalls and wildlife, mountains and glaciers, you find yourself hungry for more fresh air, natural pursuits and wide open spaces.

Just like Iceland, New Zealand offers all these epic ‘power of nature’ pursuits in abundance, and maybe I’m just getting old but the idea of seeing spectacular scenery is the main factor which is drawing me to New Zealand – it must be one of the only countries on earth that can give Iceland a run for its money when it comes to natural wonders.

2. To Explore Smaller Cities

new zealand

As a born and bred city girl there’s nothing I love more than the thrill of discovering a new urban area. But recently my time spent exploring mega cities like Seoul and Hong Kong, as well as smaller capitals like Copenhagen and manageable UK metropolises like Cardiff and Glasgow have reminded me just how enjoyable it is to spend a few days in a small city.

New Zealand’s largest city Auckland, located on the North Island, has a total population of just 1.5 million – compare this to somewhere like Cairo which is nearer the 10 million mark or London at just under 9 million and you can see that’s a fairly manageable number of people.

The New Zealand capital Wellington is home to around 200,000 people and Christchurch is less than double that size – all 3 cities are verdant, small enough to navigated by foot or by bike and public transport and it’s therefore possible to get under the skin of the cities while on holiday in New Zealand, even if you have only a few days to devote to being downtown.

3. To Experience Native Art

new zealand

Spending time in Canada’s vast, impressive and awe-inspiring setting is highly addictive, and seeking out new countries with similar scenery is high on my wishlist now that I am living back in Europe. So New Zealand is a perfect next step in that sense.

But the similarities between New Zealand and Canada are more than about the landscapes, they’re about the people too.

One of my favourite things about my time in Canada was exploring the art and culture of the First Nations people – a subject I knew very little about before my first visit to Vancouver but soon became enthralled by.

Learning the unique history and perspective of indigenous people – especially their customs and their creativity – is something which gives travel experiences a totally different perspective, and visiting Maori sites like the Maori carvings at Lake Taupo or the geothermal town of Rotorua on the North Island will now be an important part of my agenda when I go on holiday to New Zealand.

4. For Fabulous Film Locations

New ZealandFrom spotting Platform 9¾ at my local King’s Cross Station in London, to marvelling at the locations from Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland, as well as heading to the locations from Oceans 12 in Amsterdam, as a movie buff I’m always fascinated by filming locations.

Along with South Africa, especially the film location capital Cape Town, and my old home of British Columbia, New Zealand has an international reputation as the perfect setting for epic film and TV scenes set on other planets or ancient times.

Of course it was the Lord of The Rings films that really put New Zealand on the map for movie making, but the epic scenery and the huge variety of landscapes of the North and South Islands mean that different parts of the country can easily double for locations in Japan, North America and Europe.

While many smaller movies are filmed in New Zealand but are set in the USA, my personal favourite of a crop of recent New Zealand homegrown films is Hunt For The Wilderpeople.

This beautiful character study about an orphan bonding with his step-father takes you on an emotional journey through New Zealand’s forests and mountains with the nature very much another character in the film. The whole project was completed in just 5 weeks at stunning NZ locations like the Central Plateau and the Waitakere Ranges, and I found myself desperate to book a flight to New Zealand as soon as I’d finished watching.

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