7 Reasons to Visit New Zealand - NBC Bay Area

Stunning Scenery

There are few places on this earth with untouched, authentic beauty, and New Zealand is one of them. With snow-capped mountains, lush tropical forests, volcanic activity, and hundreds of islands that look like emerald gems in the vast blue Pacific, New Zealand is truly nature’s treasure chest. The diversity in the scenery is unparalleled—travel to the ice age with the Fox Glacier in the Southern Alps, or experience jaw-dropping sights at the Milford Sound fjord, as you stand amidst majestic mountains, dramatic cliffs, and cascading waterfalls. Pinch yourself—you’re not dreaming.

Adventure Abounds

It’s not just easy on the eyes—New Zealand is an adrenaline junkie’s paradise. Check off all the items on your bucket list, from skydiving to bungee jumping—the Kawarau Bridge Jump in Queenstown is iconic, as the world’s first ever bungee jump. For a slower and more controlled action-packed encounter, check out one of the many abseiling options, or scale to greater heights with a rock-climbing excursion. And of course, you can stick to your own two feet, or two wheels, with an endless array of hiking and biking options among breathtaking scenery.

It’s Real Life Middle-Earth

If the sights and sounds of New Zealand seem otherworldly, it’s because they are. As the backdrop of the beloved Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, you can see the mythical Middle-earth here. Over 150 locations on both the North and South Islands were used in the films—which gives you even more chances to immerse yourself in the Middle-earth fantasy. Take the path of the "Dwarves and Bilbo" with a heli-hike at Misty Mountains, or go on a Lost World cave exploration adventure. If you were enchanted with this beautiful land on the big screen, we have a feeling it’ll look even better in real life.

Your Holiday Begins The Moment You Step Onboard Air New Zealand

With its exceptional service, fantastic food, and luxurious cabins designed for long-haul flights, it’s no wonder that Air New Zealand has been voted airline of the year for the last three years. Air New Zealand really is a better way to fly.

Begin your journey here in San Francisco and touch down in beautiful Auckland. Between destinations, you’ll be treated to a wonderful in-flight experience that’s as warm, welcoming, and laid-back as the Kiwi people. From its supremely comfortable economy seats (including Economy Skycouch™ — a trio of three seats that together create a flat, flexible space to stretch out on) and delectable meals and wine pairings by chef Peter Gordon, to over 1,800 hours of entertainment and in-flight safety videos presented by your favorite Hobbits, your holiday begins the moment you step onboard Air New Zealand.

Meet Pete the Kiwi, Air New Zealand's biggest fan!

Home to Pristine Beaches

Sun, sand, and surf—in New Zealand there are limitless ways to experience the simple beach pleasures. Whether you’re looking for rugged cliffs and black sand (Piha Beach), dramatic rock formations (Wharariki Beach), or hot water pools (Hot Water Beach), you can turn your beach day into a new kind of adventure. Or of course, stick to the basics. Bask in the sun or catch a surf break at one of the many spots at Bay of Islands—be sure to check out Ninety-Mile Beach here, a 55-mile stretch of sand that touches the northernmost tip of New Zealand (It’s also an official highway!)

World-Class Wine Regions

You won’t be whining here. New Zealand hosts some of the best wineries in the world, on both the North and South islands. With rich reds and vivid whites, the climate and temperatures in New Zealand allow wineries to cultivate a unique balance of flavor and acidity. Taste this vibrancy in world-famous Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs at wineries in Marlborough, Waiheke Island, and Queenstown—just to name a few places. For the true connoisseur, there’s the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, a journey through three major wine regions with phenomenal views along the way.

Vibrant City Life

“Bored” isn’t in the vocabulary in New Zealand. In addition to the great outdoors, the country is buzzing with a flavorful culinary scene and vivacious nightlife. In Auckland, find award-winning restaurants and bars and delightfully fresh farmer’s markets. Enjoy as much lobster and fresh fish as your heart desires in this sea food haven, along with New Zealand’s classic lamb. In Wellington, the nation’s capital, enjoy numerous cultural and heritage sites, including Te Papa—the national museum—or find your next favorite painting at one the many galleries. And don’t forget to take a ride in the city’s historic cable car!

Maori Culture

If you’ve seen the New Zealand rugby team members stomp their feet and loudly chant before a match, that’s the haka—an ancient Maori war dance, symbolizing pride and strength. It’s one of the many ways Maori culture plays a significant part in modern New Zealand. From visiting a tribal meeting ground (called a marae) to enjoying a hangi feast cooked in earth ovens, experiencing Maori culture is a one-of-a-kind, illuminating experience. Listen to the magic of Maori storytelling, and learn about their creative arts, like weaving, carving, and tattooing. Instead of a handshake, you’ll be greeted with a hongi—the ceremonial touching of noses.