Why New Zealand is the Ultimate Adventure Destination
By admin
Published 20/10/2015

New Zealand is a country considered to be part of the western world, but geographically it’s anything but that. Separated from Australia by the Tasman Sea, the islands making up New Zealand really sit in the South Pacific. Being so far from the rest of developed world has allowed the country to retain strong aspects of its history and ensured that the country remains, for the most part, untouched.

A typical landscape in the South Island of New Zealand. Photo credit: Flickr/Steve Verrall

Divided into two main islands, the north island and the south island, both are populated and not massively dissimilar in size. The north island accommodates about 75% of the country’s 4.5 million population, who live mostly in and around the larger cities of Wellington and Auckland. The south island’s main major city is Christchurch and most of the population lives near the city.

Lake Gunn, Fiordland National Park. Photo credit: Flickr/Jocelyn Kinghorn

Separating the two main islands is a stretch of water known as Cook Strait, regular ferry services operate across the water, which is notorious for being an adventure in itself when the weather is inclement. This stretch of water, being the only strait between the islands can become incredibly turbulent with tidal streams of up to 10 knots being recorded, creating quite a challenge for the ferry movements!

Trekking, Lake Waikaremoana. Photo credit: Flickr/Department of Conservation

Both islands are relatively sparsely populated, with the south island being the most rural, and mountainous. A common perception of New Zealand is that it’s all about outdoor activities, and outside of the cities, this is definitely true. The extensive coastline offers a range of watersports from kayaking to sailing with surfing and windsurfing being very popular. The exposed location offers big clean surf and strong winds make sailing possible almost all year round.

Horseback riding, Lake Tekapo, Canterbury. Photo credit: Flickr/Tim Lucas

Inland, the mountains often rise sharply from the coastline and this brings about a whole host of sports. For those seeking an adrenaline rush, there’s base jumping, bungee jumping, white water jet boating and, at higher altitudes in winter, skiing and snowboarding. For more sedate, yet often equally rewarding ways to explore New Zealand, hiking is extremely popular with New Zealand having many ‘great walks’ around the islands. New Zealand really sums up adventure, with vast natural scenery covering the whole country; this is a part of the world that is both modern and undeveloped. The surrounding ocean dominates the climate here, although the latitude does have influence on the extremes. The north of the north island can be almost subtropical in summer, whereas the south coast can be unbearably cold, particularly at altitude. Without any other landmass nearby, weather can change quickly and this makes outdoor pursuits, particularly mountaineering all the more challenging.

Volcanic activity at Tongariro National Park. Photo credit: Flickr/PinballRobin

As New Zealand straddles two tectonic plates, earthquakes are common across the country, and over the years spectacular natural features have been created. There’s volcanic activity at all levels, giving rise to awesome sights as well as naturally heated spas not dissimilar to those found in Iceland.

Glaciers have also shaped New Zealand’s landscape and are very visible on the south island where they stretch from mountaintops almost to the coast, making for a very surreal yet enchanting experience. It’s possible, usually with a local guide, to visit these huge glaciers and actually see inside these enormous blocks of ice, revealing their ancient and dynamic history. In New Zealand, the ice age hasn’t quite finished.

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