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No matter how well-travelled you are, New Zealand's stunning scenery and natural beauty will astonish you. Whether it's volcanoes with crater lakes, rivers, beaches, mountains, or fjords —the country has it all. With just over four million inhabitants spread over its two main islands, New Zealand has retained its scenic beauty while also preserving the culture and traditions of its indigenous Maori community.
Since The Lord of the Rings was filmed there, major attractions such as Milford Sound, Mount Cook, Fiordland, and the Bay of Islands became even more popular. But others like Fox Glacier, Banks Peninsula, and Kaikoura remain relatively free of tourist crowds. At Rotorua, steep yourself in rich Maori culture or jump into the steaming geysers and hot springs instead. New Zealand's cities are vastly different from each other, so spend some time in at least a few of them. From Auckland's vast urban sprawl, the sports-crazy Hamilton, green gardens of Christchurch, and the Scottish charm of Dunedin, they are all worth a visit.
The Kiwis have no shortage of outdoor activities to keep you busy, and you can find everything here from bungee jumping and parasailing, to kayaking and river rafting. Revive yourself after a long day of sightseeing or adventure sports with one of New Zealand's many regional beers, or sip on a cool glass of the country's famous Sauvignon Blanc. For a bite to eat, savour the smoky flavours of a Maori hangi, or try some of the delicious and plentiful seafood cooked with local flair in every city.
Air New Zealand has two direct flights per week between Vancouver (YVR) and Auckland (AKL) and these are quite cheap if you book well in advance. However, New Zealand is a long way away, so it's a good idea to break your journey at San Francisco (SFO), Hong Kong (HKG), Los Angeles (LAX), Honolulu (HNL) or Sydney (SYD) on the way to Auckland or Christchurch (CHC). You could also fly to the airports of Wellington (WLG), Dunedin (DUD), Hamilton (HLZ), Palmerston North (PMR), and Queenstown (ZQN) although most flights to these cities would go via Auckland or Christchurch.
New Zealand's two islands have different climates, with the North more subtropical and the South temperate. Remember that New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere, so the summer months are from December to February and it is cold from June to August. Summer temperatures range between 20-30°C while in winter it is between 10-15°C. That being said, the country's weather is extremely temperamental and you could have rain, sun, wind, and chill, all in the same day. The average temperatures also depend on the altitude, so come well prepared for any weather eventuality!
To avoid the local crowds on their summer holidays or winter breaks, visit New Zealand from October to November or April to May.