An island nation in the Pacific, about the size of the state of Oregon, New Zealand is a diverse county featuring stunning mountain landscapes, coastal cities and an array of unusual animals and plants.
Here’s just a sample of what New Zealand has to offer:
A: is for Auckland, New Zealand’s largest and most diverse city. Visitors to Auckland can shop, dine, visit the beach or cruise the harbor and islands surrounding the city.
B: is for Bungee Jumping. In the 1980’s, a couple of enterprising young New Zealanders introduced bungee jumping to the world – and taking a leap when you visit New Zealand is practically a rite of passage. Try jumping from the Auckland Harbour Bridge or the Mokai Gravity Canyon.
C: is for the Cossey/Massey Loop, a hiking trail near Auckland. This trail is popular with locals and visitors alike and offers stunning views of mountains and lakes.
D: is for Dunedin Cheese Rolls. Dunedin, a city in the coastal Otago region, is famous for these cheesy sandwiches, which feature a cheese mixture wrapped in white bread and grilled with butter (kind of like a grilled cheese sandwich). These treats are only available in Dunedin and make a cheap lunch.
E: is for Eastland. For a true taste of Maori culture, visit this region, where the Polynesians first landed, where Captain Cook first set foot on New Zealand, and where you can still find painted Maori churches.
F: is for Fiordland Crested Penguins, one of the rarest species of penguin in the world. These flightless birds nest and breed on several of New Zealand’s beaches, including Munro Beach on the west coast of South Island.
G: is for Gisborne, in northeast New Zealand, on the shores of Poverty Bay. Gisborne is the first city in the world to see the sun each day.
H: is for Hanmer Springs, a resort destination about 90 minutes from Christchurch. Visit the thermal spring water park, several parks and preserves, and take in the stunning views from Conical Hill.
I: is for the Islands of the Hauraki Gulf. Located off the coast of Auckland, these islands range from the volcanic island of Rangitoto, the hot springs on the Great Barrier Island, and the wine making island of Waiheke Island.
J: is for jandals, the Kiwis slang term for flip-flops.
K: is for Kiwi. New Zealanders refer to themselves as Kiwis, in reference to the large flightless bird, not the fruit.
L: is for Larnach Castle Gardens. Surrounding an impressive 1870’s home, perched atop a bluff on Otago Peninsula, these stunning gardens were fully-restored and designed around recognizable themes, including “Alice in Wonderland.”
M: is for Maori. Maoris, who came to New Zealand from Polynesia almost 700 years ago, make up almost 10% of New Zealand’s population.
N: is for New Zealand wine. New Zealand is fast becoming one of the world’s largest producers of wine, with more than 500 wineries and 11 million cases of wine sold each year. Plan to visit several wineries for tastings during your visit.
O: is for Otago Peninsula, located on the south east coast of South Island. Home to some of the rarest species of birds in the world, the peninsula also offers sandy beaches, and plenty of opportunities for hiking and kayaking.
P: is for Puzzling World. Located in Wanaka, Puzzling World is a museum devoted to puzzles and illusions, including a challenging human maze.
Q: is for Queenstown, located on the shore of Lake Wakatipu, is one of the most visited cities in New Zealand. Fans of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy will recognize many Middle Earth locations in Queenstown.
R: is for rugby, the national sport. A rough and tumble sport, rugby is similar to a combination of soccer and football. The national team, one of the best in the world, is called the “All Blacks.”
S: is for sheep. While New Zealand is home to some industry, agriculture forms the backbone of the economy, primarily in sheep farming. In fact, there are more than 40 million sheep in New Zealand – about ten times the number of people.
T: is for tuatara, a large, ancient reptile that makes New Zealand home. It’s believed that tuataras walked the earth with dinosaurs.
U: is for ultimate hiking destination. New Zealand offers some of the most diverse and scenic hiking trails in the world, such as the Milford and Routeburn Tracks.
V: is for Victoria Cross for New Zealand, a military award for service of the highest valor in the New Zealand Armed Forces.
W: is for Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city. It is the southernmost capital city in the world.
X: is just an awkward letter. Let’s move on.
Y: is for Yellow Eyed Penguin, also known Hoiho. Another rare species of penguin, these are the largest penguins to live in a temperate climate.
Z: is for zoos. Both Auckland and Wellington are home to large zoos, featuring both native and exotic wildlife from New Zealand and around the world.
These are just some of the highlights of what New Zealand has to offer. So what are you waiting for? Plan your trip to this exotic and fascinating island today.
This guest post article was written and provided by Erica Gustafson who is an avid traveler, freelance writer and digital media consultant for Expedia. With her job she often takes flights to Auckland and other destinations in New Zealand.