Main reasons to visit New Zealand
New Zealand is incredibly scenic, with countless destinations offering a huge diversity of landscapes. The country stands firmly among the most coveted destinations of the year due to its outstanding pristine nature.
New Zealand comprises two major islands that are totally different in mood and spirit. The South Island offers powerful snow-capped mountains, lush green forests, and giant icy walls of ancient glaciers, while the North Island features serene volcanic beaches, thermal hot springs and gaziers, and sparkling blue glowworm caves.
New Zealand is the perfect place for stargazing due to its low levels of light pollution. Deep clear skies allow you to get a glimpse of the dusty Milky Way and the Southern Cross, five bright jewel-like stars in the form of a kite. The best locations for admiring a myriad of stars are Castlepoint in Wairarapa, Mount John Observatory, and Wellington Carter Observatory.
The old national joke says that New Zealand has twenty sheep for every person. To prove or bust this myth, some calculations were made, and today the official sheep-to-person ratio is 6:1. That’s what happens when the wildlife of the country is extremely diverse.
New Zealand is a dream destination for animal lovers, who can enjoy Kaikoura’s whale watching, swim with dolphins off the coast of the Bay of Islands, or visit Stewart Island to spot the elusive kiwi, an adorable flightless bird with an extremely long beak that has become the national symbol of the country.
There is never a bad time to explore the natural wonders of New Zealand. The country’s climate is mild, so the majority of national wildlife reserves, parks, and sights are open to visitors year-round. But keep in mind that the country is in the Southern Hemisphere, so the warmest months are in winter, and the coldest in the summer.
Getting to know the locals is always one of the best experiences you can get while traveling. What are New Zealanders like? Most the visitors find New Zealanders, aka Kiwis, the nicest, friendliest, and most hospitable people they have ever met. If you need help, a local will likely do his or her best to assist you.
New Zealanders do love outdoor activities. Beginning in childhood, they learn to soak up the beauty of the surrounding epic landscapes, so it’s no wonder they enjoy spending time walking, climbing, and hiking as adults too.
The country is ideal for adrenaline junkies: you will be spoiled with the selection of extreme activities. Whether you go skydiving, bungee jumping, or zorbing (rolling down a hill in a huge inflatable ball), you’re certain to come away with an abundance of positive impressions.
If you aren’t much into extreme sports, how about taking a scenic road trip? Consider renting a car and traveling down the notable road from Queenstown to Glenorchy (with a stop on the way to take a lakeside walk along charming Lake Wakatipu), or taking a drive along the West Coast from the Punakaiki Pancake rocks down to Lake Matheson and Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers.
Getting around New Zealand is pretty easy. You can either take a bus, the cheapest means of public transportation, hop on a ferry to travel between the North and South Islands, or rent a car. Keep in mind that New Zealanders drive on the left-hand side of the road!
Not every high point in New Zealand involvest wilderness. Besides outstanding natural sights, the country boasts lively urban cities. Three major cities to visit are Wellington, Auckland, and Queenstown.
Wellington: the cultural capital of New Zealand. Enclosed by rolling hills and surrounded by turquoise waters, Wellington boasts a scenic view from the very top of Mount Victoria, east of the city center.
Auckland: the adventure capital of New Zealand. Adventures await you at every corner. The Sky Tower and the Harbour Bridge are favourite spots for bungee jumpers. You can also go mountain biking, take a motorbike tour, or rent kayaks.
Queenstown: the scenic capital of New Zealand. Surrounded with endless mountain ranges, the town is located on the shore of Lake Wakatipu and offers visitors mindblowing views from an urban vantage.
New Zealand cuisine is exceptionally diverse. However, as a country that has a 14,000-km coastline, it’s no wonder that it’s mostly renowned for extremely fresh and delicious seafood. Don’t miss a chance to try local scallops, oysters, or crayfish. You will never forget this heavenly taste, especially if you pair your dish with a glass of one of New Zealand’s world-renowned wines.
How to get to New Zealand on miles
The best way to reach the country on miles is to book a flight through United’s frequent flier program, MileagePlus®. If your dates are flexible, you may be able to get the cheapest one-way Saver award ticket for only 40K award miles. Choose any of United’s rewards credit cards with a sign-up bonus that is sufficient for covering your trip to the other side of the world.
The bottom line
These are just a few of all the possible reasons why New Zealand should be ranked first on your travel bucket list. This trip will be strikingly different from most—perhaps only a getaway to Antarctica could beat a journey to Middle Earth. Or maybe not even that!