5 Reasons Why New Zealand?

Catlins Coast Rainforest, New Zealand
Rainforest, New Zealand

Thank Goodness New Zealand is back in business for travelers, and I’m joining BlogNZ to encourage people to GO.

I won’t live long enough to see all the wonders this world has to offer. While I struggle to accept that fact, I can console myself that in two weeks I saw more of earth’s variety than most people ever see…and it was all contained in one skinny, thousand-mile long country–a mere speck on the globe. I went to New Zealand.

Glaciers, fjiords, rolling green pastures, rough rocky sea coasts, rain forests, sandy beaches, thermal blow holes, mirrored mountain lakes, volcanoes past and present, caves and canyons, rivers in gorges and rivers inches deep meandering across flat lands.


Mt. Cook

1. The Alps and Glaciers

… a small plane piloted by a sturdy farm woman–large hands and keen eyes. As she headed the Aspiring Air plane out of Wanaka, she tilted slightly as she pointed out her place–a farm hidden away in a lakeside valley at the foot of thousand foot high cliffs.

For an hour the plane followed the valley toward Mt. Cook, at 12,365’ the higheset mountain of New Zealand’s Alps. Banking and turning, the pilot made sure the passengers got good views of the glaciers stolidly creeping down the mountain side. From the plane we saw not a sheet of slick ice, but a blue/green bed of nails.

2. The Fjords

Doubtful Sound, New Zealand. 8th March 2007
Doubtful Sound

Learning that forty tourist buses a day stop at Milford, a small fleet of sightseeing boats ply the waters through Milford Sound, and the air is filled with helicopters and planes, we opted for a quieter destination.

Doubtful Sound, our choice, is called the Sound of Silence. One boat, carrying about ninety people, cruises the sound each day.   Doubtful is harder to get to than Milford, where the road leads right to the boat dock. This discourages casual visitors.

The tour begins with a boat across Lake Manipouri to the underground power station. Board a sight seeing bus for a short narrated drive from the west arm of Manipouri over a rain forested mountain pass.

The weather was cool and grey and rainy the day we went to Doubtful Sound. Too bad, you say? No, no. That’s good!

There are at least hundreds, if not thousands of waterfalls in New Zealand, each of which  would warrant a whole park to themselves anywhere else in the world. When it is raining they are more numeous, wider and longer around the fjords. Rain also brings low clouds flirting with the peaks that have their feet in this inlet of the Tasman Sea. The eerie mists handing over the water affords irregular glimpses of the rain forested hills adding to the other-worldliness of the experience.

New Zealand - Lake Matheson
Lake Matheson, in rain forest

3. The Rain Forests

On the way to Doubtful Sound, the bus stops and we alight to see ancient trees dripping moss  worthy of a horror film’s enchanted forest. The dense forest is crowded with silver beech, totara and tree ferns towering above limestone rock coated with brilliantly colored mosses.

The first sight of rain forest confounds all previous impressions of “forest”. There is no soil holding the roots of these huge trees. Sheer granite mountain sides provide surface for lichens to grow, crevices allow mosses and tiny plants to cling to life, and eventually shtrubs and trees spread their roots through the lichen and moss. Because the tree roots are shallow and intertwined, when one tree falls, it takes hundreds with it. Great bare patches of rock are the result of “tree avalances.”








Bone Carving traditional Maori pendant







4. Shopping

Hokitika is only one of the “hot-beds” of New Zealand crafts. On its main street one can buy greenstone, wood carvings, wool products, hand-blown glass or pottery. And if that isn’t enough, this is also the center of gold mining, and gold nugget jewelry abounds.

Besides the cluster of artists in Hokitika, where I bought my treasured designer sweater in a crafts cooperative and toured the workroom of a New Zealand jade factory, we chatted with Karen and her toddler showing off sheepskin products in Mossburn; Derick and his black birds that looked like Hopi pueblo pottery; Kathleen who quilted and baked fresh bread at her Christchurch B ‘n B;

5. Performing Arts

The wooden floor of the old town hall reverberated from the shouts and singing of Maori, painted in their fierce warrior faces. We realized as the emotions built that we were a minority in an audience-participation performance that once would have been performed outdoors or in a pole meeting house. From there we went to a cool jazz performance, passing a concert hall with opera and street theater all around us. By accident, we had landed in Wellington during the Biennial Arts Festival, which fills every corner of Wellington in February-March 2012.

It is true I have not been Everywhere. But I’ve done the next best thing. I’ve been to New Zealand.

This post is part of a global effort by bloggers to support tourism to New Zealand, called Blog4NZ. After the devastation of earthquakes in Christchurch, the country needs our visits. (Discovered that I posted a week early. But I’ll come back next week with more pictures.)

Have you already been? What’s your favorite thing about New Zealand?

(Photos are from Flicker through Creative Commons License except for the art picture. Click on any of the pictures to learn more about the source.)



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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

30 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why New Zealand?

  1. Oh how I love New Zealand, especially the South Island. Alan would move us there if I could stand living so far away from family. Since that’s not an option, I’ll just have to visit again…and…again. Next time, I want to take a cruise in Doubtful Sound.

    1. Yes, New Zealand is fantastic. And Doubtful Sound is great. I’ve seen so many beautiful pictures of Doubtful Sound in sunlight during the Blog 4 NZ effort, but even though it is more difficult to photograph, I’ll take it in rain and clouds!

  2. I don’t think I have heard a bad thing about New Zealand. I would love to visit just to see the different landscapes.

  3. You’re absolutely right, Vera. New Zealand has SO much to offer (not to mention our mutual kiwi friend, Frugal Kiwi :). I hope to get there one day.

  4. NZ looks and sounds amazing. I would very much like to visit and be able to spend ample time settling into the area, getting to know the place.

    1. I agree Alexandra, The Piano was a beautiful film. And I love those fish-hook pendants. Have one of my own that I brought home form NZ. Their greenstone (NZ jade) makes some striking jewelry, too.

  5. What a great piece and super pictures to go with it. I’m sure you would convince me to go anywhere with your presentation! 🙂

    This is definitely a place I plan to visit- I have quite a few friends who live there. My daughter is now there and she just loves everything about New Zealand.

    1. Glad so many people liked the pictures. I can’t take credit, as I said, they come form Flickr. However, if I can get decent scans of my pre-digital camera shots from my own trip, I’ll put up some of those next week. Secret: You cannot take a bad picture in New Zealand. It would be like trying to make Madonna look boring.

  6. How utterly gorgeous. These photos really help raise my awareness of what a stunningly beautiful landscape there is in New Zealand. I would like to go there.

  7. The lakes and rain forests are also two of my favourites in New Zealand. I love Moke Lake, my favourite place to camp, closely followed by the Mavora lakes. I haven’t been to Lake Matheson, but it’s now on my list for my next visit. Thank you for sharing your top 5! I enjoyed reading your post a lot.

    1. Christina: Nice to hear from a New Zealander. (I assume that’s true, since I peeked at your blog and it is packed with great stuff about the country. Thanks for dropping by.

  8. Stunning photos. Great to see support from our NZ cousins as they battle the after-effects of a disastrous earthquake in the wonderful town of Christchurch.

    1. Mark: Although I didn’t mention it, we landed in Christchurch when we travelled to New Zealand, so I have a special spot in my heart for that beautiful city. If it is still available after the earthquake, I highly recommend decompressing from jet lag with a punt/boat glide down the river Avon that runs through town. Like so many, I grieve for the cathedral.

  9. So, jealous. We were going to go for our 10th wedding anniversary, but then there was a death in the family, etc, etc.

    Maybe for our 20th, which is in 2012?

    We’ll see.

  10. As an expat Yank living in NZ, I can wax poetic about the beauty of NZ for hours. I currently live in one of the more beautiful corners (which is saying something) up in the Bay of Islands, but there are so may gorgeous places you can gasp continuously for weeks. If you do visit, don’t miss the Bay of Islands or Abel Tasman, both are magical.

    1. Melanie: I am indebted to you for introducing the Bay of Islands. We spent more time in the South than the North and never did make it all the way up to the Bay of Islands. We figured a BRIEF stay in New Zealand should be a minimum of five weeks, and like most Americans we had just two.

  11. It sounds lovely. I wish I had the disposable income to spend some time there. The photos are just beautiful.

  12. We have kids and grandkids in Bavaria, so we usually go to Germany and somewhere else, this next time with the British Isles and France along the way. New Zealand has been on my wish list for decades. Next time, I’ll have the family meet us there.

  13. My friends who have visited New Zealand always bring back tales of adventure. Thank you for sharing! -r

    1. Hi Marie: I’ll have to get over to Scotland and check that assumption out. We were thinking more of Switzerland, since we’ve been there, and they both have Alps. But neither Scotland nor Switzerland have places where you can walk along a glacier trail and be within a short hop of a rain forest.

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