The Best of New Zealand: From Paradise to Mt. Doom

Paradise, New Zealand

Looking for Paradise? Photo by Zanthia

Everything I know about New Zealand, I learned on The Bachelor finale of season 13, where Jason Mesnick narrowed down his choices in Queenstown and proposed at the Bay of Islands. I’m only joking — I’ve also learned a lot from following along on the adventures of Dave and Deb from The PlanetD, friends from Alaska and fellow bloggers who arrived for their tour of New Zealand just a few days after the devastating Christchurch earthquake and have been doing very cool things like flying a stunt plane.

Blog4NZBut in all seriousness, when I leaned about the Blog4NZ initiative, which asks bloggers to publish a post about New Zealand to help promote tourism in the aftermath of the quake , I knew I had to participate even though I had never been there. So I decided to ask five travel bloggers to tell me about their favorite places in New Zealand. This way, I’ll know exactly where to go when I finally take my long-awaited trip there! Here are their answers, from the glorious-sounding Paradise to the ominous-sounding Mt. Doom.

Paradise from Linda of Journey Jottings

Views of Paradise, NZ

Views from Paradise by Zanthia

As a landscape lover New Zealand, not only feels like Paradise, you can go there… literally!
Winding your way around glassy lakes reflecting the backdrop of dramatic mountains out of Queenstown, South Island, you cross babbling stony river crossings up to shady glade-y woodlands with soft squashy moss underfoot. Heavenly!

Wellington from Amanda of A Dangerous Business

Wellington, NZ

Wellington, NZ, by Amanda Williams

Wellington is, hands-down, my very favorite city in New Zealand — or anywhere else in the world. Sure, it often lives up to its nickname of “Windy Welly” and can get downright nasty in the winter, but I can forgive its faults. Not only is Wellington New Zealand’s political capital, but it’s also rich in culture, history, and some truly spectacular views. One of my favorite things to do on a nice day was to walk down to the harbor to soak up some sun and watch the sailboats bobbing in the deep blue water of the South Pacific.

Check out some of my favorite little things about Wellington. Read about how you can explore the city on a budget. And learn about an easy hike you can do outside the city to see some New Zealand fur seals!

Whakarewarewa Thermal Village from Cailin of Cailin Travels

Whakarewarewa Hot Springs

Whakarewarewa Hot Springs by Cailin O'Neil

In November 2008, I visited one of the stinkiest yet beautiful places that I have ever been. Specifically I am talking about Rotorua, New Zealand. Stinky because all of the sulfur being released from the hot springs and mud pools, but beautiful for that same reason.

Some of the Maori people of New Zealand to this day still live off of the hot springs in one of the Thermal Villages which named is “Whakarewarewa” (aka Te Whakarewarewatanga O Te Ope Taua A Wahiao). However now-a-days they are more dependent on the tourism of people visiting their village. In Whakarewarewa, the aboriginal peoples have unlimited uses for the hot springs: they warm their houses, cook their food, use them for health reasons and more. When I visited I ate corn on the cob which was boiled directly in one of the thermal pools.

After a while the smell of the sulfur stops bothering you so much and it is quite the enjoyable place to visit, and I am sure you will have an experience that is unlike any other in the world.

Doubtful Sound from Michael of Go, See, Write

Doubtful Sound, New Zealand

Doubtful Sound by Michael Hodson

How to limit it to just one favorite place? The whole country is truly spectacular, only exceeded by the people. But, if I had to choose one of the natural wonders, Doubtful Sound is the one I’d choose (see my guide to Milford and Doubtful Sound). Milford is the more popular one and probably is more dramatic, but the lack of other tourists and boats at Doubtful makes it a peaceful and entrancing experience of the true wilderness in the Fjordlands.

And if you can time your visit to the wild and crazy Great Naked Homer Tunnel race (yes, naked), so much the better. I was lucky enough to catch this sunrise on the way to Milford Sound, and the Sounds are even better if it is cloudy and raining, because of the abundant waterfalls just a bit of rain creates.

Mount Doom (aka Ngauruhoe) from Laurence of Finding the Universe

Mt. Doom, NZ

Mount Doom in Tongariro National Park by Laurence Norah

I spent four months up in the Tongariro National Park on the North Island, which is so far a real highlight of my time in New Zealand. It was one of the major filming locations for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, with Mount Doom being the standout part of the park. It is also home to one of the country’s top day hikes: the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which is a must-do hike for any visitor to New Zealand. Here’s my guide to climbing Mount Doom.

What’s your favorite part of New Zealand?


8 Responses to The Best of New Zealand: From Paradise to Mt. Doom

  1. Danee Gilmartin
    Twitter: museumchick
    March 22, 2011 at 2:17 am #

    Amazing- New Zealand is the only place I regret not going to before I got my puppy. I like to travel with him and wont be able to leave him with anyone anytime soon and NZ doesn’t allow dog entry. But Wellington and the Doubtful Sound are calling my name.
    Danee Gilmartin recently posted..Unique and Stylish Camera Bags

  2. Amanda
    Twitter: DangerousBiz
    March 22, 2011 at 2:31 am #

    Thanks so much for including my photo and blurb here! All the places mentioned are definitely drool-worthy… This is why I love New Zealand so much!
    Amanda recently posted..My 5 Favorite Views in New Zealand

  3. Laurence March 22, 2011 at 6:36 am #

    Thanks for including me :) Big fan of New Zealand (well, i wouldn’t be living here otherwise!) and it’s been great to be a part of this whole thing!
    Laurence recently posted..New Zealand’s surf coast highway

  4. Michael Hodson March 22, 2011 at 10:41 am #

    thanks for including me! Honored to talk about one of the best countries in the world.

  5. Ayngelina
    Twitter: ayngelina
    March 22, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    I LOVE that lead photo, I only wish there were no exit in paradise!
    Ayngelina recently posted..blog4NZ- Delicious New Zealand

  6. Linda ~ Journey Jottings
    Twitter: JourneyJottings
    March 23, 2011 at 1:02 am #

    Paradise to Mt Doom says it all ~ The variety of landscapes in NZ is extreme ~ and as illustrated in this post all breathtaking :)
    Thanks for the inclusion!
    Linda ~ Journey Jottings recently posted..Why New Zealand Now blog4NZ

  7. Sonya April 2, 2011 at 5:38 pm #

    Lovely New Zealand post!
    Sonya recently posted..Travel Sustainably- Stay In Holiday Rentals

  8. jade
    Twitter: vagabond3live
    April 9, 2011 at 1:55 am #

    So funny that you mentioned jason from the bachelor… when we were in Australia- Kangaroo Island to be exact- we were in a gift shop and he was there on a tour during his honeymoon. We talked about our trip and our blog and he actually reads our blog now! too funny!

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