New Zealand is a stunning part of the world that ought to be on your gap year itinerary for several reasons. Easily accessible from both Fiji and Australia, the country is definitely worth stopping at if you are travelling around this corner of the world.
If you've never visited New Zealand before, you'll want to be clued up about how to explore it. Below is a guide to getting around, where to stay and what to see.
Travelling around New Zealand
The two best ways to travel around the country is by driving - with a campervan providing you transport and accommodation in one - and the Kiwi Experience. The latter is a huge green bus for which you can purchase flexible passes that take you around the North Island, South Island or even both. If you don't like the sound of taking to the wheel yourself and would rather sit back and let someone else do the hard work, this will be the best option for you. However, while it is flexible, the driver will have designated stops, so if they don't cover something you want to see, it might be better hiring a car so you can pull over where you want, when you want.
The South Island's highlights
New Zealand is so beautiful you'll no doubt think every inch of it is a highlight, but there are some places that stand out more than others. Christchurch is a popular starting point in the south, and while the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes have caused some structural damage, what remains of the main cathedral gives a clear indication of how beautiful it is. The city is a little bit quirky in that it takes inspiration from England - with the river called Avon and streets named after destinations such as Liverpool, Manchester and Gloucester.
If you're an adrenaline junkie you have to go to Queenstown. Every sport and activity you can think of is here, from skiing and skydiving to bungee jumping and river rafting. The nightlife is also fantastic, and you'll probably need a drink or two to calm your nerves after the day's events!
Finally, Lake Wanaka - home to a mass of water - combines the beauty of a mountain backdrop with stretches of sand. It also boasts plenty of activities, or you could simply stroll around its pretty shops and cafes.
The North Island's highlights
Auckland is a cosmopolitan city with a beautiful harbour and stretches across the narrowest point of the North Island, meaning there is water on both sides. Whether you want to go sailing, surfing or simply relax on the beach, the city is the perfect blend of modernity and the great outdoors.
New Zealand's capital Wellington is full of art galleries, governmental buildings and sculptures that are dotted around the city. If you want to find out more about the country and its Maori culture, of which it is proud, head to the waterfront to the Te Papa Tongarewa museum. It also has a bustling cafe scene, so you can spend your afternoons enjoying the tasty food and quality coffee that Wellington is known for.
A gap year trip to the North Island would not be complete without visiting Rotorua. The destination boasts natural mud and sulphur baths, which you can bathe in and apply over your skin for a little bit of pampering. Rotorua is very important to the Maoris, so head to a cultural evening dedicated to them, where you will enjoy a performance and hangi - a feast cooked under the ground.