Maybe you've seen the movies featuring its Middle Earth landscape. Or heard friends speaking in hushed voices about magical islands where you can walk through rainforests, up pristine glaciers, and across golden beaches. New Zealand is a wild frontier of natural beauty
, genuinely friendly locals, and an outdoors scene that's completely accessible. If it's on your list of "might be nice to do," then move it up to "must-do!" The best months to visit are coming right up, and direct flights leave daily from San Francisco!
Lace up the boots, mate! You don't hike in New Zealand; you tramp! Where to start? One of the Great Walks: Travel along the tops of mountains on the famed hut-to-hut Routeburn Track—named one of the top 10 hikes in the world
Kayak the turquoise waters of Abel Tasman National Park, paddling through a marine reserve
that's home to dolphins and a seal colony. The gold-sand beaches are pretty sweet, too.
Explore one of Fiordland National Park's nine sounds. Most famous is Milford (a boat ride through it is not to be missed). For those who really want to get away, there's the more remote and ethereal Doubtful Sound
Tramp or mountain bike New Zealand's first National Park, Tongariro, best known as Mordor and Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings
trilogy and home to one of the world's best day walks
, Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
Whale-watch in the morning, wine-taste in the afternoon, and don't miss the water taxi to your waterfront lodge
in the Marlborough region.