New Year, New Zealand

2015 Vacation to New Zealand

Question: What's a closer flight—Italy, Australia, or New Zealand? Answer: New Zealand! You're just an overnight flight away from waking up in Middle-earth, minus the Orcs. With so much diversity in one country, every day is a different journey in New Zealand.

Size Matters: New Zealand's compact size lets you do a lot in a day—like experience glaciers, rain forests, beaches, wineries, and thermal hot springs! Queenstown (aka the Adventure Capital of the World) is one of several smart base camps, set on the shores of turquoise Lake Wakatipu and backed by the Remarkables mountain range. From hiking, jetboating, and rafting to golf courses, scenic flights, and trendy restaurants, this little resort town offers it all.

Hobbiton Hop: It's one of the most enchanting pieces of Middle-earth: Hobbiton, aka The Shire, is a magical village on rolling farmland you can tour daily, where 44 Hobbit-holes are exact replicas of how they appeared in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies. And just one hour from Hobbiton, the Waitomo Caves fascinate—a labyrinth of underground rivers and subterranean caves lit up by millions of glow worms that look like a galaxy of stars. Take a boat ride, go black-water rafting, or even zip-line through the darkness!

Eighth Wonder of the World: Dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World, Milford Sound (pictured) was carved by glaciers, with fiord cliffs rising right out of its pristine, dark waters, waterfalls cascading in all directions, and mountain peaks lording high in the sky. Explore it by kayak, on a day cruise, or by helicopter. For those really looking to get deep into this wilderness, embark on the Milford Track, a four-day, hut-to-hut hike through rain forests, alpine meadows, and up to the stunning (1,904-foot!) Sutherland Falls.

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Hiker on the SCA trail in Marin Headlands with view of the Golden Gate Bridge

    Headlands Over Heels

    People come from all over the world to get a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge. Get a dramatic and novel view of the bridge without all the people on this moderate 6-mile hike in the Marin Headlands.

    View
  2. Hiker at Healdsburg Ridge Open Space Preserve hiking amid lupine wildflowers

    Hidden Wilds of Healdsburg

    When you arrive at Healdsburg Ridge Open Space Preserve, you may wonder what could possibly be tucked behind a subdivision. But within minutes of hiking in this 155-acre preserve, the beauty reveals itself: majestic oak trees, wetland, spring wildflowers, and wowing views of the Mayacama Mountains and Russian River.

    View
  3. Hiker on a trail with beautiful green hills and wildflowers on the grasses at Carr Ranch in Contra Costa County

    Carr Ranch

    Can’t decide between an epic hike or a relaxing nature walk? The 8.3-mile Carr Ranch Trail loop in the East Bay’s Contra Costa County is the perfect hike for rugged adventurers with a soft side.

    View
  4. Two women at the entrance of the Lavender Labyrinth at Bees N Blooms in Santa Rosa

    Lavender Labyrinth

    Labyrinths are meditative meanders. Add fragrant organic lavender and you're at Bees N Blooms at the foot of Taylor Mountain near Santa Rosa, experiencing their “ancient pathway of peace” and more.

    View

Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Urban Hike to the Shakespeare Bridge in LA

    Shakespeare Bridge + Secret Garden

    Romeo, Romeo, we all know how this goes, but do you know how to go to the Shakespeare Bridge and secret gardens? We’ve got the online do-it-yourself hiking route for you.

    View
  2. Hiker overlooking Bear Gulch Reservoir at Pinnacles National Park near Monterey

    Pinnacles of Spring

    Why hike at Pinnacles National Park? Spring's a beautiful time of year here. And you might spy the magnificent California condor soaring while you gain soaring views from the High Peaks Trail.

    View
  3. Hike Mount Tamalpais into Muir Woods

    Muir Woods Through the Backdoor

    A backdoor entrance into Muir Woods? Hike a tranquil trail that starts in Mount Tamalpais State Park and quietly leads into Muir Woods, letting you avoid the busyness of the main parking area.

    View
  4. Hikers by the reservoir at Triunfo Creek Park near Thousand Oaks

    Triumphant in Triunfo

    Go on a hike with a peaceful reservoir, charming meadows, and beautiful spring blooms at Triunfo Creek Park near Thousand Oaks.

    View