Having just returned from a road trip on New Zealand's South Island, I thought I'd sum up my thoughts in a classic hi-diss list. Is there really anything to do in New Zealand you might be thinking?
The whole world's landscape gathered on a small island!
Really fantastic! One second you're among green hills in Ireland, the next in the rocky mountains of Canada, and a curve later rolling into a vineyard in California. The variation is as quick as it is unexpected.
The food! We have probably never eaten and drunk as well – in large and small villages – as we have in New Zealand.
Animal life in the sea! Sperm whales, dolphins, seals and penguins kept us entertained throughout the trip.
Incredibly nice people with a lot of humor! Even being stopped by the police for a routine check is nice.
Well-maintained national parks with well-marked hiking trails. It is noticeable that New Zealanders are proud of their nature and their country.
The tap water! It's always nice to travel in countries where you don't have to buy bottled water.
The range of activities! There really is everything between heaven and earth to do here! Many activities revolve around boats/aircraft (=expensive), but there are so many quirky things to do that you wonder how clever you have to be to come up with something like that at all...
A little less good
The accommodation! The offer is very limited and during high season Queenstown is often fully booked. You can take what you find, plan well in advance and not be picky (or stingy).
Wildlife on land! It is very strange to walk in forests where there are no animals other than basically birds. We tried throughout the trip to see an ant, but we didn't succeed.
The roads! There are very crooked and slow roads all around the South Island. There will be more time in the car on holiday than you thought. Add to that the fact that it's left-hand traffic, and you might want to take it a little slower than usual.
Internet! New Zealand is very far from all major continents, which means that internet is limited and expensive. Free internet always means with a Mb limitation.
Earthquakes! Once you've been to earthquake-hit Christchurch you really realize the scale of earthquakes in New Zealand. Make sure you know what to do if it happens to you, because earthquakes are felt daily here at the rift between the continental plates.
Want to read more from New Zealand?
Time to leave the warmth of Lake Wanaka and drive up the west coast to…February 4
On New Zealand's South Island is one of the country's most popular and most dramatic sights.…September 20