A rare landscape situated at the edge of the world.
One of the most recently settled countries, Zealand is known for its awesome scenery, rainforests, boiling mud, beaches, and wildlife (a sample selection can be admired in the Lord of the Rings movie series). The country, connected to major international cities via air, welcomes passive and active travelers alike. Visits to easily accessible Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki and the boulders at Moeraki will yield gorgeous views. Strolling through the many parks, reserves and geothermal zones near Taupo and Rotorua are all quite enjoyable. Many travelers laze around and frolic on the calm east coast. Bird enthusiasts can amble through Rakiura (Stewart Island) and Papaitonga. The best surf breaks are along the Surf Highway 45, while photogenic expanses line the Twin Coast Discovery Highway. When these adventures whet your appetite, buy a meal for less than $10 at any modest eatery. Travelers love to cycle, drive, or walk through the country. However, buses, which can cost anywhere from practically nothing to about $5, are ideal for backpackers. Look for facilities labeled with the term "Qualmark," symbol of national quality standards, to avoid any disappointment.