Call2Call’s top five student gap year destinations. No.3 – New Zealand.
New Zealand – An island of adventure.
A similar size to the United Kingdom, New Zealand is wonderfully uncrowded, with a population of just over 4 million (in comparison to our 62 million!) yet crammed full of things to do and places to see. Now made famous for the amazing scenery in Lord of the Rings, Middle Earth is a country definitely making time for.
An abundance of beauty.
It’s no secret that New Zealand is naturally beautiful. There are photographic opportunities wherever you go – it’s a good idea to always take your camera with you (and invest in a good one). From vast beaches, snow-topped mountains and glaciers to dense tropical rainforests and rivers perfect for white water rafting, there really is an opportunity to do so much, in a relatively small place. You’re bound to fall in love with something there.
Adrenaline junkies apply here.
Not only is Queenstown, South Island, renowned for its use in the filming of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ film trilogy, it is probably the best place for adventure activities and thrill seekers. Kawarau Bridge is the home to the first ever commercial bungee jump, 141 feet over the Kawarau River. Other activities here include river surfing, canyon swing, aerobatic flights, skydiving, mountain biking and skiing among others. Not for the faint hearted!
A perfect place to hang out after an adrenalin rush, Raglan, on the west coast of the North Island was judged ‘New Zealand’s best looking town’ by Lonely Planet, and it’s easy to see why. Just a two-hour drive south of Auckland, Raglan is a mix of beautiful beaches, stunning scenery and plenty of entertainment with places to eat and drink. Surfing is what Raglan is famed for, with three world-class point breaks. Raglan Surfing School offers everything from lessons, surf & stay packages, to accommodation and equipment hire for you expert wave riders. Surf’s up!
Volunteer your services.
If you fall in love with New Zealand and would like to protect its beauty, it’s extremely easy to get involved with some volunteering. You could choose from working with the Auckland Omaha Shorebird Protection Trust, become a Forest Hut Warden at Whirinaki Forest Park, or even a volunteer fire fighter in Canterbury. There are lots of opportunities for volunteering – get involved!
Top travelling trips.
You can’t really go all that way without visiting these places – they’re a must! We’ve picked our favourites…
1. Walk to the summit of Rangitoto Island and look across to the breathtaking expanse of Auckland city.
2. Visit Stewart Island on the South Island for an opportunity to see the rare Kiwi Bird in its natural habitat.
3. Whale watching in Kaikoura, on a boat tour run by the local Maori tribe. You’ll never forget your first sighting of a whale…
4. Blackwater rafting in Waitomo Caves, North Island, which includes jumping, climbing and floating in glow-worm caves!
5. Take a boat trip on the beautiful Milford Sound, Island. Peace and tranquility at its best.
With views over sparkling waters, this vibrant city lies across a narrow strip of volcanic land, separating two harbours. The largest and most popular urban area in the country, it is home to 1.3m residents and 32% of the country's population. We've picked out our top 5 definite must dos when visiting this amazing place.
• Sky views - Travel up 328 metres of the SkyTower, central Auckland, in glass fronted lifts to the spectacular viewing platforms; sit in the Sky Lounge cafe and bar for light refreshments, or for a meal in the Observatory restaurant. All offer stunning views for up to 80 kilometres in every direction. Thrill seekers can even SkyWalk around the Sky Tower or SkyJump off...
• Explore the coast - The Pohutukawa Coast, north Auckland, is a beautiful stretch of coastline from Whitford in the west to Duder Regional Park in the east. Famously known as the driving route, there are the seaside villages of Beachlands and Maraetai, white sandy beaches, regional parks and ultimately stunning views at every turn. With so many activities including swimming in crystal waters at Maraetai Beach, exploring Whitford Bird Gardens and savouring the fresh seafood and other delicacies from the Pine Harbour Fresh Market, you are spoilt for choice for things to see and do.
• Reach new heights - Mangere Bridge Village is located on a peninsula in the Manukau Harbour and is home to Mangere Mountain, created by a volcanic eruption more than 18,000 years ago. There are still remains of Maori settlements at its foot and you can follow the trail as you trek up the Mountain, seeing some of the features that are still visible today. Once you get to the top, breathtaking views await you.
• See the rainforest differently - For the energetic of you, this is a MUST experience. Piha Canyon, west of Auckland, is home to Rainforest Canyoning - abseiling under showering waterfalls, underground streams into caves, jumps, water slides into hidden pools and mysterious sculptured gorges. You can also take part in night canyoning, where you and your guide explore your way through the narrow canyon illuminated by just your headlamp and the glow worms on the walls! This is an experience of a lifetime...
New Zealand is a relatively safe place to travel, with a low crime rate, few diseases and a great healthcare system, but common sense is a must while travelling. Insure your expensive items (cameras, phones, laptops) before you leave. Stay aware and don’t lose your passport! Time wasted at the embassy will just stop you seeing more of this stunning country.