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10 Other Amazing Things New Zealand is Known for Besides 'Lord of The Rings'

Forget Hobbits or Mordor, because New Zealand has so much more to offer!


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10 Other Amazing Things New Zealand is Known for Besides 'Lord of The Rings'
Image: Daniel Rood
Ask any tourist what they know about New Zealand and right off the bat they’ll give you the top three most likely answers – kiwis (the bird and the fruit); Lord of The Rings; and those fluffy, huggable, and loveable sheep. But is that all New Zealand has to offer? Well, New Zealand has more than meets the eye! It’s a seafood haven; has jaw-dropping landscapes that look like they came out of a postcard (or Narnia), and is rich in culture; which explains why over 50,000 Malaysians has chosen to visit New Zealand as of November 2016.

We’ve compiled a list of interesting things you can do in New Zealand along with some places that you won’t believe exist in this world. Just a heads up though, by the end of the article, you’ll probably be consumed in wanderlust and itching to book the next flight to the land of Maori!

#1 Climb Up New Zealand’s Highest Mountain

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Prepare to be blown away by Mount Cook’s majestic scenery. Towering at a height of 3,754m, this mountain is the pride of New Zealanders and probably the best gift Mother Nature has bestowed upon them. If you’re not the adrenaline-junkie kind of person, you can still enjoy Mount Cook’s view from the shimmering blue waters of Lake Pukaki. The lake’s stunning hues of blue complemented with autumn shade trees and the magnificent white-coated Mount Cook not only have attracted thousands of visitors but as well as movie productions. The lake’s setting has been the backdrop for various movies such as The Hobbit trilogy and Lord of The Rings.  

#2 Stargaze Into The Star-Studded Night Sky

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Image: Gregory Phua
Image: Daniel Rood
Let’s be honest, how many times have you tried stargazing, only to be disappointed with the actual amount of stars you see? Sure, you might see a few, that is if they are not just the lights from airplanes travelling at night. Well, if you want to enjoy the best of nature at night, make your way to Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. There’s a stargazing tour within the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, which is the world’s largest gold-rated reserve. The location is far enough from city lights and has one of the darkest skies in New Zealand – which will maximise your stargazing experience! Telescopes and astronomy binoculars will also be provided. Another scenic place you can stargaze into the night is at Castlepoint, Wairarapa.

#3 Treat Your Tastebuds At New Zealand’s Seafood Festivals

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Get ready for a gastronomical explosion like you’ve never experienced before! New Zealand has one of the world’s longest coastlines with vast marine life and an abundance of seafood selection. Treat your tastebuds to the freshest seafood spread at New Zealand’s seafood festivals this year – The Bluff Oyster and Food Festival (May), Whitianga’s Scallop Festival (September), and Havelock’s Mussel and Seafood Festival (March).

#4 Explore The Hidden Treasures Of Waitomo Caves

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Dubbed as one of “the most amazing things to do in New Zealand” by Lonely Planet, this cave was first discovered in 1887. Waitomo, which means “water hole” in Maori, is home to intricate limestone formations and stunning glow worms. A boat trip into one of these caves will transport you to what looks like a scene out of Avatar, with thousands or maybe millions of glow worms illuminating the cave. It’s definitely a place you don’t want to miss! You can also opt for other activities such as abseiling or black water rafting.

#5 Get Down And Dirty At Their Geothermal Mud Festival

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Rotorua Lakes Council has announced a new annual festival to celebrate Rotorua’s unique hot mud springs and geysers. The festival is slated to kick off this December. It will take place at downtown Rotorua and includes a mud-arena, a variety of spa and wellness experiences, and educational and historical story-telling. Rotorua mud is high in minerals and has healing properties, which is why locals have been using it for centuries to treat various health issues such as arthritis and rheumatism, to help relief burns, and is also commonly used in massages and facials. Just a heads up though, you’ll be literally going to hell for doing this because the geothermal pools are located in a place called Hells Gate in Rotorua.

#6 Hunt Down Amazing Street Art At Dunedin

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Art lovers, if adrenaline-pumping activities isn’t your thing, then this will be the perfect fit for you! Walk at your own pace and discover the charming artworks of artists nestled between alleyways and historic buildings at the Dunedin Street Art Trail. The trail is somewhat akin to the street art we have in Georgetown, Penang and features over 25 artworks. Some artworks are easily spotted while others may be hidden in plain sight, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled.

#7 Catch The Southern Lights At Lake Tekapo

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Image: Hamish Burson
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Lake Tekapo offers picturesque views by day and majestic ‘light shows’ by night. During the day, tourists flock to this popular lake to take iconic photos of the azure-blue lake surrounded by magnificent mountains and lavender-hued lupins. After taking a handful of Instagram-worthy shots, you might want to come back at night to catch the Southern Lights, which is equivalent to the Northern Lights. For a chance to catch nature’s wonderful symphony of colours come to life, the best time to visit the place is between April and September.

#8 Cycle Along The World’s Most Epic Bike Trail

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You must be wondering, "How epic can this bicycle trail be to be included in Lonely Planet’s ‘Epic Bike Rides of the World’?" Well, how does taking a 301km multi-day cycle trail passing through stunning landscapes consisting of mountains of the magnificent Southern Alps, alpine lakes, river valleys, and all the way to the sea sounds like? Just reading that whole sentence can give you an impression on how adventurous and scenic this bicycle ride will be. The best part about the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail is, it’s suitable for all ages and has an array of trails you can choose from. Read more about it here.

#9 Zipline Through New Zealand’s Best Landscapes

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People say the best things are viewed from a bird’s eye view… so here’s your chance to view New Zealand’s divine landscapes via a zipline. Queenstown offers two spectacular ziplines – one passes through the treetops near Lake Wakatipu, while the other takes you along the breathtakingly beautiful turquoise Kawarau Gorge. If you feel a bit too gayat or afraid to take the zipline alone, you can ride it with up to six people at once!

#10 Immerse Yourself In New Zealand’s Maori Culture

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Have you ever watched one of those viral videos where New Zealand rugby players perform their traditional haka dance to intimidate their opponent right before a match? It kind of gave you goosebumps, didn’t it? Well, since you’re in the land of Kiwis, it’d be a shame not to catch a haka performance with your own eyes! Visit one of their cultural villages such as the infamous Mitai Maori Village in Rotorua or the Tamaki Maori Village to learn more about this unique culture.

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