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New Zealand (Māori: Aotearoa) is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, a country of stunning and diverse natural beauty: jagged mountains, rolling pasture land, steep fiords, pristine trout-filled lakes, raging rivers, scenic beaches, and active volcanic zones. These islands form a unique bioregion inhabited by flightless birds seen nowhere else, such as kakapo and kiwi. New Zealanders have adopted the kiwi as a national symbol, and have even taken the word Kiwi as a name for themselves.
The islands are not densely populated, the South Island even less so than the North Island, but they are easily accessible. The country has modern visitor facilities and transport networks that are reasonably well developed. New Zealand often adds an adventurous twist to nature. It is the original home of jet boating through shallow gorges as well as bungee jumping off anything high enough to give a thrill.
Māori culture continues to play an important part in everyday life and the identity of the nation. Government and corporate New Zealand is full of Māori symbolism. There are abundant opportunities for visitors to understand and experience the history and present-day forms of Māori life.
Mountains, lakes and glaciers
It can be said that in New Zealand it’s the countryside that’s magnificent, and perhaps no more so than the Southern Alps of the South Island. In the Mackenzie Country, the snow-capped jagged peaks rising above turquoise lakes have provided the inspiration for many a postcard. Tucked in behind is the country’s highest peak, Aoraki Mount Cook (3724 m). The lakes and mountains continue south, becoming a stunning backdrop for the towns of Wanaka, Queenstown and Glenorchy.
Another region where mountain meets water with striking effect is Fiordland National Park where steep, densely forested mountains rise from the sea. The most accessible, and perhaps one of the most beautiful, spots is Milford Sound. The road in is spectacular and the view even more so when you arrive.
Glaciers may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of an island in the South Pacific, but New Zealand has several. The most notable are the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers in Westland National Park. These glaciers are unique in how close they get to sea level and are sustained by the enormous amount of precipitation that falls on New Zealand’s west coast.
New Zealand’s sceneries have featured famously in the Lord of the Rings film series, and many natural and artificial settings on the island can be visited. New Zealand information from wikivoyage.
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