Posted by Oliver Meredew on April 28th, 2016.
For the fourth-consecutive year, the Telegraph Travel Awards (which involve 75,000 readers voting for the world’s best destinations, airlines, tour operators and cruise lines) saw New Zealand win the accolade of Best Country in the World. But what makes it the top travel destination?
One of the most consistent reasons Telegraph readers gave when awarding New Zealand the top spot was the nation’s breath-taking landscape. Boasting mountain peaks and vast expansive grasslands, volcanoes and impressive beaches, dense forests and blue-velvet seas; there really is something for everyone.
Most people are familiar with the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and one of the principal locations for filming the popular franchise was New Zealand. For those who have watched the film and wished that Middle-Earth existed, a visit to this beautiful South Pacific nation is a must.
Natural wonders also litter the landscape. Massive geysers like Ritorua are so consistent it is said you can set your watch by them. This may not be strictly true, but you are bound to see plenty of volcanic activity.
Such is the beauty of the landscape that New Zealand has some of the world’s greatest walks and cycling routes. Milford Track is New Zealand’s most famous walk and consists of 33 miles of stunning scenery, including the country’s highest waterfall, suspension bridges, mountains, valleys and beautiful lakes.
There are also a wide range of famed cycling routes with New Zealand fast becoming one of the top cycling holiday destinations. A very useful website for cyclists wishing to visit NZ is otagocentralrailtrail.co.nz.
New Zealand is a must-visit destination for train enthusiasts. The TranzAlpine Rail Journey from Christchurch to Greymouth is among the top six train journeys on Earth. Additionally, the Taieri Gorge rail journey is considered one of the most picturesque on the globe, spanning 50 miles of mountain scenery almost impossible to access otherwise.
Many Brits love New Zealand because of its strong ties to the homeland. As well as having the Union Jack on its flag, the nation’s agricultural ties make it quite similar to rural England and you’ll be hard-pressed to visit without coming across a fair few sheep. New Zealander’s and the British share a language and are both island races. Additionally, both share diverse interests from beautifully maintained public gardens to the aggressive sport of rugby, so it really is a home from home!
New Zealand is home to some extremely diverse species, many of which are unique to the island. The Kiwi is New Zealand’s best-known animal mascot, but the lesser-known Kakapo is another big draw for wildlife lovers. The Kakapo is the largest parrot on earth and is a critically endangered flightless species. Although rare, many wildlife enthusiasts will visit New Zealand just to catch a glimpse of this fascinating bird. Other unique animals include Hector’s dolphin, the tuara and the Kea to name but a few.
New Zealand has a number of expansive beaches beautiful enough to suit any holidaymaker looking to hit the surf or top up their tan. The most famous is known as the 90-mile beach. Whilst it is incredibly long, 90 miles could be considered false advertising as the actual length is around 55 miles. As soon as you clap eyes on the diamond sprinkled sea and vast expanse of golden sand, however, the actual length is of little consequence.
New Zealand’s indigenous people, known as Maori, make up around 15% of the country’s population. Originally from Polynesia, their culture is vastly different from our own. If you’re visiting New Zealand and want to gain an appreciation for Maori culture, make time to see the beautiful art, carvings and intricate skin tattoos the Maori are famed for.
For those who are fans of Rugby, New Zealand’s famous Haka dance originated from Maori culture.
Wine produced in New Zealand has been increasing in popularity over the past decade or so. If you appreciate a good wine, there are impressive vineyards in areas like Hawke’s Bay, Martinborough, Marlborough and Central Otago that offer tours and fine dining experiences. There are also many other wine regions to visit.
The Town of Napier is a must-visit destination for those who are fans of art deco architecture. Due to massive damage caused by a huge earthquake, Napier was almost completely rebuilt in the 1930’s and reflects the popular styles of the time.
With vast open areas and remote dwellings, New Zealand is often considered to be one of the most tranquil country’s to visit. For those who believe the best holidays involve relaxing as much as humanly possible, New Zealand could well be the place for you.
However, this South Pacific nation is also considered by many to be the home of extreme sports. It was a New Zealander, after all, who invented the bungee jump. With such diverse landscapes, you could experience anything from skydiving to snowboarding, from mountain biking to jet-boating. Zorbing is also extremely popular, though it doesn’t appeal to everyone!
New Zealand is building a reputation as a foodie haven thanks to its world renowned big-city restaurants and great local food culture. Being surrounded by the sea, it will not come as a great surprise that in New Zealand the local diet is largely based on fresh seafood. However, if you’re not a fan of fish fear not, there is plenty of variety.
If you want to sample the food of one of New Zealand’s most famous chefs, visit Auckland and Peter Gordon’s restaurant The Sugar Club, on level 53 of the Sky Tower.
So there you have it, 11 reasons why New Zealand was voted the best country in the world. If you’ve got any reasons to add to the list, or want to put the case forward for a different country, let us know via Facebook or Twitter.
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