01 April 2009 by Anna Staford
Located in the south-west Pacific, New Zealand has two main islands - the North (115,000sq km) and South (151,000sq km) - and a number of smaller islands, including bushclad Stewart Island (1700sq km). The country is famous for its natural beauty and scenic attractions, from snowcapped mountains, glaciers and fiords to thermal geysers, volcanoes, subtropical rainforests and magnificent sandy beaches.
There are few places in the world which can offer so much variety within such a short distance. This is a country, where in the space of a week, you can snowboard or ski in the Southern Alps, horse trek along the beach, swim with dolphins, watch whales, climb a volcano, hike through a rainforest, sail the high seas and savour a lamb rack like no other.
To anyone who enjoys the great outdoors, it's simply paradise.
The country has something to offer young and old. It's thanks to kiwi ingenuity and the adventurous spirit that many of the adventure sports were created. Those looking for an adrenalin rush can plumet from the heavens in a bungee jump, abseil gorges or mountains, handglide or go white-water rafting.
The culturally and historically minded on the other hand can venture back 1000 years to the beginnings of the Maori culture and their arrival from Polynesia described in their wonderous mythical tales. With the arrival of the pioneers and the gold rush comes the next exciting era of New Zealand history and glory. To retreat into the past here is an awesome voyage into the greatness of human endeavour and the indefatigability of the human spirit.