NEW ZEALAND: Hottest Travel Destination in the World. Here’s 12 Reasons and 20 Photos Why

    Whale Bay in Whangarei, Northland, is the perfect example of pristine and secluded beaches, enclosed by native forrest, that scatter the coastline of New Zealand. (Nick Boyd)Paihia is north of Auckland in the Bay of Islands, a famous tourist spot. Foot ferries run day and night across the bay to Russel, a cute historic town. The bays offer swimming with dolphins, fishing scuba diving and island hoping cruises. (Nicholas Mclaughlin)Pretty Paihia, North Island, N.Z. (Nicholas Mclaughlin)Waihi Beach goes from a population of about 1,600 to 16,000 over summer. (Image: Nick Boyd)Waihi Beach is a coastal town at the foot of the fabulous Coromandel Peninsula, in the North Island. (Nick Boyd)You'll find amazing vineyards in N.Z. This one's in sunny Hawkes Bay, North Island. (Nicholas Mclaughlin)Napier, on the coast of the North Island is gorgeous, and known for it's Art Deco town. An architect's delight. (Nicholas Mclaughlin)Opoutere Beach, North Island. There are just too many beaches, many with camp grounds right on them, to ever really get crowded. (Nicholas Mclaughlin)Typical view of endless coasts with too few people to enjoy it. Sound good? (Nicholas Mclaughlin)Snells Beach is a small coastal town just north of Auckland. New Zealand's native Maori name is Aotearora, meaning Land of the Long White Cloud. (Nicholas Mclaughlin)Firth, Thames Bay, North Island, New Zealand. (Katheryn Shakespear)Hawea South Island, New Zealand. (Nicholas Mclaughlin)LakeTekapo, South Island, New Zealand. (Nicholas Mclaughlin)Lake Whakatipu, Queenstown, New Zealand. (Nicholas Mclaughlin)Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand. (Nicholas Mclaughlin)Dolamore Park, Gore, SouthIsland, New Zealand. (Katheryn Shakespear)A view of Lewis Pass from the road, South Island, New Zealand. (Katheryn Shakespear)Sunset at Oreti Beach, Invercargill, at the bottom of South Island, New Zealand. (Katheryn Shakespear)West Coast, South Island, driving between Punakaiki and Westport, New Zealand. (Katheryn Shakespear)Woodpecker Bay, Westcoast, South Island, New Zealand. (Katheryn Shakespear)

    What is it about that little two-island nation down near Antarctica that has people’s wanderlust burning?

    As well as my top 12 list below, I asked my Kiwi friends to send me photos of their favorite spots. Enjoy the gallery—it will take you from the top of the North Island to the bottom of the South Island.

    New Zealand (N.Z.) is so hot right now, not actually, but vacationally—that is, N.Z. has seen the largest increase in travelers over the last year. N.Z. was way above the rest, with a 196% increase in year-over-year growth, according to Virtuoso, which specializes in the “art of travel.”

    WHY? “There is a race towards trying to get to some of the more pristine places because of the rise in mass tourism and globalization,” said Virtuoso Chairman and CEO.

    Here are the top 12 reason’s why I believe New Zealand is such an incredible place to visit (trust me, I am an expert, I have traveled far and wide only to discover I had it made at home.)

    1. It’s far away from the rest of the world, not worth bothering with war-wise, so rather peaceful and untouched.
    2. Not many people. About 4 million.
    3. Diverse geography—tons of sandy beaches, native forests, snowy mountains, green rolling farmlands, rivers, lakes, semi-tropical up north, dry and Alpy down south. A nature lovers paradise.
    4. No deadly creatures. The animals are not too dangerous or deadly (O.K. there is a spider, but it’s rarely seen.) The birds are rather plain but the birdsong is heavenly—perhaps a little like the people and their music.
    5. Countless secluded beachfront camping grounds, yet many high-end luxury lodgings as well. Whatever floats your boat.
    6. Speaking of boats. Ocean everything. N.Z.’s biggest city, Auckland, is nicknamed the City of Sails. It’s a boating, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, body boarding, swimming with dolphins, and whale watching kind’a country. Higher coastal to inland ratio (I made that up, but look at a map, I may be onto something).
    7. Beach bach, the classic family holiday home is where you’ll find the Kiwi’s all summer! Don’t worry, travelers can rent them.
    8. New Zealand is delicious! Healthy, fine food. Kiwis like good coffee. N.Z. will deliver on the espresso front. Oh and wine, vineyards are doing well, beef, seafood, dairy, and N.Z. is proudly Nuke Free.
    9. The people are down to earth nice.
    10. Hiking in N.Z. is out of this world. 
    11. Not too hard on the pocket$ compared to Europe, U.K., the U.S. etc.
    12. Hot Water Beach. A surf beach in the Coromandel Peninsula with hot-springs coming up out of the sand. Dig a hole, go for a swim or surf, come back and warm up in your own hot pool. Shut-up and take my money!

    TIP: The best way to see N.Z. is by renting a car and packing a tent, or even better, if you have more cash, hire a campervan. It’s a place of exploration.

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