In New Zealand, "the land of the long white cloud", nature is king. From the North Island to the South Island, the country reveals its most beautiful face with landscapes and reliefs of an extreme richness. This "Paradise of the Pacific" suggests that the whole earth is represented: beaches, lagoons, waves, cliffs, fjords, primary forests, volcanoes, mountains, not to mention its incredible biodiversity. Maori land, land of kiwis, a paradise for backpackers, walkers and adventurers of all kinds, New Zealand has something that brings people together. Every year, more and more people come to meet it and for many, it is the trip of a lifetime. It's a once-in-a-lifetime experience! And even so far away, tourism is particularly easy, thanks to the many agencies that make it possible to criss-cross the country.

The Auckland region, a charming starting point

Even exhausted by nearly 30 hours of travel, one is easily seduced by Auckland, the country's largest city. From the outset, it strikes you with its gentle way of life, its charm and its large green spaces. Young, dynamic and elegant, its different districts have their own identity and their inhabitants are warm. With its focus on nature and outdoor activities, it is impossible to evoke New Zealand's largest city without referring to its magnificent bay, the Hauraki Gulf. Its myriad of islands are small paradises where it is good to escape. You can discover the unique fauna and flora of Rangitoto or the island of Waiheke, recently voted one of the most beautiful islands in the world for its vineyards and postcard landscapes. You can also put your towel down on the west coast and its grandiose beaches, from Betthells Beach to Piha via Karekare. In any case, it is very difficult not to be seduced by this little concentrate of New Zealand

Before continuing south, it would be a shame not to discover Northland, the cradle of the Maori soul. Too many are those who go directly south and miss this little corner of paradise. Its charms are innumerable, with forests of thousand-year-old trees, world-famous diving spots, endless beaches and a claimed Polynesian culture. The Bay of Islands, a must-see for backpackers and outdoor activities, and Cape Reinga, a mystical and magnificent place, are bound to captivate you.

From the Bay of Plenty to the landscapes of the Lord of the Rings

South of Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty are not to be missed and evoke dreamy names such as Raglan and Whangamata, two surfing paradises, the Waitomo Caves and their glowworms, Coromandel and its wonders Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach, or Mount Maunganui, a seaside resort par excellence. Then it's time to discover Central Plateau, a region that is worth the trip in itself. We are in the heart of the North Island with a volcanic activity of rare intensity. Rotorua and Taupo are the tourist highlights, full of activities, visits and beauty, nestled on the shores of their respective lakes, the second of which is the largest in the country. The wonders and mysteries of geothermal energy are incomparable assets, and the pictures have been taken around the world. The Maori culture is also very much alive and is highlighted through numerous attractions. South of Central Plateau, the Tongariro National Park is a true national icon. It is not for nothing that the scenes from Mordor, in The Lord of the Rings, were filmed there and that it is the most beautiful New Zealand trek that can be done in one day.

After so much discovery, you will have the choice between a short road trip to the East Cape, one of the forgotten corners of the North Island, or going down through the west. Hiking to Egmont National Park and its magnificent Mount Taranaki, discovering the famous Whanganui River, its beautiful forests and its famous "Bridge to Nowhere" or driving along Surf Highway 45 or the Forgotten World Highway, are some of the (many) possibilities of the area. The Wellington area is just waiting for you to catch your breath

From Wellington to the South Island

The Wellington region, bordered to the south, east and west by the Tasman Sea or the Pacific, is covered in its centre by forests at altitude and gravitates entirely around the country's capital, the southernmost on earth. Wellington is not only the political seat of New Zealand, it is also its cultural and artistic hub. Smaller than Auckland, it is more accessible, more open and is often preferred. Its location is incomparable, nestled at the bottom of a splendid bay and at the foot of wild mountains, placing nature at its doorstep. With renowned free museums, countless green spaces, a relaxed atmosphere and a lively nightlife, it's no wonder the city is often ranked among the top cities in the world for quality of life. Wellywood attracts even the biggest blockbusters to its studios and Lord of the Rings fans are sure to stop by on their pilgrimage to Middle-earth.

Then it's time to board the ferry to Picton and the South Island. The vineyards of the Marlborough region, the craft markets of Takaka or Motueka and the Abel Tasman National Park, its turquoise waters and dense forest are just a (delicious) foretaste of what lies ahead

National Park and meeting penguins

After taking up residence in Christchurch, the island's big city, we go to discover the rich marine biodiversity of Kaikoura by swimming with dolphins, we survey the hills of the Banks Peninsula and let ourselves be hypnotized by the beauty of Lake Tekapo and the immensity of Mount Cook. We can also take some pictures of the incredible beauty of the landscape between Christhurch and Greymouth to the west. Greymouth is a good option for adventure on the West Coast, the narrow strip of land between the tumultuous waters of the Tasman Sea and the Southern Alps mountain range. Its deep forests, deadwood beaches, steep cliffs and snow-capped mountains and glaciers just a few miles from the coast are a delight. Five of the country's fourteen national parks are nearby: Kahurangi, Paparoa, Arthur's Pass, Westland and Mount Aspiring

As it continues to sink towards the southern tip, the Otago finally concentrates the best of the South Island: magnificent peaks, splendid lakes, endless activities and a great atmosphere. You'll have to spend a few days in Queenstown, the capital of outdoor activities, a mecca for nightlife and a real paradise for backpackers! But also enjoy the beauty of Wanaka, walk the mountains of the region and admire the indescribable panorama of Roys Peak. It will then be time to say hello to the blue penguins, the smallest of their species, in Oamaru.

But shhh! We've saved the best for last! What a joy to conclude this road-trip in the Fiordland National Park, the largest in New Zealand. A true natural jewel, classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, this wild and grandiose place is of a very rare beauty, symbolized by the Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound fjords, which are revealed on board a kayak. Want some more? Opposite the southern tip, about 30 kilometres away and completely cut off from the world, Stewart Island is home to kiwis, penguins, sea lions and dolphins. Don't throw any more!

Smart info

When? Conditions are best in summer, between November and February. From mid-December to the end of January is the summer holidays and the busiest period. For winter sports, July and August are indicated. In short, the best is still to go through the pivotal months such as February-March or October-November

Getting there. It takes at least one stopover and a 24-hour flight. The average price of a return flight from Paris to Auckland is between 1,000 and 1,500 euros

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