The country is made up by two larger islands, the North Island and the South Island, separated by the 21 mile-wide Cook Straight, as well as 700 smaller ones. Get your rental car booked and prepare to travel across the south Pacific's most beautiful island.
Both the capital Wellington and the largest city Auckland are situated on the North Island, and most of the population lives here.
Wellington is a small capital with a mere population of 380,000, yet it features all the cultural and historical sights you’d expect from a capital. There is a historic harbor district, in which the Watangi Park opened in 2006, an exciting new urban park where families can spend a whole afternoon around the playgrounds and in the evening concerts are staged.
Kids also love the historic cable car which takes you downtown.
For a laid-back afternoon, take a drive in your rental car to Oriental Bay, where tourists mingle with the locals on the beach. In 1998 the National Museum of New Zealand opened its gates here, giving a vivid introduction to the country’s history and society.
With a population of 1.3 million Auckland is the real metropolis in NZ. The City of Sails got its nickname from the large number of yacht marinas, but the cityscape also features green parks and modern architectures. The city center is located close to Waitemata Harbour and offers plenty of shopping opportunities as well as cultural entertainment with most art galleries situated on Queen street. The main historic and architectural sights include the town hall, the harbor bridge, and the Skytower, which is the highest standing structure in the southern hemisphere. Aotea Square is the main gathering point for locals and tourists alike; this is where you can devour your sandwich for lunch whilst admiring sculptures or listening to a public concert.
Should you wish to escape the city bustle, go to one of the beaches like Devonport, Mission Bay, or Long Bay. The Coromandel Peninsula is also great for a quiet break in the sand, whereas the Bay of Plenty as well as Taupo Lake are vivid surfer hotspots.
The South Island is dominated by the Southern Alps, a mountain range which rises from hilly wine-growing areas to mighty peaks about 13100 ft.
The largest city is Christchurch in the Canterbury Plains, and a visit to the South Island will most likely include a trip to this picturesque town. However, the biggest tourist hubs are Marlborough, a northern region on the South Island famous for its great weather and unique landscape, Abel Tasman National Park not far from here, and Queenstown, the capital of adventure tourism on Lake Wakatipu. For a very special experience go to Kaikoura, where you can swim with dolphins.
As you can see there is a sheer endless list of sights and natural wonders to explore in New Zealand, and to manage this mobility is of utmost importance. A rental car is the most convenient and fastest way to get around, and unless you have a year to spend in the country, your only chance to see a majority of the sights and the wondrous scenery of the Lord of the Rings.