This remote island nation – one of the last countries in the world to be settled by humans – has always exuded a mythical, promised-land magnetism over its Northern Hemisphere counterparts. The focus for agents, as ever, should be on New Zealand’s extraordinary diversity.

“From events such as World Masters Games, New Zealand Open and DHL New Zealand Lions Series, to new adventure activities such as the launch of the Nevis Thriller and twilight ziplining tours, now is one of the best times to sell New Zealand”

PIP CASEY, REGIONAL MANAGER, TOURISM NEW ZEALAND

Perfect 10

  1. Hiking heaven: Tackle one of the country’s nine ‘Great Walks’ such as the epic Milford track

  2. Wine with a view: Sip a glass of wine overlooking the very vines it came from. Hawke’s Bay, Marlborough and Gisborne are among three of the country’s wine areas

  3. Two-wheeled adventures: New Zealand’s national cycling network, Nga Haerenga, has 22 routes stretching 2,500 km. Try the Otago Rail Trail which rewards visitors with spectacular mountain vistas

  4. Erupting geysers: Rotorua is known for its spectacular volcanic activity. A geyser erupts every morning at Wai o Tapu

  5. Wildlife encounters: A whale-watching tour in Kaikoura might enable you to see the mighty sperm whale

  6. Daring discoveries: Reachable only by boat or helicopter, daring visitors can get up close to the inner crater of the world’s only marine volcano on White Island

  7. Maori history: Auckland Museum and Wellington’s Te Papa Tongarewa offer insights into the Maori traditions

  8. Fantasy locations: Walk in the shoes of Gandalf as you explore mysterious Middle Earth in locations outside Wellington. Hobbit tours can include a visit to see the special effects experts at Weta Studio

  9. Paradise found: The Bay of Islands is a tranquil archipelago of 150 undeveloped islands. Paihia has great budget accommodation and is good for water sports

  10. Cruise life: Don’t miss a scenic cruise on Milford Sound. Aim for early morning or late in the day to avoid the crowds.

Diversity in a nutshell

The Lord of the Rings film trilogy immortalised New Zealand’s ethereal landscape and has become a key driver of tourism to the country. It’s not surprising therefore, that the tourist board has focused on promoting New Zealand’s extraordinary diversity and beauty.

The majestic Fjordlands showcase spectacular glaciers and waterfalls, while ancient rainforests and thermal springs sit only an hour outside Auckland.

Hawke’s Bay and Marlborough are just two of the country’s wineland destinations, while sublime big-sky beaches decorate New Zealand’s 90,000 miles of coastline.

Arty capital Wellington is packed with galleries and boutiques, while attractive Auckland’s two harbours are a gateway to the Haruki Gulf and its beguiling islands.

The Maori soul can be found in Rotorua, where visitors can experience aboriginal culture.

For die-hard Tolkien fans, a stop at Hobbiton – the village set created specially for the films on the North Island – remains a must-do.

Many clients choose the country for their once-in-a-lifetime trip and tour operators can capitalise on this. It offers a playground for those looking for adventure and discovery.

What the experts say

“We are looking to build on the recent 15-year anniversary of the first Lord of the Rings movies. With this, and the British and Ireland Lions rugby tour of New Zealand in June 2017, where we’re expecting 20,000 international visitors with 15,000 from the UK.
“Seasonality and regional diversity continues to be our key focus. By spreading the flow of visitors to New Zealand more evenly throughout the year and across regions, we can help take pressure of some of our busy summer hot spots and give more stability to operator revenues.
“Growth has been supported by new direct airline routes to New Zealand, and February will see Qatar launch a non-stop Doha to Auckland flight.
“Emirates will operate its single-stop service to Auckland with an A380 at the end of October.”

PIP CASEY, REGIONAL MANAGER, TOURISM NEW ZEALAND

What’s new

Accommodation: New Zealand’s first-ever pod accommodation has opened. It’s designed for backpackers, families, budget travellers and ‘baby boomers’.

Located in Russell, Helena Bay opened in November and is New Zealand’s first luxury lodge located on the beach. Marlborough Lodge opened its doors in October. Sitting in 16 acres of parkland it offers 10 suites including a Premium Suite and Children’s Room. Wellington’s 108-room Thorndon Hotel has had a multi-million dollar refurbishment. Eichardt’s Private Hotel will soon unveil its £5,000 per night penthouse extension. It accommodates up to six people in three bedrooms.

Tour operators: New Zealand specialist Silver Fern Holidays is looking for more independent agents to work with having developed a programme of escorted small-group journeys to plug the gap between traditional escorted coach tours and adventure travel experiences. They include touring on a Harley Davidson bike, walking holidays, and wildlife and bird-watching itineraries.

“Each tour – for no more than 16 travellers – is packed with great experiences such as a guided walk in the Kauri forest or an underground river trip; our guests see New Zealand close-up, not through the windows of a coach”, says Managing Director, John Lightwood.

Its most comprehensive 21-day tour of both islands includes Auckland, the Bay of Islands, the Coromandel, Rotorua, Napier and Wellington on North Island. Nelson and the Abel Tasman National Park, Glacier Country, Queenstown, Milford Sound, Dunedin and Mount Cook are also included.

Adventure activities: Combine a scenic flight and glacier landing with a guided walk in Mt Aspiring National Park. Take a helicopter over the mountains and glaciers of the Southern Alps, landing on Isobel Glacier.

Queenstown has unveiled a new twilight zip-line tour through Alpine forest.

A new extreme experience is under development in Queenstown. The ‘Nevis Thriller’ will be located at the site of the Nevis Bungee and Nevis Swing.

Flights: Emirates is operating its flagship aircraft A380 on its Christchurch services. The airline flies between Dubai and Christchurch five times daily.

Where to book it

Gold Medal offers a 19-day New Zealand rail and coach holiday option that tours Auckland, Bay of Islands, Rotorua, Wellington and Christchurch costs £4,881pp, departing September 5, 2017, including flights with Emirates from Gatwick