Since the wildly popular Lord of the Rings films propelled this Pacific nation into the limelight, travel guidebooks have unanimously declared it one of the most beautiful places on Earth. There are just 4.5 million people living on its two main islands, and the vast landscapes in which they live are mesmerizing, with rugged mountains, glassy fjords, desolate beaches and dense, dark forests. With an interesting blend of European and Maori culture, and world-famous wine regions such as Marlborough, visitors are finding an increasing number of reasons to make the journey here. The country is clean, green and accessible with well-maintained roads, good public transport links and scenery that makes any overground trip a pleasure.


The Māori are the indigenous people of New Zealand and are originally thought to have settled on the island after arriving from eastern Polynesia by canoe in the second half of the 13th century. Despite years of decline following the arrival of European migrants, Māori culture has managed to survive and today, Māori make up about 14 percent of the total population. Their language, culture, history and traditions are central to the Kiwi way of life. Visit the Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa Tongarewa) in Wellington for insight into rich Māori culture. View old Māori photographs, textiles and a reconstructed marae – a traditional open-air Māori meeting place.


You may already have seen a haka – a traditional Māori war dance – performed by the All Blacks rugby squad prior to a match, but to understand the significance of the ritual, it’s good to see it enacted outside of a sporting context. In the Rotorua region of New Zealand, it’s possible to observe a live kapa haka – a traditional Māori performance involving dance, chanting and song. You can also try a traditionally cooked hāngi meal, as well as learning about the past and cultural practices of New Zealand’s indigenous people.


New Zealand’s natural assets are frequently praised, but the mighty frozen sheet of the Franz Josef Glacier is a hiker’s dream. Though the Europeans named it after the 19th century Austrian Emperor, the Maori knew it as Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere – the Tears of the Avalanche Girl. Legend has it a young girl who lost her lover on the mountain cried so hard her tears turned to ice. Take a guided hike up to the glacier or take a helicopter trip to reach the top. Though the scale will impress, the glacier is – rather sadly – a sight to see sooner rather than later as rising global temperatures have caused a significant decrease in ice over the past decade or so.'


If you’ve got a thing for wine, it’s worth spending a day or two in the South Island’s Marlborough region. Hop from winery to winery tasting its famous Sauvignon Blanc, a characteristically acidic and intense white wine that’s famous the world over. Marlborough’s sought-after Sauvignon Blanc is ubiquitous on global wine lists, but we recommend searching out the region’s lesser-known Pinot Noirs, whose light and elegant flavors have been courting admirers in the wine world and beyond. 

BRIC'S Capri