There’s something magical about New Zealand. It’s a country filled with everything you need for an unforgettable outdoor adventure – sprawling pastures, raging waterfalls, and even active volcanoes. Still, New Zealand is often forgotten in the conversation of best travel destinations. It’s treated like Australia’s little brother – a small island nation whose main association is with Middle Earth. But on a recent trip, I discovered that there’s more to New Zealand than I could have imagined. Here a few reasons why you should book a trip to New Zealand for your next adventure.

Outdoor Adventures

There’s nothing quite like New Zealand’s landscape. You can go from a shimmering lake to a towering mountain or hidden cave at a moment’s notice.

My first taste of New Zealand’s beauty came with a helicopter tour of the Milford Sound and Fiordland on the South Island. The helicopter tour gave me access to some of the most remote parts of New Zealand. During the trip, I flew under 2000 foot waterfalls and through steep fiords.

We took a pitstop for lunch at Minaret Station. This dream lodge is hidden in the mountains and requires a helicopter arrival. The lodge may not look like anything special upon first glance. After arriving, however, you’re greeted by five star cuisine and a large selection of wines. The lodge doubles as an expansive 50,000 acre farm home to thousands of deer, sheep, and cattle.

From there, we traversed our way through glaciers and through deep snow. This culminated in a view of Mt. Aspiring, one of New Zealand’s highest peaks. The entire tour showcased the limitless possibilities for exploring in New Zealand. You can spend days hiking through mountains, valleys, and glaciers and still feel thirsty for more.

The Kiwi Spirit

New Zealanders (or Kiwis) are known to be a rowdy bunch. Case in point – the Kawarau Bridge Bungy.

It’s the World’s first commercially operated Bungy Jumping Site, opened by Bungy pioneer AJ Hackett. I embraced the Kiwi spirit by taking a plunge of my own off Kawarau Bridge. The jump included a 141-foot drop into a gorgeous canyon. It was simultaneously terrifying and thrilling – and totally worth it.

Locals made my trip extra memorable by being warm, hospitable, and helpful throughout my travels. Even dreaded trips to the airport became a highlight – as they were filled with friendly staff and great lounges that took the stress out of travel.

Island Paradise

New Zealand is known for being split into two islands – the North Island and the South Island. So you might be surprised to learn about the Bay of Islands.

It’s a group of over 140 subtropical islands located off the coast of the North Island. It’s like a New Zealand version of the Hawaiian Islands – complete with shimmering sand beaches and warm water. What more could you want?

My trip may have been in the winter, but the cooler weather was refreshing and enjoyable. The water was still swimmable and there were more than a few opportunities to sunbathe near the water.

My Bay of Islands adventure culminated in a daylong sailing excursion. We ported from the Russell Wharf and spent the day admiring stunning views. We even got lunch in a sheltered cove.

My trip gave me a small sample of the Bay of Islands. If the small sample size is any indication, the rest of the islands are more than worth a trip.

Lift Off

There’s no shortage of ways to experience New Zealand. You can hike, kayak, drive or sail your way around the country.  I was able to access some of the most remote parts of New Zealand by taking helicopter tours. It allowed me to get bird’s eye views of glaciers, Alps, and even an active volcano.

One of my more memorable experiences came with a helicopter tour of White Island near Rotorua. The flight gave me aerial views of Mount Tarawera, an active volcano that’s responsible for one of New Zealand’s largest eruptions. I was able to walk the crater floor and witness the magnitude of the volcano up close. There’s no wrong way to explore New Zealand. But flying opens up the most opportunities for thrill seekers.

Special thanks to Tourism New Zealand & Seasonz Travel for planning such an exceptional itinerary. My short trip to New Zealand had all the elements of a great adventure. It showed me that this underrated destination has a beautiful setting, eccentric people, and diverse terrain. So what are you waiting for?