New Zealand may be dwarfed by its grand Australian neighbor down under, but it offers a dizzying array of diversity in a compact area there’s no cause for an inferiority complex. From cosmopolitan cities to breathtaking nature, indigenous culture to adrenalin-fueled activities, this small but multifaceted country offers visitors so many tempting options within its borders you can’t possibly squeeze it all in. Spanning the North and South Islands, here’s a hobbit-free shortlist of cool Kiwi highlights to help you hone in on your must-dos.
1. Go Tramping
So stunningly scenic are the nature trails within New Zealand, the Kiwis have coined their own word for hiking. Whether you do a day-walk or a multi-day trek, you just have to get out there and tramp. The South Island has some of the top trails, including the world-renowned Milford Track, Routeburn Track and Abel Tasman Coastal Track. A series of well-maintained backcountry huts make longer excursions comfortable (advanced booking may be required). On the North Island, volcanic alpine tramping around Tongariro Crossing is not to be missed.