Sheep and beautiful landscape—these are two things that pop in our minds when we think of New Zealand, but as we sat down with Mr. Steven Dixon, Tourism New Zealand’s Regional Manager for South and South East Asia, we learned so much more about the country that is fast becoming one of the world’s top travel destinations. “With its stunning landscapes, incredibly fresh air and wide variety of holiday activities such as visiting film locations, experiencing Maori culture and going on gourmet food tours, New Zealand is proving to be a popular travel destination especially for Filipinos. The availability of activities in close proximity to each other, as well as the different seasonal experiences also set New Zealand apart as a unique destination,” says Mr. Dixon. And with the holiday season just around the corner, we list down all the reasons why New Zealand should be your top choice for a fun and adventure-filled getaway:
Award-winning directors fell in love with the country. If you’ve seen the Oscar-winning trilogy film The Lord of the Rings and its prequel trilogy The Hobbit, then you’re not a stranger to The Shire or more specifically Hobbiton, the little green houses where the hobbits live. This very site has become one of New Zealand’s top tourist spots which thousands of visitors flock to every year. “One of the reasons why it’s so popular for us is because the landscapes in the movies are real so people get to New Zealand and see the landscapes and go ‘Wow it wasn’t a movie set,' so for us it was a natural yes to support The Lord of the Rings,” notes Dixon. And regardless if you’re a fan of the movie series or not, you’d be delighted to explore the very place where Frodo, Bilbo, and Gandalf, and the rest of the gang roamed around in for their sheer beauty.
Talking about how the movies boosted New Zealand’s economy and tourism, Dixon said, “Well there’s no question that the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit have contributed significantly to tourism in New Zealand and really gaining awareness of our country as a destination there’s no question about that. If you look at our overall numbers every year, arrivals in New Zealand has never been so high. The number of visitors has never been so high with around 3.3 million, which has grown 11.5 percent from last year, last year was our biggest year, the year before that was also our biggest year, so there’s been an exponential growth, so there’s no question.”
Other high-budget blockbuster films that were also shot in the country are King Kong in 2015, and Avatar in 2009, which leaves the question: What is it about the country that directors Peter Jackson and James Cameron fell in love with? “It’s probably a combination of things, but because we have such diverse landscapes all within close proximity it makes filming in New Zealand relatively a bit easier than other countries. So if you want different backdrops, whether its mountains, whether its glaciers, to rainforests, to desserts, you can access that all in one day.”
You'll enjoy their excellent organic produce. One of the best parts of traveling here (other than shopping and sightseeing), is the food. And New Zealand takes pride in their fresh and organic produce that they use for all their local and multi-cultural dishes. ”I think the main selling point in New Zealand is our organic produce, our farm-to-table, which is a phenomenon that’s caught on worldwide, but us we grew up with them. I remember my parents, we have a lush garden of fresh produce that we would cook and eat. Fusion is huge in New Zealand, we’re very multi-cultural and we use our organic produce to cook different types of food according to what people want. So we got lots of different cultures in New Zealand and amazing chefs. we cook amazing Filipino food with New Zealand produce so that’s probably our key selling point, again we’re a small island, lots of water around so our seafood are incredible fresh and so are our other produce, very organic.”
There's no shortage of adventure. For those who are seeking for thrilling adventures, New Zealand should definitely be in your bucket list of places to visit. “Adventure, that’s sort of one of our key selling points as well, so for those who want to come to a destination and experience adventure like no other then we got it in New Zealand.” Among the many fun and thrilling activities that you can do are:
1. Skydiving. It's one of the most popular adventure activities in New Zealand among adrenaline junkies, offering a different perspective of New Zealand’s stunning sceneries.
2. Jet boat. A New Zealand jet boat ride will take you powering through narrow river gorges, almost brushing against sheer rock faces; or skimming across the surface of water channels that weave through the shingle banks of braided rivers.
3. Black water rafting gives visitors a chance to abseil, weave, climb, jump, and float through glowworm-studded subterranean wonderlands such as Ruakuri Cave in Waitomo.
4. High altitude heli-skiing is an adrenaline-pumping experience for those looking for a different ski experience and offers stunning views of some of New Zealand’s most awe-inspiring snowy landscapes.
5. Bungee jumping. New Zealand’s Queenstown region has forged an enduring reputation as the “Adventure Capital of the World” by virtue of introducing world-first innovations such as commercial jet boating and bungee jumping.
6. Kayaking Outdoor. Adventurers can explore off-road destinations such as Abel Tasman National Park in Nelson which offers guided kayak tours that allow one to navigate along many of its amazing hidden beaches and plant life.
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Photographs courtesy of TNZ Media Centre