Few countries in the world can boast New Zealand's range of natural features - from high peaks in vast mountain ranges to sub-tropical rainforests, lush rolling farmland to geothermal activity, white and black sand beaches to desert-like plains and unpopulated islands - all within one compact land. It makes for fascinating scenery out the window of your campervan!
North of Auckland are sub-tropical beaches and huge kauri and giant fern forests, and to the south is the central thermal plateau. You can see some of the largest planted forests in the world, steaming volcanoes, ski-fields, and New Zealand’s largest lake, Lake Taupo, all within a few hours as you travel down the island in your campervan.
In the South Island, the Southern Alps divide its entire length, creating some of the most beautiful, rugged tracks on earth. There are around 360 glaciers in the Southern Alps, the largest of which is the Tasman Glacier, 29 kilometres long.
Fiordland, named a World Heritage site by the UN, is the home of Milford and Doubtful Sounds, and Mitre Peak, which Sir Ernest Rutherford described as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. The coastal plains of Canterbury and Southland round off the South Island’s unique geography.
New Zealand used to be part of Australia (although never mention that to a Kiwi!) but drifted away on a different tectonic plate long enough ago to have its own distinctive flora and fauna.
These include flightless birds such as the kiwi and the yellow-eyed penguin, and a primitive lizard called a tuatara. Introduced predators have killed off many of the original inhabitants, and possums are so prolific and damaging to New Zealand’s native bush even the WWF approves their commercial harvesting.
New Zealand wildlife is notable for its lack of poisonous creatures (aside from the very rare katipo spider) and you don’t have to watch out for snakes - there are none in the country whatsoever.
The native forests are warm-temperate, evergreen rainforest of podocarps (rimu, totara, matai and kahikatea) with associated evergreen tree species and giant tree ferns.