HE Maori translation of New Zealand is ‘the land of the long white cloud’, however New Zealanders call their magical land ‘God’s Own Country’.
The country has the most amazing natural landscape, with stunning scenery, everything from white and black volcanic sand beaches to rainforests, lakes and mountains.
You can choose to have real adventures when you visit or perhaps you prefer to take a steadier pace and just absorb and take it all in.
New Zealand consists of the North and the South Islands separated by the waters of the Cook Strait.
The main gateway city for most international flights is Auckland.
Flight times are approximately 23 hours and, yes, this is a long flight, but on arrival you will see why every hour was worth it.
So for now, I am concentrating on the North Island only.
On arrival into Auckland, a few days acclimatising would be beneficial in adjusting to the 12-hour time difference.
There are plenty of things to do – admire the view from the observation deck at Sky Tower, on laid-back Waiheke Island enjoy wine and olive tasting or laze on the beach, cruise the harbour and visit the seaside village of Devonport or experience sailing on America’s cup Grand Prix racer.
Head out of the city towards Northland and situated on the northernmost tip of New Zealand is the spectacular scenery of the Bay of Islands.
Paihia is the main tourist area with plenty of water sports, from game fishing to boat trips in the bay spotting dolphin pods.
Cape Reinga is 100km north of the nearest small town and sits at the tip of the peninsula.
If you want adventure and have the appropriate vehicle, a large portion of the journey can be taken on the 90-mile beach.
Then head south to the Coromandel Peninsula, home to misty rainforests and pristine beaches, particularly Cathedral Cove marine reserve with its reefs of hard rock, intricate caves and underwater arches.
Continue in a southerly direction towards Rotorua but perhaps stopping on route in Matamata, home to ‘Hobbiton’.
If you are a fan of The Lord of the Rings films then this is a must-do.
A two-hour tour will take you round the movie set and you can even stop off for a pint in The Green Dragon.
Two hours further south sits Rotorua, home to geothermal parks full of natural wonders. You can walk among active volcanic areas, boiling mud pools, bubbling sulphur pools, and spouting geysers.
Plus there are many Maori cultural experiences to take part in too – enjoy a traditional Hangi meal while being entertained by Maori cultural performers and learn how Maoris intricately carve and decorate their war canoes, which can be as long as 40 metres.
With flights from under £1,000 per person you can stop off on route to New Zealand either via the Pacific route or Middle and Far East route.
Tailor-made packages can be put together to include accommodation, car rental and flights, or perhaps you prefer more independence and like the idea of a campervan.
New Zealand is such a worthwhile adventure, for any age!
Spectacular sights on New Zealand include (clockwise from above) a waterfall in the north island; the Waitopu thermal reserve; Cape Reinga; and Hobbiton, from the Lord of the Rings films