New Zealand is often overshadowed by its larger neighbour, Australia, which is a shame because it has so much to offer in its own right. New Zealand is made up of two main islands, each 600 miles long, but has only 3 million people, over a million of which live in Auckland, which means that outside the cities there is a wonderful sense of space. The country is incredibly beautiful with crisp, clear air and a wonderful quality of light. The spectacular scenery is varied with high mountains (Mount Cook rises to over 12,000 ft (3,700m) in the South Island and several active volcanoes rising to 8,000 ft (2800m) in the North Island, lush green fertile plains, large clear lakes teaming with fish (even I caught a salmon one afternoon as a novice fisherwoman) and beautiful, often deserted beaches. There is so much to see and do - walking, glacier hiking, climbing, canoeing, whitewater rafting, wine tasting, riding, whale watching and swimming with dolphins. The best thing about New Zealand is the people - down to earth, honest and friendly, always ready to have a chat and pass the time of day - and a great way to meet them is to stay in a B&B, on a farm, in a boutique hotel or in a small lodge.
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