The airport in Christchurch (CHC) is the main gateway to the pleasures of the South Island, which include the dramatic Fjordlands, the Southern Alps and playground-central Queenstown, where skiing is just one of the outdoor activities to be enjoyed.
On the North Island, the Art Deco city of Napier in the Hawke's Bay region, the famous surf and sandy bays of Gisborne, and the wilds of the North Cape compete for the attention of tourists.
Wonderful hiking trails, such as those on the Kapiti Coast near Wellington, and the well-known Milford Track (trekking is known as tramping in New Zealand), plus the thermal springs and geysers of Rotorua, also attract visitors to this diverse land.
And if all that sounds a little exhausting, why not relax with a picnic of some local New Zealand lamb, kiwifruit (named for the country's national bird), a glass of home-grown wine, with Anchor butter on your bread and Cadbury chocolate to finish? Cadbury chocolate? Yes, there's a Cadbury World to visit in Dunedin on the South Island and, what with New Zealand's clean and wonderful countryside feeding its population of dairy cattle, you might just taste the creamiest chocolate ever.
Many visitors, especially backpackers, choose to tour New Zealand with a camper van. Van rentals, plus normal car hire rentals, are available at the major international airports. Booking in advance is strongly advised.