New Zealand is identified as one of the world’s most stable and well-governed states It consists of two main landmasses—the North Island (Te Ika-a-Māui, map) and the South Island (Te Waipounamu, map)—and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand’s capital city is Wellington, and its most populous city is Auckland.
New Zealand markets itself abroad as a “clean, green” adventure-playground (Tourism New Zealand’s main marketing slogan, “100% Pure New Zealand”, reflects this) with typical tourist destinations being nature areas such as Milford Sound (map), Abel Tasman National Park (map) and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (map). Other high-profile destinations include the Bay of Islands (map), the Waitomo Caves (map), Aoraki / Mount Cook (map).
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To support active travel, New Zealand has numerous walking and hiking paths (often created and maintained by the DOC), some of which, like the *Milford Track, have huge international recognition. There is also a walking route the length of the country (Te Araroa Trail) and a proposed New Zealand Cycleway. (+ *Tramping in New Zealand)
There are four seasons, with summer in December–February and winter in June–August (the opposite of the northern hemisphere).
There is a wide range of backpacker accommodation around these islands, including a 50-strong network of youth hostels (catering for independent travellers of any age) that are members of the Youth Hostels Association. There are also two marketing networks of independent hostels: BBH with 280+ listings and the much smaller Nomads network.
New Zealand was one of the first countries in the world after the UK to develop a dense WWoOF network. “Willing Workers on Organic Farms” pioneered the concept of travellers (“WWoOFers”) staying as volunteers on farms and receiving food and accommodation in exchange for doing a half-day of work for each night they stay.