New Zealand is one of those "big dream" destinations. You know, a place where people say, "Oh, I would love to go there!" ... and then never do. They think the distance or the cost are too great to make it happen. But they'd be surprised at just how easy it is to get there—and how many reasons there are for actually going.
It's Not as Far As You Think
New Zealand is so gorgeous that it looks like an entirely different planet. But it's actually only 12 to 14 hours by plane from North America. Book a direct flight from one of Air New Zealand's major gateways (like Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vancouver) and you'll be there before you know it. Assuming the tailwinds are in your favor, you might be in for an even shorter journey—my return flight from Auckland to San Francisco on Air New Zealand clocked in under 10 hours. That's basically two movies and a nap! With more than 1,800 hours of on-demand entertainment available, you might even wish for a longer flight.
You certainly won't go hungry on your flight, either. You'll be fed delicious Kiwi-inspired cuisine for dinner and breakfast, paired with all the delicious New Zealand wine that you can drink ... although hopefully not with breakfast. Best of all, you can use your personal inflight entertainment system to order snacks and drinks (for free!) throughout the flight in case you feel peckish.
The Exchange Rate Is Favorable to North Americans
Your money goes far in New Zealand. At time of publication, the U.S. dollar is worth exactly 1.50 NZD. Is there any better feeling than looking at a bill and automatically subtracting 25 percent? This means your budget can expand once you take the exchange rate into effect—so go ahead and treat yourself to a little extra.
The People Are Incredibly Nice
Gather round while I tell you this unbelievable true story: When I took a taxi in Christchurch on a recent trip, the polite and friendly driver not only refused a gratuity, but insisted on knocking a few dollars off the bill because he had gone a slightly longer route by accident (even though I was clearly a tourists who wouldn't know the difference). That's just one example of the many, many instances of Kiwi hospitality that I encountered in my travels.
It's Easy to Visit
Beyond researching all of the amazing activities you want to do, you don't have to do a lot of prep work to visit New Zealand. There's no foreign language phrases to learn, no vaccines required (assuming you're up to date on all of your regular vaccines), and you don't need a visa if you're a tourist from the United States. Just book your ticket and go!
New Zealand is a safe country to visit. I never felt uncomfortable walking around at night, even in some of the major cities. If you're a solo traveler, New Zealand is a great option if you're a little nervous about safety.
There's Something for Everyone
My two week journey across New Zealand felt like 10 different trips in one. People with all kinds of interests will find plenty to do there—whether you want extreme adventure, culinary delights, or to follow in the footsteps of hobbits, you'll find a new activity to do every day of the year.
It's also a great destination for groups with different interests, as it would be so easy to split off during the day (one person goes bungy jumping, one goes for a hike, one lounges on the beach, etc.) and meet back up to experience the world-class cuisine at night.