1. Conquer Mordor 
Tongariro National Park has live volcanoes, bizarrely coloured lakes and post-apocalyptic landscapes – Mordor was filmed here for those films. If you do one tramp in New Zealand, make it the Tongariro Crossing. 

2. Bungyyy 
Queenstown is not only home of the bungy jump, but it has canyon swings, jetboating, hanggliding, whitewater rafting, skydiving and much much more. Bring spare pants. 

3. Sounds Spectacular 
Half the visual pleasure of Milford Sound is the journey there; winding roads plunge into dense, moss-plastered woodland, snake along gaping drops and pass waterfalls crashing to the floor from way up somewhere. 

4. It is Spectacular 
A boat trip edges you out onto the Sound’s water, home to dolphins and New Zealand fur seals, looking like an ant by the immense Mitre Peak. Onwards to the open sea, passing all sorts of waterfalls; some twist in the air, others thunder from impossible heights. 

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5. Fly high
A scenic flight around here is an unforgettable experience. And then there’s the far larger,Doubtful Sound, around the corner. You can even stay overnight in a house boat.

6. Sperm 
Kaikoura is a hot spot for whales, dolphins and seals. Take a boat cruise to watch whales – sperm, humpback and more – call in year round. 

7. Seally good 
Much-underrated seal swims (or dives) are excellent in Kaikoura. Plus, there’s dolphin swimming – go on, make ‘em jealous at home.

8. Have a Wanaka 
An hour from Queenstown is its younger, smaller, but equally attractive brother. It boasts: wineries, wonderful scenery, ski fields, mountain biking, skydiving, jetboating, canyoning, Lord of the Rings lark… Silly name though. Bit too close to wan…

9. Aspirational 
The spectacular Mount Aspiring National Park is also nearby – great for mountaineering and “tramping”. 

10. Ice to see you 
New Zealand has gazillions of glaciers, but the colossal ice tongues of the Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are the most accessible. It’s like stepping into a different world as your crampons crunch through an ice labyrinth of caves, frozen waves and crevasses. 

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11. Get to the chopper
If you have the cash to splash, a helicopter trip to land near the top of the glacier is unforgettable.

12. West is best
Also, many people make the glacial-sized error of speeding down the west coast and not stopping to peruse a little, in Hokitika (where you can make your own jade pendant),Greymouth and the pancake rocks of Punakaiki. Lonely Planet rate it as one of the world’s top 10 roadtrips.

13. Peak time
As long as the clouds haven’t hooded its handsome head, your first full sighting of Mt Cook should stop you in your tracks. New Zealand’s highest is one dashing mountain. 

14. Hut the top
If you’re not much of a mountaineer, there are several short walks near Mt Cook, all yielding good mountain and/or glacier views. Or stay overnight in the Mueller Hut (book at DOC), with wondrous mountain views at sunrise and sunset. 

15. Give it some Welly 
With green hills reaching up behind the capital and the shimmering harbour below it, New Zealand’s most attractive city is awash with cafés and culture. The Windy City has festivals aplenty, day-stealing museums, and good nightlife. 

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16. Give it more welly
Try to give it two or three days, but even if you can only manage one we recommend you: get up early to climb Mt Wellington, score some top nosh in one of many appetising cafés and get lost in the excellent Te Papa museum, the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary, the seal colony round at Red Rocks. Then hit the town’s many bars and music venues. 

17. Haka time 
It smells a bit like a rotten egg, but Rotorua is a great place to swot up on Maori culture, geothermal wonder and adrenalin thrills. Don’t miss seeing a haka and try to chow down on a hangi while you’re there. 

18. Eggs-ellent smell
Then there are geysers and bubbling mud pools to admire and a spa pool or mud bath to relax in later. After some hair-whitening adrenalin thrills, such as zorbing.

19. Water place
Just up the road there’s Taupo, which combines more thermal fun, plenty of adrenalin thrills, water sports and some great scenery, for tramping or simply gawping at. 

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20. Orc-land
The real stars of The Lord of the Rings trilogy weren’t Viggo Mortensen or a big hairy wizard, it was New Zealand’s scenery. Plenty of tours will take you to exact locations, dress you in Legolas’ wig and give you a sword to pose with. A precioussss experience. 

21. Abel seaperson?
Arguably the finest spot for some kayaking is Abel Tasman National Park, at the top of the South Island. The water can be a curious glowing green, the beaches all golden little curves and the sea full of seals. 

22. Marlborough man
Too crowded? Nearby Marlborough Sounds is an appealing alternative, offering similar kayaking and hiking options, plus the mandatory seals and dolphins.

23. Hit the north
Ever seen two oceans collide? Sand dunes the size of small mountains? A 90-mile beach? Dolphins dashing in between golden beach-fringed islands (Bay of Islands)? Even if you have, it’s unlikely you’ve seen them all in such close proximity. Welcome to the “winterless” Northland.

24. Farewell spit
Rather than a gesture of disdain, it’s a unique sandbar – the world’s largest – and wildife reserve stretching out from the tip of the South Island like a claw. A fascinating 4WD experience.

25. Feeling hip
Cosy Coromandel caters for every hippie whim, with hot water beach – where you can dig your own hot bath in the sand – arguably the pick of the bunch.

26. Cave in
Sensational caving and black water rafting at Waitomo’s extraordinary underground cave network. 

27. Way to Otago
Sneak up to the sea lions and other amazing wildlife – especially the adorable penguins – on the Otago Peninsula, before testing out Dunedin’s much vaunted nightlife. 

28. All white
Volcanic White Island is another unique and bizarre place. An island and smoking volcano crater in one. Like Mars. 

29. Slap and tipple
Get a bit of slap and tipple from the many, very tasty wine regions. Hic.

30. Great walks 
The nine official Great Walks got their name for a reason. All of them come highly recommended, especially those in spectacular Fiordland. 

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31. Skydive
Jump out of a perfectly good plane at 12,000ft. Go on, dare you. Oddly, many people find this less frightening than bungy jumping.

32. That’s golden
Sampling the hippy treats of Golden Bay,

33. Not forgetting…
Gah! We’ve run out of space. There’s also the sacred rugby matches, some superb diving (see Goat Island), wind-swept, barely-peopled Stewart Island, Mt Taranaki to climb, art deco Napier, sunny, artsy Nelson, the rugged coastline of the Catlins, the three-day Whanganui River kaya trip… Gasp. We could go on and on. All that in a country the size of Britain…


Photos: Getty, Thinkstock