Right now might not be the best time to actually take a bucket-list trip, but it can definitely be motivational to plan ahead for a fantastic family holiday later this year or even 2021.

There’s a long road ahead, but as lockdowns lift in different nations and after travel becomes easier, you’ll probably want to look for a location that’s coped comparatively well with the current crisis, looks beautiful and has lots of brilliant activities for all the family.

New Zealand ticks every box – its two main islands and adjoining smaller islands are home to lovely lakes, beautiful beaches, terrific thermal springs, majestic mountains and fabulous fjords, many of its plants and animals are unique and its indigenous Maori culture is inspirational.

There’s so much to do in NZ that it’s hard to single out highlights, but to provide a tantalising taster, we’ve gathered a few hotspots together nevertheless.

Waitomo Hobbiton Tour

If you’re a fan of Tolkien’s book and movie trilogy, you’ll love taking a Waitomo Hobbiton tour.

This area is accessible from Auckland in the North Island and as well as wandering around the Hobbiton movie set from the Lord of the Rings franchise, you can explore the Waitomo Glowworm Cave by boat and see its incandescent inhabitants up close, marvel at the dramatic geysers of Rotorua and see spectacular limestone rock formations in the huge Ruakuri cave.

Lake Wakatipu

If you find water cathartic, visiting Lake Wakatipu near Queenstown on the South Island is a must.

It’s New Zealand’s third-largest lake, is shaped like a lightning bolt and is bordered on all sides by sublime mountains, the tallest of which is Mount Earnshaw (2819m).

Its unique topography means the water rises and falls noticeably every 25 minutes and, according to Maori legend at least, this is caused by pulsations from the heartbeat of Matau, a monster who resides at the bottom of the lake.

Cruising across the lake on a retro steamship is blissful, but if you’re up for more lively activities, you’ll find everything from bungee jumping to helicopter flights in nearby Queenstown.

Willowbank Wildlife Reserve

Your kids won’t forgive you if you visit New Zealand without seeing some of its awesome local animals in all their glory.

At Willowbank Wildlife Reserve near Christchurch, you can see the famous Kiwi birds, Kaka bush parrots, awesome Tuatara reptiles and cheeky Kea birds.

But that’s not all – you can also experience the majestic Ko Tane Maori cultural performance and learn all about the songs, dances, cuisine and spiritual beliefs of these proud and immensely talented warrior people.

Getting there and getting around

Driving is one of the best ways to make the most of a trip because you can travel in comfort to your own itinerary – so hiring a car in NZ from Enjoy Car Hire is a savvy idea.

Meanwhile, keep an eye on Skyscanner and Kayak for the best prices on flights from your most convenient departure airport – you might bag an early bird bargain.

What’s your favourite thing about New Zealand? Let us know in the comments section!