Geographically, it's hard to imagine a more diverse place than New Zealand, a nation seemingly quilted together from all of the scraps left over when the world was made. This gorgeous gestalt embraces every ecotone on Earth, from rainforest to icy mountain crags to sweeping coastlines embroidered with fjords. Indeed, the landscape is one of the chief resources of this scenic South Seas country, a favorite location for Hollywood epics like "The Lord of the Rings," and is itself ample argument for choosing it as your island getaway.
Tourism makes up a large portion of the New Zealand economy and it shows in the comprehensive business hours kept by stores and pubs [source: Tourism New Zealand]. Getaways abound in the countryside as well, where bed and breakfast proprietors and tour guides extend characteristic Kiwi warmth. Museums and wineries present welcome diversions, and opportunities abound for experiencing Polynesian and Maori cultural influences.
New Zealand is also a veritable pilgrimage site for adventure tourists and extreme sports enthusiasts, and the South Island in particular offers endless possibilities for pushing your boundaries. It's also home to the Milford Track, an ancient Maori trail through the rainforests, wetlands and alpine passes of Fiordland National Park.