Being in social isolation doesn't stop us dreaming of all the places we'd like to visit; in fact now we've got even more time to daydream. Escape on a virtual vacation to bring a little piece of New Zealand to your living room.

New Zealand can feel like a fantasy for travelers. That’s probably partially due to the lush storybook landscapes (honestly, what other country could serve as Middle Earth for the film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings?) but the whole country has an air of magic. You can feel it in the charming, laid-back cities bursting with nooks and crannies to explore, among the otherworldly natural wonders and the unique wildlife, and as you immerse yourself in Māori culture. Here’s your guide to experiencing the Land of the Long White Cloud from home.

You looking at me !
Gisbourne's rural charm and striking landscapes make it a popular holiday destination. © Robin Bush / Getty Images

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Best Movies

What We Do In The Shadows (2014): 
If there's one genre on which New Zealand has cornered the market, it's horror-comedy, and this hilarious mockumentary about vampire roommates in Wellington is probably the most famous example.
Bad Taste (1987): Peter Jackson and his friends did the acting, special effects, and make-up in his first feature film, this sci-fi cult favorite that has aliens invading a fictional NZ town to turn its citizens into intergalactic fast food.
Turbo Kid (2015): The horror comes from the gore in this fun and retro film, about a comic book fan in a post-apocalyptic world where a tyrannical overlord grinds his enemies up to make water, which has become scarce.

Eagle vs Shark (2007):
A shy songwriter travels with her crush, a nerdy video game store clerk, to his hometown, where he has plans to fight his high-school bully.   
Pork Pie (2017):
This is an adaptation of a 1981 road trip comedy, the first film made in New Zealand to gain a huge audience in the country.
Samoan Wedding (2006): Four rowdy and roguish Samoan boys have to settle down with girlfriends in order to attend a wedding.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016): A city kid and his foster uncle accidentally become the subjects of a national manhunt through the New Zealand bush.

Māori Dramas:
Whale Rider (2002):
A twelve-year-old Māori girl aspires to become the chief of her tribe, a position her grandfather thinks should only be filled by a man.
Once Were Warriors (1994): An urban Māori family endures heartbreak and intense struggles in this beautifully acted critically-acclaimed film, based on a book.
Boy (2010): Set in 1984, this is a coming of age dramedy about an 11-year-old Māori boy whose absent father comes back.


Classic and modern NZ pop

Best Novels

Modern Maori Literature:
Potiki - Patricia Grace:
A Māori community fights back when their land is threatened by real estate developers.
The Bone People - Keri Hulme: A part-Māori woman's solitude is interrupted by a mercurial but speechless boy, and she eventually falls under the spell of his Māori foster father.
Pounamu, Pounamu - Witi Ihimaera: A selection of short stories by the author of The Whale Rider that looks at New Zealand through Māori eyes.

Historical Reads:
Plumb - Maurice Gee:
The first in a trilogy about an irascible Kiwi clergyman based on the author's own ancestor.
The Luminaries - Eleanor Catton: In 1866, a miner on the way to the goldfields stumbles into a web of crimes that have been covered up.
Faces in the Water - Janet Frame: A fictional look at life in two of New Zealand's mental institutions in the 1960s, loosely based on the author's own experiences.

Best Podcasts

The Guest House: Journalist and poet Mohamed Hassan looks at how Muslim New Zealanders are making sense of the 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks a year later.

Kākāpō Files: Voice of the Kākāpō: A look at the 2019 breeding season for New Zealand's strangest critically-endangered bird: the large, nocturnal, flightless Kākāpō.

Black Sheep: A look at the "shady, controversial, and sometimes downright villainous characters of New Zealand."

Learn the Local Language

Māori words and phrases:
Aotearoa: New Zealand (Literally, ‘long white cloud’)
Kia ora: “health”, used as a greeting and as a farewell at the end of a conversation
Moana: sea
Maunga: mountain
Ae: yes
Kao: No
Te reo: The language, refers to the Māori language

Māori language resources:
Learn some te reo Māori for your trip to New Zealand, AotearoaThis article covers the history and background needed to understand and learn te reo.
Maorilanguage.netA website loaded with words, phrases, resources, and much more.
Kīwaha - Give it a go: This RNZ podcast focuses on simple sayings to use in everyday conversation.


One thing you'll notice about Kiwi cuisine is that there are a lot of delicious sweets and baked goods. A particular favorite candy is hokey pokey (known elsewhere as honeycomb). It's easy to make and is delicious either on its own, dipped in chocolate, or sprinkled over vanilla ice cream.

Best Videos


New Zealand has an ideal climate for crafting stellar white wines, which are perfect for this New Zealander sangria loaded with tangerine and (of course) kiwifruit.

Cultural Highlights

Virtual tour of Hobbiton

360° VR tour of the Te Papa Museum of New Zealand

Epic Landscapes

Milford Sound

Moeraki Boulders

Blue Pools Track

Shop Online

Do some online browsing with these New Zealand shops who ship internationally (please note there may be some delays or restrictions due to COVID-19).

Fix & Fogg: Started selling artisanal flavored nut butters from a window in Wellington's famed Hannah’s Laneway


A post shared by Fix & Fogg (@fixandfogg) on

Bee My Honey: Premium New Zealand honey, including manuka and kanuka honey, which are superfoods with extra antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties when eaten or applied to the skin


A post shared by Bee My Honey (@bee_my_honey_nz) on

The Tin Shed: Sweaters, socks, blankets, yarn, and more made from New Zealand merino and blended wools


A post shared by The Tin Shed (@thetinshednewzealand) on

You might also like:

Travel New Zealand by train: cities, mountains and coasts

Hiking in New Zealand with a toddler is a lot easier than you imagine

How to travel sustainably in New Zealand

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