By now I’m sure you’ve seen the news coverage of the devastating earthquake to strike Christchurch, New Zealand on February 22nd. It’s been a massive blow to the entire country and thrust New Zealand onto the world stage for all the wrong reasons.
It’s easy to write New Zealand off as a destination for 2011, that the country has been flattened and the last thing that you should do is go there on holiday. However, New Zealand is most certainly not closed for business.
Here are the three top reasons why you should visit New Zealand in 2011:
1) New Zealand doesn’t just want you to visit, they need you to visit.
It’s a common occurrence whenever a natural disaster strikes around the world. Whether it’s an earthquake, flood, fire, hurricane or political strife—the nation becomes subtly blacklisted by the travel community at large. What New Zealand needs—or any nation for that matter that’s recovering from disaster—is visitors. Tourism is the engine room of the New Zealand economy and without an influx of visitor dollars, that rebuilding process is going to be that much harder.
Besides that—the damage, though massive, is localized only in the city of Christchurch. While Christchurch is definitely a no-go zone for a while, the rest of the country is wide open for business. Supporting the NZ economy is the best thing you can do to help the earthquake victims and speed up the re-birth of Christchurch.
2) The Rugby World Cup is in New Zealand this year.
New Zealand is crazy about rugby—there’s no point in sugar-coating it, they love this sport more than damn near anything else (family members included). In September 2011 the beloved All Blacks will take on the world on their home turf. Miles short of a sure thing, New Zealand hasn’t lifted the cup aloft since 1987 and the expectation for them to win is immense.
Not a rugby fan? Who cares—one of the joys of travel is getting wrapped up in the atmosphere of a destination. The World Series in Boston, The Soccer World Cup in London, The Stanley Cup Final in Vancouver—these all pale in comparison to the utter manic atmosphere you can expect throughout New Zealand come September.
It’s been said a million times by travel writers and travelers themselves—New Zealand is just an awesome place to visit. If you’re at all outdoors-inclined, the al fresco adventure opportunities abound. The sedate will marvel at the sightseeing, hiking, whale watching, deserted beaches and pristine rainforests. Those looking to add a bit more sugar to their tea will be all about bungy jumping, jet boating, mountain biking and skiing.
More the city type? The hipster urban mecca of Wellington with its abundant arts scene, killer dining opportunities and kinetic atmosphere will make an urbanite out of the most ardent fresh-air-o-phile.
Times are tough in New Zealand, there’s no doubt about that. The best thing you can do to help is give yourself the gift of an amazing holiday and check out one of the best little travel destinations going. This year, of all years, New Zealand should be right at the top of your must-visit list.
If you want to show your support and help the good folks in Christchurch, check out the New Zealand Red Cross Christchurch Earthquake Appeal and make a donation—every little bit helps. http://www.redcross.org.nz/donate
Gogobot member Scott Kennedy is a freelance writer, photographer, filmmaker and adventurer living in Queenstown, New Zealand. He writes guidebooks for Lonely Planet and shoots photos and pens stories for numerous travel and adventure magazines and websites. Check out his website www.adventureskope.com. Follow him on Twitter and connect on Facebook.
Photos by Scott Kennedy