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    New Zealand: the world’s youngest country

    New Zealand
    Image by Travelling Pooh (http://www.flickr.com/photos/thbecker/)

    As the last discovered landmass in the world (Maori settled in New Zealand only about 500 years ago), New Zealand has earned its title as the world’s youngest country.

    The nickname is completely apt: New Zealand is famous for the kind of activities that can make you feel like a kid again. From adventure sports to animal encounters to exploring a castle, the country has an array of one-of-a-kind entertainment. If you want some superlative activities and entertainment on your next trip, look no further.

    Start your day with the world’s first dawn

    Gisbourne on New Zealand’s North Island has the unique distinction of being the first city in the world to see the light of morning. So grab your coffee and greet the new days before anyone else you know.

    Jump off the world’s first bungee bridge

    New Zealand is famous as the birthplace of bungee. Since the 1980s people have been launching themselves off the Kawarau Bridge in Queenstown, a site which happens to still be operational. Take a dive off the world’s first commercial bungee bridge!

    Help save the world’s most unique animals

    The kiwi is only one of many unique animal species endemic to New Zealand. Most of these animals are also endangered and protected by the Department of Conservation. Helping to save some of the world’s most endangered creatures (the kakapo, for instance, has a total population of less than 120) is as easy as visiting the reserves around the country and donating a few dollars to the cause.

    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eh-0knDpn5g[/youtube]

    Tour the world’s southernmost castle

    Set on a hill above the scenic Otago Peninsula, Larnach Castle is the only castle in New Zealand and also the southernmost castle in the world. It was built in 1871 by businessman and politician William Larnach. The Larnach family sold the property in 1906 and it is now a major tourist attraction. Walk through the well-preserved rooms and wander the manicured gardens. The castle also has some options for accommodation, but be warned: rumor has it the castle is haunted.

    Learn to pronounce the world’s longest place name

    This may not be as dramatic as bungee jumping or as meaningful as saving a species, but for some silly fun, take a peek at the extra-long sign marking a Hawkes Bay hill. Hawkes Bay on the North Island is home to a spot that boasts the longest place name in an English-speaking country: Taumata¬whakatangihanga¬koauau¬o¬tamatea¬pokai¬whenua¬ki¬tana¬tahu.

    Coast down the world’s steepest street

    Many towns in New Zealand were designed by urban planners in England, most of whom had never been out of London. As a result, many roads were drawn without any consideration of the terrain. This is how the town of Dunedin ended up with Baldwin Street: the steepest street in the world. At its steepest point, the street has an impressive gradient of 35%.

    Check out the world’s biggest animals

    Many of the world’s largest living animals make their home off the coast of New Zealand, congregating at the Kaikoura Canyon (a deep undersea crevice). Between the sperm whales that live here year-round and the migrating humpback, blue and southern right whales, whale watching in Kaikoura is one of the best places in the world to encounter a deep-sea giant.

    Be sure to visit Kaikoura for whale watching and to discover other great New Zealand attractions on your trip!

    This article was written for Trip Originator by blogger Whitney Cox. Whitney writes on behalf of a number of NZ Tours & Travel companies.

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