When Peter Jackson was searching for the perfect setting to realise J.R.R Tolkien's fantasy adventures for the big screen, New Zealand was the obvious choice.
Endless scenes of snow-capped mountains and ice-age glaciers, craggy coastlines and footprint-free beaches, mirror-still lakes in duck-egg blue and emerald green, steaming volcanoes, bubbling hot springs, virgin forests and plunging fjords; if nature had a design studio, full of her most stupendous ideas, it would be New Zealand.
The country certainly provides a canvas for adrenaline-charged pursuits like jet boating and bungee jumping, but you needn't view New Zealand as some kind of assault course.
Wine lovers will be enthralled by the vineyards of Hawke's Bay and Marlborough; foodies will whoop as they tuck into fist-sized oysters, green-lipped mussels and melt-in-the-mouth lamb; cultural connoisseurs can revel in a rich Maori heritage; and creatures of comfort will find luxury lodges and geothermal spas.
And with 30% of the country set aside as national parks, reserves and special heritage sites, it's no surprise that such awesome scenery is also home to a bedazzling array of wildlife.
Offshore you'll find seals and breaching sperm whales; you can swim with dolphins at Kaikoura and Paihia, or spot penguins and albatross on the Otago Peninsula. Most endearing of all is the flightless kiwi, still spotted in the wild in large numbers on spectacular Stewart Island.
It's possible to see most of the main sights in just a couple of weeks, but for a really good look without racing through your tick-list, we recommend anywhere between three and eight weeks ... short of actually emigrating that is.