During my semester-long study abroad program in New Zealand in 2011, I took an incredible road-trip with some friends around the beautiful South Island, or "Te Waipounamu" in the native Māori language. We explored the beautiful beaches of Abel Tasman National Park and Golden Bay, crossed through expansive forests and a countryside of grasslands and rolling green hills leading to the snow-capped mountains surrounding Milford Sound, walked across massive blocks of ice at Franz Josef Glacier, plunged nearly 450 feet into the Nevis canyon from the country's highest bungy drop outside Queenstown, and witnessed the breathtaking jagged spine of the island, the Southern Alps. After seeing New Zealand's starring role in Peter Jackson's famous "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, I can honestly say that, yes, it is that beautiful! Even the 4K 48-frame-per-second 3D world of Middle Earth in "The Hobbit" doesn't do the South Island justice. Out of all my travels through North America, Europe, and the South Pacific, I must admit that New Zealand is definitely one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring destinations I have ever visited.
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