Big screen stand-in for Middle Earth in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, New Zealand is a dream destination that lives up to the hype. Jaw-dropping landscapes—soaring mountains, sandy beaches, mossy forests, rolling vineyards, and majestic glaciers and fjords—blanket the nation’s main North and South islands, located off the southeast coast of Australia. Matching the extraordinary backdrops are the indigenous Māori, whose legendary manaakitanga, or hospitality, imbues New Zealand with a welcoming vibe. —Maryellen Kennedy Duckett