New Zealand draws many thousands of tourists to its shores because of the beauty, diversity, and compactness of its natural attractions and its varied sporting facilities. There are 10 national parks and 3 maritime parks. Of these, Fiordland is the largest, with some portions still unexplored. Urewera, noted for its forests and bird life, is the park in which early Maori culture is most strongly preserved; Tongariro includes two active volcanoes and is an important ski resort; and Mount Cook National Park includes Tasman Glacier, the largest glacier outside the polar regions. New Zealand has numerous thermal spas, particularly in the Rotorua area, which also offers Maori villages where traditional arts and crafts may be observed. The Waitomo Cave, on the North Island, is lit by millions of glowworms and may be toured all year. Lake Taupo and its streams form one of the world's richest trout fishing areas; Christchurch is home to one of the world's finest botanical gardens. Skiing is available on both the North and South Islands, and good deep-sea fishing along the North Island coast. New Zealand has first-class golf courses. Spectator sports include horse racing, soccer, cricket, and rugby.
All overseas visitors (except Australian nationals) need passports valid for at least six months beyond their intended stay in New Zealand. No visas are required for persons who are traveling on valid British passports; for citizens of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, or Switzerland; or for US or Japanese nationals not planning to stay in New Zealand more than 30 days. There are no vaccination requirements.
In 2000, there were 1,786,765 visitor arrivals in the country, with 32% from Australia, 11% from the United States, 11% from the United Kingdom, and 8% from Japan. Tourism receipts totaled US $2.1 billion. That year there were 25,911 hotel rooms with a 52% occupancy rate. The average daily cost of staying in New Zealand, according to a 2003 US government estimate, was between US $140 and US $193 per day.