A country beyond Down Under
known for its peacefulness and grandiose scenery (esp. of "Lord of the Rings" film set fame) rather than for anything dark. So what's there for dark tourism?
For one thing, New Zealand's natural marvels also provide for some of the dark sides of nature, through volcanoes. White Island
is an active volcano off North Island's east coast that can, at a price, be visited.
On "mainland" North Island is the site that demonstrates not just the potential of volcanic destruction but actual disaster. In 1886 Mt Tarawera
erupted violently and buried villages and a favourite natural beauty spot – this is the most commodified dark tourism bit of the country.
On a more political and more recent front, the wreck of the Rainbow Warrior
, the Greenpeace ship sunk by the French in an impossible sounding secret service blunder, can be visited by the divers amongst the dark tourists.
And the city of Christchurch, which was hit by earthquakes repeatedly, a specialist museum about that topic was opened.
Christchurch also still has some ruins from the devastating 2011 earthquake that may also be worth a look, especially Christchurch Cathedral, which is scheduled to be reinstated, though. The Catholic counterpart, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, which was also badly damaged, on the other hand, was deemed to be beyond repair, and in 2020 demolition of the structure was begun.
Moreover, the country was hit by a catastrophic earthquake on 22 February 2011 – and the South Island city of Christchurch may thus have to be added here too as a potential dark tourism destination. Several buildings collapsed completely or in part, including the cathedral, whose spire came off. As usual, it can be assumed that rebuilding will get rid of all traces of the quake fairly quickly. It remains to be seen, however, whether some kind of memorial will be erected or if one of the ruins will be declared such a memorial. The cathedral would be my candidate!
New Zealand is far, far away for anyone – except for people living in Australia
or nearby Pacific
islands – and flying times are accordingly long. Most people travelling from Europe make a stopover (e.g. in Singapore
). But there are numerous connections.
New Zealand's tourism infrastructure is excellent, with plenty of accommodation options and tourism agencies offering their services. Independent self-drive holidays are a favourite. So car (or camper van) hire is the preferred mode of transport.