Paradise Found

11 August 20

Learn about the people and events that shaped New Zealand. Written by Frank Morris.

In the late 1800’s, US author Mark Twain was perhaps the first international literary luminary to visit and publicise New Zealand.

Twain found the “land of superb scenery” irresistible. He wrote about “the snowy grandeurs, the mighty glaciers, and beautiful lakes”.

The fiords were, he wrote, “wonder rivals” to those found in Norway and Alaska. After his historic sojourn, Twain expostulated that “our stay has been too brief; still, we are not unthankful for the glimpse which we have had of it”. 

Thomas Cook and Son is believed to be the first travel agent to cash in on New Zealand as an exotic travel destination.

The first government-backed tourism promotion organisation, The Tourist and Publicity Department, was established in 1901.

Through its New Zealand and international network, the department’s role was to promote New Zealand to the world. Now called Tourism New Zealand, it is reputed to be the oldest bureau of its kind in both hemispheres.

As in the case of Mark Twain, the editors of Time magazine were overwhelmed by the visually stunning beauty of New Zealand.

In its first cover story on New Zealand in 1977, Time rhapsodised about the country being ‘a photographer’s paradise…. One of the world’s most beautiful nations”.

The magazine informed its global readership of the “extravagant” beauty of the country: “The velvet green hills and valleys; white snowdraped peaks; and streams with trout as big as man’s arm”.

This South Pacific paradise attracts millions of international visitors each year.


This column has been written by retired journalist, Frank Morris and appears in Issue 1 of Haere Mai, an online magazine helping to inspire and invigorate New Zealand travel dreams.

>> Read more of Haere Mai here

>> Visit the Grand Years blog to read more of Frank's stories here

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