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The Complete Wimp’s Guide to Queenstown

I realize this is a rather grand statement but…Queenstown, New Zealand, just might be the world’s most perfect vacation destination. Though it hangs its tourism hat on its reputation as the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown has a surplus of diverse attractions for every type of traveler—including those of us who would sooner give up an entire year’s worth of vacation days than jump off a bridge with only rubber bands to break our free fall.

Sure, bungy jumping is a huge draw for some. Skiing, too, and paragliding, skydiving, and white water rafting. But for everyone else—foodies and shoppers, wine connoisseurs and birders, historians and culture hounds—Queenstown boasts an equal embarrassment of riches.

New Zealand’s South Island: 9 Days, 6 National Parks

After two visits to New Zealand, I am very familiar with travelers’ number-one question: just how long does it take to get there? The answer: about 18 hours’ flight time from the U.S. East Coast, or three in-air viewings of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. But here’s why Down Under is worth the long haul: once you land in New Zealand—no matter where you touch down—some of the world’s most varied and striking landscapes are a stone’s throw away. In fact, you can visit half a dozen pristine national parks in the time it took you to fly from New York to New Zealand; big on beauty and small on space, New Zealand’s geography favors travelers tight on time. Plus, all Kiwi national parks welcome visitors with free entry and hospitable overnight huts.

Earth Week: 6 Ways to Minimize Your Vacation Footprint

Editor’s Note: It’s Earth Week on the blog! In honor of the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day, The Window Seat editors are blogging about our favorite ways to go green while globetrotting. Ask us your eco-questions, join in the green conversation, and help us celebrate Mother Earth.

Hoorah for carbon offsets and yay for eco-friendly hotels–but booking a flight, hotel room, and rental car only marks the start of your vacation, so why let it be the end of your eco-friendly efforts?

To keep greening your travels after you book, there are loads of easy things you can do during your vacation. Here are six favorites.

Conservation and Concerns at Ngorongoro Crater

I hate to be a debbie downer, but two of the happiest stories in the news—the 40th anniversary of Earth Day next week and the World Cup in South Africa in June—have been reminding me that things may not be looking up for one of my favorite places: Tanzania’s Ngorongoro Crater.

The crater is the world’s largest intact caldera, the historic home of Tanzania’s Masai people, and a natural enclosure renowned for its dense population of wildlife. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site that’s been under scrutiny from UNESCO since 2007 as the area has struggled to maintain a balance between conservation and development. Ngorongoro Crater already spent time on UNESCO’s danger list from 1984 to 1989, and the notable increase in safari vehicles since then means it could appear on the list again.