New Zealand

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New Zealand

Sundown in Auckland, New Zealand, a country with stunningly varied landscapes.

©iStockphoto

Once you've seen New Zealand's stunning variety of scenery it comes as no surprise that film director Peter Jackson chose this incredibly beautiful nation as the backdrop for his "Lord of the Ring" film trilogy. The country's volcanic peaks, rolling pastures, lush forests and icy glaciers lend themselves beautifully to the mythical world described by J.R.R. Tolkien.

But this series of mountainous islands in the southwestern Pacific Ocean is more than just a good stand-in for Mordor. The variety of landscapes and climates found here is more befitting of a much larger country, not one barely the size of the state of Colorado. Highly conservation-minded, New Zealand can at times appear to be simply a series of one national park after another. The remote Te Urewera National Park on the North Island is famous for its lakes and forests while Rakiura National Park in the country's southern reaches is prized for its sandy beaches and inlets. In between, you'll find parks featuring everything from geothermal vents and rainforests to deserts and glaciers.

With all this variation, it's obvious that the climate is equally diverse. While much of the country has a temperate climate, there are sharp contrasts depending on the region. It's warm and tropical in the north, for instance, becoming more temperate as you go south. The mountainous regions have alpine conditions, with areas west of the mountains being much wetter than those in the east.

So wet or dry, cold or hot, windy or calm, these 10 countries with perfect climates should satisfy even the pickiest among you. Take your pick: You can't go wrong.

For more on ideal climates and related topics, peruse the links on the next page.

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