Dorothy may have decided she didn’t need to venture farther than her Kansas back yard to find her heart's desire after a trip to Oz, but if she’d made it to New Zealand, well, that story might have had a different ending. That’s the only conclusion I could come to after a too-short, jampacked, how-could-you-not-fall-in-love-with-this-place weeklong fam trip in June that left me planning my return trip even before my plane’s wheels hit the runway at my hometown Boston airport.

I have to admit to one caveat: Like so many North Americans, New Zealand was on my bucket list, so I likely was predisposed to be wowed. But I had no idea the variety of experiences such a small country could pack—from enjoying the metropolitan sleek and chic of Auckland, to having amazing outdoor adventures in Queenstown, to learning about Maori culture and heritage in Rotorua.

Suffice to say I thought Tourism New Zealand nailed it when they debuted their new slogan at the MEETINGS trade show in Auckland that rounded out our stay: Beyond Convention. While there are no shortage of meeting spaces, from exquisite boardrooms and small conference spaces to gorgeous venues that can accommodate thousands, it’s the culture, the scenery, the natural beauty, and the easygoing-yet-efficient Kiwi spirit that convinced me this is a must-do destination for North American groups looking to experience the trip of a lifetime.

Getting There: Yes, it's a long flight. But Air New Zealand makes it relatively painless to cross the International Dateline.

Rotorua: Exploring the cultural and geological highlights, meeting space, and dining options

Queenstown: Action, adventure, and very cool meeting space are on the agenda

Auckland: Meetings in the city, plus harbor cruising, SkyJumping, and wine tasting