For many travelers, New Zealand is a dream destination and a once in a lifetime place to visit. If you are planning your first trip to New Zealand, or if you are planning a return trip to see more of this beautiful and wild country, you may want to know which places in New Zealand are at the top of the must-sees list.
Made up of two main islands, the North Island and the South Island. New Zealand is an incredible destination to discover. Filled with unforgettable scenery, breathtaking scenery, and an unrivaled combination of lakes, mountains, and lush vegetation, the island nation must be seen to be truly understood.
Here are our picks of the 10 best places to visit in New Zealand
Stewart Island is the third largest island in New Zealand and lies even further south than the South Island. Most of the island is forested and undeveloped; More than 80 percent of the island is reserved as Rakiura National Park, giving you the opportunity to explore New Zealand’s wild side. Most of the hobbies on Stewart Island involve the outdoors, such as hiking, camping, and bird watching. One of the most popular hikes on Stewart Island is the Northwest Loop, which can take several days to complete for even the fittest hikers. However, the hike offers spectacular views and access to amazing wildlife.
At the top of the South Island is Nelson, a place known for having the most hours of sunshine a year in all of New Zealand. This excellent climate and the fact that the city is surrounded by three national parks make Nelson a fantastic place for outdoor recreation. There is also an emphasis on local agriculture and local wineries. Founder’s Park is an amazing place in the city where you can dine on local farm-to-table cuisine and enjoy the sun in the heart of an urban area. You can even take a day trip to Abel Tasman National Park from Nelson using an early bus, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the park.
Glacier Country is on the west coast of the South Island, and its gem is Westland National Park. In the park, you will have the opportunity to see the two most spectacular glaciers in the country. The Franz Josef Glacier and the Fox Glacier. The Franz Josef Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers on the planet, which means you can hike up to the glacier and even through the glacial valley. Guided tours give you a closer look at the extent of the glaciers. And you can relax after a day of hiking by soaking in the incredible hot pools of the glaciers.
The Napier Spa on the North Island is known as the Art Deco Capital of New Zealand, thanks to a host of 1930s architecture built when the city suffered a major fire over 80 years ago. After touring the city on foot for a guided or self-guided architectural tour… The best way to enjoy Napier is by visiting the National Aquarium of New Zealand. This massive aquarium houses everything from turtles to crocodiles, and the modern displays are truly world-class.
Rotorua is known as New Zealand’s thermal wonderland. There are numerous geysers and hot springs in and around the city. Many of these are found in parks and reserves. Occasionally natural eruptions of steam, hot water and mud occur in new places. Nearby Wai-O-Tapu is also a popular place to visit with many hot springs noted for their colorful appearance, in addition to the Lady Knox Geyser.
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If you are interested in exploring the Bay of Islands, Paihia is a great place to visit in New Zealand. Paihia is all about a small town feel, but it has a variety of great hotels and recreational opportunities to attract travelers. If you’re feeling adventurous and active, you can swim with dolphins or even snorkel to see the underwater shipwreck called the Rainbow Warrior. Back on the mainland, head to Marsden Road to find exceptional restaurants serving a variety of freshly caught seafood.
Auckland, known as the City of Sails, is the largest and most populous city in New Zealand. It is located on the North Island and is known for its vibrant culture and gastronomic landscape. For incredible views of this beautiful metropolis, climb the Auckland Harbor Bridge. If you are interested in learning more about New Zealand’s history and heritage, be sure to visit Auckland Domain, which is the oldest part of the city. In the Auckland domain, you will find excellent displays of Maori and Pacific Island artifacts at the iconic Auckland Museum.
On the South Island of New Zealand is Queenstown, a destination known as the dream place for those seeking adrenaline and adventure. Surrounded by the towering peaks of the Southern Alps and right on the shores of the deep blue of Lake Wakatipu,. Queenstown is also an incredibly beautiful place. One of the best ways to experience the scenery is on Lake Wakatipu itself. You can cycle around the perimeter of the lake or take a cruise on the magnificent waters of the lake. There is also a lively nightlife in the small central area of the city packed with bars and restaurants.
Tongariro National Park
New Zealand’s first national park, Tongariro is known for its surprises and extremes. The diverse range of ecosystems in the park includes tranquil lakes, active volcanoes, grassy fields, untamed forests, and desert plateaus. Start your hike at the Whakapapa Visitor Center, just a three-hour hike from the impressive Taranaki Falls. The short hike will take you through scrub and forest and through the lava line from volcanic eruptions hundreds of years ago.
One of the most picturesque places in New Zealand is Fiordland National Park. Here, you can go on amazing hikes, fish for trout, or cruise the spectacular fjords (called here sounds) in the southwestern corner of the South Island. Milford Sound is Fiordland’s biggest attraction and is a veritable fjord created by a glacier. On a Milford Sound cruise, you can see waterfalls, admire the rugged rock faces that tower over the water,. And even see wildlife like dolphins and penguins.