Renowned to the world as “Paradise of the Pacific,” there are many places to visit in New Zealand that successfully appeals to most people. New Zealand is a country with plenty of natural beauty, top-notch cuisine, and an overall awesome vibe.
New Zealand has just so many sites to go and see that it’s confusing to know where to start. It is an incredible country with a diverse landscape and unique wildlife.
If you love wildlife, you need to read about the best national parks in the world
If you are searching for the best of the best destinations to visit in New Zealand, you have come to the right place.
Here are some of the best places you can visit in New Zealand:
1. Places you can visit in New Zealand: Queenstown
Located on the South Island between Lake Wakatipu and the mountain ranges of Remarkables, Queenstown is one of the perfect destinations to visit in New Zealand. It has impressive views of lakes, canyons, and mountains, in store for you.
Queenstown is known as the country’s adventure capital because of the variety of outdoor activities on offer. You can go skydiving, paragliding, and bungee jumping or try some watersports such as jet boating and white-water rafting.
Mind you, Queenstown has the world’s highest cliff jump named the Shotover Canyon Swing. So prepare to hurl yourself off a cliff as you are tied to a chair.
Rock climbing, mountain biking, and hiking amidst the beautiful alpine scenery are also some excellent activities you can try in Queenstown. If you happen to visit Queenstown during winter, you can go downhill skiing.
So if you love fueling your adrenaline rush, Queenstown is the place to go.
Besides, the city also houses the Lord of the Rings filming locations nearby. You can book Lord of the Rings 14 Days Tour here
You will also get one of the world’s best burger joints in Queenstown, named Fergburger. So make sure you try a bite when you’re here.
2. Places you can visit in New Zealand: Nelson
Another beautiful city on the South Island of New Zealand is Nelson. Nelson is a popular tourist site that faces Tasman Bay.
The city boasts fantastic landscapes, sunny beaches, lush forests, majestic mountains, and many caving sites and vineyards.
Nelson pulls travelers to explore its natural reserves and national parks that are great for walking and tramping. A kayak tour at the Abel Tasman Park is a popular thing to do when in Nelson, as you get to see penguins, seals, and dolphins.
Another great outdoor activity is to walk one of New Zealand’s nine ‘great walks’ called the Heaphy Track.
Stroll the city to buy souvenirs in arts and crafts stores. You can also visit art studios and check out craft fairs for some unique souvenirs to take home.
Nelson is also renowned for its Nelson Bay scallops. So go to a restaurant along the coast and try the scallops with a glass of wine.
3. Places you can visit in New Zealand: Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound
It is a world heritage site located on South Island. It is renowned for its beautiful scenery and dramatic landscapes that constitute famous fjords like Milford, Dusky and Doubtful Sounds.
Fiordland National Park is best explored by hiking.
When you’re here, make sure to check out the famous Milford Sound. Also renowned as the “eighth wonder of the world,” the fjord welcomes thousands of locals and foreigners to admire its views.
You can explore the fjord by cruising on a boat or by sea kayaking. Either way, you can explore the waterfalls and wildlife at their best. If you want more adventure, trek the Milford track.
You can even go on a scenic flight over the park to check out the national park’s beauty.
For a great day trip, visit the Milford Discovery Center and Underwater Observatory to see the 360 degrees of underwater experience.
4. Places you can visit in New Zealand: Auckland
Located on North Island, Auckland is the largest city in the country that works as the international air travel center. As a result, this city is where most tourists usually start their New Zealand trip.
Auckland is a bustling city that boasts fantastic natural scenery and adventure activities. The city also has numerous restaurants and cafes, shopping malls, hotels, and some of the best bars and clubs to enjoy the great nightlife.
The first thing to do in Auckland is to visit the museums and learn about the city’s history and culture. Also, visit the Auckland Art Gallery. It is the largest art gallery in New Zealand that houses more than 15,000 artworks.
Go to the 328-meter high Sky Tower to see amazing views of the city.
If you seek adventure, go to Auckland Bridge Climb and try the Auckland bridge bungee jump.
Volcano mountains and rainforests surround the city, making it an excellent spot for hiking.
If you want a relaxing day by yourself, consider strolling the Auckland Domain park or sunbathing at the beautiful black sand beaches.
If you happen to be in this city on a Saturday, explore the Parnell Farmers’ Market and try the organic food.
You can also book an America’s Cup sailing experience on Waitemata Harbour to explore this city by water.
5. Places you can visit in New Zealand: Napier
Another coastal city situated on North Island is Napier. This city was destroyed by a powerful earthquake in 1931 and was rebuilt in the Spanish mission style.
Today, Napier is renowned for its gourmet food, wine, art, and architecture.
Explore the city and check out the Pania of the Reef at the Marine Parade seafront promenade. This statue is a famous statue from Maori mythology. Many other places in the city let you take a peek into the Maori world.
There are many hiking trails in the city if you are looking for an adventure. The Cape Kidnappers is a popular destination where you can walk and enjoy the scenery.
Now, the real deal about visiting Napier is the food. The gourmet restaurants are specialized in using fresh produce to make their dish. So please try their unique recipes when you’re here.
Also, explore the vineyards of Napier and try the Pinot gris.
6. Places you can visit in New Zealand: Rotorua
Rotorua is one of the world’s most active geothermal regions, also known as the Pacific Ring of Fire, and the land where the earth speaks.
The city’s main attraction is its mud pools, geysers, and thermal springs, where you can relax and rejuvenate your body.
You should also take a walking tour of these geothermal pools and hike the volcanic craters. You will see one of the most dramatic scenery while doing so.
While on a walking tour, you can also learn about Rotorua’s Maori history and culture at the Maori village or the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute.
Rotorua also offers sky diving, mountain biking, and luging activities if you want to do more adventure activities.
For a chill day out with family, you can go to Rotorua’s lakes for trout fishing, boating, and swimming.
7. Places you can visit in New Zealand: Tongariro National Park
Located in the center of the North Island, Tongariro National Park is one of the oldest national parks in the world. This dual World Heritage Site houses lakes, alpine meadows, and hot springs.
It is also home to three towering active volcanoes, including Ngauruhue (famously known as Mount Doom from the Lord of the Rings series).
The best way to explore the Tongariro National Park is by hiking. First, walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing to see unique highlights of the national park, including the famous Lake Taupo. Here, you can camp and learn more facts about it in its visitor center.
Tongariro is known as the UNESCO Dual World Heritage Site because of its Maori cultural associations and fantastic volcanic features. It has been known that a part of the volcanic peak of Ruapehu, Tongariro, and Ngauruhoe was gifted by the Maori chief to the people of New Zealand in 1887 so that they can preserve this sacred land.
For adrenaline seekers, you can ski race down the sides of a volcano mountain too. On its base, you can paddleboard and kayak.
8. Places you can visit in New Zealand: Bay of Islands
Located three hours drive from Auckland, the Bay of Island is water heaven with many watersports on offer. It is situated on North Island between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula and is made up of 144 islands.
There are lots of activities you can choose from like sailing, fishing, sea kayaking, and scuba diving.
Go to the Fullers Great Sights Hole on a cruise to get up close with the marine life. You may see dolphins, big marlins and whales if you’re lucky.
You will also visit the Hole in the Rock during the cruise trip. It is where the tide is high.
For some relaxation time, you can sunbathe at the secluded coves and hike the island trails. This way, you will get to explore the subtropical forests.
9. Places you can visit in New Zealand: Marlborough
Located on the South Island, Marlborough is a region that is renowned for its wine. Therefore, it is apparent that you need to visit the vineyards and taste the delicious wine.
But there’s more to Marlborough that makes it one of the best places to visit in New Zealand. It has fantastic hiking trails at the Marlborough Sounds and Queen Charlotte Sound. The beauty of this region is unbelievable.
Check out the coastal islands and waterways, which are amazing to explore on a boat.
Besides the gorgeous landscapes, fresh seafood is also something you need to try when you’re here.
10. Places you can visit in New Zealand: Kaikoura
Located between the Seaward Kaikoura Range and the Pacific ocean, Kaikoura is a lovely coastal village named after a local specialty, “crayfish food” in the Maori language. You can try this dish in most restaurants in the village.
It would be best if you also tried other seafood delicacies such as blue cod and mussels.
Besides the seafood, Kaikoura is best for birdwatching and wildlife spotting. For this, you need to go on coastal hikes and whale-watching tours.
Kaikoura is a great spot to see fur seals, sperm whales, and dolphins too.
11. Places you can visit in New Zealand: Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers
Located on South Island, Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers are among the main attractions in New Zealand. These glaciers are situated in Westland Tai Poutini National park and thus, are the most accessible glaciers in the world.
So if you’re thinking about hiking a glacier, you know where to go.
The best way to explore these glaciers is by going on a guided hike. Walking on these frozen landscapes will show you ice caves, mountain peaks, and hot pools. If you’re feeling more adventurous, try ice climbing,
If you don’t want to hike, you can book a helicopter tour or a seaplane tour to see the jaw-dropping views of the glaciers and the Southern Alps.
End your tour with a dip at the Glacier Hot Pools of Franz Josef Glacier.
12. Places you can visit in New Zealand: Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park
Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is a part of the Te Wāhipounamu World Heritage area, located on the South Island. This national park houses New Zealand’s tallest mountain, Mount Cook.
More than 40% of the national park is covered with glaciers. The longest glacier- the Tasman Glacier, is also situated inside the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. Due to this, it is considered a top destination for mountaineering.
There are 23 peaks where you can climb, but hiking the national park is also an excellent way to explore its vicinity if you’re not up for climbing. There are paved trails that show unique views of the national park along with the diverse flora and fauna.
Visiting the Aoraki/National Park will be a great learning opportunity for you, as you get to learn about more than 300 alpine plants species and 40 birds species.
Later, visit the Mount Cook village and try other activities like scenic flights, ski touring, hunting, and heli-skiing.
If you visit the national park with your partner, stargazing is an activity you should not miss doing together. Visit the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve to get a spectacular stargazing opportunity.
13. Places you can visit in New Zealand: Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island is located 30 minutes away from Auckland by boat. It is a small island in the center of Hauraki Gulf that is known for its wines.
Book the Waiheke Island Wine Tours, where an expert local guide will take you around Waiheke Island’s vineyards, where you can sample different wines.
The restaurants of this island are also exceptional as they have beautiful views of the vineyard and the sea, so make sure to book your lunch or dinner on one of them.
Besides, Waiheke Island also offers fantastic beaches where you can swim and sunbathe.
You can also go on a hiking trip to Waiheke’s forests and book a culture tour to learn about the vibrant art community.
Booking a scenic flight is also a popular way to sightsee in Waiheke Island.
14. Places you can visit in New Zealand: The Coromandel Peninsula
It is one of the most mesmerizing destinations in New Zealand to spend your summer vacation. Located in North Island, across the Hauraki Gulf, Coromandel Peninsula is a retreat from the crowded city life.
The peninsula is renowned for its serene coastal towns, relaxing golden beaches, campsites, fishing spots, and craggy mountains. It is a perfect spot for hiking and bird watching.
If you want to do some water sports, the Coromandel Peninsula is a great place for sea kayaking and surfing. Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach are two beautiful gems of this place where you can chill.
Sky diving is another popular activity for adrenaline seekers.
Visit the art galleries and art studios while you’re exploring the Coromandel Peninsula.
15. Places you can visit in New Zealand: Christchurch
Located on the East Coast, South Island, Christchurch is the second-largest city in New Zealand, popularly known as the “Garden City” due to its magnificent gardens and parks.
The city was hit hard by four large earthquakes from September 2010 to December 2011. But the city has made its rebirth and has made new buildings out of old shipping containers and cardboards.
Christchurch, just like other cities of New Zealand, boasts natural beauty. You can see amazing views of oceans, beaches, and mountains. The diverse landscapes and the views of beautiful blue lakes are a feast for your eyes.
Besides the natural beauty, Christchurch has many of its original attractions that are still standing.
Explore the Christchurch Botanic Gardens to see the horticultural displays and a network of conservatories. In addition, you will have fun walking through some of the oldest, largest, and tallest trees in New Zealand.
Enjoy the views of the city from above by taking a cable car ride to the top of Mount Cavendish.
16. Places you can visit in New Zealand: Abel Tasman National Park & the Abel Tasman Coast Track
Abel Tasman National Park, located on South Island, is one of the best places for a great hike. The views of the weathered rock formations, especially Split Apple Rock, are the highlight of the national park. Make sure to take lots of pictures of the rock while you’re here.
The Abel Tasman Coast Track is a 51-kilometer walk along Tasman Bay, Marahau, and Separation Point. It is one of the best scenic treks globally, where you also get the opportunity to snorkel and kayak in the secluded coves. Make sure to bring your swimsuit.
If you want to go on a short trek, the national park offers shorter trails for beginners.
Touring the Abel Tasman National Park will take you through cool forests and offer you a chance to see dolphins, seals, and penguins.
End your national park tour by snorkeling, camping, or relaxing at the beaches. You might even spot rare birds like blue penguins, wood pigeons, and wekas while doing so.
17. Places you can visit in New Zealand: Waitomo Glowworm Cave
Waitomo Glowworm Cave is an intriguing destination that you need to visit when you are in New Zealand. Located in the hilly Waitomo Township, the Waitomo Glowworm cave is a unique experience that amazes every explorer.
This cave is illuminated by thousands of glowworms, making it look like a scene from a Disney movie. The best way to explore this cave is by boat. The tour guide will explain the science and history of this cave.
However, adventure seekers also like ziplining and blackwater rafting inside this cave.
18. Places you can visit in New Zealand: Piha Beach
Piha Beach is a seaside village located west of Auckland, renowned for black sand and beautiful panoramic views. It is a paradise for surfers as it has strong waves.
If you don’t know how to surf, Piha Beach is a great place to learn.
It would be great if you visited the volcanic monolith named Lion Rock when you’re here. It also constitutes a war memorial and Maori carvings.
The hills of Piha are also ideal for serene nature walks. The village also is famous for its local kiwis. Make sure to buy some while you’re here.
If you’re looking for more adventure, try abseiling down the Piha Canyon.
Is New Zealand Safe to Travel?
New Zealand is one of the safest countries globally, where violent crimes are not prevalent.
As a tourist, you may face petty crimes while traveling in a public vehicle. Make sure you don’t leave your valuables unattended.
There is a higher chance of natural calamities like earthquakes and tsunamis, so make sure to know what precautions you need to follow during an earthquake and learn how to read the tsunami warning signs.
New Zealand also houses many active volcanoes, which may erupt anytime.
Always check updates on weather conditions from the Department of Conservation (DOC).
Also, carry a torchlight, lighter/matches, and extra food and water with you at all times.
In case of emergency, dial 111. You will be connected with Police, Ambulance, Fire Service, or Search and Rescue.
So here we have it, the best places to travel in New Zealand. New Zealand is truly a natural paradise offering tremendous adventure activities.
Furthermore, if you’re looking for a great destination to visit for your family vacation or a honeymoon trip, you know where to go.
Let us know which place you’d like to visit when you’re in New Zealand. Already visited New Zealand? Comment down your experience below.