10 Must-See Destinations In and Around New Zealand’s North and South Island

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New Zealand

From spectacular glaciers and pretty beaches to stunning waterfalls and magnificent mountains, New Zealand is the place with unspoiled natural landscapes and adventure-filled spots. Get ready for the hugest national parks, rich Maori culture and world-class surfing & skiing opportunities. It is one destination that’s on the bucket list of every adventure enthusiast but with so many choices, it can be hard to decide where to go and what to explore when you visit. So, here we are, to save the day or shall we say the trip! Take a look at our top picks of the 10 best places to visit in New Zealand and make sure you include each one of these spots in your itinerary.

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park

A coastal paradise, it is home to the iconic Abel Tasman Coast Track, one of nine Great Walks in the country and sits right at the north-western tip of the South Island. It is the smallest national park in the country but perfect for adventure and relaxation. You can go hiking or try kayaking in the blue waters and its surrounding coves. If lucky, you might even spot dolphins here on your South Island tour in New Zealand.

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Mount Maunganui

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Home to one of the most popular beaches in the country, Mount Maunganui is definitely a must-visit place if you’re passing through the Bay of Plenty region. From the base of the Mount, you’ll see long unending stretches of white sand surf beach. Relax on the beaches, spend time at one of the many cafes or swim in the clear blue waters of Pilot Bay. This is also a great place to just sit and watch the people.

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Waiheke Island

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With beautiful vineyards, stunning beaches and olive groves, Waiheke Island is an incredibly popular destination located just 40-minute ferry ride away from downtown Auckland. In terms of landscape and experience, it is definitely a world away. The island is quite bigger than what it seems with plenty of activities that can be covered on a single day trip.

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Lake Taupo

Huka Falls, Lake Taupo
Huka Falls, Lake Taupo

One of New Zealand’s North Island top attractions, Lake Taupo was created by a volcanic eruption that occurred about 26,500 years ago. Head to encounter the country’s largest lake. Visit the Craters of the Moon to see the evidence of the birth of this lake in the geysers, steaming craters and boiling mud pools. Since it is a popular stopover for adventurers and water sports enthusiasts, mark it in your list of things to do in New Zealand’s North Island. Huka Falls located here is also worth seeing on your visit to this part of New Zealand.

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Hokitika Gorge

Hokitika Gorge
Hokitika Gorge

Located in the South Island’s West Coast region, Hokitika Gorge draws plenty of travellers with its picture-perfect setting, blue water and lush greenery. The remarkable turquoise tinge that you see in the water here is not visible anywhere else in the world. From the car park, you have to walk along a trail to reach a small viewing platform to witness the gorge in all its glory. With breath-taking glacial waters, rock stilt and plankton, Hokitika Gorge invites nature lovers. Add it to your list of things to do in New Zealand’s South Island.

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Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier
Franz Josef Glacier

If glacier hiking is on your bucket list, travel to Franz Josef Glacier during your visit to New Zealand. One of the best-known glaciers, it is a sought-after place by adventure-enthusiasts who want to get on the ice. The steepest in the country, it was first explored in 1865 by geologist Julius Von Haast, who named the glacier after the Austrian emperor. While you’re in the region, take your time out to visit its famous neighbour, the longest and fastest-moving Fox Glacier.

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Great Barrier Island

Great Barrier Island
Great Barrier Island

The largest and most seaward of the Hauraki Gulf islands in the Auckland region, it is one of the magical places to visit in New Zealand. Since not easily accessible, tourists do not make much effort to reach this sixth-largest island. However, a trip to here is worthy enough to make your New Zealand holiday a memorable one. Take a 4-hour ferry ride or a 30-minute flight to witness the picture-perfect sandy beaches, secret waterfalls and natural hot springs amidst the lush greenery.

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Matapouri

The Mermaid Pools
The Mermaid Pools

One of the top-rated tourist locations in New Zealand, Matapouris is just a 40-minute drive away from Whangarei. At Matapouri, you will find hidden emerald pools named “The Mermaid Pools” that are perfect for swimming and diving. However, be cautious of high tides as waves may crash the rocks at the high speed and could be dangerous. Taking a dip at one of these mermaid pools is a must-do thing in New Zealand’s North Island.

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Whangarei Falls

Whangarei Falls
Whangarei Falls

The most photogenic waterfalls in New Zealand, tourists rush to Whangarei Falls to click photographs. Stay here for a while and to experience more spectacular views, climb behind the falls. You can also drive to Whangarei Heads and the Bream Head Scenic Reserve for hiking and panoramic coastal and harbour views. Visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds and be cautious while climbing over the slippery rocks!

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Mount Cook

Mount Cook
Mount Cook

The highest mountain in the country, Mount Cook helped Sir Edmund Hillary to develop his climbing skills to conquest the Mt. Everest. A paradise on earth, you need to visit to believe how beautiful it is. Take the Hooker Valley walking the track to witness the most dramatic scenes. The easy path takes you alongside the rushing Hooker River, over the picture-perfect swing bridges offering views of enormous ancient glaciers. If you’re here for a short period, head to Tasman Lake, which can be reached by an easy 20-minute walk from the car park to see the reflection of Mount Cook in the water and big icebergs floating around. You might also encounter cheeky kea (mountain parrots) on your way!

So what are you waiting for? Plan your holiday in New Zealand to have the adventure of your life. Regardless of the places you visit in the country, you’re sure to have a wonderful time. It’s such a beautiful destination with so much to see!

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