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

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.

1 – 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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2 – Mount Maunganui

Mount Maunganui

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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3 – Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island

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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4 – Lake Taupo

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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5 – 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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6 – 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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7 – 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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8 – Matapouri

Matapouri

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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9 – 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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10 – 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!

Top 10 Places to Visit and Things to do in New Zealand

New Zealand is a dream destination where millions from across the globe flock to take a break from the busy daily schedule. It doesn’t matter if you are a backpacker, budget traveller or a luxury tourist – the island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean will simply steal your hearts. Considered by globetrotters as the adventure capital of the world, everything here will make you do something incredible. From glaciers to beaches, world-class cities to calm landscape, whale-watching to wine-tasting, the country has so much to keep you engaged. It proudly nurtures its native Māori culture and exhibits a rich history with the potential to outrun the world’s pace.

There are endless reasons to add New Zealand to your travel bucket list. But while planning your trip, you may not exactly know where to start from. Here, we have come up with the top 10 places to visit and things to do in New Zealand. And like everyone, you too will fall in love with this country.

1. Waiheke Island for Pure Solitude

Waiheke Island for Pure Solitude
Waiheke Island for Pure Solitude

After a 20-hour journey, your body requires a moment of solitude and there will be no better place than Waiheke Island. It’s a true island paradise located at mere 40-minute ferry ride distance from the city of Auckland. Waiheke encompasses abundant natural wonders to explore. This island is home to a magical blend of vineyards and funky cafes offering the finest wines of New Zealand with eye-soothing sea views. If you are an adventure enthusiast, you’ll find numerous activities to pursue from mountain biking to kayaking, from fishing to surfing and sailing.

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2. Dare the Wild Inside You in Queenstown

Bungee jumping from the Kawarau Bridge
Bungee jumping from the Kawarau Bridge

Pull-up your socks, because you are in Queenstown. From blood pumping thrills and spills to scenic crags and canyons, this city has all ages and stages covered for your holiday. It’s the place where commercial bungee jumping began. There are never-ending adventure activities like Jet boat rides, skiing, rafting, hiking and biking to dare the wild inside you. You can even try some relaxing alternatives, i.e. spa treatments, alfresco dining and wine-tasting or enjoy the glimpses of artworks like sculpture, glass blowing, painting and woodwork from local and international artists.

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3. Get introduced with the Culture in Rotorua

Thermal Wonderland Rotorua

A region surrounded by stunning natural wonders keeps visitors on their toe with its cultural performances and traditional hāngi (steam-cooked banquets). Located on New Zealand’s North Island, Rotorua is well-known for its geothermal activity and the dynamic Maori culture. Friendly people and their primal culture keep you coupled with locals and bring you closer to their traditions and conducts. Exciting winter forest festivals like ‘We Run the Forest’ and ‘Winter Mountain Bike Classic’ bring people out of their accommodation to cheer and enjoy the warmth of winter.

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4. Meet the Rugged with Freshness in Auckland

Sailing at Devonport - Auckland

Search the realm of modernity sited on a rugged coastline in Auckland and experience its comfy blend across the region. Whether it’s sports events, concerts or festivals, there’s always something happening in Auckland. This city is termed one of the world’s favourite tourist hubs featuring pristine beaches and island escapes. Experience it all in Auckland from outdoor adventures to designer shopping or explore some inner-city hot spots for live experiences of culture and lifestyle.

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5. Explore English Heritage at Christchurch

Christchurch Hagley Park
Christchurch Hagley Park

Located in New Zealand’s South Island, Christchurch nurtures the English heritage and displays it through historic ruins and stone-built buildings. Green and expansive banks of the Avon River along with Hagley Park and Christchurch Botanic Gardens are beautiful picnic spots. The city also introduces you with exceptional wildlife including native New Zealand animals across its Willowbank Wildlife Reserve and Orana Wildlife Park. Prehistoric cathedrals and neo-Gothic edifices exhibit cultural prosperity of Christchurch and its museums showcase a large collection of artefacts telling the story of the city and artworks from local and international artists.

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6. Hub of Dramatic Views – Milford Sound

Milford Sound
Milford Sound

It’s a region where every corner is scenic. People from across the world visit Milford Sound and admire its jaw-dropping views of mountains and waterfalls at the remote fjord. You can experience the realm of nature at Bowen Falls, the scenic waterfall pouring into the Milford Sound. Enjoy tours by boat and helicopter to Real Journeys – Milford Sound. Click pictures of dolphins and seals at picturesque Harrison Cove. Sky-high peaks of famed Mitre Mountain offers exciting hiking trails and camping spaces. Sited close to Queenstown city, it possesses a complete holiday package from cruise trip to spectacular waterfalls to snow-capped peaks among others. Simply experience the eighth wonder of the world by flightseeing, kayaking or overnight boat ride at Milford Sound.

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7. Relish the Luxury at Wellington

wellington cable car, new zealand
wellington cable car, new zealand

From pristine beaches to waterfront promenades, the capital of New Zealand, Wellington welcomes huge traffic of visitors throughout the year. It is located at the southernmost point on the Cook Strait near the North Island. Here travellers find colourful timber houses on surrounding hills. Full of amazing recreation opportunities like eco-sanctuaries, botanical gardens, serene island and harbours, this city can be a peaceful break from tedious routine. The panoramic views of the city and harbour from Mt. Victoria Lookout or Wellington Cable Car can enrich you with thrilling experience for life. The city centre itself dotted with restaurants, parkland and heritage buildings serve people with heartfelt hospitality.

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8. Play Winter Sports at Wanaka

play-winter-sports

Famous for amazing winter sports, the resort town Wanaka is the gateway to the Southern Alps’ Mount Aspiring National Park. It’s a place where the wilderness of glaciers and alpine lakes awaits with jaw-dropping thrills. Wanaka itself features snow-capped mountains and a Puzzling World located just outside the town where the outdoor maze, illusion rooms and sculpture gallery are main attractions. Try boating, swimming and fishing at Lake Wanaka and enjoy mesmeric lake view and tramping route from the Roys Peak. Famous Treble Cone Ski Area offers advanced runs with panoramic views, meanwhile, the luxury resorts of the city make your outdoor pursuits more comfortable.

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9. Explore Scottish and Maori heritage at Dunedin

Otago Peninsula - Dunedin

Have you heard of the dynamic Maori heritage? Find it here in Dunedin. The city is peppered with Victorian and Edwardian architecture along with heritages of Scottish and Maori culture. It too encompasses several leisure options for adventure lovers with hiking and cycling trails crisscrossing its dramatic landscape. While wandering through the Otago Peninsula, you can find albatross, sea lions and rare yellow-eyed penguins next to you. The city’s main thoroughfare has cafe-lined esplanade, shopping precincts and many architectural wonders keeping visitors on their toe from dawn to dusk.

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10. Meet the Marine World in Wairarapa

Wairarapa
Wairarapa

Do you love chocolates? Wairarapa has some yummy chocolates and quick foodie getaways nestled across the region. Wairarapa is located in the lower North Island featuring home-like space for fur seals, dolphin and small whales. It hosts the nosy formations of the Putangirua Pinnacles where the easy walk follows the stunning views of Lake Onoke and Cape Palliser. You can take a 90-minute drive from the Wairarapa town to the scenic Castle point lighthouse. Try self-drive Wairarapa Garden Tour which is held in November featuring grand country estates and delightful cottage gardens with home-made refreshments.

New Zealand is the travellers’ paradise for a reason. From days of spring to orange beauty of autumn, this country includes a wide range of recreation opportunities for everyone. If you aim for your holiday to be exceptional, these top 10 tourist attractions in New Zealand can make your holiday as lively as you dreamt for. You can find amazing deals and discounts on New Zealand flights departing from your nearest airports in the UK or can take assistance from a travel agency to plan your New Zealand escape.