New Zealand Where nature and culture abound
When a country is as beautiful as New Zealand, it’s hard to decide what to see here because everything is just so stunning. Lakes, mountains, beaches, snow-clad ranges, fjords, glaciers, fish-filled rivers – all sorts of natural topographical features grace this island country and that’s without even including the amazing Maori culture or the cosmopolitan cities. The number of places to visit in New Zealand are simply too many to count.
In one of the world's largest geothermal areas such as Rotorua, visitors can witness first-hand the forces of nature that gave birth to these landscapes - the hissing springs and the bubbling mud ponds. The country is also famous for its love for adventure sports.
While there are plenty of tourist places to see in New Zealand, you have to ideally decide what you want to see so it becomes easier for you to choose. Below are some of the must visit places in NZ and if you’re eager to plan your trip, then do remember to check the SOTC website for offers and deals on New Zealand packages which will make your holiday hassle-free and fun.
Here’s a list of must visit places in New Zealand, based on the sort of activity or sightseeing you want to do.
Located in the southwest of New Zealand’s South Island, Milford Sound is a fiord. It is popular for the Mitre Peak which towers it, in addition to rainforests and waterfalls like Bowen falls and Stirling that glaze down its massive sides. This place is home to penguins, fur seal colonies, dolphins and other creatures. Tourists also get to see rare black corals and other marine life at the Milford Discovery Centre and Underwater Observatory.
Mount Cook, also known as Aoraki, is the highest mountain peak in New Zealand. With a height of 3,724 metres, the mountain lies in the Southern Alps and runs the entire length of South Island. This place is quite popular with mountain climbers.
Comprising more than 140 subtropical islands, the Bay of Islands is a New Zealand enclave next to the country's North Island. It’s known for big-game fishing, beaches yet to be developed and cultural artefacts belonging to the Maori.
Located on the country’s North Island, Waitomo, is a village known for its extensive underground cave systems. Some of the caves here are lit up by thousands of glow-worms. Additionally, waterfalls and limestone formations adorn the vast Ruakuri Cave features. Also, the Otorohanga Kiwi House, which lies to the northeast of the village, gives shelter to multiple species of the native kiwi bird, making it a must-see.
Lake Tekapo is a small town located in the inland South Island of New Zealand and has the same name as the lake present there. It’s a wonderful place to enjoy a picnic.
The Sky Tower is an observation and telecommunications tower in Auckland. Located at the corner of Federal Streets and Victoria within the city, this 1,076 ft tall tower is the 25th tallest tower in the world and the tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere, which is why you should check it out.
Located at the north end of South Island, the Abel Tasman National Park is a wilderness reserve. It is famous for the Abel Tasman Coast Track, a long trail winding across ridges and over beaches between Wainui in the north and Marahau in the south. The Separation Point’s headland is home to New Zealand fur seal colonies.
Ka Roimata o Hine Hukatere, also known as Franz Josef Glacier, is a 12 km long temperate maritime glacier located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on South Island’s West Coast. It descends from the Southern Alps to less than 300 metres above sea level, along with the Fox Glacier (20 km) to the south. It’s truly a sight to behold.
The Waitomo Glow-worm Caves are located at Waitomo on the North Island and are known for Arachnocampa luminosa, a species of glow-worm found only in New Zealand.
The Waiheke Island is the second-largest island in the Hauraki Gulf and most populated one in the country. Its ferry terminal in Matiatia Bay is 21.5 km away from the central-city terminal in Auckland, which makes it easy to get here.
In the southwest area of New Zealand’s South Island lies Fiordland National Park. It is famous for fiords, which are glacier-carved and produce the Doubtful and Milford sounds. On the sandy Milford shore, a beech forest trail offers views of the towering Mitre Peak.
Lake Wanaka is located at an altitude of 278 meters in the Otago region of New Zealand. It is New Zealand's fourth largest lake and is estimated to have a depth of more than 300 m. The original Maori name Oanaka implies 'The place of Anaka', the name of a local tribal chief.
The Tongariro National Park located in North Island is the oldest national park in New Zealand and the sixth oldest in the world. Granted the UNESCO World Heritage Site tag, it is a mix of natural and cultural values. Active volcanic mountains such as Ngauruhoe, Ruapehu, and Tongariro are present in the park, and you must check them out.
Waiotapu is an active geothermal area at the southern end of the Okataina Volcanic Centre in New Zealand's Taupo Volcanic Zone. Famous for its colourful hot-springs, it is a popular tourist destination.
Located in North Island, Lake Taupo is a lake lying in the caldera of the Taupo Volcano. It is the largest lake by surface area in New Zealand, with a surface area of 616 square kilometres. Taupo is a great lake for water-skiing, sailing and kayaking.
Located on the Waikato River, the Huka Falls are a set of waterfalls that drain Lake Taupo in New Zealand. A few hundred metres upstream of the Huka Falls, the Waikato River narrows from approximately 100 metres across into a canyon with a diameter of only 15 metres. The effect is nature's large-scale equivalent of a fire hose feeding into a very fine nozzle.
In the South Island lies Lake Wakatipu, an inland lake. The lake’s name comes from the original Maori word Whakatipu wai-maori. In summer, the lake's beaches are popular for swimming.
Opening doors in 1963, the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute (NZMACI) in Rotorua was established in response to the impending loss of traditional Maori arts. Visit this place to learn more about New Zealand’s culture.
If hair-raising activities that lead to emptying your lungs as you scream in delight is your idea of fun, then definitely one of the must visit places in New Zealand is Wanaka if you want to experience the thrill of sky diving. The home of bungy jumping is the Kawarau Bungy site and you won’t be disappointed as you leap off the bridge into the unknown although you’ll be reeled back in safely.
One of the places to visit in New Zealand to experience the unique thrill of rafting through rapids is in Rotorua or Tongariro river in Lake Taupo. Other adventure activities that regularly draw tourists to New Zealand are zip lining, canyoning or heli-skiing.
The great outdoors is simply splendid in New Zealand. While the people here love sports of all kinds, you might find yourself getting interested in a few of these as well. Or well, you could just enjoy them as a spectator. One of the places to go in New Zealand is Hawke’s Bay, especially if you want to see the vineyards and orchards and beaches. But there’s a marathon here as well, which will test your limits.
If mountain biking makes you happy, then do try and go in time for The Pioneer, a six-day mountain bike stage race that starts and ends in Queenstown. Golfing and cycling are some of the other events that bring people to New Zealand.
If you’re headed to New Zealand for a skiing holiday during winter, you can’t go wrong. White vistas as far as the eyes can see are laid before you. The Christchurch-Canterbury region is one of the must visit places in New Zealand if you want to explore the gorgeous slopes and the spectacular terrain. Some of the famous ski resorts here are Mt Hutt, Porters and Craigieburn Valley.
If you’re in the North Island though, why don’t you try skiing on Mt Ruapehu, the only skiable volcano in New Zealand? Old lava flows add to the exciting terrain for skiers, even the intermediate and experienced ones. Other famous ski spots are Queenstown and Wanaka.
For water babies, there’s simply way too much to do here in New Zealand thanks to the seemingly unending coastline. Whether it’s kayaking in the Marlborough Sounds or freshwater kayaking in the Whanganui river, or sailing in the Hauraki Gulf, you’ll be thrilled to indulge in your love for water sports. Some of the must visit places in NZ for diving and snorkelling are the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve off the Tutukaka Coast.
Divers can experience the singular thrill of diving off wrecks and sub-tropical reefs and the waters are clean and clear. Other water activities that will get your heart racing are surfing in Shipwreck Bay, rafting in Lake Taupo's Tongariro River and paddle boarding in Bay of Islands.
The best way to see a country is on foot and if the country is like New Zealand offering verdant paths and thousands of kilometres of walking tracks, what’s keeping you from checking it out? One of the places to go in New Zealand for the magnificent walking trails is North Island. Whether it’s the Lake Waikaremoana Track that takes you through a prehistoric forest in Hawke’s Bay or the Tongariro Northern Circuit that brings you to glinting emerald lakes and even an active volcano, you’ll realise how marvellous it all is.
Some of the places to go to in New Zealand for walking in South Island are the Abel Tasman Coast Track which takes you across white sand beaches and startlingly clear bays. The Routeburn Track is where you need to go if you want to gaze at the awe-inspiring mountain peaks in Fiordland.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a gourmand or a wine connoisseur, you will surely love the food and wine experiences in New Zealand. In fact, if you’re keen on exploring the best wine regions, then go on the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail where you can check out the quietly beautiful vineyard restaurants and sip on Bordeaux and Chardonnay. Also, one of the best places to go in New Zealand for wine is Waiheke Island, also known as the Island of Wine, and it’s only a 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland.
Some of the places to visit in New Zealand for fresh and tasty seafood are Kaikoura for crayfish, Marlborough for greenshell mussels and the West Coast for whitebait patties. While these may not be typical New Zealand tourist places, do check out Bay of Islands Honey Shop for the famed Manuka honey and don’t forget to try some of the local cheese brands such as Puhoi and Whitestone.