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Best places to visit in New Zealand

Take in the world’s most incredible natural sites and visit the adrenaline capital at these must-visit places across New Zealand.

There are few places on Earth as jaw-droppingly beautiful as right here in New Zealand. The natural landscapes here have everything from snow-capped mountains and glaciers to subtropical islands and unforgettable cities. Don’t forget about the unique culture found here and the unique natural places such as the glowworm caves.

Scrumptious food in Wellington, Lord of the Rings Hobbiton in Rotorua, adventure in Queenstown and national parks across the country will make you want to keep coming back to these spots over and over again, and these are just a few of the places you need to visit in our remarkably stunning country.

Best places to visit in New Zealand

1. Queenstown

  • Best for: Adventure activities, food and wine, scenic sites
  • Where is it: Located in the Southwest Corner of the South Island, Queenstown can be reached by plane with direct flights from major cities. It is a six-hour drive from Christchurch and buses connect all major areas in the South Island to Queenstown.
  • Top five things to see/do: Jump on a gondola to take in the skyline, go bungy jumping, try skydiving, hit the slopes and jet boat over the Shotover.
  • How long do I need? Three to five days

Find a hotel in Queesntown


2. Auckland

  • Best for: City life, waterfront views
  • Where is it: Auckland is in the north of the North Island and can be reached with direct flights from major cities. You can also drive from Wellington in about seven hours.
  • Top five things to see/do: Check out the zipline on Waiheke Island, spend some time around Viaduct Harbour, visit Hobbiton, take a trip to Rangitoto Island and climb Sky Tower for that cityscape view.
  • How long do I need? Two to five days

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3. Milford Sound

  • Best for: Scenic sites, nature
  • Where is it: Milford Sound is in the southwest of the South Island and is most commonly accessed from Queenstown, which is where the closest major airport is. If you drive yourself it will take three hours and 45 minutes but buses, coaches and scenic flights are also available.
  • Top five things to see/do: Take a cruise, kayak across the still waters, visit waterfalls such as Stirling and Bowen Falls, take a scenic flight and walk the Full-Day Milford Sound Tour.
  • How long do I need? One to three days

Find a hotel in Milford Sound


New Zealand, South Island, Christchurch, post 2011 earthquke rebuilding, Manchester and Litchfield Streets with wooden sheep (New Zealand, South Island, Christchurch, post 2011 earthquke rebuilding, Manchester and Litchfield Streets with wooden sheep,

4. Christchurch

  • Best for: Heritage, city lovers, scenic sites
  • Where is it: On the east coast of the South Island, Christchurch can be reached with flights major cities across New Zealand. Driving from Queenstown will take six hours and buses are available that will take 8.5 hours.
  • Top five things to see/do: Take a day trip to Arthur’s Pass, take in the views from the Christchurch gondola, visit Quake City Christchurch, [bungee off Waiau Bridg and see the Pohatu Penguins in Akaroa.
  • How long do I need? Two to three days

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5. Waitomo

  • Best for: Nature
  • Where is it: Waitomo is in central North Island and can be reached by bus, coach or car from Rotorua (two hours), Auckland (two hours and 45 minutes) and Wellington (five hours and 45 minutes).
  • Top five things to see/do: Visit the Glowworm Caves, try black water rafting, check out the Otorohanga Kiwi House, tramp the Waitomo Walkway and see Marokopa Falls.
  • How long do I need? One to two days
Waitomo is a village on the North Island most renowned for the underground caves that are home to thousands of glow worms that light up the caves. Inside other caves you’ll find more spectacular natural phenomenon from waterfalls to limestone formations. Just north of the town you’ll find a spot where a number of species of the rare native kiwi bird live.

Find a hotel in Waitomo


6. Westland Tai Poutini National Park

  • Best for: Scenic sites, outdoor lovers, nature
  • Where is it: On the west coast of the South Island visitors can get here by driving or taking a tour. Driving will take 4.5 hours from both Queenstown and Christchurch.
  • Top five things to see/do: Heli-hike Franz Josef Glacier, visit the park’s main hub Hokitika, see Fox Glacier up close, ride the Trans Alpine Railway and take in the site of Lake Matheson.
  • How long do I need? Two days

Find a hotel near Westland Tai Poutini National Park


7. Rotorua

  • Best for: Nature, culture
  • Where is it: Rotorua is located in the centre of the North Island and visitors come here via air or by driving. It’s a three-hour drive from Auckland or six hours from Wellington. A flight from Auckland is 45 minutes and from Wellington is 70 minutes.
  • Top five things to see/do: Visit the colourful Wai-o-Tapu of hot springs, geysers and pools, go white water rafting, learn about Maori culture in a village, take a tour to Hobbiton and spend some time at the Rotorua local markets.
  • How long do I need? Two to three days

Find a hotel in Rotorua


8. Tongariro National Park

  • Best for: Active travellers, outdoor lovers
  • Where is it: Located in the central North Island, Tongariro National Park can be accessed by shuttle buses and bus operators from various points such as Taumarunui, National Park Village, Ohakune and Turangi. It is a 4.5 hour drive from both Auckland and Wellington.
  • Top five things to see/do: Hike the Tongariro Crossing in time for sunset, hit the slopes of an active volcano, go whitewater rafting , try stand up paddle boarding and bike Old Coach Road.
  • How long do I need? Two to five days

Find a hotel near Tongariro National Park


9. Wanaka

  • Best for: Adventure, nature, scenic sites
  • Where is it: In the south of the South Island is Wanaka that can be reached by car or bus. It is a one-hour drive from Queenstown.
  • Top five things to see/do: Go canyoning, RedBalloon NZ, visit Puzzling World, walk the Mt Iron track and take a flight over Mount Cook.
  • How long do I need? One to two days

Find a hotel in Wanaka


10. Bay of Islands

  • Best for: Water activities, marine wildlife, scenic sites
  • Where is it: On the northern east coast of the North Island the Bay of Islands is a three-hour drive from Auckland or a 40-minute flight where you can arrange transfers from the airport. Buses are also available.
  • Top five things to see/do: See the Hole in the Rock, go skydiving, visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, go on a tall ship cruise and spot dolphins.
  • How long do I need? Two to three days

Find a hotel in Bay of Islands


11. Wellington

  • Best for: City sites, food, coffee, beer and art lovers
  • Where is it: In the most southern part of the North Island, Wellington is easily accessed by flights from Sydney (three hours and 15 minutes), Melbourne (three hours and 45 minutes) and Brisbane (three hours and 25 minutes). The ferry from the South Island stops in Wellington and domestic flights are one hour from major cities.
  • Top five things to see/do: Take in the city from Mount Victoria Lookout, ride the Wellington Cable Car to the Botanic Garden, drink your way around the city's best craft beers, visit Zealandia ecosanctuary and learn about Weta Cave.
  • How long do I need? Two to three days

Find a hotel in Wellington


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