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23 STUNNING Places to Visit in New Zealand in 2024

23 STUNNING Places to Visit in New Zealand in 2024

Few countries in the world can claim to have as many beautiful places to visit as New Zealand.  And none can offer it in such a small, easy to explore package.

You can expect to find bustling metropolises packed with trendy restaurants, cafes and shops, or escape the busy cities to explore the picturesque, natural side of New Zealand.

Majestic mountains and active volcanoes cover the country, interspersed with native forests, glaciers, fjords, waterfalls and almost every other kind of natural wonder you can imagine.  

No matter where you are in New Zealand, you’re never more than a few hours’ drive to the coast, where beautiful beaches surround the entire country.

To top it all off, New Zealand boasts a full repertoire of extreme and adventure activities from Rotorua’s luge to jet boating and bungee jumping in Queenstown.

Places to Visit in New Zealand

Best Places to Visit in New Zealand North Island

New Zealand’s North Island isn’t quite as renowned as the South Island when it comes to beautiful places, but there certainly are a few hidden gems as well as tonnes of great free things to do!

Typically your options start with Auckland, and if you’re an international visitor then you’re definitely going to start and end your trip here.  If you’re doing a longer trip you can decide to head up to Cape Reinga before making your way south to Rotorua and Taupo, and through to Wellington. 

For those planning to explore the entire country (it’s bigger than it looks), then you’ll follow one coast down to the bottom before heading up the other.

1. Auckland

Auckland city is by far New Zealand’s largest city home to almost 1.5 million people.  It’s your typical city with loads of great restaurants, cafes and shopping centers.  

But it’s also more than just a big city, it offers a bit of a taste of what you can expect across the rest of New Zealand.  The beaches in Auckland are truly epic, with beautiful, calm beaches along the east coast and rugged and intimidating black sand beaches on the west.

A climb up Mount Eden for sunset offers great views whilst being located in the heart of the city near the amazing eateries in Mount Eden and along Dominion Road.  Mount Eden is one of our top places to visit in Auckland – so don’t miss it!

You can also escape the city by catching the ferry from downtown Auckland over to Waiheke, an island within the harbour that is covered with great wineries. And if you like wineries, don’t forget to check out Matakana on your way north.

If you’re into museums then Auckland is probably one of the best places in New Zealand for this, with Auckland Museum and Auckland Art Gallery great options.  Tack on a stroll through the Auckland domain while you’re there.

Recommended Places to Stay

Budget: Haka Lodge

Mid-Range: Adina Apartments

Luxury: Sofitel Auckland Viaduct

Places to visit in New Zealand

2. Bay of Islands & Paihia

The Bay of Islands is an enclave a 5-hour drive north of Auckland with over 140 islands dotted around the harbour.  It is one of the best places to visit in the upper North Island.

There are two main towns here, Paihia and Russel, where most tourists choose to visit and stay.  Both towns are fairly touristic and have a great choice of accommodation, restaurants and attractions.

For most travellers, especially budget-oriented ones, we’d recommend staying in Paihia.  It’s then a short and affordable boat ride to Russel.

There are various things to do in Russell and activities in Paihia and the Bay of Islands, including hikes, restaurants, bars, tours, waterfalls and cultural attractions.

We’d recommend making sure to set aside at least half a day for visiting the Treaty of Waitangi grounds.  It’s a great display of one of the most important and controversial moments in New Zealand’s history.

Beyond this, the best activities here involve getting out on the water.  Book tours that take you out to Urupukapuka Island and the famous rock formation, Hole in the Rock.  

If you’re heading to Paihia, then we’d also recommend stopping off to check out the things to do in Mangawhai – another one of our top beach destinations that is about half way between Auckland and Paihia.

Recommended Places to Stay

Budget: Haka Lodge Paihia

Mid-Range: Sea Spray Suites

Luxury: Sanctuary Palms

Urupukapuka Island in Paihia North Island.

3. Cape Reinga

At the northern point of New Zealand lies Cape Reinga, the collision point for the Tasman and Pacific oceans.

As a 5-hour drive north of Auckland, Cape Reinga is quite a bit of a detour but we reckon it’s well worth taking the time to explore the top of New Zealand’s North Island.  

The most famous landmark in Cape Reinga is certainly the Cape Reinga Lighthouse, so make sure to tackle the short 10-minute walk.  If you can time it right, sunset is the perfect time and the photos will be incredible.

Aside from the lighthouse, check out the numerous bays in the northern New Zealand region as well as the gigantic Te Paki sand dunes.

Recommended Places to Stay

We recommend staying in Paihia and taking a day to drive up to Cape Reinga.

Budget: Haka Lodge Paihia

Mid-Range: Sea Spray Suites

Luxury: Sanctuary Palms

4. Coromandel Peninsula

Aucklanders flock to the Coromandel Peninsula en masse all throughout summer thanks to its beautiful landscapes, great hikes and unbelievable beaches.

There’s actually a lot of fun things to do in the Coromandel, however, most visitors come for the beaches.  We’d recommend making your way to Hahei to start with as it’s one of the nicest and most accessible beaches in the region.  It’s also home to the stunning Cathedral cove and isn’t far from the famous Hot Water Beach (where visitors can lie in natural hot pools on the beach).

These hot springs are naturally occurring and travel through streams beneath the sand of Hot Water Beach, so make sure to dig in a few different spots until you find the heat.

It’s a great idea to travel further up the coast (away from Auckland) to hunt out the best and most secluded beaches.  New Chums is never packed and has made numerous lists on the best beaches in the world, as well as our guide to the best things to do in Whitianga.

Our favourite activity in the Coromandel Peninsula is to hike The Pinnacles.  This is a surprisingly tough 3-hour (each way) hike to the top of an epic mountain range with views you won’t forget.  If you do this, we’d recommend spending a night in the hut at the top (bookings essential) and waking up early to climb to the top for sunrise.

There’s plenty of amazing places to stay in the Coromandel Peninsula, but we’d recommend setting up base in Hahei.

Recommended Places to Stay

Budget: Tatahi Cove

Mid-Range: Tatahi Lodge

Luxury: Pacific Views Holiday Home

The Coromandel

5. Tauranga

One of New Zealand’s best beachside destinations, Mount Maunganui and Tauranga are located along the east coast just a 3-hour drive from Auckland.  The Mount is a popular destination for Aucklanders and can get super packed during long weekends, school holidays and over summer.

Its popularity with Aucklanders is in part due to its close proximity to the city, but also due to Mount Maunganui’s small town vibe that still has all the amenities and activities that Aucklanders are accustomed to.

One of our favourite things to do in Tauranga is to stay in Mount Maunganui and explore all the great restaurants and bars along the main strip. 

The Mount is also named so after Mauao, a mountain in Tauranga, which you can climb via the Mount Maunganui Summit Walk to breathtaking views over the city and out to sea.

Other great activities in Tauranga include art galleries, street art, waterfalls, beaches, hobbiton (well, it’s a short drive away in Matamata) and shopping.

Recommended Places to Stay

Budget: Pacific Coast Lodge & Backpackers

Mid-Range: The Pacific Apartments

Also make sure to check out our article on Mount Maunganui accommodation for our 13 favourite places to stay!

View over Mount Maunganui.

6. Tairāwhiti / Gisborne

Mighty Tairāwhiti, a land of cultural significance, stunning natural wonders and the first sunrise in the world.  Tairāwhiti is the Maori name for a city more commonly known as Gisborne, located on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

Gisborne is an often skipped spot in New Zealand due to being somewhat out of the way, but the drive along State Highway 35 is one of the most beautiful in New Zealand making it well worth the detour.

As a city of around 50,000 residents, you’ll find no shortage of great restaurants and places to stay in Gisborne.

While you’re here, make sure to check out all the incredible beaches and consider giving surfing a try as Gisborne has some of the best surf beaches in New Zealand.  Also along the coast are some amazing walkways, our favourite being the Cook’s Cove walkway.

Further inland you can also check out the wineries and vineyards, with Gisborne being a popular wine region, most famous for chardonnay’s.  Our favourite vineyards are Matawhero and Milton, the latter being a biodynamic and organic winery.

Recommended Places to Stay

Budget: Tatapouri Bay

Mid-Range: Ocean Beach Motor Lodge

Luxury: Waikanae Beach Ocean View Apartments


7. Raglan

On the opposite side of the North Island, on the west coast, you’ll find another small town.  Known for its incredible surf beaches and epic landscapes, Raglan is a laid-back town with a surf-y vibe.

It goes without saying, if you’re into surfing and keen to catch a wave, Raglan’s arguably your best bet in NZ.  It’s also great for surfers of all levels and is home to the world’s longest and most consistent left-hand break.  But Raglan’s more than just a haven for surfers.

The town has developed into a place that any hipster would be proud to visit. Raglan Roast leads the coffee scene and is a great way to start your day in Raglan.  Pop in to the Raglan famous, The Shack for lunch and eat dinner at ULO’s.

And don’t forget to pay a visit to the incredibly tall and beautiful Bridal Veil Falls.

Recommended Places to Stay

Budget: Raglan Backpackers

Mid-Range: The Silos Apartments

8. Taranaki & New Plymouth

A few hours down the coast from Raglan you’ll come across New Plymouth, known for its sunny weather, art galleries, pretty parks, and of course the beautiful Taranaki Maunga right next door.

The Govett-Brewster / Len Lye art gallery is an internationally recognised, contemporary art museum in New Plymouth.  The building itself is a work of art, designed by award-winning architecture firm Pattersons, and is well worth a visit for this alone – but do, of course, wander inside.

Taranaki is one of our favourite places to visit in the North Island of New Zealand for one reason – Taranaki Maunga.  This mountain is a huge national park with numerous awesome hiking trails.  Good hikers can make their way to the top of this strato-volcano.  One of our favourite things to do in New Plymouth is to hike to the Pouakai Hut and spending a night here.  The sunset view of Taranaki Maunga is stunning.

Recommended Places to Stay

Budget: Ariki Backpackers

Mid-Range: King and Queen Hotel Suites

New Plymouth

9. Rotorua

Rotorua is a city known for bubbling hot pools, natural geysers, Maori culture and beautiful scenery.  The city is located on the southern coast of Lake Rotorua, right in the middle of the North Island.

Thanks to its convenient location on the Ring of Fire, visitors are treated to a variety of exciting geothermal activities.  Paid and free, natural hot pools are abundant, as well as boiling mud pools. Hell’s Gate, Kerosene Creek and the Polynesian Spa are a few of the most popular choices.

Kuirau Park and Wai-O-Tapu are your best bets for geothermal parks where you can see geysers explode into the sky, such as the famous Lady Knox Geyser which erupts at 10.15am daily.

Rotorua, adorably named Rotovegas by domestic travellers, is also a destination with numerous adventure sports and activities.  Try out ziplining, rafting, luging, hiking, sky diving, zorbing and so much more.  Rotovegas is one of the best places to go in New Zealand!

Recommended Places to Stay

Budget: YHA Rotorua

Mid-Range: Quest Rotorua

Luxury: Black Swan Lakeside Boutique Hotel

10. Taupo

Taupo, the heart of the North Island, has a bit of something for everyone making it one of the best places to visit in New Zealand.

There are numerous great restaurants and bars, as well as adventure activities such as rafting, cruises and mountain biking.  However, the beauty of Taupo is in its natural wonders.

Visit the mighty Huka Falls and hear it roar as New Zealand’s longest river, the Waikato, squeezes through a narrow ravine of volcanic rock.  Or explore Lake Taupo, either by foot or by bike.

Nearby, you can access New Zealand’s oldest national park, Tongariro National Park which is, in our opinion, one of New Zealand’s most wondrous and magical places.  It is a spot where three gigantic volcanoes have exploded out of the land, Ngauruhoe, Ruapehu and Tongariro.

Tongariro National Park is an area famous for its incredible walks, specifically the Tongariro Alpine Crossing which is a full day hike across some seriously impressive volcanic landscapes.  Tama Lakes is another similarly beautiful hike that is also worth doing – if you aren’t too sore.

In Winter, Tongariro National Park is home to the Ruapehu Alpine Ski Area which is New Zealand’s largest ski resort comprising of two fields. It’s by far the most popular ski resort in the North Island.

Recommended Places to Stay

Budget: Haka Lodge and YHA Taupo

Mid-Range: The Reef Resort

11. Wellington

The capital of New Zealand, Wellington, is a major city located at the southern tip of the North Island.  Right in the heart of New Zealand and surrounded by the sea, Wellington is a surprisingly pretty city with heaps of great things to keep you busy.

Lonely Planet dubbed Wellington the ‘coolest little capital in the world’, and we agree entirely.  

In order to truly capture the essence of being a Wellingtonian, you’ll want to stay in the heart of the city centre, as close as possible to the street known as Cuba Street.  This is home to many a hipster thanks to countless cool bars, gourmet restaurants and shops.

Other awesome attractions include the Wellington Botanic Gardens (which you can get to via a cool, red cable car), the markets, Weta Workshop, the Beehive, Zealandia and Te Papa – which is one of the best museums we’ve ever been to.

Perhaps most importantly, Wellington is where you catch the Interislander ferry to make your way across the Cook Strait to the South Island – which is where New Zealand really becomes a dream.

Recommended Places to Stay

Budget: The Marion Hostel

Mid-Range: Bolton Hotel

Luxury: Sofitel Hotel

Further Reading: Check out our 23 favourite things to do in Wellington!

Wellington Parliament House

Best Places to Visit in New Zealand South Island

The North Island of New Zealand is pretty spectacular, but the South Island…well it’s just not possible to express its beauty in words.

Everywhere you look is like it’s out of a movie – and in many cases it is.  And the best part?  Loads of the best things to do in New Zealand’s South Island are free! Or at least pretty affordable, unless you’re really into helicopters – who isn’t.

If you’re on a roadtrip and you’re wondering how long to spend in the South Island, then I’d say give yourself a month.  But for a lot of people this is pretty unreasonable.  A 7 day itinerary could be rushed from Nelson to Queenstown, or make it 2 weeks and you could do the full west coast, The Catlins, Mount Cook and end in Christchurch.

12. Nelson, Marlborough Sounds & Abel Tasman

Starting at the top of the South Island, you most likely arrived in Picton or Nelson depending whether you flew or ferried.  

The top of the South Island is a beautiful place, home to some of the most incredible beaches and best hiking trails in New Zealand, as well as warmer weather than the rest of the South Island.

There are heaps of fun things to do in Nelson, whilst the wider Marlborough Sounds wine region, around Blenheim in particular, is renowned across the world for Sauvignon Blancs.

Abel Tasman National Park is the real reason people visit this region.  This park is known for its endless, golden sand beaches, native, NZ forests and sculptured granite cliffs.  It’s half a moody, landscape photographer’s dream and half island getaway.

The Abel Tasman Coast Track is a famous great walk that is well worth doing if you’re up for a 3-5 day walk.  It’s the best way to see the entire coast, and it’s also considered one of the easiest great walks.

You can also take a fun detour to check out split apple rock, which is often viewed on boat tours heading into the park.

Recommended Places to Stay

Budget: Prince Albert Backpackers in Nelson or Tombstone Motel, Lodge & Backpackers in Picton

Mid-Range: The Sails in Nelson or Harbour View Motel in Picton

Luxury: Bay of Many Coves is one of the most incredible luxury resorts in New Zealand (the price tag supports this)

Further Reading: Best places to stop on the drive from Picton to Nelson.

13. Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers

The dramatically epic Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are located along the west coast of the South Island.  It’s worth stopping off to view both, with Fox Glacier being larger but Franz Josef being more beautiful, with crevasses, ice caves, waterfalls and blue ice. Both are amongst the most accessible glaciers in the world.

We’d recommend spending 1-2 nights at a nearby hotel to give you enough time to explore the area and complete some hikes.  However, if you’re short on time the main hike only takes about 45-minutes so could be done as you drive through the region.

The best way to view these glaciers is, unsurprisingly, by helicopter and there are numerous helicopter tours that operate in the area.  Alternatively, there are plenty of hikes that will give you access to some incredible scenery. 

Recommended Places to Stay

Budget: Glow Worm Accommodation

Mid-Range / Luxury: Rainforest Retreat

14. Wanaka

Just an hour’s drive from Queenstown, nestled amongst the Southern Alps, is the town of Wanaka. Known for its turquoise lakes, snow-capped mountains, and jaw-dropping scenery.

We’d always recommend spending at least 1-2 nights in Wanaka, although it can be done as a day trip from Queenstown.

Wanaka is one of the most picturesque places in New Zealand, with the ever-popular Roy’s Peak and Isthmus walks taking you to some of the best sunrises we’ve ever seen.  On top of this, there are literally hundreds of other amazing walks in Wanaka.

If you’re visiting Wanaka in Winter, we love to head up to Cardrona for a day or two of snowboarding (or skiing).  This is by far our favourite ski field in New Zealand.

Recommended Places to Stay

Budget: Hawea Hotel

Mid-Range: The Hidden Spring and Edgewater Hotel

Luxury: Cross Hill Glamping

That Wanaka Tree in New Zealand South Island.

15. Queenstown

Our favourite place in New Zealand, possibly the world, and adorably nicknamed the adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown is the best place to visit in New Zealand.

This little town is perfectly set up for travellers, with a tiny city centre nestled up against the gorgeous Lake Wakatipu.  Everything you need, from amazing bars to the best restaurants in Queenstown can be found right here.  

If you’re after cheap eats, you’ll have no shortage of delicious burgers, pies and sushi, or those with money to burn can explore the fine dining scene with some of New Zealand’s best, high end restaurants.  Nest at Kamana (also one of the best hotels in Queenstown) commands incredible views alongside great service and delicious food.

Adrenaline junkies can select from an entire host of adventure sports and activities, including rafting, bungee jumping, canyoning, luging, mountain biking, skydiving, jet boating – this list can seriously go on forever. If you’re heading here during winter then Queenstown skiing (or snowboarding) is arguably the best activity, especially the bucket list night skiing at Coronet Peak.

The nearby Gibbston Valley wine region is ideally situated to grow some of the best vines in the world, with world renowned Queenstown wineries producing some of the best pinot noir.  

One of our favourite things to do in Queenstown is hiking as the town is filled with numerous epic hikes and walks.  Some, such as Queenstown Hill, Moke Lake and Ben Lomond, are essentially found within the town itself and offer spectacular views.  

Recommended Places to Stay

Budget: Adventure Q2 Hostel

Mid-Range & Luxury: The Rees Hotel

Further Reading: 

12 Best Queenstown Hotels & Accommodation

63 Best Things to Do in Queenstown in 2021

Moke Lake in Queenstown.

16. Arrowtown

This quaint little town originally exists due to its historic significance as a gold mining township, making it one of the most unique places to visit in New Zealand.

These days, Arrowtown is an awesome little destination as a half-day trip from Queenstown.  It’s the perfect spot to visit for brunch, a coffee and some light shopping.  

Beyond this, activities in Arrowtown extend to some interesting historic sites as well as some beautiful, scenic walks.

Recommended Places to Stay

We recommend staying in Queenstown and visiting Arrowtown for half a day.

Budget: Adventure Q2 Hostel

Mid-Range & Luxury: The Rees Hotel


17. Fiordland National Park

Milford Sound is one of those places you just have to see in New Zealand before you die.  The beauty of this place is breathtaking. It is New Zealand’s most spectacular, natural attraction.

Located deep within Fiordland National Park, a 4-5 hour drive from Queenstown, lies Milford Sound, a magical land carved over centuries by mighty glaciers.  Throughout the fiord, limestone cliffs tower out of the depths, mountains scrape the sky and waterfalls cascade all around you.

In Milford Sound itself, you have one option for accommodation, Milford Sound Lodge, and we recommend spending a night here if you can.   If you’re short on time, then one of the coach-cruise-coach or coach-cruise-fly day trips will be amazing, but why not spend a night at this natural wonder?

The main activities in Fiordland National Park are hiking and a boat tour through Milford Sound.  We recommend doing both!  The cruise is one of the best New Zealand tourist attractions and a once in a lifetime experience that shouldn’t be missed.  Meanwhile, there are so many incredible hikes in the region to choose from.

Of course there are the great walks, the Milford Track and the Routeburn Track, but if you are not up for multi-day hikes then a winner for us was the hike to Lake Marian.  A tough, uphill walk but the spot at the end was magical.

Recommended Places to Stay

Mid-Range / Luxury: Milford Sound Lodge

Milford Sound.

18. Glenorchy

Glenorchy, aka Middle Earth, is a beautiful, little town just a 45-minute drive from Queenstown.  Snow-capped mountains tower over the town nestled up against the majestic Lake Wakatipu.  

Glenorchy is a gateway to countless fun activities.  Lord of the Rings fans should plan to explore the filming locations from the LOTR movies, by foot, car or horseback – the choice is yours.

It’s worth making your way to Glenorchy for sunrise if you can.  The sun rises behind you casting a glow over Lake Wakatipu and the mountainous backdrop from the wharf.

We also reckon Glenorchy is an awesome place to visit in New Zealand for hikes and walks.  Of course, you can do the Routeburn Track or sections of it from here.  We particularly loved the Lake Sylvan and Diamond Lake tracks.

Recommended Places to Stay

We recommend staying in Queenstown and visiting Glenorchy as a day trip.

Budget: Adventure Q2 Hostel

Mid-Range & Luxury: The Rees Hotel

Milford Sound.

19. The Catlins

One of New Zealand’s most beautiful and underrated destinations, The Catlins are tucked away at the bottom corner of New Zealand’s South Island.  It’s pretty easy to skip it and drive straight up to Christchurch from Queenstown, but we’d advise against this as The Catlins are certainly one of the best places to visit in New Zealand!

The Catlin’s have a raw, untouched beauty that defines New Zealand.  Epic waterfalls, rare wildlife and unbelievable sunsets.  The Catlins are very much worth visiting to experience the best of New Zealand nature as well as our amazing wildlife.

The number one activity in The Catlins worth visiting is the Nugget Point Lighthouse and sunrise.  This is one of the best sunrise spots we’ve ever been to.  You can also explore the native wildlife in the region with penguins, seals, sea lions, birds and more.

1 night in The Catlins is long enough to drive from Invercargill up to Dunedin and hit all the sights, but consider an extra night in Kaka Point.

Recommended Places to Stay

Mid-Range: Nugget View Motel and Breadalbane House

Make sure to read our guide on the best accommodation in The Catlins as well as where to stay.

The Catlins.

20. Dunedin

Dunedin is a quirky city best known for its historic buildings, exciting wildlife and beautiful scenery.

The entire Otago peninsula is home to a wide range of animals, including the cute yellow-eyed penguin, fur seals, and the world’s only mainland breeding colony of royal albatross. 

Also set aside some time to explore the main city and all the historic buildings with their art deco architecture.  Larnach Castle is the most prominent, a mock castle built in 1871 and marketed as ‘the only castle in New Zealand’.

A little further north from Dunedin, along the Otago coastline, you’ll also come across the town of Moeraki where you can visit the Moeraki Boulders.  This is a popular sunrise spot for landscape photographers.

Recommended Places to Stay

Budget: Amross Motel

Mid-Range: Ebb Dunedin

Luxury: The Chamberson

21. Aoraki / Mount Cook

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is easily one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand.  It is a landscape built from skyscraping mountains, divided by oceans of ice, planted right in the middle of New Zealand’s South Island.

The main site in Aoraki National Park is Aoraki (or Mount Cook) itself, which is New Zealand’s highest mountain at 3,724m.

The activity of choice in the park is hiking, with some of the best walks being as short as 45-minutes, the shortest being the Tasman Glacier Track.  The most popular day hike is the Hooker Valley Track which takes about 2-3 hours return and terminates at the stunning Hooker Glacier Lake.

The Sealy Tarns Hike is another epic walk, also taking 2-3 hours but significantly more difficult as it climbs up to an elevation of 1310m (550m gain).  If you continue on, you can reach the even more spectacular views at the Mueller Hut, a great place to spend the night and catch the sunrise – as long as you are a decent hiker.

Mount Cook village is located in the national park with a few pretty spectacular accommodation options.  Plan your trip around the hikes you want to do, the weather and how much time you’ll need to recover between them.  2-3 nights would be perfect assuming the weather is nice.

Places to Stay

Budget: YHA Mt Cook

Mid-Range: Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Lodge

Luxury: The Hermitage

Mount Cook National Park as one of the best things to do in New Zealand.

22. Akaroa

Akaroa is a coastal town sitting in the heart of an ancient volcano, surrounded by sparkling, turquoise bays and rolling, green hills.  It’s the perfect place to visit for some R&R, which is why it’s so popular with tourists from Christchurch.

Activities in Akaroa include museums, restaurants, hikes, wineries, boat tours and more.  This place really has a bit of everything.  Our favourite activities here revolved around the animals.

Harbour cruises can take you out to see dolphins in the Akaroa harbour, or consider going kayaking to see the cute, little Penguins.  We went on a tour to Shamarra Alpacas and got to play with, feed and chill with a nice little family of alpacas.  Oddly enough, this was the highlight for us.

Plan to spend 1-3 nights here and stay in the heart of Akaroa town so you have easy access to all the restaurants and bars.

Recommended Places to Stay

Mid-Range: Apartment 65 Akaroa

Luxury: Annandale Luxury Villa

Akaroa is one of the most beautiful places to visit in New Zealand.

23. Christchurch

Christchurch, a city now sadly known for the earthquake it suffered in 2011, is New Zealand’s second largest city and is located on the east coast of the South Island.  

Being a major city, you can expect to find no shortage of great accommodation, restaurants, bars, nightlife and more.  

In addition to wining & dining, key attractions include the museum, cable car, shopping, art galleries and the botanic gardens.  

Overall, Christchurch is just a pleasant city with everything you would expect.  If you’re staying in the city centre, then we recommend staying near the Botanic Gardens.  From here, you’ll be within walking distance of everything you’ll need.

Recommended Places to Stay

Budget: YHA Christchurch & Jailhouse Accommodation

Mid-Range: Orari Boutique Hotel

Luxury: OGB Suites

Places to visit in New Zealand.

Best Time to Visit New Zealand

The best time to visit New Zealand depends on your interests.  If you love snowboarding / skiing or photographing epic landscapes, then we reckon the South Island in winter is one of the best places in the world.  If you prefer to lie on the beach, go surfing or don’t like the cold, then summer is certainly for you.

The cheapest time to visit New Zealand will certainly be outside of major school holidays and public holidays in both Australia and New Zealand, as well as not during Christmas.  Any other time of the year will be fairly consistently priced.

For hiking, winter can be a bit of a challenge due to New Zealand’s temperamental weather.  We’d recommend heading in spring when the weather improves, but you can still sometimes see snow on the mountains around Queenstown.

Things to Do in New Zealand

Despite being such a small country, New Zealand is packed with epic activities. We recommend exploring the New Zealand section of our website to find out all the best things to do in New Zealand at a geographic level. With that said, the top New Zealand attractions are spread throughout the north and south islands and here are a few of our favourites.

1. Hike Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park is home to golden sand beaches and one of the most beautiful Great Walks in the entire country. Completing the entire 5-day hike is a must-do bucketlist activity in New Zealand, however, those short on time can easily experience the best of the park with a short single day cruise dropping you off at one point and picking you up at another point on the track. Abel Tasman National Park truly is a must-do.

2. Go Skiing in Queenstown

Queenstown is our favourite New Zealand destination so it’s no surprise that we reckon it’s one of the best things to do in the country. There’s really SO MUCH for you to do here, whether it’s wining & dining or adventure activities that tickly your fancy.

Our favourite activity in Queenstown is to hit the Queenstown ski fields for some days on the snow. Cardrona and The Remarkables are our top picks, whether you’re a pro or a beginner.

3. Take a Scenic Cruise in the Milford Sound

The gorgeously picturesque Milford Sound is truly one of the wonders of the natural world (at least, we reckon it should be). It can be a bit of a nightmare to get to (the drive from Queenstown to Milford Sound can take 4-6 hours), but the effort of getting to Fiordland National Park is well-rewarded with majestic mountains towering over glistening fiords.

A scenic cruise through the fiord is our top pick, but checking out any of the countless hikes in the area, or even going on a scenic flight are also worth checking out.

4. Experience Māori Culture in Rotorua

You can’t really come to New Zealand without experiencing at least a bit of the culture. Māori are the tangata whenua, or indigenous people, of New Zealand. Although partially ingrained into the lives of all New Zealanders, the best place to respectfully experience the Māori culture is to visit Rotorua.

5. Explore Mount Cook National Park

The tallest mountain in New Zealand, Mount Cook’s jagged outline towers over countless other giant mountains within the Mount Cook National Park.

DOC aptly named Mount Cook National Park as a “rugged land of ice and rock”, which is certainly accurate but fails to convey the beauty of the park.

Travellers should aim to spend a few days here exploring the park via any of the epic hikes in the area, with the Hooker Valley Track being the most popular and accessible.

6. Explore Tongariro National Park

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing located in Tongariro National Park is a top New Zealand tourist attraction. Most kiwis would consider this hike to be the best in the North Island thanks to it’s commanding views and interesting scenery.

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