Located in the southwestern Pacific Ocean, New Zealand is made of 2 main islands North Island and South Island, both consisting many diverse and striking natural settings. Its pure natural landscapes, stunning man-made landmarks, and epic adventure-filled destinations have made New Zealand one of the most admired places among adventure and nature lovers.
New Zealand is packed with many unbelievable natural wonders and it can be really tough to decide which places you want to explore first. With snow-capped peaks, gleaming coves, coastal glaciers, rainforests, fjords, and stunning rivers and much more, it is no easy job to pick just ten places from a naturally blessed and diverse country like New Zealand. But we have managed to make a list of places that is a must visit if you ever go to this amazing country.
10. Mount Cook National Park, South Island:
Also known as Aoraki National Park, the Mount Cook National Park is a favorite among hikers. Mount Cook and Tasman Glacier, the longest glacier is one of the most famous destinations in New Zealand. Reportedly, this is where legendary Edmund Hillary used to train to climb the heights of ginormous Mount Everest. You can go mountaineering, and ski-touring, heli-skiing, hiking, stargazing and hunting in the Mount Cook Village.
9. Coromandel Peninsula, North Island:
Extending about 85 kilometers north from the western end of the Bay of Plenty, Coromandel Peninsula is one of the best places to visit in Northern New Zealand. The beaches of this region are famous for their golden sand. Indulge in hiking, kayaking, and skydiving. It is a perfect destination away from the chaos of cities. With golden sand and outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, and skydiving, the Coromandel Peninsula is a natural barrier to protect the Hauraki Gulf and the Firth of Thames. The Coromandel Peninsula offers clear weather and the famous Hot Water Beach. You can also explore a small city famous for its gold mining history, Thames.
Another Two must place on the Northern Island of New Zealand are the Hobbiton located on the southwest of Matamata, in Waikato, New Zealand. The magical place of Middle Earth is especially a must visit for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit fans.
8. Auckland, North Island:
Auckland has two littering harbors, the Manukau Harbor and the Waitemata Harbor, that are the most popular attraction of this city. Known as the City of Sails, Auckland has everything from rainforests, wild hike trails, hidden coves, and picturesque islands to mysterious volcanoes. The city is perfect for adventure lovers and has a collection of unusual black and gold beaches. The Sky Tower of Auckland is world famous for its view of the city from 328 meters of height. Another attraction of the city is the Orbit revolving restaurant. Auckland is the most populous Polynesian city in the world and you can get a taste of it, in its boutiques and restaurants. Among its many natural attraction, Waiheke Island is one of the most popular ones.
You can take a 2-hour ride or flight to Waitomo and experience the fascinating Waitomo Glowworm Caves. You will have one of the most unique and beautiful experiences of your life. The sight of the cave naturally illuminated by thousands of glowworms is a sight to behold.
7. Abel Tasman National Park, South Islands:
The Abel Tasman National Park is famous for mixing physical exertion with beach life. You can walk through this paradise or explore it by cruise boat, sailing catamaran, water taxi or sea kayak. In Abel Tasman National Park, the Abel Tasman Coast Track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. You can wind along the 51-kilometer hike with the dramatic Tasman Bay, from Marahau to Separation Point. The park offers activities like hiking or paddling with sunbathing, swimming and sedate snorkeling. You can explore the coves, spot fur seals, dolphins, little blue penguins, gannets and Tui and bellbird filling the forest. Panoramic views from the rugged coastal cliffs can give you a breathtakingly beautiful sight. You can enjoy the unique rock formations such as the giant granite boulder sliced in two, known as the Split Apple Rock.
6. Rotorua, North Island:
Rotorua is a must visit for everyone, one of the most active geothermal regions in the world, Rotorua is situated on the turbulent Pacific Ring of Fire. Set on its namesake lake on New Zealand’s North Island, Rotorua is also famous for its Maori culture. There are bubbling mud pools and the 30m-tall Pohutu Geyser in Te Puia’s Whakarewarewa Valley that erupts many times daily. There are hissing geysers, volcanic craters, and steaming thermal springs, hiking trails, and much more to explore. For adventure seekers, there are activities like sky-diving, luging, and mountain biking. You can take a walk to explore these geothermal wonders, soak in steaming mineral springs and learn about the Maori history and culture. Rotorua is also the gateway to the ski fields of Mount Ruapehu and you can also explore the nearby Wai-O-Tapu, a popular tourist attraction with colorful hot springs and witness the famous Champagne Pool and Lady Knox Geyser.
5. Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, South Island:
Franz Josef Glacier temperate maritime glacier located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast of New Zealand. It descends from the Southern Alps to less than 300 meters along with the Fox Glacier and a third glacier. Franz Josef and Fox glaciers are one of the most accessible glaciers on Earth. These rivers of ice flow from among one of the highest peaks in the Southern Alps to near sea level. The gentle coastal climate makes it easier for visitors to explore them on trails. You can also explore the place by seaplanes and helicopters. The area surrounding both of the glaciers is part of the World Heritage Site park, Te Wahipounamu. The Waiho river arising from the glacier terminal of Franz Josef offers a surreal view.
4. Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park, North Island:
Lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand situated in the caldera of the Taupo Volcano. The Taupo region is perfect for outdoor activities. It is home to a number of varies and beautiful scenic highlights. This region includes huge lakes, lush native forests and geothermal activities. You can explore the walking trails, the famous geothermal attraction, Orakei Korako, Huka Falls and much more.
A few kilometers from Lake Taupo is the oldest national park in New Zealand, Tongariro National Park. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, Tongariro National Park was the sixth national park established in the world. The park has made its name for the volcanic features and its importance to the Maori culture. There are a number of activities you can participate in like hiking, climbing, skiing, snowboarding, hunting, game fishing, mountain biking, horse riding, and rafting. Some part of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy was shot here. The place is filled with dramatic beauty with towering volcanoes, turquoise lakes, arid plateaus, alpine meadows, and hot springs. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is one of its many famous spots.
3. Queenstown, South Island:
Located on the shores of the South Island’s Lake Wakatipu, set against the dramatic Southern Alps, Queenstown is one of the top destinations of New Zealand. Queenstown is widely known for its vast collection of adventure sports including bungee jumping, jet boating, white-water rafting, paragliding, rock climbing, mountain biking, and downhill skiing. It also offers first-class hotels, spas, restaurants, galleries, and shops. You can also explore vineyards and historic mining towns of this region. You can visit the picturesque Lake Wanaka situated in the Otago region and the Queenstown Gardens located next to Queenstown and much more.
Also, if you are in the South Island, you have to visit the Hokitika Gorge, situated 25km east of Hokitika. There are several walking trails you can take in this region. The Hokitika Gorge is unique because of its vibrant blue color which comes from its natural and unique cocktail of glacier water, plankton, and a few other ingredients.
2. Bay of Islands, North Island:
A three-hour drive from Auckland will take you to irregularly-shaped but immensely beautiful Bay of Islands region. One of the most popular fishing, sailing and tourist destinations of the country, Bay of Islands is a natural harbor and contains a total of 144 islands and various peninsulas and inlets. The largest island is the Urupukapuka island. The three largest inlets od those many inlets are the Waikare Inlet in the south, and Kerikeri and Te Puna inlets in the north-west. The most famous towns of this region are Kerikeri, Paihia and the small town of Russell. This place is a haven for sailing and yachting. You can watch Penguins, dolphins, whales, and Marlin lives in these fertile waters. You can see kayak along the coast, hike up the many island trails, relax in secluded coves, take a trip around Cape Brett and the famous rock formation called Hole in the Rock. There are sub-tropical forests where Kauri trees grow.
1. Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound, South Island:
Fiordland National Park is a huge part of the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site. Located on the southwest corner of New Zealand, Fiordland National Park is the largest of all the 14 national parks of the country. The park is home to some of the most breathtakingly beautiful and famous natural displays of the country. The most popular destinations are the Te Anau to Milford Sound. Glaciers sculpted this exciting landscape forming the famous fjords of Milford, Dusky, George Sound, and Doubtful Sounds.
You can explore the Milford Sound by boat tours or participate in kayaking. You can visit the Milford Discovery Centre & Underwater Observatory along with the Milford Road from Te Anau. There are several short walks you can take and explore the other famous sites like the Mirror Lakes and the Homer Pass. You can explore the Te Ana-au Caves, the famous limestone cave. There are also several tracks that you can enjoy including the famous Milford, Kepler and Hollyford track, and half of the Routeburn Track. With its striking natural beauty, this place also offers a lot of activities for adventure lovers.