Around New Zealand by reviewing New Zealand’s must-haves. These unique places in the world that will not be missed under any circumstances during a trip to New Zealand.
From North to South, we have listed but also visited those unmissable that we share today with you.
Whether it’s their natural beauty, history, geothermal peculiarity or importance to Maori culture, these places all have something unique and worth a look. In this article, we will discuss all the essentials of New Zealand to know what to do and what to see in New Zealand.
Places to visit in New Zealand
- Cape Reinga :
The northern tip of the North Island is a mythical place in the Maori culture, indeed, Cape Reinga is the place of departure of the souls of the deceased to the beyond. Discover its lighthouse, beaches, and hiking. This place where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean is a staple of any trip to New Zealand, even though its geographical location, far from everything, does not make it one of the easiest places to access and is well often neglected by tourists passing through the country.
- Aoraki / Mount Cook :
Mount Cook, Aoraki by name Maori, is the highest peak in New Zealand. With its 3,724 meters, it dominates the mountain chain of the Southern Alps. Spectacular landscapes, glaciers, lakes with turquoise water, Mount Cook is one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand. Many hikes allow you to discover this unique place. Mount Cook will, in any case, be part of your list if you stay, if only for ten days, on the South Island.
- Abel Tasman National Park :
Probably one of New Zealand’s most beautiful national parks, Abel Tasman National Park, located north of the South Island, is ideal for hiking or kayaking in all seasons. Its forest, its beaches, and its fauna will put you in the eye. Indeed this park, named in honor of the navigator Abel Tasman, is famous for its sandy beaches and turquoise water. The park is home to a marine reserve or lives many marine mammals such as sea lions. Abel Tasman National Park is also one of those places where you can do one of New Zealand’s 10 great walks! A hike that will take you between 3 and 5 days!
- Bay of Islands :
Bay of Islands, or the bays of the islands, is a place of great beauty. Paradise beach, turquoise water, the bay of the islands would even have the second most blue sky in the world. This place is also of major importance in the history of New Zealand since it is the place of signature of the Treaty of Waitangi, the founding act of New Zealand. It is in the Bay of Islands that is the first capital of New Zealand: Russel.
Activities in this bay are many, hiking, kayaking but also parachute jump!
- Tongariro National Park :
Undoubtedly one of the most famous landscapes of New Zealand, the Tongariro National Park is a place of beauty. Celebrated worldwide after the success of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, this national park, its 3 volcanoes, turquoise lakes is a place you should not miss. This national park is one of New Zealand’s top 5 must-sees. His hike: The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is frequented every year by thousands of people.
- Milford Sound :
One, if not the most beautiful fjord in the world. Book your cruise and discover this fjord and its majestic mountains. Drawn millions of years ago by glaciers, this fjord is one of the most beautiful and wildest landscapes in New Zealand. The region is home to 3 of 10 great walks in the country! Milford Sound is the number one place to see while travelling in New Zealand. Even if the cruise is the essential activity to discover the fjord, know that it is also possible to practice kayaking or fly over the place. A unique show in the world!
- Hobbiton :
Fan of the Lord of the Rings? So this place is for you. A moment of relaxation in the heart of the Lord of the Rings universe. A guided tour will tell you more about the history of this place and its little manufacturing secrets. Finish the visit at the Green Dragon Inn and enjoy a beer inside this strange building! Do not forget your camera to immortalize this memory! A unique place in the world that makes Hobbiton a must on a trip to New Zealand for all fans of the trilogy.
- Cathedral Cove :
Its white sand beaches, its turquoise water, its particularly mild climate, no doubt you are well of the Coromandel. Cathedral Cove , voted the most beautiful beach in New Zealand served as a backdrop to the trilogy of the world of Narnia. Its imposing arch is one of the most visited places in the country and we understand why! A 45 minute walk will be required to reach this unique place.
- Auckland :
The city of Auckland, the largest in New Zealand has many resources that will, no doubt, seduce you. Ultra modern buildings, shopping streets, Auckland is a city in constant excitement. This city is the economic heart of the country, where everything takes place! Yet despite its 1.4 million inhabitants, Auckland is a city that breathes well-being with wide streets, many parks, a welcoming marina where it is good to walk and nature ubiquitous. Embark on one of these small ferries to Devonport, Rangitoto or Waiheke Island to feel wilderness, far from civilization and yet only 10, 20 or 30 minutes by boat from the city center.
- Akaroa :
Akaroa, the most French villages of New Zealand. Not far from the city of Christchurch, Akaroa is a small village with a surprising history since it was, at first, a French village. Today, street names and bakeries bear witness to French influence. In the past, it is mainly as a port that the city known its renown. It was popular with whalers, very present in the region. Today is another marine mammal that is the celebrity of the place, the dolphin of Hector, the smallest but also the rarest dolphin in the world! An outing to meet them is a must for a trip to New Zealand.
- Rotorua :
Rotorua, renowned for its particular geographical location since the city is located on one of the largest geothermal areas of the country. We will see a little further that some of these parks are a must for a trip to New Zealand. The city of Rotorua is located on the shores of the lake of the same name. The city is of primary importance for the Maori since it is home to many villages, some are visited elsewhere. A Maori evening is something to do on a trip to New Zealand. This is a good way to meet Maori culture with traditional dances but also a meal to discover Maori customs.
- Wellington :
Discreet capital of New Zealand, Wellington is a city full of charm. Take a stroll on the harbor and relax at one of the harbor’s many terraces, then walk along Oriental Bay where you will find pretty little beaches just a stone’s throw from the city center! If you enjoy more cultural visits, visit the Te Papa Museum, one of New Zealand’s largest and most important museums. Stroll along Lambton Quay and take Wellington’s famous Cable Car that will take you to the heights of the city. Wellington is also the starting point of the ferry that will take you to the South Island.
- Lake Tekapo :
Lake Tekapo, just a few hours from Christchurch and close to Mount Cook, is a favorite spot for astrophotography enthusiasts, thanks to the purity and beauty of its starry sky, renowned around the world. It is also a very famous place for its church, the Church of the Good Shepard. But Lake Tekapo is first and foremost a lake, a beautiful lake whose turquoise blue color will make your eyes full. Take a few hours to go for one of the many hikes around this one.
- Queenstown :
Located on Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is one of the most beautiful cities in New Zealand. It is a small town that attracts many tourists because of the many activities it offers but also because of its beautiful setting that offers beautiful walks with beautiful views of the city. The city is also nicknamed “world capital of adventure” as there are many. You can depend on the season, go skiing, bungee jumping, parachuting, hiking, sledding on the road and many activities on the lake such as a jet boat or parasailing. Queenstown is also the starting point for excursions around the Fiordland National Park.
- Kaikoura :
Kaikoura is a small town located by the sea. Its geographical location is unique including its seabed. Indeed these have a particular shape and attracts a large number of different species of marine mammals. Sea lions, dolphins but also whales, among the largest in the world. The landscapes of the region are also beautiful with the nearby mountains. Take the opportunity to do one of the hikes of the peninsula or the mountain located either of the city.
- Taranaki :
The Taranaki is one of the magnificent volcanoes on the North Island. If you enjoy hiking, you will certainly find one that suits you among the many hikes in the region. And if you like the challenge and you are sporting enough, climb the mountain, whose summit will offer you a magnificent panorama to Mount Ruapehu, in the Tongariro National Park.
- Taupo :
The city of Taupo is located on the lake of the same name, which is the largest in the country. The city of Taupo is a must for many reasons. First of all, you will enjoy a breathtaking view of its lake with the volcanoes of the Tongariro National Park as a backdrop. Another must-see is Taupo, its famous waterfalls, the Huka Falls.
- Dunedin :
The second largest city on the South Island, Dunedin is a very nice town whose Scottish origins are still very much and make its charm. Among the testimonies of these origins, you will see the train station, one of the most photographed buildings in the country. During your visit, go to Baldwin Street, another attraction in the city, which is the steepest street in the world. A visit to the Cadbury factory can also be an interesting tour, especially for children.
- Stewart Island :
Stewart Island is the third largest island in New Zealand and is located south of the South Island. Stewart Island is a place dedicated to nature where you will have the opportunity to see kiwis since more than 18 000 kiwis live on this island. The island is covered almost entirely by a dense forest. 80% of its territory is protected by the DOC(Department of Conservation). Stewart Island is also home to one of New Zealand’s 10 great walks, a 3-day hike to discover the island.
- Wanaka :
Very often compared to Queenstown, Wanaka is a small quiet town bordered by the lake of the same name and surrounded by mountains that offer beautiful hikes, such as Roys Peak, the most famous hike in the area. Also visit the “lonely tree”, the most famous tree in New Zealand, a tree, alone, on the shores of the lake. Wanaka is one of the must-sees of New Zealand.
- Fox and Franz Joseph Glacier :
The West Coast of New Zealand is a must for any trip to the country. The two glaciers Fox and Franz Josef Glacier are located in the middle of a virgin forest, which offers an incredible landscape. It is possible to go to the foot of the glaciers via a short hike of about 1 hour to 1 hour 30 round trip. It is also possible to discover the glaciers via a helicopter flight and then a hike to the top of these glaciers to discover the ice caves. An essential excursion of a stay in New Zealand.
- Christchurch :
Christchurch is the second largest city in the country behind Auckland. It is the main city of the South Island, but Christchurch is a city in full reconstruction after the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, Christchurch takes shape gradually and makes every effort to become an attractive city in the years to come up. The city center and its re-start mall are one of the main examples. The city is also famous for its many parks! If you only want to visit the South Island then make sure to take a flight to and from this city.
- East Cape :
East Cape is the easternmost point of the country. East Cape is best known for being the location of the world’s first (or almost) sunrise. Go to the lighthouse early in the morning and be the first to admire the sunrise quietly in the sky. Even if East Cape will unfortunately not be part of your list of places to see if you are traveling to New Zealand for a short stay, it will have to be part of your “todo-list” if you want to travel longer on the North Island! The SH 35 that runs along the coast of the North Island is simply beautiful!
- Napier :
Destroyed by an earthquake in 1931, Napier was rebuilt according to the style of the time and is now known for the many art deco buildings that make it special. Napier is a pleasant city where it is good to walk and enjoys a very pleasant micro-climate with a high sun rate. Not far from Napier you can visit the city of Hastings, Ocean Beach a beautiful beach located a few tens of kilometers from the city but also cape Kidnappers we are talking about a little lower.
- Cape Kidnappers :
Cape Kidnappers, located not far from Napier is known to be one of the most important nesting places of Northern Gannet or Australasian Gannet of New Zealand. After some 6 kilometers to walk on the beach, you will attend a breathtaking show. Thousands of gannets find refuge on this cap to come to lay their eggs. Cape Kidnappers will be a must have for all animal lovers!
- White Island :
White Island is a unique place in the world, a marine volcano, located off the city of Whakatane. This volcano, still active, can be visited via excursions from Whakatane, by boat and then hike or plane for an unforgettable flight. This volcano is a true open-air playground for all geology enthusiasts.
- Hot Water Beach :
Hot Water Beach is another wonder of nature! A beach under which is a hot spring. Going to this beach with a shovel to dig a hole and bask in the hot water is a must for any trip to New Zealand. This natural spa attracts many tourists each year. Go summer and winter, one rule to respect, go at low tide to access these famous sources.
- Punakaiki :
Punakaiki will be a stop of choice during a road trip in the South Island. Located on the West Coast, this place is composed of rock formations with very particular forms created by the erosion of the wind and sea. Go at high tide to contemplate the sea geysers!
- Moeraki Boulders :
The Moeraki Boulders are located on the east coast of the South Island in New Zealand, these strange spherical rocks are really amazing and offer, at sunset and sunrise, a mysterious atmosphere.
- Cape Palliser :
Cape Palliser is located at the southern end of the North Island not far from Wellington. The cape is famous for its lighthouse but it is especially its colony of seals that attracts many tourists every year. A place that will delight wildlife enthusiasts of the country but not that a few kilometers before this famous colony is one of the filming locations of the trilogy of the Lord of the Rings: the Putangirua Pinnacle.
- Waitomo Caves :
Waitomo Caves is one of the most spectacular caves in the world. The Waitomo wineries are a group of different caves each with their particularity. The most famous of these are the glowworm cellars, caves whose ceilings are covered with these little creatures, the glow worms, illuminating the cave like a starry sky. These caves are located on the North Island and are truly part of the country’s must-haves.
- Wai-O-Tapu :
Not far from Rotorua is one of the most famous geothermal parks in the country. Inside this park geyser but also lakes with surprising colors. This is one of these lakes, the “Champagne Pool” that is famous for this park. Indeed this lake has, a few years ago, the cover of the travel guide Lonely Planet New Zealand. This park attracts many tourists each year.
We will stay there with the must-see in New Zealand, the list could be long as there are many things to see in this beautiful country.