Best Places to Visit in New Zealand

New Zealand's top tourist towns and attractions.

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  • 1.

    Taupo, North Island

    Taupo is a small tourist resort town on the shores of New Zealand's largest lake. It is a pretty spot, and makes a good base for exploring nearby adventure travel and hiking options.
  • 2.

    Christchurch, South Island

    Christchurch offers a sample of England in the middle of New Zealand. You can punt on the Avon River, walk through majestic gardens, or visit the Christchurch Cathedral.
  • 3.

    Abel Tasman National Park, South Island

    The Abel Tasman Coastal Track provides easy walking around some of New Zealand's best coastline. Nearby, the arty, hippy town of Takaka, and the beautiful beach town of Kaiteriteri make great places to stay.
  • 4.

    Milford Sound, South Island

    Milford Sound is a shimmering fiord surrounded by towering mountains, and no matter what the weather (it rains a lot), it is a beautiful place. The drive into Milford Sound also offers wonderful scenery, and the famous four day Milford Track walk also ends here.
  • 5.

    Hot Water Beach, Coromandel, North Island

    One of the best free activities in New Zealand is to dig yourself a hole in Hot Water Beach, and soak in the hot springs that emerge through the sands. Every so often, your little swimming pool will be cooled by the ocean waves. Magical.
  • 6.

    Nelson Lakes National Park, St Arnaud, South Island

    In summer you'll need the insect repellent, but Nelson Lakes National Park offers some great hiking opportunities, and the tiny St Arnaud village is a very peaceful spot to meditate on life.
  • 7.

    Queenstown, South Island

    Queenstown is renowned as New Zealand's adventure capital, and if skiing, bungy jumping, jet boating, or white water rafting are your thing, then Queenstown is for you. It is also home to some of the best lake and mountain scenery in the world, top golf courses, and excellent shopping and restaurants.
  • 8.

    Bay of Islands, North Island

    The Bay of Islands is home to Waitangi, where New Zealand's founding document, the Treat of Waitangi, was signed. The historic town of Russell is also located here.
  • 9.

    Tongariro National Park, North Island

    Home to New Zealand's best day walk, Tongariro National Park is traversed by the incredible Tongariro Alpine Crossing. The park is also home to the active volcano Mt Ruapehu, and you will see beautiful mountain and volcanic scenery in this region.
  • 10.

    Wellington, North Island

    New Zealand's capital city, Wellington, is perched on a beautiful harbour and surrounded by hills. When the wind is blowing (which is often), you can browse for free in Te Papa, the national museum, or sample the café and arts culture. When the weather is still and calm, you can walk in the hills or dine by the waters edge.
  • 11.

    Punakaiki, West Coast, South Island

    Although the pancake rocks at Punakaiki are the destination, it is journey up the isolated West Coast of the New Zealand which is the real highlight. Pack the insect repellent, and step back in time to visit to a coastal rainforest like no other.
  • 12.

    Kaikoura, South Island

    Kaikoura itself is fairly non-descript, but as a base for whale watching, it is world class.
  • 13.

    Auckland, North Island

    Auckland is New Zealand's largest city and entry point for most people. A city of 1 million people, it is like many other small western cities. It pays to get out of the city centre however, and explore the Hauraki Gulf, Devonport, or the wild west coast beaches like Piha.
  • 14.

    Rotorua, North Island

    It may be smelly, but Rotorua is a thermal wonderland and is a great place to sample Maori culture. You can spend the day visiting bubbling mud, volcanic craters, & geysers, and then spend the evening soaking in hot mineral pools or taking in a Maori culture show.
  • 15.

    Franz Joseph and Fox Glaciers, South Island

    These two glaciers tumble down the western side of the Southern Alps, and are the closest glaciers to the sea in the world. There a number of walking and helicopter sightseeing opportunities here.
  • 16.

    Mt Cook National Park, South Island

    Mt Cook is New Zealand's highest mountain, and offers opportunities for hiking and climbing. On the way to Mt Cook, you are likely to pass the amazing turquoise waters of Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo.
  • 17.

    Cape Reinga, North Island

    The northernmost point of New Zealand is located on the atmospheric headland of Cape Reinga. A lighthouse stands here, watching over the point where the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea meet.
  • 18.

    Dunedin, South Island

    The 'Edinburgh of the South' is a laidback coastal student town. Worth a visit to see the majestic royal albatross colony at the end of Otago Peninsula, or ride the Taieri Gorge Railway.
  • 19.

    Napier, North Island

    Napier is known as the 'art deco capital of the world'. Napier suffered a large earthquake in 1931, and many of the building constructed after the earthquake were in the art deco style.
  • 20.

    The Catlins, South Island

    One of least known and rarely visited areas of New Zealand, the Catlins is a windswept coastline between Dunedin and Invercargill. Porpoise Bay, where dolphins regularly swim, fossilised forests, penguins, and the Cathedral Caves are highlights.
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