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Comprised of two main islands, North Island and South Island, New Zealand is an incredible destination to discover. Packed with unforgettable landscapes, breathtaking scenery, and an unparalleled combination of lakes, mountains, and lush greenery, the island nation has to be seen to be truly understood. While touring New Zealand, be sure to give equal time to its lively cities and its more stunning natural landmarks. Here’s a look at the best places to visit in New Zealand.
Number 10. Coromandel Peninsula
This north-eastern peninsula is famous for its white and golden sand beaches that frame magnificent coastal scenery, forests perfect for days of exploration and other natural wonders. Start your visit in Thames, a small but picturesque city with a rich history of gold mining. Don’t miss a stop at Hot Water Beach, where visitors can dig their own hot pool from the springs under the sands.
Number 9. Kaikoura
A picture-perfect coastal town situated a few hours north of Christchurch, Kaikoura is famous among visitors for its marine mammals, eco-friendly lifestyle, and its landscape that brings the country’s stunning coastline shoulder to shoulder with its jagged mountains.
Renowned for its fishing opportunities, the town is filled with activities to keep you occupied. Spot dolphins, whales, and other exotic marine species on a cruise or join them with a wetsuit and scuba dive amidst some of the best reefs in New Zealand.
Number 8. Glacier Country
Glacier Country is found on the Western Coast of South Island, and its jewel is the Westland National Park. Here, you’ll have the chance to see the country’s two most spectacular glaciers: Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier. Franz Josef Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers on the planet, meaning that you can actually walk up to the glacier and even through the glacier valley itself. Guided tours give you a closer look at the expanding glaciers, and you can relax after a day of hiking by soaking in the incredible glacier hot pools.
Number 7. Napier
Feeling somewhat like a wealthy seaside town in England, Napier is a charming place to kick back and relax, with a romantic air about it. With lovely 1930’s facades and some delightful streets to explore, its fantastic collection of art-deco buildings is interspersed with some brilliant restaurants and atmospheric cafes. Napier has several gorgeous beaches nearby, as well as a fantastic aquarium to check out.
The marvelous wineries just outside of the city are also well worth exploring.
Number 6. Rotorua
Lying on the shores of the lake after which it is named, Rotorua is renowned for its fabulous hot springs and geysers that are absolutely everywhere.
Situated at the heart of a Volcanic Zone, the city is the North Island’s most popular tourist destination.
Steam and spray constantly cloud its streets and the scent of sulfur hangs heavy in the air. While its parks and nature reserves are home to vents, fissures and lakes, a sizeable Maori population invigorates the town with their art, culture and history.
Number 5. Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands is one of the most popular holiday destinations in New Zealand.
The picturesque area contains 144 islands, many secluded bays and some great sandy beaches. This beautiful bay has an abundance of marine life including whales, penguins, dolphins and the big marlin. Not surprisingly, it is a popular tourist spot for sailing yachts on world cruises and international sport fishermen.
Number 4. Auckland
Known as the City of Sails, Auckland is the largest and most populated city in New Zealand. It is located on the North Island, and it is known for its vibrant culture and foodie landscape. For amazing views of this beautiful metropolis, climb the Auckland Harbor Bridge. If you’re interested in learning more about the history and heritage of New Zealand, then be sure to check out the Auckland Domain, which is the city’s oldest part. Here you’ll find great exhibits of Maori and Pacific Island artifacts at the iconic Auckland Museum.
Number 3. Queenstown
On New Zealand’s South Island is Queenstown, a destination known as the dream spot for those in search of adrenaline and adventure. Surrounded by the towering peaks of the Southern Alps, and right on the banks of deep-blue Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is also an incredibly beautiful spot. One of the best ways to experience the scenery is on Lake Wakatipu itself.
You can cycle around the lake’s perimeter or set off on a cruise of the lake’s magnificent waters.
There is also a vibrant nightlife with the town’s small central area packed with bars and restaurants.
Number 2. Tongariro National Park
The first national park of New Zealand, Tongariro is known for its surprises and extremes.
The park’s diverse range of ecosystems includes tranquil lakes, active volcanoes, herb fields, untamed forests and desert-like plateaus. Start your trek at the Visitor Center, just a three hour hike from the stunning Taranaki Falls. The short hike will take you through scrubland and forest and across the lava line of volcanic eruptions from hundreds of years ago.
Number 1. Fiordland
One of the most scenic spots in New Zealand is the Fiordland National Park. Here, you can set off on incredible hikes, fish for trout or cruise on the spectacular fjords in the south-western corner of the South Island.
Milford Sound is the biggest attraction in Fiordland, and it is a true fjord created by a glacier. On a cruise through Milford Sound, you can spot waterfalls, admire the sheer rock faces towering over the water and even see wildlife like dolphins and penguins..