New Zealand is a small but beautifully diverse country offering gorgeous scenery from lush mountains to glaciers to volcanoes to lovely beaches. Made up of two islands, the North Island and the South Island, New Zealand offers fascinating Maori culture, interesting wildlife, as well as stunning landscapes. When planning a trip to New Zealand make sure not to miss the following ten places.
Westland National Park
This park offers visitors the opportunity to see glaciers up close and personal. The Franz Josef and Fox glaciers move up to four meters every day. You can walk to the base of the glacier and hear the ice grinding. Also in the park you can find lush temperate rainforest with nice hiking trails and lakes that offer a beautiful place to kayak or canoe. There are also the remains of old gold mining towns to explore.
Bay of Islands
This is a region that contains 144 islands, crystal clear water and beautiful scenery. It is an amazing place to explore on board a boat. There are several cute towns including Paihia with its picturesque beaches, and Waitangi, a historic site where the Maori and the British joined in signing the Treaty of Waitangi in 1840.
Dunedin is a university town on the South Island. Known as the Edinburgh of the South, it is famous for its Scottish heritage, friendly people, and steep streets. In fact Dunedin’s Baldwin Street is the steepest street in the world! Hike up one of the steep streets and you will be treated to a beautiful view of the city and surrounding areas.
Milford Sound is one of the iconic images that pop up in people’s mind when they think of New Zealand. It features sheer rock cliffs rising up out of the water, majestic waterfalls, bioluminescence and tall mountains as well as a fantastic chance to see wildlife like dolphins and penguins. Explore the glacier shaped sound in a cruise or kayak to fully experience the beauty or go on a walk on one of the numerous trails for all different hiking abilities.
Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand with 1.45 million people. Located on the North Island, it is also called the City of Sails. Auckland is a city that features some unique architecture. But one of the best things about the city is how easy it is to get out of and explore the surrounding countryside. A drive or hike up One Tree Hill, a volcano just outside the city offers a beautiful view of the city. Or take a ferry ride to explore the harbor.
Queenstown is a scenic city on the South Island next to Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by mountains. This lovely town is great for strolling and stopping in coffee shops, visiting nearby vineyards, or as a starting point to organize adventures such as horseback riding, biking, river rafting, and bungee jumping among others.
Christchurch is the largest city on the South Island. It is also known as the Garden City. Travelers can see the English heritage of the city in its architecture and pubs. The Botanical Garden especially is a beautiful spot in the city.
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park
The park’s main highlight is New Zealand’s highest peak, Aoraki Mount Cook. Sir Edmund Hillary developed some climbing skills here and there is an Alpine Centre named after him, with a museum and planetarium. There are opportunities for trekking here for experienced and prepared mountain climbers as well as shorter walks for those who want a more low-key experience. The stargazing here is also not to be missed.
For many, New Zealand became a destination with the movie Lord of the Rings, which was filmed here. Fans of the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit can visit the Hobbiton movie set in Matamata featuring the rolling green hills and farm land of the hobbit lands as well as locations from the story such as The Green Dragon Inn.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
The Waitomo Caves are located on the North Island. They were formed from underground streams carving into the limestone over time. The best ways to explore the caves is by boat or walking. As signified by their name, the caves are also famous for the luminescent glowworms that live here.
There is a reason movies such as Lord of the Ring’s and Pete’s Dragon have chosen New Zealand for filming. The country is full of amazing sights, wherever you choose to go you will be treated to spectacular outdoor scenery. In addition to the sights there are also chances to get to see wildlife, Maori culture, and enjoy water sports and outdoor activities. New Zealand has breathtaking sights of all kinds, making it a county to go on your bucket list.