Home to breathtaking landscapes, modern cities and a rich, vibrant past, New Zealand is constantly listed as one of the globe’s most beautiful destinations. Thanks to its remote location, this island country was one of the last places on earth to be inhabited by humans. Consequently, it became home to a large number of unique, endemic plant and animal species, many of which still thrive on the islands today. What should you do during your ultimate Pacific Island getaway? Here’s our concise list of the best sites and top things to do in New Zealand.
Exploring the North Island
New Zealand is comprised of two islands. The north island is home to both its major cities, Wellington (the capital) and Auckland (its most populated), home to a combined population of 1.5 million. The capital city, is a great spot to get acquainted with New Zealand’s culture and history, with informative and interesting museums (Museum of NZ and Wellington City and Sea) national galleries, monuments and memorials. For the nature lover looking to immediately get outdoors, Wellington is home to Zealandia Eco-Sanctuary, the Rimutaka Mountain Range and Princess Bay (a beautiful beach location).
Before reaching the northern city of Auckland, there are a number of central North Island sites and activities that must be experienced. From West Coast surfing in the world-famous Raglan area and the thermal pools/mud baths of Rotorua, to the Waitomo Caves and the Tongariro Crossing (home to the world’s best single-day hike), New Zealand’s North Island is absolutely filled with amazing adventures.
At the northern hub of Auckland, visitors will be ready to continue on with their NZ adventures. From art galleries, museums, theatres and historic churches to parks, harbors, squares and the iconic Sky Tower, the city is filled to the brim with cultural attractions. Also home to a number of stunning islands, volcanic peaks, white and black sand beaches (Karekare), Auckland is another must-see destination on the North Island. Other northern sites that should not be missed are the Bay of Islands (the northeastern tip of the North Island), Lake Taupo, Hawke’s Bay, the epicenter of New Zealand’s wine country and the Huka Falls.
Touring the South Island
New Zealand’s South Island isn’t home to as many bustling cities and cultural attractions, but it is ripe with natural marvels and awe-inspiring landscapes. If you are a fan of hikes, the South Island has some of the world’s best destinations to explore. From tours around the iconic Milford Sound (boat trips through here are another must!!) to walks through the stunning Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand’s South Island is one of the world’s best hiking destinations. For wildlife seekers, a visit to Stewart Island is a great place to spot the iconic Kiwi bird, and both the Otago Peninsula and Catlins Coast are home to some gorgeous flora and fauna.
If you are looking to get a bit more hands on, the South Island’s Queenstown area is an adrenaline-seeker’s Mecca. From whitewater rafting, rock climbing and canyon speed boating to bungee jumping (in fact, the original bungee jump was taken here!), the world’s biggest swing and the world’s highest cliff jump, Queenstown literally has it all. Other must-see sites in the South Islands are Mount Cook National Park, Lake Wanaka and the Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers. Drive through Arthur’s Pass to reach Christchurch, New Zealand’s second largest city. Truly a “Garden City” the Botanic Gardens housing exotic native plants and the International Antarctic Centre are the must visits here.
Though the country is beautiful all year round, your New Zealand tour guide will recommend that the peak season to visit is in the summertime (December-February). Spring (September-November) and autumn (March-May) are also excellent times to visit, especially if you are trying to avoid the crowds. So what are you waiting for; plan your trip and make your way to this exotic Maori country to be greeted by a rousing round of “Kia Ora”!
Images Details and Licenses:https://flic.kr/p/9S2RQr(Chris Gin,CC BY-NC-ND 2.0),https://flic.kr/p/7hj9JB(Adam Selwood,CC BY 2.0),https://flic.kr/p/5ExeDk(Adam & Tess,CC BY-SA 2.0),https://flic.kr/p/aBE5W3(John Dee,CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/qJM2cv (Loïc Lagarde, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/9iKoqT (Jason Pratt, CC BY 2.0),https://flic.kr/p/4Dqret(dang.fish,CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)