New Zealand is an island nation in the Pacific Ocean’s southwest corner. It is made up of two main landmasses, the North and South Islands, as well as around 700 smaller islands.
Jagged mountains, undulating farm land, steep fiords, clean trout-filled lakes, raging rivers, gorgeous beaches, and active volcanic zones make up this country’s beautiful and diverse natural splendor.
These islands are one of Earth’s most unusual bio regions, home to flightless birds found nowhere else on the planet, such as the kakapo, a nocturnal burrowing parrot, and the kiwi.
Here are 10 notable places to visit in New Zealand.
Arrowtown is approximately 20 minutes from Queenstown and is constructed on the banks of the Arrow River, which was once a rich source of gold that drew miners from all over the world in search of their fortune. Thousands of miners swarmed to the Arrow River in 1862, lured by the scream of “gold!” The population peaked at 7,000 people during the gold rush.
Arrowtown has developed into a world-class destination while effectively preserving its historic legacy.
Arrowtown offers a distinct atmosphere, with a sophisticated choice of fine clothes stores, art studios, galleries, cafés and restaurants, boutique hotels, and traditional pubs and taverns in the historic downtown area.
Things ‘to do’ whilst in Arrowtown, would include visiting the historic Chinese miners’ hamlet, now stone ruins but once a bustling settlement, gold panning in the Arrow River, visiting the Lakes District Museum, or exploring the boutique retail sector.
Auckland is a significant metropolis in New Zealand’s North Island that is built around two enormous harbours. The landmark Sky Tower, located in the heart of the city, offers views over Viaduct Harbour, which is lined with restaurants and cafes and is home to many superyachts. The formal Wintergardens are located in Auckland Domain, the city’s oldest park, which is built around an extinct volcano.
The varied landscapes of Auckland offer numerous opportunities to be immersed in nature. In the west, dense native rainforest descends the hills to reach the sea on spectacular black sand beaches, while in the east, sheltered golden sand beaches are bordered by red-flowering pohutukawa trees. Auckland’s wine country’s rolling hills meet breathtaking coastlines to the north and to be explored in the south are picturesque country gardens, unspoiled wilderness, and tranquil bays.
Worthy of note is Waiheke Island, a gorgeous island with vineyards, olive groves, farmland, and golden beaches, and it’s just a 40-minute ferry ride from Auckland. At one of the 30 boutique vineyards and wineries, you have the opportunity to sample award-winning wines, dine finely, and purchase outstanding local artwork.
#3 Glacier Country
Glacier Country is situated on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, in an untamed natural wilderness.
Tragically these ancient glaciers are receding at an alarming rate of roughly 70 cm per day as they are bearing the weight of global warming. Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier are the two main glaciers in the area, being approximately a 30-minute drive away from each other.
On a clear day, Lake Matheson, near Fox Glacier, is known for its mirror-like reflections of New Zealand’s tallest peaks. Glow worms can be seen on display at night along a bush trail leading to a fern cave.
The Franz Josef Glacier area features some of New Zealand’s most breathtaking landscapes.
Franz Josef Glacier/K Roimata o Hine Hukatere descends from the summits of the Southern Alps/K Tiritiri o te Moana into rainforest close to sea level, only six kilometres from the community centre.
There is also the spectacular Lake Mapourika, ten minutes north of the Franz Josef Glacier settlement on State Highway 6, which is an excellent site for fishing, birdwatching, and kayaking.
#4 Matamata (Hobbiton)
Matamata is a town on New Zealand’s North Island that lies in the shadow of the Kaimai Range Mountains. A trail leads to Wairere Falls, which offers views of the Waikato Plains, to the northeast.
The Firth Tower Museum has heritage buildings that chronicle the region’s settler past, including a school and a prison.
For Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” films, the Hobbiton Movie Set was made at Matamata and still can be visited today.
#5 Milford Sound
Milford Sound is a fiord in New Zealand’s South Island’s southwest corner and famous for Mitre Peak, as well as rainforests and waterfalls like Stirling and Bowen, which cascade down its sheer sides.
It is also noted for its fur seal colonies, penguins, and dolphins that inhabit the fiord. One of the best ways to visit and explore the fiord is by boat excursion.
Views of rare black coral and other marine life can be found at the Milford Discovery Centre and Underwater Observatory.
Queenstown is nestled against the spectacular Southern Alps on the shores of Lake Wakatipu in the South Island. It is mainly known for adventure sports, but it’s also a great place to visit if you want to see the region’s wineries and historic mining villages.
Things to do include bungee jumping from the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge and jet boating on the Shotover and Dart rivers. Skiing is also available on the slopes of ‘The Remarkables’ and Coronet Peak in the winter.
Rotorua, is a town situated on New Zealand’s North Island known for its geothermal activity and Maori culture. There are bubbling mud pools and the 30m-tall Pohutu Geyser in Te Puia’s Whakarewarewa Valley, which erupts several times daily.
The town has a lake of the same name and is home to a living Maori village. The New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, which has traditional wood carving and weaving classes, are also located there.
#8 Tongariro National Park
This is New Zealand’s first national park and a World Heritage Site. The park’s significant Mori cultural and spiritual connections, as well as its outstanding volcanic features, have earned it this accolade. In the summer, hiking and climbing are popular, and in the winter, skiing and snowboarding are preferred.
Hunting, game fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding, rafting, and scenic flights are also available.
Mount Tongariro and surrounding area are one of the locations where Peter Jackson shot The Lord of the Rings film trilogy; tour operators and lodges often organise tours to see these locations. Regarded as one of New Zealand’s best day walks, Mount Ngauruhoe, also known as Mount Doom, is located in Tongariro National Park. While tackling the full-day Tongariro Crossing, you can get a good look at Mordor and Mount Doom.
Wanaka is a resort town on New Zealand’s South Island that sits on the southern end of its namesake lake, with views of snowcapped mountains in the distance. It’s the key to Mount Aspiring National Park in the Southern Alps, a wilderness with glaciers, beech trees, and alpine lakes. The park is close to the ski resorts of Treble Cone and Cardrona.
Here you will find a popular willow tree that symbolizes hope and resilience. The crooked willow tree in a lake has been photographed hundreds of thousands of times by tourists and is a popular tourist attraction in the South Island.
Visiting New Zealand would not be complete without going to see Wellington. Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, is located on the Cook Strait, near the southernmost point of the North Island. Lonely Planet recently called Wellington, New Zealand, “the coolest little capital in the world.” A waterfront promenade, sandy beaches, a working harbour, and colourful timber houses on nearby hills make up this compact area.
Wellington is known for its hidden bars, exclusive cafes, award-winning restaurants, and excellent coffee. Wellington offers action-packed adventure activities such as mountain biking and sea-water kayaking, as well as scenic walks across the harbour and surrounding hills, for those who enjoy the great outdoors.
Mount Victoria, which is within walking distance of the central city, is the most open filming place for “Lord of the Rings” in Wellington. The mountain’s forested areas were used to portray Hobbiton Woods, where the hobbits sought refuge from the black riders.
✔️ An abridged video version of this post can be found on our YouTube Channel-please click here: https://youtu.be/XAIJRADu9Wc