Currently with no active community transmission of Covid in the entire country, pretty much anywhere in New Zealand is an ideal spot for a holiday. And with any luck, international travel to New Zealand may still be on the cards late 2021 or early next year.
For now, planes to NZ may be as flightless as their adorable kiwi birds but when tourism does kick off again, here are the best places to visit across the nation’s North and South Island.
Regarded as the Adventure Capital of the World with endless natural wonders, New Zealand is firmly at the top of most travellers’ wish list. From hobbits and glow-worms to winter skiing and surfing along pristine beaches, New Zealand can be as relaxing or adventurous as you wish it to be.
Create an itinerary that revolves around hiking in the wilderness along famous treks like the Milford Track or stick to the cities and dine on delicious seafood while learning about New Zealand’s Māori culture and natural history through its world-class museums.
While it’s difficult to narrow down the country’s top destinations and attractions with so many places offering sheer beauty and adventure in sustainable ways, these are some of the best travel destinations you should check out on your next New Zealand adventure.
5 Best Travel Destinations to Visit in New Zealand
Being one of the world’s most liveable cities, it’s no wonder why Auckland attracts both native New Zealanders as well as tourists. Most international travellers will start their NZ holiday here since Auckland Airport caters to more than 20 million visitors annually.
The city’s Sky Tower is hard to miss, being that it’s the tallest structure in the Southern Hemisphere. Not only can you head up to the observation deck to get an overview of the city, you can also tackle the daring Sky Walk or base jump off the top via the so-named Sky Jump.
Auckland is always hosting popular festivals, along with being the centre of New Zealand’s performing arts and culinary scene. Walk along the dormant volcanic cone Mount Eden or through the Auckland Domain, Auckland’s oldest park, for some fresh air.
You can also easily hop on a ferry from the city to explore nearby islands like Waiheke with its vineyards or the wildlife sanctuary of Tiritiri Matangi Island.
Observe Māori artefacts and gain a deeper understanding of their culture at the Auckland Museum or place a bet at the country’s largest and most notable casino situated at the base of Sky Tower, SkyCity Auckland.
However, if you find yourself travelling to New Zealand only to wind up being stuck in 14-day quarantine, luck probably isn’t on your side, but you can still learn how to get a casino bonus for King Billy and gamble at an online New Zealand casino.
Bay of Islands
Journeying north from Auckland, near the North Island’s tip you’ll find the Bay of Islands. The Bay of Islands sits just 3 hours from the big city and offers endless outdoor recreation both on land and sea.
Water sports abound, with relaxing sailing adventures among the 140+ islands and fishing charters in search of snapper, grouper, and kingfish at the top of the list.
Other popular activities include scuba diving, sea kayaking, jet skiing, parasailing, and scenic cruises in search of whales, dolphins, and the famous Hole in the Rock.
The islands feature plenty of land-based trails as well that cater to mountain bikers, hikers, and horseback riders. You can also visit the special site where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed by both the British Crown and Māori chiefs. The day has gone on to become a national holiday.
Hopping across the Cook Strait to New Zealand’s south island, we’ll begin with the region’s largest city. Christchurch may have suffered through some major earthquakes rather recently, but this hasn’t kept tourists away and the city in many aspects is back better than ever.
Known as the Garden City, one of the most beautiful places to visit in Christchurch are the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. For over 150 years, the gardens have delighted visitors with their self-guided trails that pass beneath giant kahikatea and beech trees as well as silver ferns which have become a symbol of the country.
Further delights include heading to the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve for guaranteed sightings of some of NZ’s favourite endemic birds like the kiwi, kaka, and kea.
Take the scenic Christchurch gondola over the city before tracking down the Canterbury Museum to learn about New Zealand’s Antarctic exploration history. The city was a gateway to the great southern continent and the museum displays a large number of artefacts relating to Antarctic and its exploration.
Christchurch also offers up two exciting rail journeys. You can hop aboard the TranzAlpine train to the South Island’s west coast, taking in the Waimakariri River, Southern Alps, Arthur’s Pass, the Otira Tunnel, and Franz Josef Glacier.
Meanwhile, the Coastal Pacific Scenic Railway heads north out of Christchurch to Picton, hugging the rugged coastline with exceptional sea views where passing whales may be spotted.
Image credit: Bernard Spragg
At one time, Dunedin was NZ’s largest city thanks to the mid-19th century Central Otago Gold Rush. Today, its rich history lives on through both its well-preserved Victorian and Edwardian architecture as well the Otago Museum and its extensive natural history exhibit.
There’s something for everyone in the rather compact city of Dunedin. You’ll find an abundance of colourful street art, stunning beaches good for surfing or simply an afternoon stroll (St Clair, Aramoana, Brighton, and the ominous-sounding Murdering Bay come to mind), and a number of book stores and literature-related attractions being that the Dunedin is a UNESCO City of Literature.
Dunedin is also home to the country’s only castle. Larnach Castle & Gardens date back to 19th century and offer up panoramic views of the Otago Peninsula from the tower.
It’s known for its grand ballroom and hosting afternoon high teas. Other notable buildings worth a look include St. Paul’s Cathedral and The Law Courts.
Nature lovers will want to head to the Taiaroa Head Nature Reserve to view little penguins, northern royal albatrosses, and fur seals. Another great option is riding the scenic Taieri Gorge Railway.
Queenstown is your one-stop-shop for New Zealand adventure.
Queenstown undoubtedly deserves its reputation as New Zealand’s adventure capital. You’ll find activities including river rafting, jet boating, skydiving, and bungee jumping during the summer and incredible downhill skiing in the winter and early spring.
Ski season runs roughly from June to October, with most ski enthusiasts visiting the Southern Alps heading to The Remarkables, Coronet Peak, or Cardrona.
As winter gives way to warmer summer temps, visitors to Queenstown switch to extreme jet boating on the Shotover River, as well as bungee jumping of the famous Karawau Bridge (the first place in the world to offer up permanent commercial bungee jumping) or the nearby 130+ metre Nevis Bungee which is the country’s tallest.
You can also dare to skydive over landscapes quite literally straight out of Lord of the Rings as you drift gracefully back to earth from heights of 12,000 to 15,000 feet.
These are just some of the top spots in New Zealand to get you started on planning your next kiwi holiday.
Travellers looking to book an extended holiday to New Zealand can look further afield to places like Fiordland National Park and the Milford Sound, Lake Taupo, Rotorua, Abel Tasman National Park, and Piha