Before I head back to Australia to finish off my semester, I am taking one last leap [for now] into another country: New Zealand. In order to plan my [and your] travels better, here are 20 must-see places to explore in New Zealand.
1. Waitomo Glowworm Caves
On the North Island of New Zealand is the famous glowworm attraction in the Waitomo Caves. They’re made up of two levels. You must book to see this attraction, but a lot of the tour guides are actually direct descendants of the Maori Chief who originally explored the cave. It’s an unbelievable experience.
2. Hobbiton Movie Set
The Hobbiton Movie Set is a popular location as both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy were filmed here. Time to nerd out.
3. Ruakuri Cave
The Ruakuri Cave is the largest cave in the Waitomo area and is underground. The walkways are well-maintained so it’s wheelchair friendly, too.
4. Tiritiri Matangi Island
Tiritiri Matangi Island is on the Hauraki Gulf of New Zealand. It’s a wildlife sanctuary and perhaps one of the best well-kept. It’s a great idea to stay up-to-date on all of their new and innovative conservation projects!
5. Rangitoto Island
Rangitoto Island is a volcanic island, also located in the Hauraki Gulf. It’s an iconic landmark in New Zealand and I’m sure you can see why in the photo above; it’s volcano cone rises 260 meters over the gulf.
6. Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island is the second largest, yet most populated island of New Zealand. From Auckland, it’s about a 40-minute ferry ride to beaches and vineyards galore.
7. Mount Eden
Mount Eden is a great place for hiking or to catch the sun rising and setting over the gulf. You can find vintage clothing stores and bookshops along Mount Eden Road, as well as a massive volcanic peak known as Maungawhau.
8. Cathedral Cove
Cathedral Cove, also known as Te Whanganui-A-Hei, is a marine reserve on the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand. It’s full of dramatic scenes and postcard-perfect views, which makes it an incredibly popular destination for tourists.
9. Hot Water Beach
On Mercury Bay you can find Hot Water Beach, which is exactly what it sounds like. Dig your own pool into the sand and have a spa day.
10. White Island
White Island, or Whakaari, is an active andesite stratovolcano on the North Island. This is actually New Zealand’s most active volcano cone, attracting volcanologists and sightseers from all over the world.
11. Rere Rock Slide
Rere Rock Slide will satisfy your adventurous side; it’s a 200-foot natural slide, fueled by the mossy rocks where you and your rear, and maybe even the rest of the family, can scream yourselves on down.
12. Milford Sound Nature Cruise
The Milford Sound Nature Cruise is filled with breath-taking views. From exotic wildlife to soaring waterfalls and Mitre Peak’s unspoken beauty, you won’t be able to decide which photo to take.
13. Skyline Queenstown Gondola & Luge Ride
This is another activity for a thrill-seeker. By getting an incredible view of the city, while also enjoying a ride, you truly can’t go wrong.
14. Dolpin/Whale-Watching in Akaroa
Akoroa dolphins are happy and plenty. In fact, the tours here have a 98% success rate of spotting a dolphin or a whale! This is the perfect way to enjoy a relaxing day out on the water while getting to know the local aquatic life.
Rotorua is best known for its geothermal activity. Here, you can the find mud pools bubbling and the Pohutu Geyser spitting. There’s also a lot of local Maori culture here, so have a look around.
16. Tongariro Alpine Crossing
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is 19.4km long and takes and average of 6 to 8 hours to complete. It’s New Zealand’s oldest national park and a dual World Heritage Site. As you can see, the views are stunning as ever, so take the hike if you’re able!
17. Waitangu Volcanic Valley
Waitangu Volcanic Valley is the world’s largest hot spring. This unspoiled, protected area can be explored on your own or with a guide, who can help you maximize your experience (and maybe take a few nice photos for you)!
18. Mine Bay Māori Rock Carvings
The Mine Bay Māori Rock Carvings are one of the North Island’s most popular tourist destinations. At 14-meters above sea-level, this landmark serves as history for the Māori culure. To get here, you must take a boat or kayak, as you obviously cannot walk to it.
Abel Tasman National Park is a wilderness reserve on the South Island. Here, you can find seals, bottlenose dolphins and little blue penguins basking in the views.
20. Whale-Watch in Kaikoura
In Kaikoura, New Zealand’s vessel-based whale watching company offers close-up encounters to these magnificent mammals. You can see the Giant Sperm Whale enjoying its days in his natural habitat at all times of the year.
I hope this guide made you look up cheap flights to New Zealand, but, if not, send me a DM because I’m a bit concerned for your health. If you’ve had the opportunity to visit this beautiful country already, please tell me all about it ASAP. Happy travels!