New Zealand needs no introduction. This is the place to go to if you are attracted to unspoiled natural landscapes and stunning man-made landmarks. Add a heady mix of epic adventures and you’ve got yourself a holiday destination unlike any other. But the sheer array of possibilities in New Zealand makes it difficult to create the perfect itinerary. How do you choose? Here is our list of the country’s top 25 must-visit attractions for 2020.
Glacier hiking is a thing, and it is quite possibly one of the things you can do in New Zealand. Swing your pickaxe at Franz Josef, one of the country’s best-known and steepest glaciers. Another equally famous glacier is the Fox Glacier, which might not be as steep but is definitely the longest and the fastest moving.
If you’re in Dunedin and looking for a quiet getaway with someone special, then you can simply walk down to this hidden treasure. Tunnel Beach is known for its secluded coastlines and deeply exciting tunnels. The rock formations are incredible too.
Don’t go to Hamilton Gardens expecting a beautiful landscaped garden. It is more, much more than that. This 54-hectare lush green park combines the beauty of 21 gardens, each of which has incorporated the art and traditions of different civilisations into its layout and design. Walk through the garden and spot cultures from Māori, Europe and Southeast Asia too.
Yes, Coromandel Peninsula’s scenic Cathedral Cove gets plenty of attention from tourists and locals alike, but don’t ignore Hot Water Beach. This local treasure, with its golden sands and bubbling hot waters, is also worth checking out. Bring along a shovel to the beach so you can dig yourself your private little thermal mineral water spring.
A land of seismic activity, New Zealand has several geothermal treasures and the best ones can be found at Rotorua. The most famous of them all is the iconic Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland with its majestic forces of nature and coloured thermal waters. There are many other spouting geysers, mud pools and volcanic lakes for you to discover.
Some of New Zealand’s most popular beaches are located here. If you are passing through the Bay of Plenty region, do keep aside some time for this place. You can walk up the mountain top for stunning panoramic views of the Tauranga Harbour.
New Zealand is famous for its vineyards and you are just a ferry ride away from downtown Auckland if you wish to enjoy a glass or two. The island is also quite popular for its beaches and lush forests that border its shores. You can plan a day trip to the island and try out all the activities that it has to offer.
Step back into the modern world at the Sky Tower. A landmark monument, this is the place to be in to enjoy fine dining with your special someone while also feasting your eyes on remarkable views of the Hauraki Gulf.
This is the first choice of those looking to spend time in the great outdoors and go hiking. The iconic Abel Tasman Coast Track (one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks) can be found here. Besides trekking and hiking, you can also go kayaking in the stunning blue waters and the surrounding coves. Who knows, you might be joined by dolphins that will come over and swim next to you.
One of the biggest natural attractions in Queenstown is a sparkling blue glacial lake that can be said to envelop New Zealand’s most popular tourist town. Lake Wakatipu is a popular destination for walking, cycling or having a day picnic as well.
One of the best coastal destinations near Wellington, it is just right for wildlife lovers. The area is covered with massive seals that lounge all around Cape Palliser’s rocky beaches. If you’re a little energised, take a hike up the stone steps that lead to the lighthouse. We guarantee the breath-taking views will last you a lifetime.
Just three hours from Auckland is the absolutely gorgeous Bay of Islands. Head over to walk along twisting trails, discover secluded coves, and be amazed by the amazing rock formations that cover this region. There is an abundance of marine life and you can spend hours simply watching life under water. Don’t forget to visit Cape Brett, the Poor Knights Islands and the towns of Paihia and Russell.
The country’s largest lake is in the middle of the North Island. A prominent gem, it is a popular spot for water sports enthusiasts and adventurous travellers. If you like thrills, do try the lake’s water-touch bungee jump. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
New Zealand is known for its fantastic road trips, one of which is the Northland’s Twin Coast Highway. Don’t take our word for it; do it for yourself. Drive along a seemingly-endless line of stunning beaches and harbours, before you arrive at Cape Reinga. Stop and take in the magical sight of swirling waters where two oceans meet.
Want to go on the world’s best day hikes? Make the Lord of the Rings journey up and over two active volcanoes and you will be greeted by a few surreal sights, like a bright red crater, emerald lakes and steamy fumeroles.
Lord of the Rings fans cannot miss this Tolkein-esque experience. Barely at a distance of an hour is where middle-earth comes to life. The Hobbiton movie set has retained the original hobbit holes and several film sites that you can view from up close. It’s the perfect spot for that perfect holiday photograph.
As a special treat for staying with us this far, we’ll like to tell you about Hokitika Gorge. Located in the west coast region of South Island, what makes this gorge special is the turquoise waters that you will not see anywhere else. Walk around and be mesmerised by the breath-taking glacial waters, rock pillars and plankton that abound here.
Leave land behind and head into the Hauraki Gulf. From these beautiful sparkling waters, you can get stunning views of Auckland city, views that are unlike any other. Sail, kayak or cruise around the many easy-to-reach islands, including the iconic Rangitoto volcano, the Tiritiri Matangi bird sanctuary and even Waiheke Island for some fine wine and dining.
When you’re in Wellington don’t forget to visit the Te Papa Museum. It is replete with artefacts and gives you a glimpse into the history of the local populace, the Māori culture and many other important aspects of New Zealand society since time immemorial.
As you move down towards the tip of the South Island, you’ll enter the Marlborough region. There is so much to enjoy here. It is home to New Zealand’s largest vineyards and wineries, and the stunning river-drowned valleys that make up the iconic Marlborough Sounds. Sit back with a glass or wine or get on to the Queen Charlotte Track and go hiking and cycling.
Your visit to Tiritiri Matangi Island located on New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf will take you to an incredible wildlife sanctuary that’s home to various native and coastal birds. On this predator-free island, several threatened and endangered species have been introduced and protected from extinction.
The Waitomo Caves are known the world over for the native glow worms that light up the subterranean limestone walls with a magnificent glow. People travel from all over to get a glimpse of this sight. Take a leisurely underground tour to enjoy this natural luminescent show at your pace. If you wish, you can also pick something more adventurous such as caving, hiking or even rafting.
The wild west of Auckland is a world of fantastic beaches, legendary surf, rugged rock forms and typical Kiwi beach culture. If you feel the pull of the water, jump right in. Or you can head into the forests and trek deep into the jungles to catch a glimpse of some wildlife. Or do what holidays are perfect for – lie back and relax.
New Zealand’s most active volcano is a crater-shaped island that steams nonstop. Nothing can prepare you for its power. Continuously bubbling mud, egg-yellow sulphur deposits, roaring vents spouting eye-watering gases and a lake of steaming acid.
The Southern Alps is the highest mountain range in all of Australasia and covers almost the entire length of the South Island. This is where more popular mountains such as Aoraki/Mount Cook, Mount Tutoko and Mt Aspiring reside. Glacial lakes and forested wonders complete the experience.
Where are you going to start first? Let’s start packing.