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20 Best Tourist Destinations in New Zealand

New Zealand is a beautiful country with many beautiful places to visit. Here is the list of best tourist destinations in New Zealand.

The list is actually quite long, and if you want to see everything, you’ll need more than one visit. However, among all of the destinations, there are a few that are clearly more important than others. These are the destinations that you simply can’t leave off your list. These locations exemplify the country’s true beauty.

New Zealand has started loosening travel restrictions with borders reopening to residents. When planning your next trip to New Zealand, make sure to include all of these places to see. The following is a list of the best tourist destinations in New Zealand:

1. The Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands, one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations, is a haven for yachts and sailing boats. The necklace of the Bay of Islands is adorned with the pearls of 144 islands. Kayak along the coast, hike the island trails, relax in secluded coves, and hike through unspoiled forests. A popular fishing spot due to the abundance of marine life, which includes dolphins, whales, big marlin, and penguins. All of these factors combine to make the location an excellent tourist destination in New Zealand.

20 Best Tourist Destinations in New Zealand

Must See: Yachting and sailing spot.

Don’t Miss: Hole in the Rock, the famous rock formation.

Get there:

By plane: Auckland Airport has direct flights to most major international destinations. Flights from Auckland to Bay of Island Airport, also known as Kerikeri Airport, are operated in tandem by plane New Zealand.

By car: The Bay of Islands is well connected By car to Auckland. From Auckland to the Bay of Islands, intercity buses and taxis are available. State highways take 3 hours to cover the 193 km distance.

Best time to visit: February – March

Stay options near Bay of Islands: Paradise on the Strand, Sea Spray Suites, Veronica House, and Arcadia Lodge

Location: Northland

2. Tongariro National Park

Towering volcanoes, wild forests, arid plateaus, hot springs, herb fields, turquoise lakes, and lush meadows combine to create a dramatic landscape. Tongariro National Park is one of the world’s oldest national parks and one of the best tourist destinations in New Zealand. With a trip to Lake Taupo thrown in for good measure, you’ve got yourself a day to remember.

Must See: Mineral rich turquoise water lakes and melodramatic sceneries

Don’t Miss: Taranaki Falls and lava line of volcanic eruptions

Get there:

By plane: From major cities around the world, the closest airports to Tongariro National Park are Auckland (345 km) and Wellington (288 km). To get to Whakapapa Village, the gateway to Tongariro National Park, book a taxi or take a bus from the airport.

By car: There are daily buses from Auckland to Tongariro National Park. The journey to the national park by car takes nearly seven hours.

Best time to visit: December – February

Stay options: Adventure Lodge and Motel, Chateau Tongariro Hotel, Pipers Lodge, and National Park Tavern

Location: Manawatu-Wanganui 4691, New Zealand

3. Rotorua

Rotorua is one of the few geothermal regions on the planet with a dramatic topography. The Pacific Ring of Fire surrounds it. Isn’t it dramatic? Steaming geysers, boiling mud pools, hissing thermal springs, and volcanic craters add to the landscape’s already stunning beauty. Take a walk through these geothermal wonders and relax in the mineral-rich water. Sky diving, luging, trekking, and mountain biking are just a few of the activities available, making it a must-see destination in New Zealand for adventurous souls.

Must See: Geothermal wonders and red lava lines are dominant features of this tourist attraction in New Zealand.

Don’t Miss: Lady Knox Geyser, Champagne Pool, and Trout Fishing.

Get there:

By plane: Wellington Airport (450 kilometers) is well connected to major cities around the world. From the airport to Rotorua, intercity bus services and taxis are available.

By car: From Auckland to Rotorua, coaches, shuttles, and taxis run in tandem. The journey to Rotorua By car takes about 2.5 hours.

Best time to visit: November – April

Stay options: Millenium Hotel, Arista of Rotorua, Rydges Hotel, and Quest Hotel

Location: North Island

4. Napier In Hawke’s Bay

Gourmet food and Art Deco define the Napier region, which is one of the best tourist destinations in New Zealand for a glimpse into Maori culture. This city is lined with buildings designed in the Spanish Mission style and in the Art Deco style. Some of them even have Maori motifs on them. Furthermore, the gourmet restaurants in this location are to die for. Even the most mundane dishes are made worthwhile by unique procedures and equally unique recipes.

Must See: Gourmet dining scenes and Art Deco architecture.

Don’t Miss: Yearly Art Deco weekend in February. Also, the Gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers is a must visit among the famous New Zealand tourist attractions.

Get there:

By plane: Hawkes Bay Airport in Napier is nearly 450 kilometers from Auckland Airport, an international airport with connections to major hubs around the world. Local flights from Air New Zealand connect Napier to Hawkes Bay. It takes 5 hours to get there by car.

By car: Overnight intercity buses run from Auckland to Napier and take approximately 6 to 8 hours.

Best time to visit: July – August

Stay options: The Country Hotel Napier, The Crown Hotel Napier, Art Deco Masonic Hotel, and Scenic Hotel Te Pania

Location: Hawke’s Bay

5. Auckland

The main jewels of Auckland’s crown are two gleaming harbors: Manukau Harbor and Waitemata Harbor. The city is surrounded by rainforests, wild hike trails, hidden coves, picturesque islands, and mysterious volcanoes, making it an ideal base for adventurers. Unusual black and gold beaches provide the perfect backdrop for incredible photographs and memories. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in New Zealand.

Must See: Black sand beaches, gold sand beaches, and two sparkling harbors.

Don’t Miss: Sky Tower, a 328-meter-high tower where you can get a bird’s-eye view of the breathtaking panorama. Also, the Orbit revolving restaurant should not be overlooked.

Get there:

By plane: Auckland, one of the North Island’s major cities, is well connected to major international cities. By car, Auckland is well connected to the majority of New Zealand’s cities.

Best time to visit: June – September

Stay options: Skycity Grand, Off Broadway Motel, Warkworth Lodge, and Parklane Motor Lodge

Location: Auckland

6. Coromandel Peninsula

The Coromandel Peninsula is one of the best tourist destinations in New Zealand to visit. The Coromandel Peninsula is a haven for complacent people seeking peace away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The golden sand on the beaches here is famous. At this New Zealand tourist attraction, you can go hiking, kayaking, and skydiving.

20 Best Tourist Destinations in New Zealand

Must See: A surreal world away from the hustle.

Don’t Miss: Thames – a small city famous for its gold mining history; and the Hot Water Beach – dig your own hot water pool here.

Get there:

By plane: The closest airport to the Coromandel Peninsula is Auckland Airport. Local flights from Auckland to Whitianga (Coromandel Peninsula) take 30 minutes. The peninsula is about a 1.5-hour drive from Auckland.

By car: Intercity buses and cars connect the scenic drive from Auckland, Hamilton, or Rotorua Airport. It takes almost 1.5 hours to drive from Auckland.

By ferry: Regular ferries run between Auckland and Coromandel town. One of the most exciting things to do in the North Island region is take a 2-hour ride.

Best time to visit: September – November

Stay options: Anchor Lodge Coromandel, Aotearoa Lodge, Beachfront Resort, and Beachside Resort Whitianga

Location: Kaimarama 3591, New Zealand

7. Queenstown

Queenstown, New Zealand’s adventure capital, is a popular tourist destination. Bungee jumping, white-water rafting, jet boating, paragliding, rock climbing, downhill skiing, hiking, and mountain biking are just a few of the adrenaline-pumping activities available at this top New Zealand tourist attraction.

Must See: Loads and loads of adventure sports.

Don’t Miss: Explore gold mining towns and landscapes of snow-clad peaks of Remarkables Range.

Get there:

By plane: The South Island’s Queenstown International Airport is well connected to other major cities around the world.

By car: Intercity buses run at regular intervals from Christchurch (354 km) and Auckland (1028 km) to Queenstown. Drive down to the city for one of New Zealand’s most scenic drives.

Best time to visit: June – August

Stay options: The Rees Hotel & Luxury Apartments, Heritage Queenstown, Coronation Lodge, and Adventure Queenstown Hostel

Location: South Island, New Zealand

8. Fiordland National Park

Fiordland National Park boasts spectacular beauty and some of the best walking trails in the world. There are no dull moments here, with whispering waterfalls, offshore islands, stretched lakes, undisturbed forests, high mountain peaks, and gushing cascades. Sea kayaking or flights for bird’s eye views are popular ways to explore the fjords and enjoy this must-see location in New Zealand.

Must See: Home base to famous fjords and striking beauty.

Don’t Miss: Famous fjords of Milford Sound, Dusky Sound, and Doubtful Sound.

Get there:

By plane: The only way to get to Fiordland National Park is to fly into Queenstown Airport. The national park, which is located 235 kilometers from Queenstown, can be reached By car or by driving into Te Anau, which is also known as the park’s gateway.

By car: From Invercargill or Queenstown, state highway buses operate. By car, the 156-kilometer journey from Invercargill to Fiordland National Park takes about 3 hours.

Best time to visit: Throughout the year

Stay options: Fiordland National Park Lodge, Aden Motel, Distinction Luxmore Hotel Te Anau, and Mintaro Hut

Location: 116 Little Park Lane, Te Anau 9600, New Zealand

9. Fox And Franz Josef Glaciers

The Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are two of the world’s most accessible glacial rivers, making them one of New Zealand’s top tourist attractions. At the foot of the glacier, frozen landscapes of ice caves and mountain peaks are the norm. Do whatever you want, whether you walk over or take a helicopter ride, but don’t miss out on these incredible natural wonders.

Must See: World’s most accessible glaciers and best frozen sceneries

Don’t Miss: Guided hikes to these glaciers are an experience which you shouldn’t miss.

Get there:

By plane: The closest and most accessible international airports to Franz Josef Glacier are Christchurch (5.5 hour drive) and Queenstown (5 hour drive).

By car: Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers are accessible via buses and taxis from Christchurch, Wanaka, and Queenstown. Drive down to the location for a bizarre driving experience.

Best time to visit: June – August

Stay options: Aspen Court Franz Josef, YHA Franz Josef Glacier, Alpine Glacier Motel, and Franz Josef Oasis

Location: West Coast 7886, New Zealand

10. Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park‘s vast expanse is a hiker’s dream come true. This national park is set against a backdrop of wilderness with weathered rock formations. The icing on the cake is the Tasman Coast Trek. Clear beaches and sparkling water entice visitors to visit. Snorkeling, hiking, trekking, camping, or simply relaxing are all possibilities here. Rare birds such as blue penguins, wekas, wood pigeons, and oystercatchers can also brighten a photographer’s day.

Must See: Exotic bird sightings and weathered rock formations.

Don’t Miss: Split Apple Rock – a gigantic granite boulder spliced in two.

Get there:

By plane: The nearest airport to Abel Tasman is Nelson Airport, which is fairly accessible from major cities around the world. The 60-kilometer journey from Nelson to the national park can be completed in under an hour thanks to State Highway 60.

By car: Regular buses and cabs run to Abel Tasman National Park from Marahau (5 minutes), Motueka (30 minutes), and Nelson (1 hour drive).

Best time to visit: Throughout the year

Stay options: Kimi Ora Eco Resort, Kaiteri Lodge, Abel Tasman Lodge, and Riwaka Retreat

Location: South Island 7183, New Zealand

11. Mount Cook National Park

Mount Cook National Park, also known as Aoraki National Park, is home to New Zealand’s tallest mountain peak, Mount Cook, as well as the world’s longest glacier, the Tasman Glacier. This is where the legendary Edmund Hillary prepared for his ascent of the colossal Mount Everest. The pristine glaciers and serene beauty of this top mountaineering destination will take your breath away. Certainly deserving of its position as one of the best tourist destinations in New Zealand to visit!

20 Best Tourist Destinations in New Zealand

Must See: A top mountaineering destination.

Don’t Miss: Mount Cook Village to satisfy you’re your inner adventurer with the offerings such as ski-touring, heli-skiing, hiking, stargazing and hunting.

Get there:

By plane: The Mackenzie region is 2.5 hours away from the Christchurch and Queenstown airports (Mount Cook National Park). Christchurch and Queenstown have international airports that are well connected to other major cities around the world. Chartered flights to Mount Cook Airport are also available from these international airports.

By car: From Christchurch, Queenstown, and Wellington, intercity buses are available. To get to Mount Cook Village, take the bus or book a taxi. The village is a 15-minute drive from the national park.

Best time to visit: July – Sptember

Stay options: The Westhaven, The Hermitage Hotel, Bella Vista Motel Fox Glacier, and YHA Aoraki Mt Cook

Location: Canterbury 7999, New Zealand

12. Kaikoura

This place is difficult to resist for seafood connoisseurs, wildlife enthusiasts, bird watchers, and lovers of natural beauty. Your taste buds will be tantalized by the flavors of fresh crawfish, blue cod, and mussels. The sighting of humpback whales, sperm whales, fur seals, dolphins, and albatross among the abundant wildlife in Kaikoura, one of New Zealand’s top tourist destinations, will lift your spirits to new heights.

Must See: Tropical wildlife and best seafood.

Don’t Miss: At this New Zealand tourist attraction, whale watching tours and coastal hikes should not be missed.

Get there:

By plane: Kaikoura is served by Christchurch International Airport, which is well connected to other major cities around the world. Kaikoura is 180 kilometers from Christchurch and takes 2.5 hours to reach by car.

By car: From Christchurch to Kaikoura, intercity buses and taxis run in tandem. The journey takes 2.5 hours.

Best time to visit: April, June, and October

Stay options: Alpine View Motel, Heritage Court Motor Lodge, Anchor Inn Motel, and Aspen Court Motel

Location: South Island

13. Milford Sound

Milford Sound, dubbed the “eighth wonder of the world,” is one of New Zealand’s must-see attractions. Milford Sound’s landscapes are breathtakingly beautiful, surrounded by glaciers. The best way to see the sights is on a boat. Take a cruise to see the waterfalls and wildlife in the area. If you want, you can even go on a kayaking tour. If exploring the water’s surface has piqued your interest, a trip to the Milford Discovery Centre and Underwater Observatory will take you beneath the surface. This is New Zealand’s only underwater observatory. A 360-degree underwater view can be had by diving 30 feet deep into the water.

Must See: Beautiful waterfalls and amazing wildlife.

Don’t Miss: The underwater experience at the Milford Discovery Centre and Underwater Observatory.

Get there:

By plane: If you take a flight, Queenstown is only 40 minutes away.

By car: the journey from Te Anau to Milford Sound takes 2 hours and 30 minutes. You can easily get to your destination by car while taking in the scenery along the way.

Best time to visit: November to March

Stay options: Matakauri Lodge, Kamana Lakehouse, Mercure Resort, Reavers Lodge and Browns Boutique Hotel.

14. Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island, located just half an hour from downtown Auckland and accessible only by boat, is one of New Zealand’s most beautiful destinations. This is the ideal location for all wine enthusiasts. A number of vineyards can be found in the area. Wine tours are an absolute must-do while visiting this location. During the wine tours, you can sample 14 different wines. Expert guides will take you to three vineyards where you will be able to sample some of the finest wines available. Other than wine tasting, there are plenty of other things to do on Waiheke Island. The island’s beaches, art community, olive groves, and forests are also well-known. While you’re here, it’s recommended that you go on a hiking trip or a culture tour.

Must See: The land for all wine lovers.

Don’t Miss: The delicious wine tours.

Get there:

By plane: A Sea Plane can take you to the island.

By car: From downtown Auckland, it is a 35-minute ferry ride. You are permitted to bring your vehicle on the car ferry. Once on the island, there are numerous taxis and buses available. You can also explore the area by renting a motorcycle, bike, or car.

Best time to visit: April

Stay options: The Boatshed, Enclosure Bay, Waiheke Island Resort and Tawa Lodge Waiheke Island.

Location: Auckland, New Zealand

15. Christchurch

Christchurch is a popular tourist destination in New Zealand. Despite the fact that four massive earthquakes struck the city between 2010 and 2011, it has managed to resurrect. Everywhere you look, you can see the city’s rebirth. Everything has been reconstructed, from new buildings to shopping malls. The beautiful Botanic Gardens, with its lovely walking paths, conservatories, and horticulture displays, is one of the city’s main attractions. Some of New Zealand’s oldest, tallest, and largest trees can also be found in the garden. On the gondola, you can see both the old and new Christchurch. The cable car will take you on a scenic ride up Mount Cavendish.

Must See: The beautiful city that came back to life.

Don’t Miss: The ride on the Christchurch Gondola over the top of the Mt. Cavendish.

Get there:

By plane: The nearest airport is Christchurch International Airport, which is 12 kilometers from the city center.

By car: You can take the daily passenger service that runs along State Highway 1 between Christchurch and Dunedin.

Best time to visit: March To May

Stay options: Accra Beach hotel and spa, Sunday hotel, Blue orchids beach hotel, Blue horizon hotel, and Dover beach hotel.

Location: East Coast

16. White Island

If you want to try something a little more thrilling on your trip then White Island is one of the best tourist destinations in New Zealand to visit. It is the country’s most active volcano. This location is ideal for all adventurous travelers looking to make their trip memorable. You can take a helicopter ride over White Island while admiring the breathtaking volcanic landscape. Because this is an active volcano area, you must wear gas masks and hard hats. If you’re lucky, you might even get to see volcanologists monitoring the volcanoes. You can even take a boat to the island. Travelers who are brave enough can even go scuba diving around White Island and explore the volcanoes’ underwater vents.

20 Best Tourist Destinations in New Zealand

Must See: Scenic beauty of the active volcanoes.

Don’t Miss: Scuba diving around the White Island.

Get there:

By plane: A 30-minute flight from Tauranga Airport will take you to White Island. Whakatane Airport is the closest airport, and there are daily flights to the White Islands from there.

By car: You can take a car from any of the North Island’s cities, including Auckland, Tauranga, and Hamilton. You can also take a bus to and from Rotorua, such as the Intercity or Naked bus.

Best time to visit: September to April.

Stay options: Medano island resort, Balai sa Baibai, Kurma eco beach lodge, and Paras beach resort.

Location: Bay of Plenty 3120, New Zealand

17. Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley

The Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley must be included on any list of the best tourist destinations in New Zealand to visit. The Maori arts and crafts institute, located in Rotorua’s Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley, is a great place to see Maori art. The most popular’steam box’ meal, prepared using ancient geothermal cooking techniques, is available at the Maori heritage center. A special Maori welcome ceremony with traditional songs and dance performances is also available to visitors. Pohutu, the world’s largest active geyser, is located in the southern hemisphere and is one of the area’s main attractions. Aside from that, there are the mud pools, which are another highlight of the area.

Must See: The unique site of thousands of glowworms.

Don’t Miss: The boat ride through the cave.

Get there:

By plane: The closest airport is Rotorua Regional Airport. There are flights to and from Wellington, Queenstown, and Auckland.

By car: You can take a bus to the geothermal valley. You can take a bus from Auckland that will take approximately 3 hours and 30 minutes.

Best time to visit: November to April.

Stay options: Waitomo Caves hotel, Waitomo caves guest lodge, Hotel kiwi paka Waitomo and Abseil Inn.

Location: 39 Waitomo Village Road, Waitomo 3977, New Zealand

18. Waitomo Glowworm Caves

If you want to experience something truly beautiful and one-of-a-kind, this could be the place for you. The cave is naturally illuminated by thousands of glowworms. This is a site you have never seen before in your life. This is one of the best tourist destinations in New Zealand to visit. You can take a boat ride through the caves to learn about the science and history behind the entire phenomenon. By visiting this location, you can have a completely unique experience that is difficult to replicate elsewhere. Thousands of tourists are drawn to the caves because they want to see this beautiful phenomenon for themselves.

Must See: The unique site of thousands of glowworms.

Don’t Miss: The boat ride through the cave.

Get there:

By plane: You can take a flight from Auckland in order to reach the Waitomo Caves.

By car: It is going to take you around 2 hours in order to reach Waitomo Caves from Auckland. There are a number of bus services that you can avail to reach your destination.

Best time to visit: November to April.

Stay options: Waitomo Caves hotel, Waitomo caves guest lodge, Hotel kiwi paka Waitomo and Abseil Inn.

Location: 39 Waitomo Village Road, Waitomo 3977, New Zealand

19. Franz Josef Glacier

If you enjoy hiking, this could be the perfect destination for you. This location is ideal for glacier hiking in New Zealand. Aside from hiking tours, you can also get an aerial view from a helicopter. Everything is included in the tours around here. From hiking to mountain climbing, there’s something for everyone here. This location is ideal for all adventure and sports enthusiasts, as there are numerous activities to participate in. You can also relax by soaking in the glacier hot pools. The Franz Josef Glacier feeds these pools. If you want a more opulent experience, you can even choose a private pool.

Must See: a Best spot for hiking and mountain climbing.

Don’t Miss: Soaking yourself in the glacier hot pools after a long day of exploration.

Get there:

By plane: To get to your destination, you can take a flight from Christchurch International Airport.

By car: From Christchurch, you can drive to Franz Josef Glacier. It’s a five-hour journey. While traveling, you can take in the scenery of the road.

Best time to visit: November to February.

Stay options: Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier, Aspen Court Motel Franz Josef, rainforest Retreat Franz Josef, The Terrace Motel Franz Josef, and Franz Josef Oasis.

Location: West Coast 7886, New Zealand

20. Muriwai Beach

Muriwai Beach is another fantastic New Zealand destination worth visiting. The beach, which is only 40 minutes from Auckland city, provides breathtaking views. The stunning sunsets, massive sand dunes, and incredible surf all contribute to the area’s natural beauty. One could argue that this is one of New Zealand’s best holiday destinations. You simply cannot afford to miss the Gannet Colony, which overlooks two beautiful bays, while visiting this stunning beach. Thousands of birds can be seen flying just above your head here. It’s a stunning location that you shouldn’t miss.

20 Best Tourist Destinations in New Zealand

Must See: Stunning scenic beauty

Don’t Miss: Visiting the Gannet colony

Get there:

By plane: You can take a flight from Auckland airport in order to reach your destination.

By car: You can get plenty of bus services from Auckland to reach Muriwai Beach.

Best time to visit: August To April

Stay options: Muriwai Beach B&B, 216 Luxury Accommodation Auckland, Bush Sand, and Sea and Coast Retreat Muriwai.

Location: North Island

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