When it comes to travel bucket lists, New Zealand is a destination almost always included. After all, it does have some amazing settings grand enough to be featured in Hollywood blockbusters like “The Lord of the Rings” movies. So it’s no wonder why this island nation is a much sought after place to explore. There are two main islands that make up the country…the North Island and the South Island. (With numerous smaller islands as well).
New Zealand definitely has plenty to offer. Travelers will find an impressive array of natural wonders to explore. Glaciers, snow-capped peaks, and one of the world’s largest geothermal areas are just a few of the many to choose from.
Adventure seekers will have many adrenaline-fueled options too. Thanks to the dramatic landscapes, New Zealand is a go-to place for those seeking the ultimate thrill. White water rafting, skydiving, and mountain biking…the adventures are virtually endless. So let’s take a look at a few of the top destinations to consider when planning your New Zealand trip…
AUCKLAND, NORTH ISLAND
A trip to New Zealand wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the country’s largest and most populous city. Auckland is known for its beauty and also for being the most populous Polynesian city in the world. There’s quite a lot to do in Auckland. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for a cultural metropolitan or more adventurous outdoor experience. This New Zealand city offers it all.
There are plenty of nearby rainforest hiking trails. And you can keep the city as your home base as you explore the various beaches, islands, and volcanoes. If you’re looking for a more in the city experience, Auckland offers plenty of top-notch dining, entertainment and a vibrant arts scene too.
BAY OF ISLANDS, NORTH ISLAND
The Bay of Islands is one of the most popular destinations in the country for travelers and locals. About a three hour’s drive north of Auckland lies the picturesque Bay of Islands. Here you’ll find some 144 islands…mostly secluded. With isolated bays and pristine sandy beaches, there’s plenty of exploring to do here.
Hiking enthusiasts can take advantage of the many island trails. The area is a popular spot for sport fishing and kayaking along the coast. Keep a lookout for dolphins, whales, and penguins. And there’s an opportunity to tour Cape Brett, which is famous for its rock formation called Hole in the Rock. There are some great scenic towns in the area to explore as well.
FIORDLAND NATIONAL PARK/MILFORD SOUND, SOUTH ISLAND
Fiordland National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site…and known for some of the most amazing scenery in New Zealand. This area is an outdoor lover’s paradise. You’ll find plenty of trails, including the famous Milford Track.
With the dark blue waters and dramatic mountain peaks, the views here are simply breathtaking. Visitors can explore offshore islands, virgin rainforests, and craggy mountain terrain. There’s also an option to catch a scenic flight of the park for a bird’s eye view of the beautiful scenery.
ROTORUA, NORTH ISLAND
This fascinating area is one of the most active geothermal regions worldwide. It’s located on the Pacific Ring of Fire and boasts some pretty cool sights to see. Spewing geysers, boiling mud pools, volcanic craters, and steaming thermal springs are among those impressive sights.
Visitors can take a walking tour along the carious geothermal wonders and even take a dip in the mineral springs. And if adventure is your thing, Rotorua’s got you covered there too. Here you can go sky-diving, mountain biking, and luging. The area is definitely a unique location to experience and explore.
FOX AND FRANZ JOSEF GLACIERS, SOUTH ISLAND
Who knew there were glaciers in New Zealand? Not only that, but they are among the most accessible glaciers in the world. Located in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park, these “rivers of ice” are quite a sight to behold. Visitors can walk right up to the foot of the glaciers. You can also take guided hikes along the ice and maybe even discover an ice cave! There are also seaplanes and helicopter tours available for an amazing bird’s eye view of the glaciers.
QUEENSTOWN, SOUTH ISLAND
If you’re looking for a true adventure, Queenstown is your go to New Zealand destination. This picturesque town is quaintly snuggled between mountains and a lake. It’s one of the top destinations for international travelers. Here the adventure seekers can do just about anything. If it’s adrenaline-inducing, Queensland offers it!
Bungee jumping, white-water rafting, rock climbing, paragliding, and downhill skiing are just a few activities you’ll find here. It’s also got plenty of great alpine hiking trails. Queensland is also the perfect spot to keep as home base when planning day trips to the Central Otago region. That’s where you’ll find the incredible Middle Earth scenery from the “Lord of the Rings” movies.
There’s no doubt this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to great New Zealand destinations. For a small country, it offers so many diverse options. You’ll only problem may be deciding which ones to visit first!