From spectacular mountain views to sandy beaches, New Zealand is a paradise for adventurers. If you intend to make the pilgrimage, here is our list of must-haves.
# 1 MILFORD SOUND
One of New Zealand’s most iconic images is of the untamed mountains of its South Island Fjordlands plunging into the icy depths of the Milford Strait. For much of the year, their peaks are covered with snow and ice, enveloped by ethereal mists from Antarctica. These breathtaking views are the main reason thousands of tourists make the journey across the Fjordlands to Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound, although there is much more to do than just stand by. Kayak trips through the black waters offer a unique experience of rapprochement with the mountains – it’s a more intimate undertaking than ferry trips, which carry most tourists around the Strait. But beware of weather warnings before you start your journey: on our visit in early October, the only winding road to Milford Sound was closed for three days due to an avalanche.
# 2 TONGARIRO CROSSING
Although the South Island is generally considered to have more spectacular and impressive landscapes than the North, Tongariro National Park is a clear rebuttal to this generalization. Lining the desert road from the interior of the North Island, under the impressive Lake Taupo, this huge area of secluded mountains and expansive plains is one of the favorites of New Zealanders. Many are trying to make the crossing – a 19km trek to the heart of Tongariro-although it’s not an easy day of walking. Be sure to bring emergency equipment as weather conditions can change quickly and unexpectedly.
# 3 COROMANDEL PENINSULA
Another lesser-known gem of the North Island is the Coromandel Peninsula, north of Rotorua. It is not advertised as a paradise for mountain bikers or climbers, but the combination of stunning coastline and rolling hills will satisfy any aspiring adventurer’s thirst for travel. It also has a series of free campgrounds for vanners, all monitored and maintained by the local council to high standards; the “facilities” of New Zealand campgrounds are not all as welcoming.
# 4 QUEENSTOWN
Originally a mining town on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown has become a haven for outdoor adventurers of all kinds, from powder hounds to casual trail runners. It is full of outdoor shops, coffee shops serving organic coffee, and Lakeside bars, with cheap campgrounds on its outskirts as well. In any season, the gondola ride to the peaks offers spectacular views and no visit to Queenstown is complete without eating a Fergburger; The New York Times voted it ” the best burger in the world.” If you’re heading to the Fjordlands or Mount Cook, Don’t forget to pass by this bustling city.
# 5 ABEL TASMAN
Covered with native forests and dotted with beautiful coves nestled on the coastline, Abel Tasman is the smallest national Park in New Zealand, but it is no less impressive than its peers. In addition to its many hikes, it offers kayak tours, horseback riding, catamaran trips, and countless amazing viewpoints. Just a stone’s throw from the Picton-Wellington ferry crossing, it’s worth making Abel Tasman your first or last stop on the South Island.
# 6 BAY OF ISLANDS
North of Auckland lies the narrow peninsula that includes the Bay of islands, including the infamous 90 Mile Beach. New Zealand is proud of its spectacular natural beauty and this northernmost point is one of the best examples; its stunning beaches and warm climate rub shoulders with green hills and a blue sea. It is for this reason that it is one of the busiest places in the country for skydiving, although the meanders of the beach by Camper also offer stunning views. Don’t forget to pop into the world-famous Mangonui fish shop during your stay.
# 7 LAKE TEKAPO
Southwest of Christchurch is Lake Tekapo, an area of Black Sky set amid the snowy mountains of the Southern Alps. Various hikes depart from the campsites, whether to the Observatory at the top of Mt John or across the grassy plains of Rohan, for the nerds of the Lord of the Rings. There’s no need to spend all your time in New Zealand chasing high-octane adventures; sometimes a campfire under a starry sky is a better experience. And when you need this quiet, there is no better place than Lake Tekapo for it.
# 8 AUCKLAND
Urban exploration may not be the reason you’ve traveled to New Zealand, but Auckland is worth taking some time to rest from trampling, mountain biking, and your #vanlife. Filled with bars, street markets, and parks, New Zealand’s busiest city is a haven for city dwellers, and no visit is complete without at least trying to catch a rugby match at Eden Park. It is the largest sports stadium in the country and, for a rugby-obsessed nation, it produces an atmosphere that few other countries can match. If sport is not your thing, Auckland has another trick up its sleeve: you just have to walk its streets.
# 9 FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER
It is a special experience, which overlooks a gigantic wall of ice that is tens of thousands of years old and stretches for miles. No, it’s not Game Of Thrones – it’s the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. There are only a few remnants of the last Ice Age, and the inhabitants of the area managed to fly people by helicopter to the top of these glaciers, which allows you to walk on the glacier and observe the incredible mountains that surround it at the same time. If you pay attention to your budget, both glaciers also have observation posts within a short walking distance.
# 10 DUNEDIN PENINSULA
The peninsula east of Dunedin is spectacularly beautiful, but don’t forget to take the coastal road that leads to Harington Point and the Albatross center. The tarmac runs along the coast for a few meters and in places, there is nothing but your skill at the wheel between your vehicle and the Pacific Ocean – a dramatic but incredible experience. After cruising the coastline in search of the inimitable experience of an albatross in flight, return by the internal route of Portobello. Its course is equally spectacular, but with hills and elevations to replace the saltwater. At sunset, the panorama is incomparable and impressive.
Hope you liked our top 10 places to visit in New Zealand. Let us know if we miss something in the comments or contact us directly.
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