Do you want to visit a country with breathtakingly beautiful scenery? Then New Zealand with its surprising and varied places, is the perfect destination for your trip.
New Zealand, famous for its haka - the ceremonial dance of the national rugby team the All Blacks - and the saga of The Lord of the Rings, is much more than that! The land of the kiwis has a population of almost 4.8 million people (including 776,000 Māori) and consists of two large islands, which become more popular with nature lovers every year. The North Island, where most of the population lives, is characterised by subtropical forests, hills and volcanoes, while the South Island with its rainforests, glaciers and mountain range has a somewhat rougher landscape.
Can't choose from the many beautiful places and activities New Zealand has to offer? We have listed the 15 most beautiful places of the "land of the long white cloud" (Aotearoa in Māori).
1. Northland and the Bay of Islands
As the name suggests, this region is located in the far north of the North Island. Since the Northland and the Bay of Islands are located in the subtropical part of the country, there is an abundance of natural treasures to be found. Think of the charming coastal towns of Paihia and Russell, and the northern tip of New Zealand: Cape Reinga. Nothing beats driving over Ninety Mile Beach to get there. Watch out for the ebb and flow, however, as the road lies entirely on the beach.
Do not miss: The Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840. This treaty enabled the Māori and British to seal their union in order to guarantee a more prosperous coexistence. This historical site provides the ultimate opportunity to learn more about the Māori and their way of life, before and after the arrival of the British colonial powers. Enjoy a musical performance or learn about war canoes while enjoying panoramic views of the Bay of Islands.
Further south is the peninsula of Coromandel, described by some as the most beautiful part of New Zealand. The very touristic Cathedral Cove is definitely worth a visit, but don't forget to look at the tidal chart to choose the most suitable time. A few kilometres away is Hot Water Beach, where hot springs are located under the sand. Don't forget to bring your shovel so you can dig your own natural bath, or rent one!. If you want to deviate from the beaten track, visit the northernmost tip of the peninsula (north of Colville), where one beautiful landscape follows another.
The city of Rotorua is located in the center of the Northern Island and is without a doubt one of the most surprising cities in New Zealand. Built on a volcanic plateau, Rotorua is famous for its geothermal activity. Of note are the mud springs, which can be found in Kuirau Park, among other places. In the vicinity of Rotorua, there are a number of areas where the warm mineral springs have formed brightly coloured pools and terraces, of which the geothermal park Wai-O-Tapu is the best known. A visit to this park is therefore highly recommended.
Taranaki is a region in the west of the North Island and is named after its most important geographical feature: Mount Taranaki, a 2,518 metres high dormant volcano that forms the centre of Egmont National Park. The area is perfect for those who love beautiful walks. Real daredevils can even choose to hike to the top. Recommended (one-day) walking routes include Veronica Loop, Macatawa Track and Pouakai Crossing.
5. Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an indispensable stopover for many tourists visiting New Zealand. Every morning, countless hikers cross the Tongariro Alpine Crossing: a 19.4-kilometre hike to the top of Mount Tongariro. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is widely regarded as one of the best one-day hikes in the world, but other routes are also worthwhile, such as those to Taranaki Falls and Tama Lakes. In summer, hiking and climbing are the most popular activities in this area, in winter skiing and snowboarding: who doesn’t want to ski on a volcano?
6. Hawke’s Bay
Bike rides, vineyard tours, beaches, architecture... there is no shortage of activities in the Hawke's Bay area. Walk through the art-deco streets of Napier or rent a bike to discover the richness of the area. Climb to the top of Te Mata Peak in Havelock North or relax on the beautiful beach of Ocean Beach.
Although it is not the largest city in the country, Wellington shouldn’t its big sister, Auckland. In Wellington, the weather is quite extreme. It is for good reason that the city is nicknamed "the windiest city in the world". There are many cultural and artistic events taking place here and a visit to New Zealand's national museum, Te Papa Tongarewa, is definitely worthwhile for both young and old.
After the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, the city of Christchurch was given new life. It is a multifaceted city where culture and nature coexist in harmony. Spend an afternoon in the botanical gardens, take a gondola ride on the Avon River, stroll through the city in search of the many street artworks or visit the Canterbury Museum to learn more about the history, population and nature of the area.
9. Queenstown en Wanaka
Queenstown and Wanaka are cities that the daredevils among us definitely will not want to miss: skydiving, bungee jumping, paragliding... the possibilities are endless! All this in a beautiful region characterised by lakes, vineyards and mountains. The hiking trails in this area, with its idyllic landscape, are very varied and in the winter it is possible to ski on the surrounding mountains.
10. Mackenzie District
The lakes Tekapo and Pukaki, located in the heart of Mackenzie District, attract many tourists. Why are they so popular? Because of the beautiful, distinctive blue of the water, which is almost impossible to describe. Another feature of the region is Mount Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand (3,724 meters). One of the most popular hiking trails in this area is the Hooker Valley Track.
11. The Catlins
The Catlins is a region located in the far south of the South Island and the most remote area of New Zealand. Nature is completely preserved here and you can admire seals, sea lions and yellow-eyed penguins. The lighthouse of Nugget Point and the surrounding beaches are simply beautiful. Don’t forget to visit the petrified forest on the beach of Curio Bay.
12 Milford Sound
A trip to New Zealand is not complete without a visit to the famous Milford Sound. This fjord (called sound by the Kiwis), with its countless waterfalls, is one of the most spectacular places in the country. At no less than 1,692 metres, Mitre Peak is the highest point. It is recommended to take a boat trip in this beautiful area, even in bad weather. You might even be lucky enough to spot a few dolphins!
13. West Coast
There is only one road that crosses the West Coast of the South Island, and it passes through New Zealand's two most famous glaciers: Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier. Further north you can stop in Punakaiki to admire the famous Pancake Rocks, a breathtaking rock formation overlooking the sea.
14. Abel Tasman
In the far north of the South Island, you will find Abel Tasman National Park, named after the Dutch explorer who discovered New Zealand in 1642. Here you will also find the Abel Tasman Coast Track, a 60-kilometre walking route along the beautiful blue water. For the real sportsmen among us, it is possible to walk the whole route and spend the night in a cabin, but you can also rent a kayak or make use of various boat transport companies that can drop you off wherever you want on the way.
15. Nelson Lakes National Park
Nelson Lakes National Park offers yet another completely different environment. The park is famous for its glacial lakes, Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotoroa. This national park is less touristic, but definitely worth a visit regardless. It is the perfect place to rent a kayak or boat and enjoy the beautiful mountain scenery from there.
If this convinced you to visit this beautiful country, apply for your New Zealand visa now.