New Zealand Travel Destinations – Caroline joined Boston in 2011 after living in Ireland, London and Manhattan. He has traveled to all seven continents, jumped out of planes and off bridges in search of a good story. She loves exploring unusual destinations, all things outdoors and all things adventure.
Her stories have also appeared online in USA Today, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Yahoo, Boston.com, TripAdvisor, Buzzfeed, Jetsetter, Oyster, Airfarewatchdog and more.
New Zealand Travel Destinations
The handy item I always pack: “Earplugs. The good couple has saved my sleep and my sanity many times!”.
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For many travelers, New Zealand is both a dream destination and a once-in-a-lifetime destination. If you’re planning your first trip to New Zealand, or if you’re planning a return trip to see more of this beautiful and wild country, you might want to know which places in New Zealand are top of mind for your visitors. list. Here are our picks for the top 10 places to visit in New Zealand.
The Bay of Islands is one of the best places in New Zealand for fishing, sailing and other water sports. The Bay of Islands is approximately three hours’ drive from Auckland. This beautiful region consists of 144 islands between Cape Brett and the Purerua Peninsula.
What to do in the Bay of Islands? Climb or in the water! Try scuba diving with Paihia Dive’s Introductory Diving Course. They will take you far out into the bay to explore a whole new underwater world.
Or get up close and personal with marine life in the Bay of Islands on a Fullers GreatSights Hole in the Rock Dolphin cruise. On a good day, you will also see whales and dolphins on this cruise.
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The cruise will take you to one of the most famous landmarks of the Bay of Islands, the Hole in the Rock. You can sail through this unique opening in the rock formation when the tide is right.
Where to stay: Spend a night at the historic Duke of Marlborough Hotel, which has New Zealand’s oldest licensed pub and sits on a peninsula that stretches right out into the middle of the bay.
Rudyard Kipling called Milford Sound “the eighth wonder of the world” and if you visit this area of New Zealand, you’ll understand why. Formed by glaciers during the Ice Age, the landscape around Milford Sound still bears evidence of its creation in the form of an epic setting: cliffs rise from fjords crowned by mountains and waterfalls.
The best way to see Milford Sound is by boat. Take a sightseeing cruise along the fjord to see waterfalls and wildlife such as dolphins and penguins. Or navigate the waters under your own steam on a kayak tour.
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After sampling the water from the surface, go below with a visit to the Milford Discovery Center and Underwater Observatory. This is New Zealand’s only floating, underwater observatory and visitors can go deeper than 30 feet (while staying dry) and get a 360 degree view of the underwater environment.
Where to stay: There aren’t many places to stay near the Sound, but if you don’t want to drive three and a half hours from Queenstown, consider The Milford Sound Lodge. The property offers many hiking and boating packages and this place is not really the best in terms of access to the Sound.
As New Zealand’s largest city and international air travel hub, Auckland is one of the best places to travel in New Zealand. Many international flights arrive in New Zealand through Auckland Airport, making it an ideal city from which to start exploring New Zealand.
Spend at least a day or two in Auckland to beat the long flight and explore the vibrant metropolis before moving on to New Zealand. Here are our suggestions for what to see and do in Auckland:
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Where to stay: Just a 10-minute drive from many of the city’s main attractions, Poenamo Hotel is a great choice for travelers who value peace and quiet but still want to stay in a central location.
Just 30 minutes by ferry from central Auckland is Waiheke Island, one of New Zealand’s best places for wine lovers. For a small island in the middle of the Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke Island sure is home to a lot of vineyards. To try as many of these as you can during your visit to Waiheke Island, you’ll want to find someone else to ride with. Our pick is Waiheke Island Wine Tours, whose expert local guides will take you to three vineyards to sample 14 different wines.
All that wine from Waiheke Island vineyards will make you hungry. When it’s time to eat, book your lunch or dinner at the Mudbrick Vineyard Restaurant, a beautiful restaurant with stunning views of the vineyard and the sea. For a truly special meal, book Mudbrick Vineyard Restaurant’s tasting menu, a seven-course event with wine pairings.
Of course, there’s more to do on Waiheke Island than just drink wine! Waiheke Island is also known for its vibrant arts community, beaches, forests and olive groves. We recommend booking a cultural tour, scenic flight or hike while you’re there to really see why Waiheke Island is one of the best places to go in New Zealand.
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Where to stay: Waiheke Island is definitely worth an overnight stay. Choose Delamore Lodge, one of the top hotels on Waiheke Island on Tripadvisor (its parent company). The hotel also offers great packages with everything from wine and food to spa treatments for couples.
Despite being rocked by four major earthquakes between September 2010 and December 2011, Christchurch has made a real comeback. Visitors to Christchurch will see evidence of the city’s regeneration everywhere, including new buildings made from old shipping containers and other unique materials, such as the Cardboard Cathedral.
Of course, many of Christchurch’s original attractions still exist. One of the best places to visit is the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, an extensive network of conservatories, walking trails and horticultural displays. The gardens also feature some of New Zealand’s largest, tallest and oldest trees.
Visit Christchurch new and old from above with a trip on the Christchurch Gondola. This cable car takes you on a scenic ride to the top of Mount Cavendish.
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Where to stay: Peppers Clearwater Resort Christchurch overlooks Lake Kaikainui, offering views of the stunning scenery the rest of the area has to offer. The resort is less than 10 minutes from Christchurch Airport and resort facilities include an 18-hole golf course, an on-site bar and restaurant and meeting rooms available for large events.
Located on the South West side of the South Island, Queenstown has a well-deserved reputation as the adventure capital of New Zealand. During the winter and spring months (June to October), Queenstown is known for world-class skiing. Of course, there is plenty to do in Queenstown all year round. Adventure activities such as bungee jumping, skydiving, jet boating and river rafting will allow you to experience the area from dizzying heights and at amazing speeds.
Queenstown is also home to the world’s highest cliff jump, the Shotover Canyon Swing, where you can jump off a cliff in a variety of ways – such as backwards or strapped to a chair.
If you haven’t lost your appetite (or your lunch) in these adrenaline-pumping activities, enjoy Queenstown’s food scene – it’s one of New Zealand’s best. As locals and tour guides will tell you, one of the best places to eat in Queenstown is Fergburger, which CNN says “maybe the best burger on the planet.”
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Where to stay: Queenstown Park Boutique Hotel is located on the edge of town, allowing easy access to restaurants and other shops, but also allowing you to sleep in relative peace away from the hubbub of activity.
No list of the best places to go in New Zealand would be complete without mentioning Te Puia, the New Zealand Institute of Maori Arts and Crafts, located in Rotorua’s Te Whakarewarewa geothermal valley. At this Maori heritage centre, you can enjoy an authentic steamed meal prepared using ancient geothermal cooking techniques. You will also experience a Maori welcome ceremony and traditional song and dance performance.
Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley is also home to a number of active geysers, including Pohutu, the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere. Mud pools are another natural attraction in the geothermal valley: these boiling pools reach temperatures of over 200 degrees Celsius.
Where to stay: Distinction Hotel Rotorua is close to the city center and close to Whakarewarewa Forest and is a great base for your Rotorua holiday. Amenities include free Wi-Fi, a heated pool, an on-site spa, four dining options and a hotel bar.
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The Waitomo Glowworm Caves, naturally illuminated by thousands of glowworms, are among the most unique places to visit in New Zealand – and visiting the caves is an experience you’ll struggle to replicate anywhere else. You can take a boat ride through the caves to find out
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