Planning to visit the majestic New Zealand? This land down under (yes, even further down under than Australia) is brimming with natural beauty, adrenaline-pumping activities, and unique wildlife that’s sure to stamp an indelible mark on your travel memories.
So we say be ready to pack your bags, fasten your seatbelts, and don’t forget to exchange your currency at Crown Currency Exchange because we’re about to guide you through the stunning landscapes of New Zealand with our top 12 New Zealand tourist attractions.
Let’s get it!
Abel Tasman National Park, South Island
First on our list is the Abel Tasman National Park. Situated on New Zealand’s South Island, this place is like a postcard come to life. You’ve got the Abel Tasman Coast Track – a hiker’s dream with golden beaches, cool rock formations, and clear bays that are just begging for you to jump in with a kayak or snorkel.
The wildlife here is fairly neat, too. You might bump into fur seals, dolphins, and even blue penguins. They’re all part of the local ecosystem. And have you heard about the Split Apple Rock? It’s as cool as it sounds – a giant rock sliced in half right in the middle of the sea.
So whether you’re all about that adrenaline rush or you just want to chill out, Abel Tasman is your place. It’s adventure and relaxation rolled into one.
Things to do:
1. Take a Stroll on the Abel Tasman Coast Track
So, you’ve got your hiking boots on, and you’re ready for an adventure? Great! The Abel Tasman Coast Track is calling your name. It’s a 53km journey through lush native forests and along golden sandy beaches. Listen to the birds singing as you trek from Marahau. And if you’re a bit pressed for time, no worries! You can always go for a half or full-day walk/kayak or walk/cruise option. Oh, and don’t skip Cleopatra’s Pools – it’s a natural rock pool that’s just perfect for a refreshing dip.
2. Get Your Adrenaline Pumping with Abel Tasman Canyons
Feeling gutsy? Abel Tasman Canyons is ready to take you on a wild ride. Dare yourself with rappelling down stunning stone canyons, zooming through untouched jungles, and sliding into pristine water in natural rock pools. With our cool guides showing the way, you’ll wrap up grinning ear to ear with a fresh love for Nelson Tasman’s breathtaking landscapes.
3. Set Sail in Tasman Bay
Here’s another suggestion – grab a paddle and discover Tasman Bay’s hidden gems. Whether you choose a guided tour or decide to venture out solo, you’ll uncover idyllic scenery that’s tucked away from view. Fancy a picnic on a sandy beach? Or maybe learning about the area’s rich history tickles your fancy? Or perhaps you just want to soak in the tranquillity of this coastal paradise. Whatever floats your boat, Tasman Bay has got you covered.
Bay of Islands, Northland
Got a soft spot for paradise-like spots? You’ve got to check out the Bay of Islands, Northland. This New Zealand cracker is home to over 140 subtropical islands, pristine beaches, and a deep Maori cultural heritage. It’s a yachting hotspot, but if you’re more into big-game fishing, you’re in luck, too.
Fancy a bit of history? The historic whaling port of Russell is right up your alley. If you’re into getting active, you can kayak the coast or hit the island trails. And trust us, you’ll want to see the famous Hole in the Rock. With a wealth of marine life and some truly breathtaking landscapes, the Bay of Islands is more than just a place to visit – it’s a place to fall in love with.
Things to do:
1. Cruise Around the Bay of Islands
First off, you’ve got to hit the water. Paihia Wharf and Russell Wharf are your gateways to adventure here. Whether you’re up for a thrill ride to the iconic Hole in the Rock, a chill sail trip, or are keen to spot some dolphins, these cruises have got you covered. You’ll get to see some of the 144 islands, spot marine life and soak up the stunning views. But don’t just take our word for it – check out some of the best cruises in the Bay of Islands.
2. Hit the Trails at Waitangi MTB Park or Twin Coast Cycle Trail
Don’t think for a second that all the good times are just on water. There’s loads of fun waiting inland too! Fancy downhill biking with cool features? Check out Waitangi Mountain Bike Park. Or, if you’re game for an epic ride, take on the 85km Twin Coast Cycle Trail – old railway tunnels and stunning country views included!
3. Check Out Rainbow Falls
Finally, don’t leave without visiting Rainbow Falls. This 27m waterfall is easily accessible and incredibly beautiful. There are several viewpoints from the top to the bottom of the falls. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even find your way behind the waterfall. Just remember, safety first!
Coromandel Peninsula, Kaimarama
Ever heard about the Coromandel Peninsula in Kaimarama? It’s this amazing spot in New Zealand, a bit of a hidden gem really. It’s got these fantastic forests that tranquillity envelops you in their tranquillity. And the beaches, oh, the beaches are something else – golden sands as far as the eye can see.
Now, here’s the fun part – at Hot Water Beach, you can dig your own hot water pool. Yes, you heard it right. You, a shovel, and your very own natural spa. It’s a whole lot of fun and relaxation rolled into one. And if you’re a history buff, you’ll love Thames. It has this rich gold mining past that’s just waiting to be explored. For the daredevils out there, there’s skydiving in Whitianga. It’s a total adrenaline rush, trust us.
So, all in all, Coromandel Peninsula is this cool mix of chill vibes, fascinating history, and heart-pounding adventure. Sound like your kind of place? Then don’t miss it on your South Island journey.
Things to do:
1. Dig Your Own Hot Water Pool at Hot Water Beach
Let’s start with the obvious one – you’ve got to dig your own hot water pool at Hot Water Beach! Just grab a shovel, find the right spot and dig away. The result? Your very own hot water pool. Remember to time your visit around low tide – that’s when the magic happens.
2. Wander Around Coromandel Forest Park
If you’re into nature walks and wildlife spotting, Coromandel Forest Park is your playground. It’s got more than 200km of trails winding through towering kauri trees and offering some really stunning views. Don’t miss out on the Pinnacles Walk – it’s a bit of a challenge, but the top panoramic view makes it worth it.
3. Soak Up the Sun at Hahei Beach
You can’t visit the Coromandel Peninsula without spending a day at Hahei Beach. Its clear waters and golden sands are perfect for swimming, kayaking, or just lazing around. And while you’re there, do check out Cathedral Cove. It’s this really cool rock formation that looks like something straight out of a postcard. Trust us, your Instagram followers will thank you.
Fiordland National Park, Southland
Next up on your New Zealand bucket list? Fiordland National Park. Nestled in the southwest, this place is a dream for anyone who loves the great outdoors. You’re looking at glacier-carved fiords like Doubtful, and Milford Sounds that will make your jaw drop. And that’s not all – there are towering peaks, calm lakes, and rushing waterfalls everywhere you turn.
The best part? There’s no end to how you can explore. Kayaking, scenic flights, you name it. Oh, and let’s not forget about the walking trails. They’re some of the best you’ll ever come across. So, if you’re after a slice of untouched beauty, Fiordland is your go-to. No doubt about it.
Things to do:
1. Embark on a Milford Sound Cruise
So, you’re venturing into the heart of Fiordland National Park? Then, you can’t miss a cruise through Milford Sound. Picture this – you’re on a boat – big or small, your choice – surrounded by cliffs shaped by ancient glaciers. The spray from mighty waterfalls refreshes you as you keep an eye out for dolphins, seals, and maybe even the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin. If you’re up for it, swap the cruise for a kayak tour and get even closer to the action. Just remember to book ahead!
2. Walk the Milford Sound Lookout Track
Ready for a short but rewarding stroll? Head to the parking lot behind the Milford Information Center and Café. From there, a 400-metre Milford Sound Lookout Track leads you to a lookout point with a view you won’t believe. Milford Sound, in all its glory, stretches out before you, surrounded by towering peaks. Take your time, soak in the view, and don’t forget to capture the moment!
3. Discover Doubtful Sound
Now, if you’re looking for something a bit off the beaten path, Doubtful Sound is just the ticket. It’s quieter, less crowded, and every bit as beautiful as its more famous neighbour. Getting there is half the fun, involving a cruise from Manapouri and a coach ride down Wilmot Pass. Once you’re there, a 3-hour cruise offers spectacular views of rugged peaks, lush rainforests, and a good chance of spotting some wildlife. Consider booking an overnight cruise to fully immerse yourself in this serene setting.
Franz Josef Glacier, West Coast
We know we’re a bit biased here, but for us, Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand’s southern hemisphere is at the top of New Zealand attractions. It’s this jaw-dropping 12-km-long icy spectacle that you can actually walk on. Yes, you can stroll through ice caves and gaze at mountain peaks. And if that’s not enough, how about a helicopter ride? You’ll get views that are out of this world!
The nearby town of Franz Josef has all the amenities, plus adrenaline-pumping activities like kayaking. Best time to go? June through August. It’s an experience you won’t want to miss.
Things to do:
1. Franz Josef Glacier Valley Walk
This is no ordinary hike, folks. You get to trek through a landscape carved out by the Franz Josef Glacier over millennia. Follow the riverbed and see firsthand how this glacier has moulded the valley. The 1.7-kilometre walk is fairly chill – perfect for most fitness levels. And the panoramic views of the glacier? Absolutely worth it. Plus, you’ll get to learn a thing or two about its history and geology.
2. Helicopter Adventure
Ever daydreamed about bird’s-eye views? On this chopper ride, you’ll soar over the Southern Alps and two of New Zealand’s crown jewels – Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier. It’s not just a trip; it’s your pass to some breathtaking sights.
3. Glacier Walking Tour
Ready to step it up a notch? Strap on some crampons for this guided heli-hike. Yeah, you read that right. You get to walk on the Franz Josef Glacier. A helicopter drops you off, and then you’re off for a 2-hour trek across the icy terrain. With blue ice tunnels and towering ice walls around you, it’s like stepping into a different world. But heads up, these tours are popular, so make sure you book in advance.
Lake Wakatipu, Otago
Nothing in Queenstown shines quite like Lake Wakatipu. As New Zealand’s third-largest lake, its blue waters and snow-kissed mountains are a sight for sore eyes. But it’s not just about the looks – this lake’s got mystery too, with water levels that rise and fall every 27 minutes. It’s right there, waiting for you to take a stroll, ride a bike, or enjoy a picnic. And did we mention the captivating local mythology? Come, let Lake Wakatipu work its magic on you.
Things to do:
1. Spirit of Queenstown Scenic Cruise
Fancy an adventure on the water? Jump onto the Spirit of Queenstown and let those breathtaking Southern Alps views blow you away. It’s not just a cruise, with several viewing decks and a bar ready to serve up your favourite drink – it turns into an awe-inspiring journey that makes Lake Wakatipu’s stunning landscape unforgettable.
2. Jet Boating Across Lake Wakatipu
Get ready for a wild ride with KJet! They’ll zip you across Lake Wakatipu and two nearby rivers at breakneck speeds. Prepare for sharp twists, crazy 360-degree spins, and breathtaking velocity. But don’t just hold on tight – while your heart’s thumping, soak up some local stories from your savvy guide.
3. Queenstown Paraflights
Ever had that flying dream? Here’s your shot! Take to the skies over Lake Wakatipu with Queenstown Paraflights. It’s a whole new way to see the bay from up high. And hey, bring friends along – we’ve got tandem and triple parasailing ready for you.
Marlborough Sounds, Picton
Let us tell you about this next exciting destination, Marlborough Sounds in Picton. This New Zealand tourist attraction is an incredible network of sunken valleys filled with Pacific waters, stretching over a whopping 150km coastline. Now, break it down into four unique sections – Queen Charlotte, Pelorus, Kenepuru, and Mahau. Each one’s got its own charm, stunning views and wildlife that’ll make your camera roll overflow.
Up for a bit of a hike? The Queen Charlotte Track is right up your alley. More of the sailing type? Hop on one of those dolphin-watching cruises. And if you’re just keen to chill and take in the view, well, you’re in for a treat. So, whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or a tranquillity seeker, Marlborough Sounds on New Zealand’s South Island should be on your must-visit list.
Things to do:
1. Hit the Queen Charlotte Track
Dust off your hiking boots or pump up those bike tires and tackle the Queen Charlotte Track. This isn’t your average trail – we’re talking 69 kilometres of breathtaking views, native forests, and mountain ridges overlooking the stunning Marlborough Sounds. Whether you’re up for the multi-day challenge or prefer a day hike, it’s a must-do. Remember to check out The Ultimate Guide to the Queen Charlotte Track for all the details.
2. Indulge in Resort Life
Fancy a dash of luxury? Marlborough Sounds is ready to roll out the red carpet for you. Resorts like Punga Cove Resort, Lochmara Lodge, and Anakiwa Lodge offer a heap of activities. Kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkelling, bush walks – you name it, they’ve got it.
3. Birdwatch at Motuara Island Sanctuary
Calling all bird lovers! Get ready to meet some of New Zealand’s most fascinating avian residents at the Motuara Island Sanctuary. A leisurely hour’s walk will lead you to a viewpoint where birds come to you. So sit back, relax, and let the feathery spectacle unfold before your eyes.
Mount Cook, Canterbury
Of course, no Kiwi adventure is complete without a trip to the towering Aoraki/Mount Cook. Standing tall at 3,724 metres, it’s not just New Zealand’s highest mountain but also a playground for adventurers and nature lovers alike.
Got that itch for a thrilling climb? You’ve got your challenge cut out right here. More of a fan of gentle trails? The wilderness around the mountain is begging to be explored. There’s something for everyone – from heli-skiing to hiking, you’re in for a treat.
And after a day of exploring and adventuring, you’d want a cosy place to kick back, right? That’s where Mount Cook Village comes in. It’s the perfect spot to rest, refuel, and reminisce about the day’s adventures. So go ahead, Aoraki/Mount Cook is ready for you.
Things to do:
1. Get High Above Mount Cook National Park
Think the sights are cool from down here? Just wait until you’re up there! Taking a flight over the frosty Southern Alps lets you see Aoraki/Mount Cook and Hochstetter Icefall like never before. But it doesn’t end with just views – You’ll also get to check out Tasman Glacier, New Zealand’s longest glacier, complete with a landing in the snow. Whether by ski plane or helicopter, this is an experience that will stick with you for life.
2. Take the Plunge with a Skydive
If thrill-seeking is your game, skydiving over Mount Cook could be perfect. Picture this – clear skies without a hint of pollution and awe-inspiring landscapes – arguably the finest place on Earth to experience skydiving. As you plummet down, NZ’s tallest mountain, longest glacier, and most vivid blue lakes provide an unrivalled backdrop. So buckle up that parachute; it’s time for a ride like no other!
3. Kayak Among Icebergs on Tasman Lake
Ever thought about paddling with ice giants? Here’s your shot. Picture yourself kayaking on the glacier-fed Tasman Lake, sitting high at 700 metres above sea level. You’ll get to see huge chunks of ice and smaller bits bobbing around in the water—it’s like nothing else. It’s calm, beautiful and truly one-of-a-kind. Just keep in mind that tours run from September through May because of the weather.
Rotorua, North Island
You haven’t experienced everything unless you’ve stepped foot in Rotorua, a gem hidden on New Zealand’s North Island. This place is a whirlwind of geothermal wonders and Maori culture. You’ll see mud pools that bubble like a witch’s brew and geysers that put on a show better than any fountain. Dive into the rich Maori traditions at the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute.
But the adventure doesn’t stop there. Rotorua opens doors to the towering Redwoods Forest Park, the enchanting Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland, and the movie-famous Hobbiton Village. Don’t just visit – live it!
Things to do:
1. Soar with Volcanic Air
What’s a trip to Rotorua without a flight over its geothermal natural wonders? With Volcanic Air, you’ll witness the awe-inspiring Mount Tarawera and Orakei Korako Geothermal Park from a whole new perspective. Finish off with a floatplane flip over Lake Rotoiti – it’s more than just a flight; it’s an adventure!
2. Embrace the Rush at Velocity Valley
Ready to get your heart racing? If you’re all about that adrenaline rush, Velocity Valley has you covered. Here, you can ride a BMX into a massive airbag, swoop from dizzying heights, or race on a pedal-powered monorail track. And for a real thrill, try the Xtreme Freefall. It’s skydiving but without the plane.
3. Discover Waimangu Volcanic Valley
At Waimangu Volcanic Valley, you’re in for a natural spectacle. Walk along crater pathways, cruise on Lake Rotomahana, and marvel at the Steaming Cliffs. It’s not just a tour; it’s an immersion into Mother Nature’s dramatic side. You won’t want to miss this!
Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Manawatu-Wanganui
Fans of the Lord of the Rings? Get ready to step into the shoes of Frodo and Sam in Mordor while hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. This isn’t just any trail; it’s a 19.4-kilometer journey through the heart of Tongariro National Park, with Mother Nature showing off at every turn. You’ll trudge past volcanic craters, marvel at emerald lakes and hot springs, and take in some seriously beautiful alpine views. Sure, it’s a challenge – but hey, no one said adventures were easy, right? But trust us, it’ll be worth every step.
Things to do:
1. Ski Down Mt Ruapehu
Here’s a fun fact: you can ski down an active volcano in New Zealand. That’s right, Mt Ruapehu, the country’s largest volcano, transforms into a skier’s paradise each winter with its expansive ski fields. So go on, add “skiing down an active volcano” to your bucket list and make it happen!
2. Hit the Old Coach Road on Your Bike
Want a blend of workout and history? You have to try cycling down Ohakune’s Old Coach Road. It’s more than just a bike trail—it’s like pedalling through the past! With forest views, age-old railway artifacts, and breathtaking landscapes, you’ll really feel that deep historical vibe. Covering 15km in about 2 hours and 20 minutes makes this trail an unforgettable ride.
3. Hike to the Tama Lakes
Now, if you’re a fan of hikes with a view, then the Tama Lakes hike is your jam. It’s a 5-6 hour return trek that offers views to rival even the famous Tongariro Crossing. And the best part? You’ll be trekking across tussock lands with the vibrant Tama Lakes taking centre stage, all while Mt Ngauruhoe (also known as Mt Doom) and Mt Ruapehu loom in the background. Now, if that doesn’t sound like a postcard-worthy hike, we don’t know what does!
Waiheke Island, Auckland
Escape the city’s hustle and head to Waiheke Island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. This island isn’t just about relaxation. It has an art scene, cafés, white-sand beaches, and adventurous activities like kayaking and zip-lining. Explore WWII tunnels at Stony Batter Historic Reserve, and don’t forget to taste some top-notch wines from the local vineyards. A short ferry ride from central Auckland, and you’re there – enjoying every moment of island life.
Things to do:
1. Pedal with a View
Ready for an adventure? Waiheke Island’s mountain bike tracks and cycle trails are calling your name. Whether you’re up for the challenge of Rangihoua Mountain Bike Trails or prefer the diversity of Onetangi Sports Park and Whakanewha Regional Park, there’s a ride for everyone. And those hills? They promise a fantastic workout. Need a boost? E-mountain bikes are your best friend.
2. Aim High at Wild on Waiheke
Unleash your inner archer at Wild on Waiheke. Grab a 30-minute slot, test your aim, and see how many bullseyes you can score. Once you’re done, kick back with a glass of wine or beer from their in-house winery and brewery. Sounds like a perfect day, doesn’t it?
3. Have a Blast with Clay Shooting
Ever tried laser clay bird shooting? Give it a go at Wild on Waiheke. It’s a hit for team building activities, hen & stag dos, or even just a small group of friends. A 30-minute session is all you need to get in the groove and score some hits.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Waitomo
Ready for an adventure like no other? The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are calling. Here, millions of glowworms turn the ceiling into a natural starry night, lighting up the underground in a dazzling display. As you glide silently on a boat, you’ll marvel at the surreal rock formations and listen to stories from your Maori guide. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or just love nature, this unique, thousand-year-old underworld promises an unforgettable journey. So, what are you waiting for? Don’t miss out on one of New Zealand’s most iconic natural attractions.
1. Sail Through a Starry Underworld
Hop on a boat tour and prepare for a jaw-dropping spectacle in the Waitomo Caves. As you float beneath a glistening ceiling of glowworms, it’s like sailing through a silent, subterranean night sky. It’s not just beautiful – it’s downright otherworldly.
2. Get Your Adrenaline Fix with Black Water Rafting
You’re in for a treat if you love pushing your limits. Imagine this – scrambling, swimming, and tubing through pitch-black caves. It’s rafting but on steroids – you’ll be exploring subterranean rivers with only the faint light from glowworms to guide your way.
3. Explore Above and Beyond
Once you’ve had your fill of the underworld, don’t forget there’s a ton of stuff to do topside. Take a leisurely walk through the farmland near the Waitomo Museum of Caves, admire the majestic Marokopa Falls, or get a glimpse of New Zealand’s rarest birds at Otorohanga Kiwi House. And if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, you can’t miss the guided tours of Denize Bluffs, a filming location for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.
So, there you have it – a glimpse into some of the most breathtaking, awe-inspiring, and, let’s not forget, hobbit-laden spots New Zealand has on offer. Whether it’s navigating the enchanting underworld of Waitomo Glowworm Caves, skiing down an active volcano, or savouring the serene beauty of Waiheke Island, there’s an adventure here for every kind of wanderer.
Just remember, all these spots are more than just Instagram-worthy locales – they’re gateways to experiences that will fill your memory banks to the brim!