New Zealand has so many outstanding places to visit that it is difficult to choose among them. We know that your vacation time is both brief and valuable. Our recommendations for the best places to visit will help you find the right place for your vacation in New Zealand.
Be sure to note that the period of the seasons in the Southern Hemisphere is the opposite of the Northern Hemisphere. During our summer, the Kiwis are experiencing winter. So if you want to ski in Queenstown, July and August can be the heart of the season. If you are not a skier, don't let the concept of winter stop you from taking your summer vacation in New Zealand, since the snow usually stays at the higher elevations.
A trip to New Zealand should cover the country's two major islands, known simply as the North Island and the South Island. Both islands are interesting, but we recommend that you spend the majority of your time on the South Island, which, in our opinion, is pretty close to paradise.
This park is part of the South Westland World Heritage area and is New Zealand's largest national park and one of the largest in the world. The scenery in Fiordland is nothing short of stunning, with deep fiords, steep mountains, raging waterfalls, and lush rain forests.
Fiordland is also home to Milford Sound described by Rudyard Kipling as the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ and Doubtful Sound which many say is even more spectacular. Another major attraction are the spectacular walks including the world famous Routeburn and Milford, the latter being billed as the finest walk in the world in the early twentieth century by London Spectator in England.
|Mitre Peak Mountain|
Fiordland is situated in the Southland region.
Milford Sound has been rated the number one travel destination in the world as voted by users of Tripadvisor. Rudyard Kipling had previously called it the eighth Wonder of the World, and it is currently in the final list for the New Seven Wonders of the World.
|Beautiful Milford sound view|
Milford Sound is the most accessable of 14 fiords and arguably the most spectacular, although many think that Doubtful Sound is even better. It is certainly much bigger, but is harder to reach.
Boat trips on Milford Sound take you out to the Tasman Sea and back. The trip passes many spectacular waterfalls falling from huge cliffs. The boat gets close enough to some waterfalls allowing you to hold a cup in the air to collect what is known as the worlds cleanest water. Seals can be seen sunbathing on the rocks and dolphins often ride the wake of cruise boats that travel through here.
Milford Sound is certainly a visible spectacular work of nature but what is not obvious is what lies beneath the water. The first few feet of water in the fiord is darker fresh water which is runoff from the melting snow on the mountains that flows through lush rainforest and down the steep cliffs into the fiord. Below that layer of fresh water is the salt water of the Tasman Sea. This unique combination of fresh and salt water tricks deep sea plants in to growing closer to the surface than otherwise and this provides divers are rare opportunity to see them. Divers can also be rewarded with a rare black coral that is unique to this area.
Abel Tasman is New Zealand's smallest National Park, but contains the sunniest climate together with the best coastal scenery in the country. The Park is famous for the many superb white sandy beaches and coves that look out onto the clear waters of the Tasman Sea. Beyond the beaches, the park is covered in lush rain forest and Manuka, which is a type of tea tree. The Abel Tasman walk is a great way to see this park, it takes 3-5 days to complete. Sea Taxis are also available and can drop you off at any number of beaches within the park. This gives you the complete freedom to do a full or partial trek, or alternatively you can spend your time just relaxing on the beaches of your choice.
|Kayaking at Abel Tasman|
Kayaking is a popular alternative way to see this superb park as you have access to all the beaches, including those that the walk misses out on.
Queenstown sited on the shore of beautiful Lake Wakatipu, is surrounded by the luscious beauty of a mountain chain known as the Remarkables. The town is the focal point for a large and diverse recreational area. Queenstown is a place where you can "sit and think" or participate in various outdoor activities, some of them quite unique. The shopping is OK but limited and cultural attractions are sparse.
|Queenstown, New Zealand|
For action adventure and scenery Queenstown has it all. This beautiful lake side town is surrounded by mountains and is one of New Zealands premier tourist destinations. It is the home of bungee jumping and jet boating which are both New Zealand inventions. Other action activities include parapenting and white water rafting. Queenstown is also one of the Southern Hemispheres premier skiing destinations and enables skiers from around the world to ski during the Northern Hemisphere's summer. If you are not an adrenaline junkie then Queenstown is still a must see, even if it is to just admire the spectacular mountain scenery while enjoying the many cafes, restaurants, and shops on offer.
|Adrenaline rush - Bungy jumping|
The 'Adventure Capital of the World' is a reputation well earned. Queenstown is the home of adventure in New Zealand. We have everything that the adventure seeker could ever want - you can bungy jump with the world's original bungy company AJ Hackett Bungy, tandem skydive with NZone 'The Ultimate Jump', go white water rafting with Challenge Rafts or jet boating with Shotover Jet. Or you can combine the excitement with Queenstown Combos.
Queenstown is a 'Natural Theme Park', such are the seemingly endless array of adventure activities and leisure holiday options to choose from. The spectacular geography of the region creates a special atmosphere and unique setting that has made this town famous the world over. As well as the many adventure activities on offer, Queenstown is also home to Lord of The Rings, filmed amid the mountains, lakes, rivers and forests and is the gateway to Milford Sound, Fiordland.
Rotorua is famous for its volcanic activity. The area contains many Geothermal Reserves such as Waimangu, Waiotapu and Whakarewarewa, which are all situated in beautiful natural surroundings. All these reserves have great examples of geysers, boiling pools, hot springs, boiling mud and volcanic terraces and craters. Rotorua also has many beautiful lakes to swim in and plenty of native bush for trekking. Mt Tarawera is also close by and there are tours by 4WD that take you up to the top of this volcano. The view is spectacular and you also have the opportunity to walk down into the crater. Rotorua is also a great area to learn about Maori Culture.
Rotorua is situated in the Bay of Plenty region.
5. Bay of Islands
The subtropical Bay of Islands is the finest maritime park in New Zealand. There are about 150 islands to explore with many superb beaches and secluded bays. The park has an abundance of marine life, including Marlin, Whales, Penguins and Dolphins. The Bay attracts many people the world over including fishermen, golfers and marine enthusiasts and of course tourist who just want to enjoy the subtropical climate and swim in some of the best beaches in New Zealand.
The Bay of Islands is situated in the Northland region.
|Bay of island view|
6. Mt Cook
Mt Cook and surrounding area is an alpine park that is part of the South Westland World Heritage area. Mt Cook is Australasia's highest mountain and Mt Tasman and Mt Sefton the 2 neigbouring mountains come in at 2nd and 3rd respectively. Mt Cook National Park also has the worlds longest ski run, down the Tasman Glacier. The park doesn't contain many trees or plants, it is best described as a snow covered rocky environment. However Lupins grow well in the mountain soil and these plants come in every colour imaginable which this gives this harsh environment a more gentle and picturesque look. The main accommodation here is the Hermitage Hotel and is also the main departure point to the many scenic walks and Guided Treks in this park.
The Ball Pass is a challenging 3-day alpine crossing of the Mount Cook Range and allows close views of New Zealand's highest mountains. Anyone attempting the crossing without a guide needs to be an experienced mountaineer. There are other walks for those without mountaineering experience or the chance to take a helicopter or plane ride to the top of the Tasman Glacier and back.
Mt Cook National Park is situated in the Canterbury region.
|Mt Cook National Park|
Westland National Park is situated in the Westcoast region.
|Westland National Park|
8. The Tongariro National Park
Tongariro is a World Heritage Park and one of the oldest National Parks in the world. The park contains 3 active volcanos that are situated in a desert like landscape. The area gets regular snowfalls in the winter as it is situated at high altitude. Mt Ruapehu is the largest volcano and home to most of the ski fields in the North Island. However this volcano erupts regularly and last erupted as recently as 1995 and 1996. Another volcano, Mt Ngauruhoe is right next to Ruapehu.
|Mt. Ruapehu Ski field|
The Tongariro National Park is situated in the Taupo region.
|The Tongariro National Park|
|The Tongariro National Park|
The Coromandel Peninsula is situated in the Coromandel region.
Kaikoura is situated in the Canterbury region.