Best places to visit in New Zealand
With so many incredible places to visit, how do you narrow down your options? Most people only have a few weeks to explore, so it’s important to know the best places to visit in New Zealand and how to include them in your travel plans.
North vs South
New Zealand is made up of two islands, North and South. The North Island is lush and green with rolling hills, sandy beaches and a bubbling geothermal heart. Home to the majority of New Zealand’s 4.8 million population, the North Island is also where our largest city, Auckland, and the nation’s capital, Wellington, are located.
The South Island is rugged, sparsely populated and devastatingly beautiful. With increasingly impressive vistas around each corner, the wild coastlines, thick forests, deep fiords and towering peaks vie for attention and keep your camera clicking.
It’s not all wilderness though – the colourful town of Nelson illuminates the upper South Island with its arty eccentricity, while the historic city of Christchurch and surrounding Canterbury plains act as a bedrock for most of the South Island’s population.
If you are limited on time and trying to decide which island to visit, find out the best places to travel in New Zealand with our North vs South Island debate.
New Zealand’s cities
Our main centres are gateways to the rest of New Zealand with international airports and transport links to the surrounding countryside. They’re also cultural centres with art galleries, museums, markets and monuments illustrating New Zealand’s history and culture, both past and present.
Of course, most visitors come to New Zealand to experience our stunning landscapes, not our city life, but we think there’s merit in both, so we like to include a blend in our Trails trips.
New Zealand’s best landscapes
Outside of the main centres, the top places to visit in New Zealand include our outstanding National Parks which make up some of our most spectacular wilderness areas. Home to many world-class hiking tracks and trails, New Zealand’s National Parks are a national treasure. Visit six of the best on a New Zealand Trails trip.
Explore the wild west coast of the South Island, hike Jurassic-like surroundings in Punakaiki and Paparoa and pick your jaw up off the floor as you gaze in wonder up at our highest peak, the majestic Aoraki/ Mount Cook.
Get off the beaten track in the relaxed coastal retreat of Okarito, explore the hidden reaches of wildest Fiordland and discover a uniquely New Zealand nature sanctuary on the island of Mou Waho.
And to complete your trip, let us show you the best places to stay in dreamy accommodation. These are the places that other guests want to visit and stay in, but don’t know how to find!
This section of the blog will help you tick off the best places to visit in New Zealand and show you the best way to go about it. You can always get in touch if you have more questions or want to chat about your travel plans!
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New Zealand Mountains
Stomping ground of legendary explorers and source of inspiration for countless artists, poets and storytellers, New Zealand’s vast peaks and snow-capp...READ THIS ARTICLE
North vs South: Which Island of New Zealand Should I Visit?
Why choose one or the other? If you have the time, explore both islands. If that’s not an option for you and you have to choose between visiting eithe...READ THIS ARTICLE
Abel Tasman National Park - An adventure on the high seas
My name's Shona and I'm a guide at New Zealand Trails. After finding out that I was going on a three-day kayaking trip in New Zealand's Abel Tasman Na...READ THIS ARTICLE
Queenstown - The Adventure Capital of the World
Picture steam drifting up from your freshly brewed coffee, as you sit at a table on the waterfront of Lake Wakatipu. Snow glistens as the first sunlig...READ THIS ARTICLE
Five reasons why Milford Sound is Best in the Rain
With an average of 182 days of rain a year, there’s a good chance that a visit to New Zealand’s iconic Milford Sound will involve at least a short sho...READ THIS ARTICLE
24 Hours in: Queenstown
A Local’s Guide to QueenstownJodi Narbey tells us how she gets the most out of living in the “Adventure Capital of the World”.I love that there’s so m...READ THIS ARTICLE
Walking the Hollyford Track
You may know the Milford and Routeburn, but what about the Hollyford Track? Visitors to the Fiordland region of New Zealand are spoilt for choice when...READ THIS ARTICLE
Hiking the Routeburn Track
The Routeburn Track has a well-deserved reputation as one of New Zealand's 'Great Walks' and is a favourite hiking experience for both Kiwis and overs...READ THIS ARTICLE
Visit six of the best New Zealand National Parks
Would you love to experience New Zealand's famous national parks when you visit? Not sure which area of the country offers the best national parks? Ch...READ THIS ARTICLE
Visit Mou Waho Island
Where is Mou Waho Island and why should you visit? For starters, it’s one of only five islands found in Lake Wanaka and it is perhaps one of the most ...READ THIS ARTICLE
Glacier Hiking in New Zealand – Where is best?
Is glacier hiking in New Zealand on your ‘must-do' travel list? Then read on, to understand how you can experience a glacier hike as part of your New ...READ THIS ARTICLE
'Wild about New Zealand – the West Coast'
Wild about New Zealand, Gus Roxburgh's documentary on New Zealand's national parks, featured the South Island's wIld West Coast - one of our favourite...READ THIS ARTICLE
Okarito Lagoon Kayak and the West Coast
Highlights of day three of our small group New Zealand hiking tour - we are into the heart of Southwest New Zealand world heritage area and the 'wild'...READ THIS ARTICLE
Wild about New Zealand – Mt Cook
The 'Wild about New Zealand' documentary series continues this week with Gus Roxburgh visiting our most mountainous and possibly best known national p...READ THIS ARTICLE
'Wild about New Zealand – Fiordland'
It's not every nature documentary that gets us as excited about our homeland but this one - Wild about New Zealand by Wanaka / Los Angeles based produ...READ THIS ARTICLE
Alps to ocean on the TranzAlpine
From alps to ocean on the TranzAlpine, the subtropical paradise of Punakaiki and stepping into an iconic New Zealand work of art - highlights of day o...READ THIS ARTICLE
Castle Hill and Arthur's Pass hiking
Our 13 day World Heritage Tour is packed full of highlights, so in true New Zealand Trails style, we'd like to slow things down and take some time to ...READ THIS ARTICLE