If ever you have toyed with the idea of travelling around New Zealand and seeing the best of your own backyard, there has never been a better time than now. Trips overseas may be off the cards for the time being, but the upside to this is that it leaves Kiwi travellers with the chance to discover for themselves all the experiences, sights and regions that lure in millions of international tourists every year.
It is also your opportunity to help those communities who heavily rely on tourism; these economies have been hard-hit and showing your support extends from dining at regional restaurants, staying in independently-run accommodation, shopping at weekend farmers’ markets and booking with local tour operators. The diverse regions around New Zealand have so much to offer, and you can explore just some of what awaits below. There is something for everyone, no matter if you are a foodie, outdoors-lover or culture-buff.
To get you started, check out our curated guides on the best things to see and do in each region through the lense of fellow travellers. Where will you explore next?
Looking for a somewhere to stay? Browse a range of incredible accommodation options:
Auckland & Northland
Wander the waterfront in the City of Sails and count off the masts of sleek yachts bobbing about in the twin harbours. Stroll barefoot along the beaches of Auckland’s West Coast, or head out of the urban limits to see the likes of Waiheke Island, Matakana, Piha and the Awhitu Peninsula. Move into New Zealand’s Northland for days spent exploring ancient rainforest, seaside towns, and buzzing farmers’ markets across Bay of Islands, Whangarei, Kerikeri and more.
- Places to keep in mind: Kaipara, Whangerei, Bay of Islands, Waiheke Island, Matakana, Piha and the Awhitu Peninsula
Taranaki & Waikato
Outdoor adventurers will love the Taranaki region, with its incredible surf breaks, kayaking excursions, and world-class fishing spots. Hit one of the walking tracks in Egmont National Park, see the snow-capped peak of Mount Taranaki, and discover the treasures of towns like New Plymouth and Eltham. Movie-buffs will be drawn to the Waikato area of its Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit clout with the chance to see the sets of Hobbiton and more. Other draws in the region span the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Hamilton Caves, and the Timber Trail through Pureora Forest
- Places to keep in mind: Taupo, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Hobbiton, Waitomo and Eltham
Bay of Plenty, Gisborne & Hawke's Bay
Take in the magnificent beaches around Bay of Plenty, one of the most visited regions in New Zealand. Stroll the golden sands of Mount Maunganui, swim with the bay’s dolphins, eat fish and chip dinners on the foreshore, and browse local independent galleries. Learn about rich Maori culture in Gisborne and sample the region’s acclaimed chardonnay. Head to nearby Hawke’s Bay, one of NZ’s most prolific wine-producing regions, for visits to award-winning cellar doors, the Art Deco architecture of Napier, or to summit Te Mata.
- Places to keep in mind: Napier, Hastings, Gisborne, Rotorua, Tauranga and Mount Maunganui
Wellington & Surrounds
The cool, compact capital of New Zealand spans amazing city lookout points, world-class museums, Hollywood film locations, and an iconic red cable car. Plus, plenty of great coffee and excellent restaurants to help keep you fuelled for all explorations. Whanganui is one of NZ’s oldest cities and promises a lush national park, jet boating and paddle steamer experiences, and heritage architecture. Be sure to see one of NZ’s most famous sites at Te Apiti – Manawatu Gorge.
- Places to keep in mind: Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, Kapiti, Palmerston North, Whanganui and Manawatu
Nelson & Marlborough
Use Nelson as a springboard for visiting Abel Tasman National Park on a day trip that includes island cruises, relaxing swims, guided walks and seeing the resident seal colonies. Soak up the sun in Nelson township, wander between stalls at Wednesday or Saturday markets, and picnic in Queens Gardens. Savour a glass of emblematic Marlborough sauvignon blanc and cycle or walk between some of the region’s top vineyards and cellar doors. Swim with dolphins in Marlborough Sounds, tackle the Queen Charlotte Track, and visit D’Urville Island.
- Places to keep in mind: Blenheim, Kahurangi National Park, Abel Tasman National Park and Tapuae-o-Uenuku
Have the best of the mountains and the ocean in Canterbury. Admire the heavens with stargazing at Aoraki-Mackenzie, discover Tasman Glacier and Aoraki Mt Cook, head to Arthur’s Pass National Park aboard the TranzAlpine rail, and take in the French-influenced charm of Akaroa. Learn about the 2011 earthquakes in Christchurch and see some of the city’s colourful murals or plan a trip during ski season to whizz down the powder-covered slopes of Mount Hutt.
- Places to keep in mind: Christchurch, Mount Hutt, Mount Taylor, Arthurs Pass National Park and Aoraki/Mount Cook
The wilderness of the West Coast of the NZ South Island encompasses Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, limestone cliffs and canyons, thick forests, and stunning national parks. Follow in the footsteps of gold miners on the Old Ghost Road, learn about the cultural importance of pounamu in Greymouth, and take a jet boat ride on the twinkling turquoise waters throughout the Haast UNESCO World Heritage Area.
- Places to keep in mind: Hokitika, Greymouth, Haast, Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers
Otago & Southland
Get your heart racing in Queenstown, the adventure capital of New Zealand. Visit this famous resort town to admire The Remarkables, the crystal-clear waters of Milford Sound, and day trip to Arrowtown and Glenorchy. Check out the breeding colony of northern royal albatross on the Otago Peninsula, take in the heritage buildings around the centre of Dunedin, and enjoy the mix of Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco design in Invercargill, the southernmost city in New Zealand.
- Places to keep in mind: Queenstown, Invercargill, Dunedin, Wanaka, Milford Sound and Mount Aspiring Naional Park
North Island travel inspiration from the blog:
- 4 scenic road trips on the North Island
- 10 swimming spots on the North Island perfect for a dip
- Grab your hamper for a picnic at these Auckland spots
- 6 things to do in Auckland that don't cost a thing
- Weekend getaways from Auckland
- Start the day right with these healthy breakfast spots in Wellington
- 9 of the best picnic spots in Wellington
- Things to do in Wellington that don't cost a thing
North Island travel inspiration from the blog:
South Island travel inspiration from the blog:
- Where to ski on the South Island this winter
- 4 scenic South Island road trips
- 4 great day trips from Queenstown
- What to do on a family trip to Invercargill
- How to spend a weekend in Dunedin
- These short walks around Queenstown are perfect for families
- Things to do In Queenstown that don't cost a thing
- Queenstown activities for the lovers of the great outdoors
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