Top places to visit in New Zealand
Baaaahh! You’ve probably all heard the jokes about New Zealand and sheep but I won’t go there. I won’t ewes the same joke every one has been going on and on about. Instead, I’m going to bring to light the beauty of the youngest country in the world. There is a plethora of picturesque landscapes in this beautiful country and there’s a rich culture of the Maoris, the indigenous people of New Zealand. For those adrenaline junkies, look no further to New Zealand for it holds so many intensive activities ranging from bungee jumping to white water rafting to ziplining across large ravines. For the more relaxed, there are plenty of bushwalks and hikes across this country that will definitely bring some Instagram worthy material. So without further adieu, here’ are the top places to visit in New Zealand that I would recommend for you vacationers to go:
1. Fiordland National Park & Milford Sound, South Island
There’s no surprise that Fiordland National Park is a World Heritage Site given the fantastic landscape it offers with glaciers sculpting the infamous fjords of Milford, Disky and Doubtful Sounds. Milford Sound is a Fiordland in the South East region of New Zealand. There’s so much on offer here including little islands, vibrant rainforests, pure lakes and jagged mountain peaks. The air is so pure…it’s indescribable. If I try to describe it, I think I’d just diminish its grandeur. A lot of people engage in sea kayaking to get a close look at the fjords while others put on their walking boots and hike the glorious Milford Track. What you can’t miss out on is cruising through the Sounds and listening as the waterfall gently transitions to still, silent water. The best part is praying there’s sunlight and watching the sun’s rays illuminate the horizon. Truly magical.
2. Bay of Islands, North Island
There’s no trickery as to why it is given such a name. Roughly 150 islands litter the bay extending from Cape Brett to Purerua Peninsula which allows it to be a perfect training ground for water sports such as sailing or yachting. There’s plenty of marine life to gaze your eye upon (or to take some fancy snaps of) including plenty of places to fish. You can get up close and personal with the marine life by scuba diving or take on the ‘Fullers GreatSights Dolphin Eco Experience.’ A highly recommended thing to do is to walk around Cape Brett and visit the ‘Hole in the Rock’ or hike through the forests filled with Kauri trees. Set yourself up for the road trip of around 3 hours from Auckland but trust me it’s worth the time and petrol.
3. Queenstown, South Island
Wedged between Lake Wakatipu and the snowy mountains of the Remarkables is Queenstown, one of the more popular tourist destinations. Basically here is the spot to go to to tackle all those crazy activities you wrote down on your bucket list. You’ve got things like bungee jumping, jet boating, white-water rafting, downhill skiing, mountain biking and even rock climbing. Everything. If you’re sick of hearing all the landscapes and things to see, don’t worry. Queenstown offers a lot of alternative activities like ridiculously nice hotels, restaurants, spas and SHOPPING. It’s also about 45 minutes from Hobbiton. For those who don’t know, well, you should know. It’s the site and set of the Shire in the famous Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogy. For any diehard Lord of the Rings fan like myself, there’s no greater immersion than walking around the Shire and drinking a good sized beer at ‘The Green Dragon Inn.’ Do it!
4. Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park, North Island
Right smack down the middle of North Island is Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake and an absolute gem viewed from above. This lake is located inside Tongariro National Park which has been labelled a World Heritage Site and for good reason. The national park is home to large volcanoes, pristine lakes, plateaus, meadows and hot springs. Take a journey through the park on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing which has been renowned for its ridiculously stunning views. It’s important to note that this place more than ever needs to be preserved given the significance this place carries for the Maori culture.
5. Rotorua, North Island
If Mother Nature was angry, you’d definitely see it here. Rotorua is one of the if not the most geothermal places globally where you would find boiling mud pools, geysers, volcanic craters and dozens of thermal springs. There are plenty of walking tours on offer around these natural landmarks which also give a good insight into the Maori history and way of life. Trout fishing is prominent here as well as some thrill seeking activities such as skydiving, mountain biking etc. After a long day touring and walking around, soothe those tired legs with a trip to the mineral springs at Wai-O-Tapu.
6. Waitomo Glowworm Caves, North Island
Just before we wrap up, I think it’s really important to mention this last one. These caves are obviously illuminated by thousands of glowworms but I don’t think a written description of it does justice to how amazing it really is. Ensure you take a boat ride through these caves to understand the history and science of this natural phenomenon. Or if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, choose to go black-water rafting which is where they will you float you on an inner tube down a stream. Then you’ll have at your disposable the option to jump off waterfalls or rappel down cave walls or a lot more other options. Choose appropriately!
If you feel like I’ve missed a place in New Zealand that is really worth mentioning, let me know in the comments section below.