Want to visit the most photogenic country in the world? Then grab your camera and book a flight to New Zealand. The landscapes here will leave you breathless and as the island is just 1,000 miles in length from the tip of the North island to the bottom of the South, you can pack in as much sightseeing as you want. You know you’re in for a treat as the beautiful country was used for filming fantasy classics like Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia. Here are some must-see stops on your tour of New Zealand:
1. The Bay Of Islands
For all things water-related, the Bay of Islands should be top of your list. About a 3-hour drive from Auckland, you’ll find water sports, sailing and fishing galore. There are 144 islands and you can try your hand at scuba diving or take a boat trip for an incredible dolphin adventure. Sail through the iconic Hole in the Rock and be sure to visit the oldest licensed pub in the country.
This is where you’ll land and it’s also the biggest city in New Zealand. It’s been named as one of the top 10 cities in the world so be sure to stay a few days before heading off on your exploration of the island. Visit one of the many museums and art galleries, take a pleasant walk through Auckland Domain Park or if you’re feeling more adventurous, try the Auckland Bridge Climb or a bungee jump!
Despite suffering some major earthquakes a few years ago, Christchurch’s spirit is alive and well. A must-visit destination includes the Botanical Gardens where you’ll see a fine selection of some of the oldest and tallest trees in the whole of the country. A ride on the Christchurch gondola is another must for amazing scenery and a ride to the top of Mount Cavendish.
4. Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley
You don’t need to pronounce it to go there and it’s well worth a visit. The valley is home several very active geysers and you’ll experience Pohutu, the biggest active geyser in the southern hemisphere. Be sure to visit the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute where you will receive a traditional Maori welcome, song and dance performances and an authentic ‘steambox’ meal made using the ancient techniques of geothermal cooking.
5. White Island
Here you’ll find the most active volcano in the country. Scenic helicopter rides are available to take you safely over the volcano for a bird’s eye view. If you’re up for a bit of adventure then don your gas mask and hard hat as you brave a walk around the site. The island got its name as whenever Captain Cook sailed past, it was always covered in a layer of white steam, with him not realising it was a volcano.
Located at the top of the South Island, this great city has the most hours of sunshine of anywhere else in New Zealand. The sunny climate and proximity of 3 national parks makes this the perfect place for outdoor pursuits. With a passion for their wineries and farm-to-table local cuisine, you won’t want to miss Nelson off your itinerary.
Known as the Art Deco Capital of New Zealand, this seaside resort boasts some impressive architecture. You’ll also find the huge National Aquarium here, packed full of wonderful sea life from otters to crocodiles and top-class exhibits that rival any in larger cities.
Calling all adrenaline junkies, the Southern Alps surrounding Queenstown provide the ideal location for adventure sports of all kinds. Lake Wakatipu sits at the foot of the mountains, making this a very beautiful town indeed. Whether you choose to cycle around the lake or take a cruise on it, be sure to have your camera poised and ready. At the end of a day of sightseeing, let your hair down in one of the many great bars and restaurants.
9. Fiorland National Park
This is arguably one of the most breath-taking spots in New Zealand. Take a leisurely cruise, try some trout fishing or go for an energetic hike to the biggest tourist attraction here, Milford Sound. This is a real fjord created by a natural glacier and around the Sound, you’ll see waterfalls, dramatic cliff faces and enjoy spotting dolphins and penguins.
10. Westland National Park
For more Glacier landscapes, head to Westland Park on the west coast of the South Island. Fantastic glaciers include Franz Josef and Fox. Franz Josef is the easiest to reach, with walks right up to and through the glacier valley. After a hard hike, ease the aches away in one of the glaciers amazing hot pools.