With New Zealand being such a long plane ride for most it makes sense to stay for as much time as you have available. We would recommend three to four weeks to really explore the full charm of this country.
Depending on your personal style when it comes to travelling the list below can be adjusted to suit you. The south island has incredible mountains and a more rugged landscape prefect for those who love skiing, climbing and multi day hiking trips. The north island has a warmer climate and is more favorable for beaches, cities trips and shorter day trips to waterfalls through native New Zealand forest.
Take a journey to the very northern most part of the country to see the lighthouse of Cape Reinga and enjoy the adrenaline rush of sliding down the Giant Sand Dunes on a boogie board- available for hire for around NZ$15 (9€).
Stay the night Paihia or Waitangi in the Bay of Islands and take the public ferry across to Russel to see where the original capital or New Zealand was.
Just three hours from Auckland is the Coromandel Peninsula. Some of the highlights for visitors to the area is Hot Water Beach, Cathedral Cove, The Pinnacles Hike, and the countless white sand beaches.
One of the coolest views and possibly hardest to reach is atop the hill overlooking New Chums Beach near Whangapoua.
Taupo and Rotorua
Situated right in the centre of the North Island is New Zealands biggest lake, Taupō. Surrounding the lakes edge and all the way to Rotorua are vast areas of geothermal activity forming many geysers, hot springs and brightly colored patches of earth. Huka falls is a must-see waterfall releasing an astonishing quarter of a million litres of water per second.
Rotorua is the cultural centre for Māori heritage with many visitors stopping here to learn more about the beautiful traditions and history. While you are here you can see the Te Puia geysers and the geothermal mud pools.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a challenging 19km day hike that scales a volcano called Tongariro and passes by the magical Emerald Lakes- all the while being overshadowed with the snowy peaks of Mount Ruapehu in the background.
New Zealands capital city is known best for being a hip, foodies paradise that features a stunning waterfront. Check out the Parliament building which is appropriately named the Beehive. Climb Mount Victoria to see an impressive view of the city’s basin-like landscape below.
There are great coffee, food and clothing shops in this city but a must-visit it during your stay is Te Papa museum.
After a short flight or ferry crossing from Wellington you will reach the Tasman Region. The ferry lands in Picton which is the gateway to the south island. Stay on night in the Malborough Sounds and check out the Queen Charlotte Track.
With plenty to see here you can begin your stay in Nelson and explore from there. Cable Bay, Kaiteriteri, Golden Bay, and Farewell Spit are just a few highlights. Visit Wharariki Beach known for being the iconic PC screensaver. Te Waikoropupu Springs are an absolute must see during your time in Tasman.
The focal point for many visitor is the Able Tasman Nation Park. Choose between a multi day hike or for a unique adventure try sea kayaking across this incredible national park.
Head one hour or so south to Lake Rotoiti to marvel at the clear waters and long wharf. Have an early start to complete the Mt Roberts Circuit, with an option to stay overnight in a mountain hut.
Queenstown is the most commonly known destination for travellers heading to New Zealand. This Central Otago town is a hot spot for adventure enthusiast and those wanting a nice holiday. Arrowtown, Lake Wanaka, the Cadrona Hotel, Onsen Hot Pools, and Treble Cone ski field should not be missed on your visit here.
Roys Peak is a 6-hour hike is worth every gruelling step. Once at the top, you will be rewarded with epic views of Mount Aspiring, the Matukituki Valley, and Lake Wanaka.
Lake Pukaki near Twizel is mineral rich lakes that on a sunny day will turn a bright blue color. At the far end of this lake is the road that leads to Aoraki/ Mount Cook which is the highest mountain in the country. Take the 5km hike to Hooker Lake to see the frozen waters while being towered over by Aoraki. Tasman Glacier and Lake are nearby and well worth bearing the cold short walk to the viewing point.
Milford in the Fiordland region is one of New Zealand’s most spectacular natural attractions. Noted as one of the most beautiful places in the entire country. Towering mountains, lush forest, hundreds of falling waterfalls, and even dolphins. Sounds like a piece of heaven if you ask us. You and your New Zealand travel mate can explore the sound by kayak, tour boat, or plane.
Check out Lake Marian and Lake Quill for a jaw dropping view.
Franz Josef and Fox Glacier are two incredible natural phenomenons that can be visited by helicopter tour. If that isn’t in your budget you can hike to a viewing platform. Check out the Pounamu or Green Stones in Greymouth and enjoy the surrounding hikes in the area.
Hokitika Gorge, Lake Matheson, Punakaiki or Pancake Rocks are all definitely worth a visit on your way along the coast.