Attractions in New Zealand
New Zealand is known for its brilliant sightseeing and attractions, in particular, its natural wonders. Below we’ve set up a list of different things you can see in New Zealand, similar to our activities page, this is more about places you should go and see. In fact, a friend once said that ‘New Zealand is just one ridiculous natural wonder after another’, in other words, it’s an incredible place to visit if you love the outdoors. We’ve split the attractions into two sections, starting with some of the attractions on the North Island, and then moving down to the South Island. To get the proper New Zealand experience you may wish to visit both islands, of course, they’re both beautiful in their own right and have so much to offer.
North Island of New Zealand
Bay of Islands, North Island
If you’re looking to do some trekking by the ocean we highly recommend heading to the Bay of Islands, in the north of North Island. A highly popular vacation destination, this bay is an archipelago of more than 140 islands with many different trail hikes across it. You can camp by the shore, go fishing, and kayaking as well. You can also spot dolphins, penguins and whales in many different places around the archipelago.
Waipoua Forest, North Island
Close by to the Bay of Islands is the Waipoua Forest, one NZ’s many national forest parks. The largest remaining tract of forest on the north island, this park is the keeper of many towering species of tree, and the home of dozens of species of rare birds. The park is known for the Tane Mahuta, a towering tree also named the Lord of the Forest is more than 2000 years old.
Sky Tower, Auckland, North Island
Construction started on the Sky Tower in 1994 and finished in 1997. It stands at around 330m and is the tallest free-standing structure in the southern hemisphere. The Sky Tower offers breathtaking views of the surrounding Auckland CBD, and the coast, beaches and mountain horizon. The Sky Tower also offers dining experiences for those who want a stellar view while they eat.
Rotorua's Arts Village, North Island
The Rotorua Arts Village is in Rotorua, on NZ’s North Island. The village is a not-for-profit project started by volunteers and is now an independent community arts organisation running projects and exhibitions throughout the year. See how young Māori learn the skills of traditional bone, wood, and greenstone carving. Visit a Marae and enjoy a concert of traditional songs, the haka and a hangi.
Napier, North Island
The city of Napier was wrecked by an earthquake in 1931 subsequently the entire city was rebuilt in the art deco style of the day. The sleepy coastal city now has a reputation for having some of the most well-preserved art deco buildings in the world
Hawkes Bay, North Island
Hawkes Bay is located on the east coast of NZ’s North Island. It is very well known for its award-wines, and many people travel there for that reason. Hawkes Bay also has a number of national parks and lakes, like Lake Waikaremoana. Located in the Te Urewera Rainforest, this lake includes many bushwalks and opportunities for kayaking. You can also stay in some luxury huts provided by the Department of Conservation, where you might hear some local Maori stories.
South Island of New Zealand
Abel Tasman National Park, South Island
The Abel Tasman National Park, aptly named after Abel Tasman, was founded in 1942 and is located between Golden Bay and Tasman Bay at the north end of South Island. Lush forests by white sands and clear blue waters are some of the things you can expect to see as you hike around this national park. The park is filled with wildlife, and there are plenty of places to set up camp for the night. If you should decide to, there’s the option of putting a kayak in the water and spotting dolphins.
Larnach Castle, Dunedin
Australasia’s only castle, albeit a mock one, is located at Dunedin. Built by politician and entrepreneur William Larnach, the castle is built in the Gothic revival architectural style. The castle and surrounding gardens have a long and interesting history and are worth seeing if you’re in the area.
Milford Sound, South Island
No list of New Zealand attractions would be complete without mentioning Milford Sound. Located in the south of South Island, Milford Sound is one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist attractions, and for good reason, it’s a stunning locale you won’t see anywhere else in the world.
The Marlborough Sound is not quite as steep as the Milford Sound, but it stretches a further distance and is perfect for bike riding.
Queenstown, South Island
Queenstown is located in the south-west of NZ’s South Island and is often described as New Zealand’s adventure capital. Queenstown is a quaint and picturesque little town that sits on a number of inland lakes and overlooks the mountain range known as The Remarkables.
Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers
Located in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park, the Fox and Franz glaciers are a spectacular sight. In some parts, the glaciers look as if a gigantic river flowing down a mountainous valley has been completely frozen solid. That’s because of these rivers of ice flow from the highest peaks of the Southern Alps all the way down and out towards the ocean. You can take a guided tour and hike across the frozen ice, exploring the shelf of winter frosts.
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