You’ve seen most of Europe and the Mediterranean region after years of short- and medium-haul travel that has taken you to some pretty exciting places. But now you’re ready for your first long-haul trip. Why not New Zealand? There are a tremendous number of must-see New Zealand points of interest that would make for an incredible holiday.
New Zealand is an island nation in the south-western Pacific. It’s also a place that doesn’t tend to get a lot of attention as a travel destination for Brits. That’s truly unfortunate because New Zealand is an incredible and unique place that everyone should see at least once. It’s been my experience that holidaymakers who take one trip to New Zealand find they have to go back again.
Polynesian and European cultures have heavily influenced new Zealand’s history over the last several hundred years. A greater influence, however, has been mother nature. You’ll see that clearly as you check out the seven New Zealand points of interest listed below.
1. Abel Tasman National Park
One of the things I love most about travelling is seeing the differences in geography from one locale to the next. New Zealand is unique in the sheer variety of geographies it offers. A good place to start exploring is the Abel Tasman National Park, located on the northern end of the South Island. This park is not accessible by car, so visitors have to get in on foot or by boat or small plane. Once inside, you’ll be amazed at what you find. Between the crystal-clear waters, mountain landscapes and wild animals, this park is absolutely breathtaking.
2. Napier, Hawkes Bay
Napier is a small city in the Hawkes Bay region of the North Island. But it’s not your average city. Napier was virtually destroyed in 1931 by the most devastating earthquake in New Zealand’s history. Today, the city is one of the most popular New Zealand points of interest due to the architecture that rose after the earthquake. The new Napier was built primarily at the peak of the Art Deco era, and most of the city’s buildings reflect that. In addition to normal tourism, Napier hosts thousands of visitors every February for the annual Art Deco Weekend festival.
3. Franz Josef Glacier
I also like to experience the unusual when I travel. In New Zealand, one of the most unusual experiences is visiting the Franz Josef Glacier located inside the Westland National Park. Why is this must-see New Zealand point of interest so unusual? Because you can walk right up to the foot of the glacier to experience its raw power. There are few other places in the world where glaciers are so easily accessible. And by the way, you can also take a helicopter ride for an incredible aerial view.
4. Tongariro Alpine Crossing
New Zealand is a place of contrasts, as evidenced by the Tongariro Alpine Crossing located on the North Island. It is nothing like the Franz Josef Glacier, that’s for sure. The pass is located in Tongariro National Park and offers a full day experience of hiking in what could be New Zealand’s most beautiful landscape. You may even recognise the region if you’re a fan of the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. Some of the film series’ scenes were staged in the area.
5. Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island is the second largest island in New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf. It is just a 35-minute boat ride from Auckland, so it’s easily accessible when you’re ready to go. Once on the island, you’ll find a collection of vineyards, forests, and olive groves nicely complimented by local shops and cafés. It’s common for tourists to visit the island for the sole purpose of taking a wine-tasting tour before relaxing on the beach for a few hours. The views here are incredible.
6. Milford Sound
Next on our list of must-see New Zealand points of interest is Milford Sound. Located to the south-west of New Zealand’s South Island, this maritime region is extremely popular among tourists who want to see raw nature in its purest form. Author Rudyard Kipling was so impressed with Milford Sound that he affectionately referred to it as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’. When you visit, consider booking a cruise or renting a kayak. You should get out on the water to truly appreciate the remarkable beauty.
You cannot visit New Zealand without making a stop in Queenstown. The city and its surrounding area are considered the adventure capital of the country thanks to the abundance of sports like bungee jumping, mountain biking, skiing, white-water rafting, and even paragliding. And despite a local population of just 14,000, Queenstown is home to world-class hotels, restaurants, and other tourist venues. If you are looking for the right combination of adventure and local life, Queenstown is the place to go.
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- Mount Cook: By giiku (https://www.flickr.com/photos/giiku/16340529756/) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- Abel Tasman: By Hector Garcia from Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain (Sand plants) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- Napier: By Robyn Gallagher from Auckland, New Zealand (Napier from Bluff Hill) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- Franz Joseph Glacier: https://www.flickr.com/photos/haversack/
- Alpine Crossing: By Jeffrey Pang from Madison, NJ, USA (Tongariro Alpine Crossing Uploaded by X-Weinzar) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
- Milford Sound: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dexxus/
- Queenstown: By Lawrence Murray from Perth, Australia (Queenstown from Bob’s Peak) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons