New Zealand is a spectacular island nation in Oceania that you will want to add to your bucket list. The country is known for its natural beauty, great seafood, rich Māori culture, and thrilling attractions.
Between New Zealand’s beaches, national parks, crystalline lakes, and volcanic peaks, plenty of outdoor recreational activities are available to keep you entertained. We also suggest interacting with locals, especially native Māori, to truly immerse yourself in the country’s fascinating history.
This ultimate New Zealand travel guide will cover everything you need to know about the island nation, including where to stay, what to do, and where to eat. We hope that this information will make planning your trip itinerary to this terrific Oceanian destination even simpler.
Before diving into New Zealand’s best attractions, we will go over some essential things to know before booking your vacation.
Currency – The New Zealand Dollar is the nation’s standard currency. In addition, most major credit and debit cards, such as MasterCard, Visa, or Maestro, can be used in New Zealand. ATMs are also scattered throughout the country, especially in metropolitan cities like Auckland. Keep in mind that your bank may have international fees, so we suggest notifying them before traveling.
Language – The three official languages of New Zealand include English, Māori, and New Zealand Sign Language. We suggest brushing up on a few basic Maori terms, at least names of food and destinations, before your trip.
Safety – New Zealand is among the safest countries to visit in the world, making it a hotspot for solo travelers. Yet, as always when traveling, keep your belongings close, watch your surroundings, and secure a safe ride home on evenings out.
New Zealand is a beautiful year-round destination. However, you will want to visit in January or February if you want to experience the best weather. Flights during New Zealand’s peak season are pretty pricey but well worth it to see the island nation’s stunning natural beauty. The cheapest time of year to visit New Zealand is from June through October, with the exception of ski resorts that maintain higher rates through the end of the season.
We could not think of a better destination in Oceania for digital nomads than New Zealand. There are numerous cafes and coworking spaces to get work done in, particularly in the country’s major cities like Auckland and Wellington. Travelers will also encounter little to no trouble when seeking long-term accommodations in New Zealand, whether through a hostel or monthly Airbnb bundle deals.
New Zealand is comprised of six provinces, including Auckland, Canterbury, Nelson, Otago, New Plymouth, and Wellington. There are multiple cities and villages in each, leaving a lot of ground to cover.
While we cannot expect to see every town in the nation, there are a few that you will surely not want to miss. The best cities to seek overnight accommodations in New Zealand include:
Auckland – New Zealand’s largest metropolitan city that boasts a diverse dining scene, various shops, a picturesque harbor, and a lovely green park built on the cone of an extinct volcano.
Rotorua – Situated near many of New Zealand’s top natural and thrilling attractions, Rotorua is an ideal small town for tourists to stay in. There is an abundance of boutique hotels, hostels, and luxurious lakeside or mountaintop resorts around the region.
Nelson – An excellent place to find budget-friendly overnight accommodations at hotels and hostels, making it popular amongst young travelers. The South Island city is also famous for having the sunniest beaches in all of New Zealand.
Queenstown – The perfect New Zealand destination for adventurous travelers who want to spend their days hiking, sailing, and even skydiving. It is near many of the nation’s top attractions, making it a great region for tourists.
Wellington – As New Zealand’s capital city and political hub, travelers will find great overnight accommodations throughout Wellington. It is a safe, fun, and convenient place to stay for families and couples alike.
Now that we covered essential things to know, when to visit, and where to stay in New Zealand, we can talk about the fun stuff. Below we have compiled a list of the island nation’s top attractions and sights to see.
Located on the country’s South Island in the Canterbury region, Mount Cook should be at the top of your trip itinerary. It is New Zealand’s tallest peak near the Tasman Glacier, another noteworthy natural attraction. The views atop Mount Cook are simply breathtaking, making the challenging trek up there incredibly worthwhile.
Fans of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings trilogy may have dreamt of visiting The Shire for ages. Thanks to Hobbiton Movie Tours, you can live out your Middle Earth fantasy on a Waikato sheep farm that doubles as the film’s setting. The vast green farmland was chosen due to its striking similarity to Tolkien’s description and now acts as a museum and event venue.
Fox Glacier is a spectacular natural wonder on New Zealand’s West Coast. Located in Westland Tai Poutini National Park, the massive glacier is accessible via a 2-mile round trip hike. The trail is pretty straightforward with a few steep spots, making it an excellent option for first-timers.
The Huka Falls are the nation’s tallest waterfalls situated along The Waikato River in New Zealand’s North Island near Taupo. This iconic natural attraction is also entirely free, with viewpoints accessible via car or a 30-minute riverside hike. In addition, adventurous travelers may want to.
No trip to New Zealand would be complete without a gondola ride across the town of Rotorua. There is genuinely no better way to view the city, spectacular Lake Rotorua, and its surrounding geothermal pools. If you can’t make it to Rotorua during your trip, don’t sweat it, as Skyline also has a location in Queenstown.
Mount Eden, also known as Maungawhau, is a towering 643-foot (196-meter) volcano in Auckland. Travelers may hike to the top to catch impeccable views of the sunrise over the bustling city and harbors below.
Lake Taupo, the largest crater lake in New Zealand nestled in the foothills of the island nation’s Taupo Volcano. It is the perfect place on the North Island to fish, swim, and watch the sunset over the crystalline water.
You won’t be able to miss this 1,076-foot (328-meters) tall observation tower in Auckland’s Skyline. The Sky Tower features a panoramic walkway, two restaurants, and a virtual reality experience. In addition, it is a popular spot for bungee jumping that any daredevils visiting New Zealand will want to add to their trip itinerary.
For a unique, family-friendly experience like no other, check out the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves on New Zealand’s North Island. The tour consists of a boat ride through the glowworm grotto, where travelers will see twinkling lights throughout. Most tours are led by Maori decedents who explain the intriguing history and legends of the cave.
New Zealand is a fabulous destination for foodies, especially since the island nation boasts some of the world’s best seafood dishes. The country is also famous for its production of kiwis, which is coincidentally a nickname for New Zealand’s locals, though named for a small flightless bird native to the region.
A few dishes and beverages that you will not want to leave New Zealand without tasting include:
Bacon and Egg Pie – A popular breakfast dish served across New Zealand. It is a flaky, golden-brown pastry filled with egg yolks and salted bacon that tastes best served with tomato-based sauces like ketchup, according to local Kiwis.
Hangi – A Maori cooking method in which food, typically fish, pork, and potatoes, are cooked in an “earth oven.” Hangi is actually the island country’s national cuisine and something that you will not want to miss on your trip. It will be a memorable experience with fantastic food!
Māori Boil-Up – A traditional Maori cooking technique that consists of boiling meats like beef or lamb and vegetables in hot water. Some vegetables often featured in this dish include carrots, watercress, cabbage, potatoes, and kumara (sweet potatoes). It is very similar to the Cantonese cooking method called Hot Pot.
Hokey Pokey Ice Cream – A famous New Zealand dessert featuring vanilla ice cream with tiny bits of honeycomb toffee mixed in. You can find it at most ice cream parlors across the island nation.
We figured that after reading this ultimate New Zealand travel guide, you might be ready to book a flight. Get started on your trip itinerary with the help of Passero, where you can view samples and even customize your own plan.
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