If you’ve ever watched the Lord of the Rings, then you know just how mesmerizing the countryside of New Zealand can be. Yet, New Zealand is more than just beautiful hills and open countryside. To truly experience this geographically diverse landscape you need prepare yourself for an adventure of a lifetime. So, don’t just stand there and come join me as we go through the top seven places in New Zealand you simply don’t want to miss.
This little resort town in the South West of New Zealand is the place to be. Who would’ve thought that a small town of just 15,000 people would become the capital of adrenaline junkies all across the globe? Skydiving, bungee jumping, mountain biking, you name it, it’s there. Now, if you’re not the overly adventurous type, don’t fret; some of the best restaurants in New Zealand are situated here. Go grab some lunch, get a glass of wine, and just enjoy the amazing scenery while the others go about their dare-devil shenanigans.
If you’re coming all the way down to New Zealand, chances are you’re stopping by the capital. If that is indeed the case, then you’re in for a real treat! This ‘coolest little capital’ has a lot to offer, ranging from funky clubs, restaurants, museums and art galleries, the Wellington Zoo, and Zealandia—a protected natural area with a whole closed in eco-sanctuary. However, probably the best view of the city’s bustling night life can be seen from the bow of a cruise ship. Boat tours are becoming increasingly popular, and with good reason. The panoramic view is simply breath-taking and totally worth it, even if you get sea-sick.
3. Cape Palliser
Speaking of water, Cape Palliser is a stretch of magnificent coastline filled with rugged rocky beaches, not two hours away from Wellington. The beauty of it? You get to witness the Rimutakas in all their glory; not to mention the scenic view you get of Wellington on your way through there. Just, whatever you do, don’t let a simple two-hour ride deter you from seeing the classic red and white stripped lighthouse and experience the winding stairs leading up to it.
Of course, one does not simply walk into New Zealand without checking out Hobbiton first. Even if you aren’t a massive fan of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, visiting Hobbiton is—most definitely—a must. This miniature town is a once in a lifetime experience that will bring you back to Middle Earth, and make you wish you were in fact a hobbit minding your own business and drinking ale in front of your tiny house. Leaving Hobbiton and returning back to reality will probably be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do in your life.
5. Takapuna Beach
If you’re an animal lover, then you’ll surely love this one! Not only does Takapuna Beach boast a spectacular coastline, but there are frequent orca and dolphin sightings there as well; especially during springtime. What’s more, you get to eat amazing food in fabulous restaurants with incredible scenery. Though, before you take your lunch break, be sure to go to the dormant volcano, turned island, Rangitot and climb to the top of the summit. You’ll not only burn off all those delicious calories you’ve gained in some of New Zealand’s top restaurants, but also get a panoramic view of Auckland Harbour; truly a site to behold.
You can’t hope to visit New Zealand without experiencing a bit of Maori culture and history. This is where Rotorua—famously nicknamed “The Sulphur City”—comes in. Now, as you might’ve guessed, it got its name due to the many thermal mud pools and geysers near its close vicinity. Apart from the exciting geothermal activity, Rotorua is also the cultural heart of the indigenous Maori people. So, if you stay awhile and listen you might get to learn something about ancient Maori history; not to mention that you might also get a chance to witness the famous Maori war-dance and participate in a delicious feast to die for.
7. Hokitika Gorge
Finally, we come to the one of the most beautiful—but not for the faint of heart–places on our list. Hokitika Gorge is a 33 kilometre long walkway that leads up to a swing bridge that seems like it’s come out of an Indiana Jones movie. The dense forest and the stunning view off the base of the bridge make for a thrilling experience you won’t soon forget; especially so if you’re afraid of heights!
All in all, New Zealand truly is an enchanting place that cannot be so easily presented in a small list such as this. The only way to actually see New Zealand is to experience it. So, get your hiking boots ready, strap your seatbelt, and go on a journey of a lifetime.
Written by Scarlett Gratton