Often referred to as the best and the most beautiful country in the world, New Zealand is one of the most popular bucket list destinations among avid travelers, and for a good reason. From its magnificent beaches and stunning natural wonders to exciting cities and rich and colorful culture, this South Pacific destination is truly one of the most unique and picturesque countries you’ll ever get to experience. If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, here are some of the best places to visit in order to make the most out of your wonderful vacation:
Enjoy the urban life in Auckland
Being the largest city in New Zealand, it’s no wonder Auckland has so many interesting sights and activities to offer, making it the most popular destination among travelers. Whether you want to experience the culture and history of New Zealand with a visit to the Auckland Art Gallery or you simply want to take in the beautiful nature with a stroll through the Auckland Domain park, this city truly has something to offer for every type of tourist.
With a wide variety of multicultural bars and restaurants, downtown Auckland is ideal for a unique dining experience and a lively night scene, while the city’s more daring side can provide you with an unusual yet incredibly exciting adventure, including climbing and bungee jumping off the Auckland Bridge. No matter what you choose to do, there’s truly no shortage of fun and excitement in Auckland.
Experience the beauty of Christchurch
Although the city has been hit with several large earthquakes during the last decade, Christchurch has stood strong and made a true comeback, becoming one of the most popular New Zealand destinations. Although many of the original attractions, such as the Botanic Gardens, are still standing, the city’s rebirth has also given us some new and entirely unique sites in the form of the beautiful Cardboard Cathedral and a modern outdoor mall built entirely out of old shipping containers.
As this charming city is located in one of the most scenic regions of the South Island, you could also choose to find affordable and easily accessible car rental at Christchurch airport in order to take a quick trip to Port Hills or Godley Head (Awaroa), where you can experience gorgeous parks and reserves, as well as some of the most picturesque trails, and explore the natural beauty of New Zealand at your own pace.
Don’t miss the Milford Sound scenery
Formed by glaciers likely during the Ice Age, the epic landscapes of Milford Sound are filled with towering cliffs rising from fjords, surrounded by statuesque mountains and gorgeous waterfalls. Often called the most beautiful natural wonder in New Zealand, Milford Sound is best experienced via a cruise or a kayaking tour, both of which will allow you to not only gradually take in the raw beauty of untouched nature, but also see stunning wildlife such as charming penguins and dolphins. After exploring the unique scenery from the surface, you can also pay a visit to the Milford Discovery Centre and Underwater Observatory in order to experience the awe-inspiring underwater environment while going as deep as 30 feet (9m).
Scout Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley
From boiling mud pools that can reach a temperature of over 90°C (200°F) to magnificent active geysers, including Pohutu, one of the largest active geysers in the world, the Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley is truly a sight not be missed when visiting New Zealand. What’s more, this area is home to the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, one of the best places to explore the rich history and heritage of the Maori culture.
Apart from experiencing the traditional Maori welcome ceremony, with the accompanying song and dance performance, you can also get a taste of the authentic “steambox” meal prepared using ancient cooking techniques at this incredible Maori heritage center.
Explore the Waitomo Glowworm Caves
A distinctly unique and undeniably memorable scene, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves are naturally illuminated by thousands of glowworms, making for a dark and moody yet absolutely breathtaking experience. If you want to learn more about the history of the caves, as well as the scientific processes behind this phenomenon, a great idea would be to take a scenic boat ride through these awe-inspiring hollows.
However, if you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous, this eccentric destination also offers an exhilarating black-water rafting experience, allowing you to try everything from rappelling down cave walls to jumping off waterfalls. Regardless of how you choose to explore this natural wonder, there’s truly no denying the Waitomo Caves will provide you with a once-in-a-lifetime experience you can hardly duplicate anywhere else.
From untouched rocky terrains to the most unique urban cities you’ll ever see, New Zealand truly offers some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in the world, making it the ideal destination to check off your bucket list this year.