Home of postcard-perfect views
New Zealand tops many adventure-loving travellers’ must-visits lists, thanks to our array of extreme adventure activities like bungy jumping, white water rafting and paragliding (did you know that we invented the commercial bungy jump?)
But while ‘New Zealand’ is often paralleled with ‘adventure,’ we’re also home to some of the biggest most beautiful wide open vistas in the world.
Adventure might be in our blood, but so too is relaxing and unwinding in the great outdoors. If you’re looking for a premium vacation location that has the perfect blend of adventure, relaxation and rejuvenation, the land of the long white cloud should be right up your alley. To get you started, here are our must see 10 most beautiful places in New Zealand.
The northernmost point of New Zealand, Cape Reinga is one of the most isolated and windswept spots in New Zealand. The feature that makes Cape Reinga so special, though, is that it’s a mystical place where two seas collide – and you can actually see the powerful Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea as the meet the tip of the country.
Beautiful in any kind of weather, Milford Sound is one of the most iconic natural features of New Zealand and definitely a must see. It takes a bit of effort to get there (you can catch bus tours from Queenstown or Te Anau), but once you do you won’t regret it. Catch a ferry across the sound and enjoy stunning scenery of native pristine rainforest and deep blue water. If you’re lucky you could see seals and dolphins. Even in the rain Milford Sound is beautiful; tumultuous waterfalls cascade off the cliffs during downfalls.
The tallest peak in New Zealand is understandably one of the most isolated spots in the country. Nestled in the middle of the Southern Alps, Mount Cook towers at 3,724 metres above sea level. A special part of the country that might look familiar if you’ve watched any Lord of the Rings movies, Mount Cook and its surrounding mountain-scape is characterised by wide open spaces, beautiful alpine vistas and the kind of quiet and solitude you can only dream of.
One of the most popular holiday spots in New Zealand and home to some of the best beaches here too, the Coromandel is famed for its contrast between rugged landscape and beautiful coastline. If you’re keen to get one with nature, there are plenty of hikes through untouched forest. If relaxing and reclining on the beach with a good book sounds more like you, the Coromandel is home to beaches like Hot Water Beach, New Chum’s Beach, and the world-famous Cathedral Cove which has featured in many international movies including The Chronicles of Narnia.
A trip to New Zealand isn’t complete without a trip to Queenstown, even if you’re not looking for adventure. Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful places perfect for sight seeing in New Zealand, even by New Zealanders, Queenstown is built on the shores of Lake Wakatipu with the rugged Remarkables ranges soaring above it. Take gentle strolls along the lake or hire a car to explore more of the pristine Otago region. The higher you go the wider the views (although take a jacket because it could get nippy).
Just a 30-minute ferry ride from Downtown Auckland, Waiheke Island feels like a whole other country even though you can still see the city from some spots. Revered for its vineyards, restaurants, beaches and scenery, Waiheke Island is a beautiful spot to relax and rejuvenate when you don’t have much time to spare on your itinerary. Ferries depart Auckland regularly and there’s plenty of public transport, buses, taxis and even scooters to get you around once you’re there.
If you’re looking for a New Zealand experience that’s very much off the beaten track, Lake Waikaremoana could be it. One of New Zealand’s most popular hikes, Lake Waikaremoana lies somewhere between Taupo and Gisborne. An untouched lake perfect for hunting, fishing and getting one with nature, Lake Waikaremoana is truly one of those places where it feels like humans haven’t discovered it yet. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, hike around it – the view from the top is simply incredible (it takes 3-5 days depending on how much time you’ve got).
New Zealand’s rugged west coast is an incredible sight, and Muriwai Beach just out of Auckland is no exception. Home to black sand, great surfing, a gannet colony and so many kilometres of beach as far as the eye can see, Muriwai is a stunning spot perfect for blowing out all the cobwebs.
Just a few minutes out of Tauranga, Mt Maunganui is a favourite among both Kiwi and international holiday-makers. Dominated by ‘The Mount’ at one end, Mt Maunganui offers myriad relaxing cafés and accommodation options right on the beachside. While you’re there take a hike up The Mount to snap some seriously stunning views of the region – you’ll be glad you did.
One of the most historical places in New Zealand, Rotorua offers a perfect balance of relaxation and adventure along with simply stunning views. Relax and unwind with a stroll around the lake or a soak in the natural hot springs. Wander through the Redwood Forest to reacquaint yourself with nature, and if you’re after a day trip to remember, take a drive out to the pristine Lake Rotoiti and Lake Tarawera.