New Zealand — Attractions
New Zealand’s main attractions showcase the country’s world class natural beauty. Take time to explore both the North Island and South Island – each has its own draws and intriguing Maori and colonial history.
Fiordland National Park
If only visiting one of New Zealand’s 14 national parks, Fiordland National Park on the western coast of the South Island is the biggest and the best. Home to the breathtaking Milford Sound and part of the Te Wahipounamu UNESCO World Heritage site, the area is known for its flora and fauna. There are some incredible hiking and walking trails to be found and you could spend days exploring, kayaking, fishing, hunting, and climbing. The highest peak is the 5,000 foot Elephant, which does resemble a mammal head.
Address: Fiordland National Park, Visitor Centre, Lakefront Drive, Te Ananu 9600, New Zealand
Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland
Located in the central part of the North Island is the Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland, close to the town of Rotorua. Experience first-hand the amazing geothermal and volcanic activity in New Zealand, enveloped in a nice sulfur smell. The park has marked trails leading to a variety of geysers, hot springs, crater lakes, and bubbling mud pools. Home to the famous Lady Knox Geyser, water is spewed to heights of 30 to 65 feet daily. In town at the Hells Gate Geothermal Park & Mud Spa, be sure to enjoy a dip in the hot springs or a therapeutic mud bath.
Address: 201 Waiotapu Loop Road, RD 3 Rotorua 3073, New Zealand
A good place to learn about New Zealand’s Maori culture is the Auckland Museum with the largest collection of Maori artifacts in the world. Join a tour to get the most out of your visit, while seeing exhibits such as a Maori court building and cultural performances like the Haka. The War Memorial Galleries pays tribute to the 3,500 Maori who lost their lives during various battles around the world.
Address: Visitors Services, Auckland Museum, Private Bag 92018, Victoria Street West, Auckland 1142, New Zealand
Westland Tai Poutini National Park
Westland Tai Poutini National Park is home to the famous Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. Located on the west coast of the South Island, visitors can hike the frozen tundra or take a helicopter tour of the area. The colors of the ice formations are incredible and hikers will also find plenty of marked trails to explore, such as the Copland Track. At the end of a long day, enjoy a soak in the neighboring hot springs.
Address: Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre, 13 State Highway 6, Franz Josef Glacier 7856, New Zealand
Waitangi Treaty Grounds
The Treaty of Waitangi was one of the most important documents signed by the British and Maori signifying the establishment of New Zealand in 1840. One of the most historically significant places in the country, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds is home to the Treaty House, great Maori cultural performances and a crafts village.
Address: Tau Huenare Drive, Paihia 0200, New Zealand
Bay of Islands
Made up of over 150 islands, the Bay of Islands, in the northeastern part of the North Island is home to one of the leading marine parks in New Zealand. The area has beautiful beaches and is a great place to see whales, dolphins, and other aquatic life in their natural habitat. The region is best explored from above by seaplane or by boat.
Address: Eastern New Zealand
Tongariro National Park
Lovers of the Lord of the Rings must visit Tongariro National Park, where part of the film was shot. This large park is located in the North Island, just south of the beautiful Lake Taupo and is the oldest park in New Zealand. It covers close to 200,000 acres and has dual UNESCO World Heritage status, due to its incredible landscape and cultural significance for the Maori people. The volcanic features of the park are simply incredible and so is the snow-capped Ruapheu. Hikers will be mesmerized by the Tongariro Alpine Crossing trail. Tolkien fans should also visit Matamata, where the Hobbiton movie set is located.
Address: Tongariro National Park Visitor Centre, Whakapapa Village, State Highway 48, Mount Ruapheu, New Zealand
International Antarctic Centre
New Zealand’s proximity to Antarctica means that the country shares a long history with expeditions dating back to the mid-19th century. At this award-winning interactive museum for the whole family, visitors will be able to learn what life in Antarctica was like. Not only can visitors ride a real Hagglund, one of the vehicles used in exploration, but they can interact with penguins in an indoor/outdoor viewing area. Another highlight is getting to experience the strength of an ice storm, while sliding down a frozen slope.
Address: 38 Orchard Road, Christchurch Airport, Christchurch 8544, New Zealand