It won’t take much coercing to convince you that New Zealand is one of the most spectacular places on earth. Whether you decide to become mesmerized by the unique volcanic landscapes of North Island or the magical mountains & crystallines lakes of South Island, New Zealand is bound to find a spot on the bucket lists of even the pickiest of travellers.
Although most are familiar with the country’s Anglo-Saxon heritage, it’s the indigenous Maori culture that gives New Zealand’s its unique flavour among former British outposts. Travelling throughout New Zealand, the Maori influences are ever-present whether its in hearing the language echo on the streets or watching its world-famous national rugby team, the All Blacks, challenge their competitors with a traditional haka dance.
Not sure where to begin planning your trip to this fascinating country? Get some ideas with this New Zealand travel guide…
When to visit New Zealand
Despite being just a few hours from Australia by plane, New Zealand boasts a mostly temperate climate with four distinct seasons and all of the “fun” weather swings that go along with. Kiwis often joke that you can experience all four seasons in one day in New Zealand; it’s not so far off the truth!
Choosing the best to visit New Zealand depends on what you’re planning to do. For most travellers, the summer months between December and February present the best weather the country has to offer. This, of course, also brings thicker tourist crowds, higher prices, and strained availability in the New Zealand’s most popular destinations.
Spring (March to May) and Autumn (September to August) are also fantastic times to go to New Zealand. In each of these seasons, you’ll avoid the heavy summer crowds while still experiencing enjoyable temperatures.
Where to go in New Zealand: The top destinations & best places to visit
It’s nearly impossible to pinpoint exactly what you’ll find when travelling in New Zealand. One thing’s for certain: For experiencing nature, this is one of the finest destinations on the planet!
While South Island—with its fjords, glaciers, lakes, and mountains—gets most of the attention, the scenes of North Island are as unique and enchanting. Whether you’re looking to walk through volcanic landscapes, relax to fine glass of wine in an pristine vineyard, paddle along ragged coastlines in a sea-kayak or tramp (the Kiwi term for hiking) through the most divine mountainscapes on earth, have at it in one of the these top New Zealand travel destinations…
Few cities in the world can stake claim to a more beautiful piece of real estate than Auckland. Wedged on an isthmus between the Tasman Sea, South Pacific Ocean and a liberal sprinkling of volcanic mountains, the views from every corner of New Zealand’s biggest city are nothing short of spectacular.
While many travellers set their sights elsewhere in New Zealand (and, perhaps, with good conscience), Auckland isn’t a city you’ll want to miss either. It’s a superb base for tackling some of North Island’s finest scenery—whether it’s lush rainforests, sea-swept beaches, bubbling geothermal parks or small family-run wineries.
Ready to plan your trip to Auckland? Here are a few travel resources…
- One Day in Auckland: A Complete Itinerary
- Where to Stay in Auckland: The Best Areas & Hotels for Travellers
In case you weren’t aware: New Zealand’s got an adventurous side. And nowhere is that spirit stronger than in the thill-seeker’s paradise of Queenstown. Visiting this relatively small South Island staple is a right-of-passage for travellers looking to surge their adrenaline. Surrendering to its call will put all of the world’s most heart-pumping activities on your agenda from bungy-jumping to zip-lining to zorbing (if you gotta ask…)
While many of its new fans visit Queenstown to send their hearts racing, more subdued travellers will have their day as well. For its small stature (in population, not popularity), Queenstown is surprisingly hip. The city’s home to a superb food & drink scene, including over 200 vineyards within less than 40 minutes from the city centre.
And lest we forget the hiking: Queenstown’s also one of the best places in New Zealand to do just that. Ringed around Queenstown (and Lake Wakatipu upon which the city sits) are a multitude of tramping trails ranging from short & easy to long & advanced.
While Auckland may be New Zealand’s biggest city, the capital of Wellington might well be the country’s biggest surprise. Hemmed into the eastern fringes of a harbour-side peninsula by mountain, Wellington sports, much like Auckland, a spectacular geographic location that begs for further exploration.
As far as capital cities go, Wellington is quite small; its population that doesn’t even crack half a million denizens.
In spite of its smaller stature, Wellington punches well above weight in the hip factor. The city is chock-loaded with art galleries, microbreweries, craft beer bars, and cafés, the perfect combo for a happenin’ social scene that keeps travellers and locals alike enthralled.
Transportation in New Zealand
By air: For most international travellers, the best way to get to New Zealand is by air. The busiest international airport in New Zealand is Auckland Airport (AKL). It’s the main international and domestic hub for New Zealand’s national carrier, Air New Zealand, as well as a hub for other international airlines such as Virgin Australia and Jetstar Airways.
By air: If you’re on a tighter schedule, travelling around New Zealand by air might be a good option. Air New Zealand offers the largest selection of routes to major destinations around the country. Air travel, however, tends to be quite a bit more expensive than land transportation in New Zealand.
By bus: For most travellers, getting around New Zealand by bus is the best option. Overall, bus transportation in New Zealand is efficient, budget-friendly, and comfortable. There’s an added bonus when travelling by bus to get a chance to see the natural beauty of New Zealand at its best!