Our favorite holiday locations across NZ
New Zealand boasts beautiful, exciting city hubs and tourist spots worth experiencing. Take a step off the beaten path, , and you’ll find adventure, wildlife, and unforgettable experiences tucked into every corner of the island nation.
New Zealand is a land rich with natural resources ideal for exploration. It features 10.1 million hectares of forest, 15,000 kilometers of coasts, and soaring mountains as tall as 3,724 meters.
Gear up and blaze a trail to some of the most breathtaking holiday spots you won’t want to miss.
In the southwest of The Catlins lies the craggy coastline of Waipapa Point, one of the best holiday spots NZ has to offer vacationers who find themselves drawn by the siren song of the sea.
Just a short jaunt from the car park is the Waipapa lighthouse, a charming bit of nostalgia that looks quite cozy tucked away on the white sandy beach. It’s nearly a century-and-a-half old but has been beautifully restored.
It stands as a memorial to the SS Tararua, a steamship wrecked on the Waipapa Point reef in 1881. Sea lions and fur seals like to gather here during the low tide, enjoying a bit of sunshine on the shore.
If you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings (and who isn’t?), you’ll adore holidaying in Matamata, where you can take a tour of the Hobbiton set from the films based on JRR Tolkien’s classic tales of adventure.
Enjoy a two-hour stroll on well-kept trails through the Shire, ending with a visit to the Green Dragon Inn for an ale, cider, or ginger beer.
For those who prefer to explore nature without a tour guide, you can walk the five-kilometre Rapurapa Kauri Track through lush forest displaying ferns and tawa. Follow the stream to reach the ultimate destination, a grove of massive kauri trees.
After your walkabouts, pop by the Opal Hot Springs to soothe your aching muscles in the 37-39°C mineral pools.
Beautiful glaciers, snow-capped mountains, and crystal-clear lakes await you in Wanaka, where the outdoor adventurer can hit the slopes for snowboarding, try your hand at rock climbing, or chase an adrenaline rush while skydiving.
One of the most awe-inspiring areas of Wanaka is the Cardrona Valley, where you can sightsee from atop one of the well-trained trekking horses or a quad bike. As you make your way through the high country, you’ll experience unbelievable scenic views.
After your time in Cardrona, head to Mt. Aspiring National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site where you can explore dense thickets of beech, make your way over ancient glaciers, or gain a new perspective as you tour above the mountains in a helicopter.
Whanganui National Forest
On the southwest coast of the North Island, Whanganui is home to the winding Whanganui River and National Park.
As you make your way through the podocarp lowland forest, over lush hills and valleys thriving with life, you’ll get a glimpse of the Maori culture thanks to the marae meeting grounds that stud the landscape.
One popular trail leads hikers to the Bridge to Nowhere, a disused concrete water crossing over the Mangapurua Stream. It was a public works project intended to bring inhabitants to this forest area following World War II, but the site proved too remote.
The park is also a protected habitat for the endangered blue duck and North Island brown kiwi.
Dive into the sparkling turquoise waters of Kaiteriteri Beach. Before you catch your water ferry, spend some time kayaking, paddle boarding, or just enjoying the sunshine on the golden sanded shore.
Once you’ve had your fill of lounging on the beach, set out to the National Park, for a leisurely tour of the waterways and beech forests. Fluttering amongst the trees, you’ll hear the calls of bellbirds, cormorants, and gannets.
It’s only appropriate that New Zealand’s smallest National Park is home to the smallest penguin species in the world. The korora, or blue penguin, spend their days in the water, only coming ashore after sunset. You may catch a glimpse of them as you stargaze along the coast.
Of course, no expedition through Abel Tasman is complete without an excursion to Tonga Island. It’s home to charming fur seals that feed on squid and love swimming in the Tasman Bay. Come in the summertime to see the wide-eyed, fuzzy-bodied pups while they’re still small.
Following a long day in the forest, head home for a well-deserved rest at the Beach House on the Ridge. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer a luxurious view of Little Kaiteriteri beach.
For the burgeoning naturalist, Dunedin is not to be missed. It is New Zealand’s wildlife capital, where the topography and conservation efforts make it an ideal settlement for some of the world’s most beloved endangered species.
At the Orokonui Ecosanctuary, you’ll meet the tuatara, a unique reptile only found in NZ. The species is the last remaining ancestor of a lizard that lived more than 200 million years ago.
Along the coast of the Otago Peninsula, you’ll find more fur seals, as well as the incredibly rare New Zealand Sea Lion. Be sure to enjoy from a distance, though, as they tend to be highly territorial!
The critters that Dunedin is most famous for are of the winged variety. Along with more blue penguins, you can also meet the yellow-eyed penguin. The Maori call it hoiho, which means “noise shouter,” due to its distinctive call.
Once you’ve had your fill of Stewart Island shags, mischievous kaka parrots, and giant takahe, catch some Zs in the charming Maple Cottage, a quaint home built in the 1890s.
Find Fresh Air and Adventure with Holiday Spots in NZ
Embrace the natural landscape and discover the beauty of holiday spots NZ has on display from shore to shore.
Whether you prefer a beachside lounge chair, spending time meeting local flora and fauna, or getting your heart-racing with extreme sports, New Zealand has something to offer every outdoorsy soul lucky enough to find themselves on the islands.