10 Most Beautiful Places in New Zealand

When you dream about traveling to New Zealand you dream of those epic landscapes you see on travel brochures, not bustling cities. Well, the news flash here is that those pictures in travel magazines barely do justice to the immense beauty of these islands.

They have it all in their tiny country of only four million kiwis. They have massive mountains, tranquil lakes, 8,700 miles of coast line, stunning national parks, glaciers, curious wildlife, some of the largest trees in the world and fiords that will take your breathe away.

It is my personal opinion that there is so much to love in New Zealand that everyone should visit at some point in their life to experience this extraordinary country!

Though, I never had the opportunity to visit the east coast of the North Island, these are the 10 most beautiful places in New Zealand..based on what I’ve seen with my own eyes!

1. Abel Tasman

Abel Tasman
Abel Tasman

 

I am not coming up with the correct adjectives to describe the visual impressiveness of this place. (Which is why I’m including more than one picture!) Abel Tasman National Park is one of the most magnificent places I’ve ever seen, definitely my favorite hiking destination to date. The entire National Park is on the coast so the hiking trails traverse beaches and mountains, then more beaches and a few hills, then more beaches.

It is one of the official Great Walks and if you are looking for something less challenging than the more famous Milford or Routeburn Tracks, this is perfect for all hikers.

2. Milford Sound

Milford Sound
Milford Sound

 

This is arguably one of the most popular destinations in the country and with good reason. The Milford Sound is breathtaking and you can visit it by water or air! (You can also hike through it on the Milford Track.) You also have a good chance of seeing some wildlife in the sound! Cute little penguins, dolphins, and seals call the Sound home.

Milford Sound Waterfall Rainbow
Milford Sound Waterfall Rainbow

 

3. Routeburn

routeburn
Routeburn

 

Where do I start? I may be a little crazy to say this, but I think everyone should do a great walk during their trip to New Zealand, and the Routeburn would be a perfect choice. There are nine official Great Walks most of which take between 2-4 days to complete. They are all very special in their own way, but the Routeburn takes you into two of country’s best national parks (Mt Aspiring National Park and Fiordland National Park). Most of the hike is above tree line which allows for magnificent views all day long.

4. Cape Reigna

Cape Reinga
Cape Reinga

 

The northern-most tip of New Zealand is where the Māori believe the spirits of the dead go to pass into the afterlife. We were very glad we decided to drive up the gorgeous countryside to see this place for ourselves! In addition to the awesome energy of this place, it was really interesting to see the waters ripple where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean.

5. Banks Peninsula

banks peninsula
Banks Peninsula

 

We were fortunate enough to spend six weeks living on the Banks Peninsula and my feeling is that it is one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand. Not far from the adorable city of Christchurch, there is an atmosphere on the Peninsula that can only be felt, not articulated.

6. Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier
Fox Glacier

 

One of the most epic things I’ve ever done was hike on a glacier and wow, was Fox stunning! I can’t speak from experience, but rumor has it that Franz Joseph Glacier is just as impressive.

7. Punakaiki

Punakaiki
Punakaiki

 

Another natural wonder of New Zealand. Unlike most nature-related sites, Punakaiki is best scene when the weather is rather terrible. When the wind is strongest the waves crash the hardest against the rocks and force the water upwards and it looks like blowholes. To maximize your chance of seeing this you want to be sure to visit at high tide.

8. Wai-o-tapu

Wai-o-tapu
Wai-o-tapu

 

This place should not be missed. It is so unique. It reminds me a little of Yellowstone National Park in the United States. You wander through the Thermal Wonderland of geysers and hot pools that are every color of the rainbow and each completely different than all of the others.

9. Waipoau Forest’s Kaouri Trees

Abel Tasman trees
Abel Tasman trees

 

I feel like this forest is something out of the Lord of the Rings! The Kaouri Trees in the Waipoau Forest are some of the oldest in the world. Unfortunately, most of these trees were destroyed by early settlers for making boats, among other things, the ones remaining are truly remarkable! The most famous tree is also the biggest, and is named Tāne Mahuta, standing at 168ft tall and 45.1 feet in diameter!

10. Kaikoura

Kaikoura
Kaikoura

 

Kaikoura may not be as visually beautiful as the other destinations on this list, but it sure is a magical place. And, it seems anyone I’ve met that has been there says the exact same thing. If we could go back to one place in New Zealand for a visit it would be to Kaikoura. The town is adorable, they have whale watching year round, you can buy fresh-caught lobster from local fishermen, see baby fur seals in the wild, and have snow-capped mountains on one side of you and gorgeous coast line on the other the whole time!

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Kathleen is the one half of Our Favorite Adventure where she and her husband blog about their adventures since they decided to leave behind a conventional life to live a life of perpetual travel. They hope to inspire others to follow their own dreams by sharing their journey! You can follow Kathleen on FacebookTwitterGoogle + and Instagram.

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Agness Walewinder
Agness Walewinder
Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"
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50 thoughts on “10 Most Beautiful Places in New Zealand”

  1. From all that I’ve heard, this post included, you just can’t go wrong in New Zealand! Can’t wait to visit one day.

  2. Jennifer Cooper

    Yes I’ve been to most of these places in NZ – my partners family lives near the Abel Tasman – I love it!!

  3. Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans

    Wai-o-tapu looks otherworldly, but all of these sites look stunningly beautiful. I hope to make it to New Zealand someday soon!

  4. Witam Agness i Cez! New Zealand is so beautiful isn’t it? We love the Abel Tasman as well! The beaches are just perfect!

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Hey guys! We absolutely agree, although we have never made it to New Zealand. These photos make us wanna go there so soon!

  5. I’ve never been to New Zeland and I have to say I’m very tempted after seeing those pictures and reading this post. Wai-o-tapu looks and sounds very unique, I’ve never seen anything similar to it.

    1. Kathleen l Our Favorite Adventure

      Franca, I am a little bit flattered the pictures may have inspired you to visit New Zealand ;) It is absolutely our most favorite place we’ve been yet! Wai-o-tapu is a very unique place! Hope you make it there some day soon!

    2. Agness Walewinder

      I agree with you France, Wai-o-tapu looks and sounds just extraordinary. Who knows… maybe we can make it to New Zealand together one day… x

  6. Agness, I always love New Zealand posts and your’s is right up there! It’s such a beautiful country and I can’t wait to get there someday. That picture of Wai-o-tapu is amazing. I loved your Yellowstone comparison which I’ve been to many times. I know you don’t care for meat, but I’m a huge fan of lamb and I believe it’s a staple there. I would love to eat some home-cooked dishes :)

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Hey Mike. I agree, NZ is so unique and special, especially its landscape and National Parks. Yep, that’s true, I am not a fan of meat but having a home-cooked dish sounds good to me! :)

  7. So exciting to see a blog about my home country!! Thank you for posting this and helping to inspire travelers to make the long long flight over to see us in its far off corner of the world! NZ is very much worth it!! :D

  8. Stef - Food & Photos around the world

    Great post. I totally agree wiith these places (at least those I could visit as well). Abel Tasman and Milford Sounds have been my favorite places too. I’d add the Moeraki Boulders and Lake Tekapo to the list :) Hopefully I am able to visit the missing places soon ;) x

  9. I spent almost three months in New Zealand just after I graduated from university. As I had almost no money I got around the country chiefly by hitchhiking. I met the kindest people and routinely got invited into homes for the night. Looking at these photos brings back some good memories especially of Kaikoura.

  10. How did you find surviving on $25 a day in New Zealand? I am from New Zealand and $25 a day would be very difficult to live on if you aren’t relying on goodwill of locals handing out freebies

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Everything’s possible if you have a great idea and you are not afraid of leaving your comfort zone to save some $.

  11. Pola (@jettingaround)

    I recently saw a photo caption that read, “It’s not Photoshop, it’s New Zealand.” I love mountains (my second love after cities) and have a feeling I wouldn’t put my camera down in NZ.

  12. Rob @ Hungry Escapades

    I absolutely love New Zealand! It took me by surprise after a year in in Oz, I turned up expecting to stay a couple of weeks and leave. Ended up staying 3 months! Will definitely be heading back there. Stunning!

  13. Maria Christina

    Nature can easily attract everyone. Milford Sound looks like an amazing holiday stop. Thinking to plan next holidays in New-Zealand. :)

      1. Thats right! Ive been to Waitomo caves last week to see the glow-worms. Thats was so ecstatic!!!!! One of the best places to visit while you’re still living on earth! ^_^ . It’s like I entered to a new dimension . haha..

  14. Love this tips! Don’t forget about the Catlins though! Penguins and dolphins galore, plus amazing waterfalls, caves, and short treks!

  15. Monica Moriyasu

    Hi folks. Great photos, but please check the spelling of some of the names. Our glorious old trees are KAURI trees. As they are the most well known of the native trees, that one shouldn’t have been too hard:)
    I agree with one other poster…$25 per day for food for 2 people is nuts. NZ is one of the more expensive countries in the world, and as a kiwi, *I* cannot afford to live there.If you are taking good care of your health, those dollars wont go far for 3 meals per day. I would love to know what you ate!

  16. Hi Agnes, greetings from New Zealand. Nice photos. Just one thing, it is Cape Reinga and Waipoua Forest and Kauri Trees.
    Kia ora Lis

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