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The 15 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in New Zealand

The 15 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in New Zealand

Traveller in Nice in the South of France

By Caitlin Spouge

Last updated: 17th January 2024

New Zealand is like a huge playground for travellers! Packed full of unparalleled beauty, you’ll never be far from your next adventure with a backdrop as jaw-dropping as the last. Whilst everyone will fall in love with this magical country, it is especially a must-visit for hiking and nature lovers. Read through 15 places you can’t miss off your New Zealand itinerary. 

1. Wai-O-Tapu 

Landscape of Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland in New Zealand

Near Rotorua, you will find Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland, renowned for its surreal landscape and volcanic park, naturally created over thousands of years. You will really be in awe of the wonders of our world! Discover the bubbling mud pools and Lady Knox Geyser. The Wonderland also has a team on hand to teach you all about what you are seeing before you. 

After taking a dip in the nearby hot springs at Kerosene Creek, you’ll head to the incredible Wai-O-Tapu on our New Zealand Adventure group trip. 

Location: Near Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand

2. Hobbiton

Traveller exploring Hobbiton in New Zealand

Step into J.R.R Tolkien’s fantasy world, this is where “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” were filmed! This picturesque village is the dream of fans across the world (and still one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand for those who haven’t read or watched the famous franchise). Hop into hobbit holes, wander lush gardens and see the iconic Party Tree and The Green Dragon Inn. 

You’ll get to explore The Shire on our New Zealand Adventure group trip.

Location: Matamata, North Island, New Zealand 

3. Cathedral Cove 

View of Cathedral Cove at sunset

Tucked away on Coromandel Peninsula on the North Island, Cathedral Cove is a natural masterpiece known for its grand archway! Currently accessible by boat or kayak from the Coromandel, there are so many amazing aquatic activities to try out in the area. You can even join a guided diving trip to discover the underwater world. 

As well as captivating Cathedral Cove, there is a plethora of spots to hike and cycle when you visit the Coromandel. Add this spot to your New Zealand itinerary when renting out a campervan

Location: Coromandel Peninsula, North Island, New Zealand

4. Waikato River

View of Huka Falls in Waikato River in New Zealand

The Waikato River is New Zealand’s longest river, spanning over 400 kilometres from Mount Ruapehu and connecting through the country's largest lake, Lake Taupo. These spectacular waterways hold great significance in Māori tradition and history, providing a system for travel and trade, as well as cleaning and healing. 

Incredible Huka Falls on the Waikato River is a popular spot for travellers to visit and is considered one of the most beautiful waterfalls in New Zealand. Of course, we have to stop off here on our Best of New Zealand group trip. It’s quite a sight to behold due to its roaring waters and vibrant blue hues! 

Location: Waikato River, North Island, New Zealand 

5. Lake Taupō

Travellers looking at Maori Rock Carvings at Mine Bay on Lake Taupo cruise

Created by a massive volcanic eruption over 2 thousand years ago, Lake Taupō is a major tourist attraction, offering a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and exploring the geothermal features of the region. You can witness evidence of the lake’s birth at the Craters of the Moon, which comes to life with incredible hissing sounds and constant steaming. 

On our Work & Travel New Zealand trip, you'll hop on a boat to Mine Bay to see the fascinating Māori rock carvings, only accessible by water. The carvings have become iconic and are a symbol of the important Māori land, as well as the incredible skill passed through generations. Sights like this make the opportunity to live and work in this gorgeous landscape irresistible. 

Location: Lake Taupō, North Island, New Zealand

6. Cape Reinga 

Lighthouse in front of the ocean at the tip of Cape Reigna in New Zealand

At the northernmost tip of New Zealand, you will find Cape Reigna, a sacred spot where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide in a mesmerizing clash of currents. Here you can witness an incredible swirl of waters from the iconic lighthouse perched at the top of the cliffs. Plus, see the ancient pohutukawa tree believed to have stood at the tip for over 800 years. According to Māori history, Cape Reinga is the place where departing spirits leap into the afterlife to Hawaiki. The tranquillity, rugged beauty, and cultural significance make this a must-visit destination for travellers looking to immerse themselves in one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand. 

To visit Cape Reigna, travellers could rent a campervan in New Zealand and stay at a campsite in Kaitaia. Cape Reigna is then a 1.5-hour drive, or you could book a local tour from here up to the Cape!

Location: Northern tip of North Island, New Zealand 

7. Milford Sound

Fjords at Milford Sound in New Zealand

Some describe this breathtaking fjord as the eighth wonder of the world! Travellers and locals alike travel to Fiordland National Park to hop on a boat trip and admire the dramatic cliff faces, carved by ancient glaciers. You’ll glide through the water, passing cascading waterfalls and spot the adorable residents - fur seals, dolphins and penguins. 

During your time on the South Island on our Best of New Zealand tour, you’ll travel from Queenstown to Milford Sound for an included cruise to marvel at the scenery. 

Location: Fiordland National Park, South Island, New Zealand

8. Aoraki / Mount Cook 

View of Mount Cook, known as Aoraki in Maori

Standing proudly as New Zealand’s tallest peak at 3,724 metres, Mount Cook (Aoraki in Māori) invites adventurers and mountaineers from around the world and promises an unforgettable adventure. One of the most famous hiking trails in the world, Hooker Valley, is a beautiful place in New Zealand for its incredible view of Aoraki / Mount Cook. You’ll experience the incredible Hooker Valley walk on our New Zealand Adventure tour. 

Travellers may also want to view Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park from above via a scenic helicopter ride. From the sky, you will fall witness to the breathtaking glaciers, streams and soaring mountain peaks. Adrenaline junkies can even access unique ski slopes via helicopter! 

Location: Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park, South Island, New Zealand 

9. Lake Tekapo 

Lupins lining the bay of Lake Tekapo in New Zealand

If you’re searching for TikTok-worthy sights, you need to add Lake Tekapo to your New Zealand itinerary. Popular simply for being beautiful, the surrounding mountains reflect off the bright blue water. The best time to visit is as the UK begins winter and New Zealand enters spring. The lake becomes surrounded by beautiful purple and pink lupin flowers to create a scene that could seriously be out of a dream! 

Whilst on our The Great Kiwi Adventure tour, you will have the opportunity to get involved in a memorable ‘Dark Sky’ experience at Lake Tekapo. This location is committed to reducing light pollution and, as astronomy is incredibly important to Māori culture, there’s no better place to get an interactive stargazing experience and get a clear view of the Milky Way! 

Location: Mackenzie Basin, South Island, New Zealand 

10. Franz Josef Glacier

Group of travellers on a glacier hike at Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand

One of the most beautiful places to visit due to its uniqueness! Nestled within the Westland Tai Poutini National Park, Franz Josef Glacier shows off the immense power of nature. View the spectacle of icy blue hues, deep crevasses, and towering formations. The contrast of lush rainforest so close to the ice glaciers creates a rare sight! Visitors love to experience this landscape through guided hikes as there are many trails to tackle. The Alex Knob trail climbs over 1,000 metres above sea level and on your adventure, you’ll get views similar to if you were on a scenic flight! Of course, travellers also have the option to hop on a helicopter tour for these views as well. 

You’ll have a free day to choose how you want to experience Franz Josef Glacier on our Best of New Zealand tour. 

Location: Westland Tai Poutini National Park, South Island, New Zealand

11. Fox Glacier

A great alternative for those who don’t fancy the longer hikes offered at Franz Josef Glacier. Whilst Franz Josef trails take approximately a day, Fox Glacier offers an opportunity for visitors to explore one of the most accessible glaciers in the world with hikes that are around 1 hour. Plus, Fox Glacier is just a 30-minute drive from Franz Josef Glacier so it is definitely worth the visit if you enjoyed exploring the icy landscapes!

Location: Westland Tai Poutini National Park, South Island, New Zealand

12. Lake Wakatipu 

View of Lake Wakatipu

Close to the city of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu is the beating heart of the South Island, quite literally. The lake rises and falls every 27 minutes by 20 cm, creating a ‘heartbeat’ effect that is known as a lake seiche. Incredibly, Lake Wakatipu’s natural wonders don’t end there! The lake is shaped in a beautiful Z-shape, thanks to the final ice age over 150,000 years ago. 

You’ll want to hit the water to experience the true magic of this area. Whether you want to sail, jump on a jet boat or kayak, there’s a plethora of ways to do so. A cold plunge on your bucket list? Be prepared, the waters here peak at 8 to 10 degrees Celsius! 

Travellers doing a Working Holiday package on New Zealand's South Island and living in Queenstown will want to explore the wonders of Lake Wakatipu during their free time. This is a great escape from the city! 

Location: Southern Lakes region, South Island, New Zealand

13. Bob’s Cove Track 

As hikers venture along this scenic trail, the path will unveil, arguably, the best view across Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains. The highlight is Bob’s Cove itself, where crystal-clear waters and the secluded bay create a serene haven from the outside world. Soundtracked by birds and the enchanting forest, Bob’s Cove Track invites travellers who love the outdoors and want a day trip away from Queenstown.

Location: Southern Lakes region, South Island, New Zealand

14. Tongariro National Park 

Craters at Tongariro National Park in New Zealand

Tongariro National Park was New Zealand’s first national park and was later named a dual UNESCO World Heritage Site, owing to its Māori significance as well as its natural beauty. The national park’s three volcanoes, Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, create dramatic landscapes to explore.

Travellers can spend the full day adventuring past rich crater lakes on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Alternatively, you may choose the shorter walk on the Silica Rapids Track, which takes only a few hours and is considered more of a hidden gem, with waterfalls and a tranquil feel. 

A great way to experience Tongariro National Park is to hire a campervan and stay at one of the nearby campsites. You can then visit the park via a shuttle! 

Location: Central North Island, New Zealand 

15. The Remarkables 

Landscape of a traveller paragliding with the Remarkables in the background

Grab your skis or a snowboard and explore these snow-capped mountains in style. The Southern Alps create a stunning backdrop that enchants all who visit the region and is renowned for being a playing field for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts alike. New Zealand’s winter transforms this range into a haven for skiing and snowboarding, whilst the summer months invite hikers to explore its alpine trails and witness breathtaking panoramic views. 

You’ll get an especially unique experience of this beautiful place in New Zealand on our Ski New Zealand trip. 

Location: Southern Lakes region, near Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand 

 

There are endless possibilities with spots to explore in New Zealand. Whilst we have covered traveller favourites and hidden gems alike, the captivating thing about this country is you will never be short of adventure, no matter how many times you visit or how long you stay.

Our group trips to New Zealand offer an easy way of seeing the most beautiful places in New Zealand and beyond! They offer a social experience, making the memories of these breathtaking landscapes even more special. You may even be tempted to stay for up to 12 months with great job support, living and working in nature's paradise. Browse our top trips in New Zealand here.   

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