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New Zealand, attractions, things to do and places to visit, the definitive travel guide

  • 7 minutes
In this Article

Top things to see and do in Aotearoa New Zealand

TOP 11 ATTRACTIONS

Kia Ora, Welcome to Aotearoa, Land of the Long White Cloud, New Zealand.
EXPLORE THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

In this Article

Open the definitive travel guide for New Zealand and your holiday is sorted. BEST BITS travel guide explains things to do, attractions, where to go and places to visit. Here is the guide about New Zealand from geography, transport, weather, touring routes, itineraries from a weekend to 14 days, where to stay for key activities …

NEW ZEALAND ATTRACTIONS, TOP 12 PLACES TO VISIT

Discover New Zealand, 100% pure scenery with an extraordinarily diverse landscape for all tastes and experiences. Grab adrenaline induced adventures or enjoy a leisurely brunch in a vineyard courtyard. Absorb 100% pure New Zealand fresh air, open spaces and a unique Maori culture. Places to go and attractions offer year round things to do from winter skiing, lingering in a fascinating museum, markets showcasing local creative talent to a cosy fireplace with farm to plate food platters and award winning craft brew.

BEST BITS New Zealand definitive travel guide is a companion to the indepth BEST BITS Regional Guides and the quirky amusing Kiwi Towns with their personalised commentary on the hidden corners of Aotearoa New Zealand.

 

NEW ZEALAND BUCKET LIST – 12 MUST-DO SIGHTS

Unforgettable 100% New Zealand bucket list destinations where lifetime memories are created.

Sunset Mueller glacier Aoraki mt Cook, New Zealand
Sunset Mueller glacier Aoraki mt Cook
  1. FIORDLAND NATIONAL PARK AND MILFORD SOUND, SOUTH ISLAND

Waterfalls and mist create an otherworldly experience. Fiordland is a must-go for visitors who relish the outdoors. Glaciers carved the landscape of the fiords of Milford, Dusky and Doubtful. The moody natural landscape is timeless and a place of imposing beauty.

  1. SOUTHERN ALPS AND AORAKI MT COOK

Top sights include the magnificent mountain ranges of the Southern Alps. Lace the hiking boots for the Hooker Valley walk and enjoy sweeping views of Aoraki Mt Cook. McKenize country lakes mirror clouds and mountain peaks in their depths giving photographers glorious scenic landscapes to capture. Take in the views as you grab a selfie at the Church of the Good Shepherd. Spend time relaxing at Lake Tekapo reveling in the fresh air of Aoraki National Park.

  1. WILDLIFE, BIRDS AND ANIMALS

Enjoy encounters with a cheeky alpine parrot, the kea or tread quietly to observe the rare blue penguins in Oamaru. Spend time exploring marine worlds and view Hector’s dolphin or slumbering seal lions in The Catlins. Kaikoura, South Island is where you will become fascinated with the mighty whales on their migration routes. Delve into marine depths in Tutukaka, Poor Knights Island and glimpse  a rich watery ecosystem fed by tropical currents.

Relish time spent on the Okarito Lagoon where elegant herons soar above the rushes and reeds. Wonder at the marvel of thousands of gannets at Cape Kidnappers, Hawke’s Bay. Observe thousands of migrating shorebirds on the chenier (shell) beaches of Miranda, Auckland.

Okarito Lagoon, West Coast, New Zealand
Okarito Lagoon
The Catlins, find a quiet spot and relax, New Zealand
The Catlins
  1. OUTDOORS NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand’s unique unforgettable landscapes range from Rotorua’s volcanic earth power, fantastical Moeraki geological formations or Mt Taranaki’s walks where goblins were filmed (Lord of the Rings) in gnarly twisted forest settings. Spent time in the remote beautiful central Otago’s folded gold tussock hills; the setting for the award winning film,The Power of the Dog.

Chill out, relax and unwind in 100% pure outdoors New Zealand. New Zealand offers diversity within short distances of each other from wind swept Catlins with its dozing New Zealand seals to soaring magnificent albatross over the Otago peninsula. Nearby, in the cutness stakes Oamaru penguins waddling in the dusk tug at heartstrings.

  1. ROTORUA

Rotorua is located on the Pacific ring of fire and offers visitors a chance to indulge in therapeutic mud baths or relish a soak in warm mineral pools. Enjoy stunning views from a redwood forest and the glimmer of deep blue lakes. Wonder at the earth’s power as the powerful Pohutu geyser displays raw energy with a boiling fountain of steam. Wai-O-Tapu is impossibly photogenic with its beautiful champagne mineralised pools and Lady Knox geyser, a well known favourite spot for a quick instagram shot. Rotorua offers visitors a chance to explore a living Maori village and participate in the lives of the locals with a shared hangi (meal).

Traditional Maori house in Rotorua, North Island, New Zealand
Traditional Maori house in Rotorua
Huka Falls waterfall in Wairakei near Lake Taupo in New Zealand
Huka Falls waterfall in Wairakei near Lake Taupo
  1. LAKE TAUPO

Lake Taupo is a mecca for water sports enthusiasts with kayaking to Maori rock art and water skiing one of the largest lakes in the southern hemisphere. Enjoy the spectacular Huka falls on a short walk past natural hot pools, regenerating forest and a great golf course where animals freely wander in a predator free sanctuary.

  1. TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK

Discover the joy of trying your hand at trout fishing the Tongariro River, exploring the shared Tongariro River Trails or ticking off the bucket list the Tongariro Crossing. The Central Plateau Tongariro National Park manages to pack a lot of activities to offer visitors from skiing Mt Ruapehu in winter to summer day hikes and afternoon high tea at one of New Zealand’s historic hotels, the Chateau Tongariro.

  1. QUEENSTOWN – ADVENTURE CAPITAL OF NEW ZEALAND

Scenery is a bonus when you abseil rock canyons into pools or bungy jump off a historic railway bridge in Queenstown. Queenstown is a must-go magnet for visitors offering a diversity of things to do. Queenstown’s attractions range from the magnificent Remarkable mountain range, beautiful Lake Wakatipu and its year round lakeside entertainment, walking trails, eateries and off road 4×4 exploration. Nearby Arrowtown, a picturesque 19th century gold rush era Victorian town conjures up images of another time. Visitors get a chance to shop in stores where people have trod for over 200 years.

Skydiving adventure over Queenstown, South Island, New Zealand
Skydiving adventure over Queenstown
Caucasian man taking a selfie with smartphone in Split Apple Rock, Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand
Split Apple Rock, Abel Tasman National Park
  1. BAY OF ISLANDS HERITAGE & HISTORY

Discover the bicultural story of Aotearoa New Zealand. Visitors get to listen to the tales, legends and stories at Waitangi Treaty Grounds and Mana Footsteps of Kupe in the Hokianga.  Heritage towns of Russell, Paihia and Kerikeri are ideal places to stay while exploring the area.

  1. ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK

A pocket sized national park with impossibly gold fine sandy beaches, emerald forest and the Abel Tasman Coastal walk showcases New Zealand outdoors. The park is part of Nelson province where wineries, a sophisticated art and crafts scene attracts a diverse range of visitors intent on enjoying everything Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park has to offer.

TIP: Don’t forget your selfie of Split Apple Rock while kayaking on a waka (canoe) to this extraordinary rock natural sculpture.

  1. COROMANDEL BEACHES

Got a spade? Hire or purchase one from the convenience store and start digging your own natural hot mineralised spa at the beach at low tide. Hot Water beach is a top sight and together with the walk to Cathedral Cove you have the makings of a great holiday.

TIP: Photo moment at Chums Beach is a must-do for a special selfie moment.

  1. NAPIER HAWKE’S BAY

Fancy getting into the flapper dress or nifty jacket circa the 1930’s then Napier with its extensive art deco architecture is the place to sip locally produced wine and sample the bounty of Hawke’s Bay produce.

Cathedral Cove incoming tide sunset
Cathedral Cove

New Zealand has a diverse range of attractions from Cape Reinga, Northland and the Instagram famous lighthouse to the magnificent Southern Alps. Wrap your visit around several days in Auckland, and you have New Zealand on a plate.  Rotorua is a must-go experience where the earth’s ring of pacific fire is on full display. Perhaps heritage buffs will plan for several days in Dunedin discovering Victorian splendour or mull over the life of 19th century gold prospectors in Arrowtown, Queenstown. Consider the prospect of viewing soaring Royal Northern Albatross or waddling penguins …  your bucket list just got bigger

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Check out Amazing 12 New Zealand Attractions for more holiday inspiration.

 

SUSTAINABLE TOURISM – RESPONSIBLE TRAVEL IN NEW ZEALAND

Threaded through the unmissable scenery, the outdoors is our Tiaki promise.

BEST BITS travel guides foster and support ethical tour operators and accommodation providers who care about Aotearoa New Zealand. Your journey will be immersive and interact with the environment, the culture and wildlife in ways that create life-time memories. For many travellers this is a non-negotiable cornerstone of what 100% Pure New Zealand offers visitors. Sustainable tourism holidays range from conservation volunteer work to enjoying the quiet wonder of New Zealand wetlands.

100% PURE NEW ZEALAND – WALKS, TRAILS AND HIKES

Breathe deeply 100% in pure New Zealand spaces. Aotearoa New Zealand has the luxury of offering visitors room to breathe. Grab the moment and walk trails where people have lightly trod. From short easy walks to multiple day hikes on world beating tramps it does not get any better. Relish choices galore for visitors, from Abel Tasman Coast walks on sandy beaches and lush forest strolls in Northland’s Waipoua Kauri forest trails. Consider joining a Tongariro Crossing challenging alpine trek. There is a walk for all seasons and all fitness levels.

NATURE, GARDENS & PARKS IN NEW ZEALAND

NEW ZEALAND WATERFALLS

WATERFALLS – NEW ZEALAND’S BEST FALLS TO VISIT

The irresistible drawcard of a waterfall is a top New Zealand attraction. Mountains, rivers, lakes and forests are the backdrop for stunning waterfalls. It is not difficult to find a waterfall in New Zealand suitable for everyone to access and spend time at. Let the flow of water soothe the soul and the spray / mist create a magical moment.

NEW ZEALAND ADVENTURES

TOP MUST-DO ADVENTURES,NEW ZEALAND

Discover mountains, lakes and rivers where adventure goes hand in hand with the thrilling jet boat ride or the scream of joy as you plunge off a bridge into the surging waters of glacial fed rivers.

Who thought of jumping, from a great height off a railway bridge; from a cliff face? AJ Hackett, kiwi adventurer, contributed to amazing adventures kiwi style, the iconic bungy jump. Still going and still adrenaline seeking sheer joy is available from its original location in Queenstown to the Auckland sky tower with a city as the backdrop as you scream your way downwards, very fast.

New Zealand offers adventure tourism with the scenery as the star. New Zealand scenery is the backdrop to rafting white water Mohaka river adrenaline inducing grade 4+ river. The Tongariro grade 3 river offers challenges to beginners with time to absorb the glorious scenery. The Pelorus river introduces kids to the joy of rafting, and legendary Black Water Rafting, Waitomo are another original adventure tourism venture. A classic is Kaituna Cascades where you finish the rafting trip plunging down a waterfall with tourists busy snapping photos from a nearby bridge. Consider the thrill of jumping off rock faces into pools below as you canyon down rock slides with Raglan Rock.

TOP 12 ADRENALINE ADVENTURES IN NEW ZEALAND

Adventure is what the country does best. Those mountains, the surging white rivers and the culture of ‘give it a go’ mean New Zealand delivers your next excitement.

learn more
@raglanrock
Raglan Rock, New Zealand @raglanrock

The drama of skydiving over rural landscapes. 100% pure energy memories when you have a ‘Let’s go for it moment.’ Getting dirty, jumping off cliffs, mountain biking through pristine forests and going off road is so important that it’s a category of its own in the regional travel guides.

AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND HISTORY, HERITAGE and all of that stuff …

We admit it, New Zealand has only recently been occupied by people.

Documented archeological evidence reaches back to the 12th century with an oral tradition tracing roots further. Forget looking at 2000 + year old stone ruins when Aotearoa New Zealand offers the challenging alternative of the creation of a contemporary democratic country. The trials and tribulations are on full display at Waitangi and Ruapekapeka pa battle site and the joy of success is narrated and debated at Te Papa National Museum.

Te Papa National Museum New Zealand
Te Papa National Museum
Clendon House, Jane Clendon and husband sculpture, Rawene, Hokianga, New Zealand
Clendon House, Jane Clendon and husband sculpture, Rawene, Hokianga

MAORI CULTURAL ATTRACTIONS

Aotearoa New Zealand is home to a unique polynesian culture, the Maori. Vivid enactments narrate Maori ancestral links to the world class navigating skills of East Polynesia at Mana, Footsteps of Kupe, Hokianga. Whakatane has the tale of a beautiful meeting Mataatua Wharenui that spent 130 years traveling the world. Now it is safely back where it belongs with a fascinating story to tell.

Places and people capture Maori links; no better than Waitangi, Bay of Islands where the story of the founding document, Treaty of Waitangi has its origins. Discover the daily lives of Top 10 Mission Stations to Visit in Northland and the struggles against the whaling industry early missionaries faced.

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Look at the name of a place and find out what it means. The story starts with the name…

TOP SIGHTS – MAORI ATTRACTIONS, PLACES TO VISIT IN NEW ZEALAND

  • Ahipara weaving and fibre centre where skilled artisans capture Maori beliefs in robes, capes, baskets and decorative objects
  • Mana Footsteps of Kupe. The Hokianga was a landfall for Kupe, a legendary East Polynesian navigator. His voyage and the eventual settlement of Maoris in New Zealand is brought to life (Ompare, Northland) in an vivid interactive digital story
  • Waitangi is the heart of the story of the beginnings of contemporary Aotearoa New Zealand. The green manicured lawn reaching out to the bay with the flagpole fluttering in the breeze
  • Whirinaki Forest Footsteps, guides explain the relationship between the forest, the land and the people
  • Footprints in Waipoua introduce you to the ancient forest giant, over 2000 years old, the kauri tree
  • Rotorua offers a sophisticated Maori cultural experience for visitors. Check out Rotorua attractions and activities from Maori hangi (outdoor food preparation) to visiting a living village surrounded by steaming vents to contemporary art and craft galleries showcasing talented Maori artistry.
  • Kaiteriteri is home for Waka Tours Abel Tasman. Their beautifully painted waka (traditional double hulled canoes) are a great way to test your seafaring skills.

NEW ZEALAND HISTORY & HERITAGE ENTHUSIASTS WILL BE ENTERTAINED & INTERESTED …

Top sights in Aotearoa New Zealand include

  • Historic settler cob cottages, pastoral homesteads, heritage hotels
  • Towns where Victorian / Edwardian ornate grandeur is part of the cityscape
  • Art Deco Napier escapulating an era of pre-war (WW II) glamour
  • Stories of defeat, of triumph and the massive colonial power of the British Empire battle with local Maori in the New Zealand Land Wars
  • Pre-European Maori archeological sites where strategic positioning, access to food resources continues to be important today
  • Wellington with its storehouse of governmental buildings beautifully detailed in the exquisite timber framed current Wellington University, Law School campus
  • Gold rush prospectors in the 19th century left a trail in Otago of tailings, abandoned buildings, rusting equipment and memorabilia as fascinating evidence of the gold rush fever
  • Larnach Castle is authentic and the idiosyncratic legacy of a 19th century banker and politician
  • Museums in regional towns narrate the stories of locals with a multitude of photographs, material objects and vintage goods, check out our heritage trails for a guide what to do and see in an area

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NEW ZEALAND REGIONAL GUIDES have a dedicated section to heritage & culture with descriptions of museums and galleries.

 

NEW ZEALAND REGIONS – WHERE TO GO AND WHAT TO SEE

New Zealand offers a tantalising selection of attractions and places to visit.  BEST BITS Regional Guides offer visitors an indepth review of places to go and things to do. The informative travel guides detail the where, the how and area’s attractions. Getting there and around is sorted with Best Bits.

NEW ZEALAND HAS A WEALTH OF WORLD BEATING REGIONAL HERITAGE ATTRACTIONS

  • From Dunedin’s Victorian charms, art galleries to Blenheim, Marlborough with an original award winning Omaka Aviation Museum.
  • From Northland’s Kerikeri historic precinct with Rewa’s village and Stone Store to Whangarei, a pacific bastien of the artist and architect Hunderwasser.
  • From New Plymouth with its glassed Len Lye sculptural building to Tongariro, a sleepy cousin next to Taupo and home of the famed Tongariro River Trail.
  • From Wellington’s quirky military history to Cooks Strait ferry destination Picton and the Queen Charlotte Track.
  • From the Tranzalpine train to Greymouth, West Coast home to the evocative Denniston Plateau, the feats of gold and coal mining and its legacy.
  • Southland with its history of moonshine whiskey, whaling and Humpback trail wrapped around Invercargill’s Victorian legacy await the discerning travellor.
  • Make time, slow down and savour the breath of fresh air in 100% Pure New Zealand.

BEST BITS does not want you to miss out on the hidden corners of Aotearoa New Zealand. In fact you might have to plan an extended holiday to pack into your growing bucket list. Check out kiwi towns and regional centres for your one of a kind downunder kiwi holiday.

Marine Parade rare Victorian, Edwardian villas gracing the main street, Napier, New Zealand
Napier

KIWI TOWNS & REGIONAL CENTRES – HIDDEN GEMS – THE JOURNEY IS WORTH A DETOUR

The classic New Zealand whistle stop tour has a North Island roll call of easily identifiable cities and towns: AUCKLANDTAUPOROTORUA

South Island roll call of easily identifiable cities and towns: NELSONCHRISTCHURCHQUEENSTOWN

The classic arc of cityscapes, memorable visitor attractions in Auckland, Taupo, Rotorua are part and parcel of a classic one week / two week trip in the North Island. The South Island destinations are about the undeniable glory of the scenery with Queenstown and Nelson nestled among New Zealand’s captivating landscapes.

PASIFIKA CULTURE – NEW ZEALAND

Auckland is the natural home of Pasifika culture, the blend of polynesian pacific influences created out of the migration of Pacific peoples to the urban centre of Aotearoa New Zealand, Auckland. Unmissable is the annual Pasifika summer festivals where rhythmic beating drums definitely get the toes dancing. The story of migration, of the contribution of the Pacific is narrated in street art, food markets, regional museums and collections and in the cultural identity of Auckland.

Auckland New Zealand on a plate is an ideal place to experience the vibe of Pakifisca culture.

Pacific arts such as weaving, crochet, tapa making and music are practised by master artists, working alone or in groups. Some use contemporary materials, commonly upcycling woven polypropylene rice sacks. Their work is seen at events such as the Pasifika Festival, Polyfest and community and church events.

 

Auckland, New Zealand Pasifika Art

With Auckland the home to the largest polynesian population in the world it is a natural artistic hub. Major festivals are hugely popular from the Pasifika Festival, Style Pasifika and the Southside Arts Festival. Arts are sold at markets in South Auckland, which is also the base for many creative groups.

  • Attend the Otahuhu weekend market where the locals shop and taste your way around the Pacific
  • Art galleries and festivals showcase local artists of Pacific origin. Look for the well known names of Artists including Niki Hastings-McFall, Ani O’Neill, John Pule and Michel Tuffery. Emerging artists, Vivian Aue, Andy Leleisi’uao, Ronald ‘Ronnie’ Tua, Ridge Ponini, Lindah Lepou and Tupe Lualua have been recognised for their talent with Emerging Pacific Artist awards.
  • The most visible contribution of artists of Pacific heritage to mainstream arts has been in performing arts – music, dance, theatre, film and television. Musicians of Pacific heritage in the 1960s included Samoan singer Mavis Rivers, Tongan guitarist Bill Sevesi and Samoan singing group the Yandall Sisters. Later musicians included Ladi6, Che Fu and Brooke Fraser, and classical singers Iosefa Enari and Ben Makisi.Black Grace and MAU were successful dance companies, while the Palace Dance Studio excelled at hip hop dance.
Pasifika festival, New Zealand @The CoconetTV
Pasifika festival @The CoconetTV

TOP 12 BEAUTIFUL PLACES TO VISIT IN NEW ZEALAND

Aoraki Mount Cook beautiful sunset photo, New Zealand
Aoraki Mount Cook
  1. Mountains, mirror lakes and the Southern Alps. Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park. Glacier country and Haast Pass is another alpine favourite for its stunningly beautiful scenery
  2. North Island wild west coast beaches from Piha with its driftwood strewn iron sand beaches or Muriwai where the gannets roost. Raglan with …. And Surf Highway with the ocean swells and dedicated lycra lad surfers a dot on the horizon as the sea roars
  3. Cape Reinga. Two oceans …. Meet and the spirits of the deceased return to ancestral Hawakii (Maori traditional belief) A lighthouse is a solitary reminder
  4. Lake Tekapo and Hooker Valley offer stunning vistas of the Southern Alps with the wide open spaces giving grandeur to the mountain ranges
  1. Milford Sound and Fiordland where the sense of remoteness, the misty atmosphere and waterfalls cascading past lush rainforest into the tannin depths of the fiords invokes an otherworldly landscape
  2. Coromandel peninsula, Cathedral Cove & Kaiteriteri Beach sum up the joy of summer holidays in New Zealand
  3. Mount Taranaki. The sheer symmetrical beauty of a solitary mountain peeking into view with a band of cloud circling its base is a thing of perfection
  4. Hokitika Gorge is impossibly gorgeous with the glacial flour (fine rock) filtering light to create an intense blue reflecting against rock formations and dense forest. There is an adorable swing bridge to add picturesque charm to the scene. And everybody wants a snap of the famous tiled concrete sofa on Hokitika’s beachfront
Volcano Taranaki. New Zealand. Cape Egmont. Natural ecological clean island
Mt Taranaki
Fiordland Crested penguin, tawahi, Munro beach, West Coast, New Zealand
Fiordland Crested penguin
  1. Lake Taupo is a lake so enormous that it has tides and waves. It reaches into the horizon as a watery landscape. Water sports abound, find Maori rock carving and quiet beaches
  2. Kiwi towns with intact Victorian / Edwardian streetscapes from Napier’s well known art deco elegance to Fieldings
  3. Wildlife New Zealand, Royal Northern Albatross and Fiordland Crested Penguin are heart warmers
  4. Festivals, the sheer joy of street eats, live entertainment and enjoyment

NEW ZEALAND BEST PLACES FOR A SUNSET PHOTO

Luscious scenery, long low sunsets and a scarcity of people creates ‘me’ moments when the camera easily focuses on you and your loved ones. Remember to check out the regional guides for the romantic moments as there are plenty of tips where to go for sunset photo moments together.

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Kiwi towns have a section ‘Where to take the best selfie’ … on the road, let your fingers do the walking and check out where to grab a unique photo location in the town coming up on the horizon.

Hang on … more coming soon.

Sunrise at Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo, South Island, New Zealand
Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo, South Island

THE ODD, UNUSUAL, SPOOKY AND FASCINATING PLACES TO VISIT IN NEW ZEALAND

From the world’s biggest weta (insect) to peculiar shaped rock formations New Zealand has plenty of odd, unusual and fascinating places to go. Cemeteries are a favourite place for a picnic. Odd for some people and others feel quite at home in the place where the bodies are buried.

NIGHT SKY OBSERVATIONS IN NEW ZEALAND

There is even an online resource to help visitors track where to go, Aurora Service (Australis) perfect to assess the weather conditions for your night peering into the skies above

Hang on … more coming soon

 

SEASONS IN NEW ZEALAND

The best time to visit New Zealand is year round. From glorious gardens with their seasonal colour and foliage displays to summers exploring the great outdoors or simply collapsing on a beach New Zealand has plenty to offer visitors. Skiing is a popular winter activity in the South Island as well as the Central North Island alpine plateau.

WHAT TO DO IN SUMMER IN NEW ZEALAND

WHAT TO DO IN WINTER IN NEW ZEALAND

GARDENS AND PARKS IN NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand with its temperate climate, sufficient rainfall

 

LUXURY ATTRACTIONS, WELLNESS AND GETTING AWAY FROM IT ALL IN NEW ZEALAND

Remote hideaways to stunning cliff top locations overlooking the Pacific ocean New Zealand has a wealth of accommodation options offering visitors a luxurious escape from the hustle of life.

FOOD, FEAST, EAT & DRINK IN NEW ZEALAND

The bounty of the sea, Kaikoura crayfish or scallops in Whitianga, Coromandel.

Luscious fresh fruit from the Hawke’s Bay and Nelson ensure summer’s seasonal treat of roadside stalls is a holiday staple.

Wine regions tempt visitors to linger in vineyard courtyards with an award winning drop. From Auckland’s three wine growing districts to the Hawke’s Bay and boutique Martinborough region the North Island does not disappoint. Marlborough and its world class sauvignon blanc vineyards is a treasure worth exploring and Nelson is just 2 hours away. Canterbury and Otago offer cool climate wine variations.

Craft brewing is a fun way to taste your way across New Zealand with family owned businesses offering special tastes incorporating the herbs of New Zealand.

Gin distilleries in Reefton and elsewhere showcase the developing range of taste available.

Pasifika fusion cuisine experiments with the traditional ingredients of New Zealand offering visitors a chance to savour unique flavours.

ITINERARIES – GETTING AROUND & ABOUT NEW ZEALAND

The roadie, the breath of fresh air and the space to decide when and where to stop are yours on a classic Aotearoa New Zealand road trip. Experience the joy of mulling over your road journey in New Zealand. Scenic highlights are a given as the place is impossibly beautiful. The quintessential New Zealand road trip is discussed with recommended routes, time taken and key highlights.

Check out Itineraries, touring routes and get New Zealand google maps downloaded.

Air New Zealand mornig glory over South Island
Air New Zealand morning glory over South Island

HOW TO PLAN YOUR NEW ZEALAND ROAD TRIP?

Here are some tips on travel planning tips for a self-guided road trip to New Zealand.

THE BEGINNING – QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF …

WHERE DO YOU WANT TO GO AND IN WHICH DIRECTION?

For overseas visitors there are two major international hubs

  • Auckland, North Island
  • Christchurch, South Island

Perhaps the airlines are marketing specials from Australia to Queenstown (regional international airport). Think about an extra day to unwind and get into the holiday spirit, check out what to do in the locality.

WHICH IS THE BEST DIRECTION TO TRAVEL?

Auckland to Wellington or Wellington to Auckland …

You are going to see the same places however in a different order.  However rental cars can have a cheaper option on one way returns if you are traveling against the flow of tourist traffic.  A call to a rental company will answer that question.  This could influence your decision about direction.

HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU HAVE TO TRAVEL AS THIS INFLUENCES WHAT YOU CAN SEE AND DO?

How much time is needed to see New Zealand is influenced by the proposed distance between bucket list destinations.

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It is recommended you shorten the distance (sigh you really wanted to see those …) to ensure you only drive 150km average per day.  That’s plenty of time to get out of the car and see things.  Even better if you have more than one night, in at least two places to make a destination a hub where you simply move from point A over a period of two or more days.

Plan a road trip with a maximum traveling distance, for each day between 100km to 200km.  The exception being the last day when you have a plane to catch.

Motorhome RV camper van road trip on New Zealand
Lake Pukaki

HAVE YOU KEY ATTRACTIONS OR ACTIVITIES THAT ARE ON YOUR MUST DO LIST?

Your must do list of New Zealand attractions is also influenced by budget. If the must do list is not in a straight line then you can spend your holiday budget on simply getting around. Check your destinations are linked from one place to another. Use our itineraries as a guide as BEST BITS has done the hard work for you.

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Remember to Include flights or travel to route origin and route destination places.  Then there are activities, entrance fees, averaged accommodation cost, food and beverage costs, insurance and rental vehicle cost, including fuel.  This could influence your route.

Hiking Pouakai crossing in bad weather with strong wind and poor visibility. Under prepared for the rapid changing conditions of Egmont National Park, New Zealand
Hiking Pouakai

WHAT IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT NEW ZEALAND – THE WEATHER?

Weather, are you ready for the low season weather forecasts of cool temperatures and rain.  The time of the year influences the cost of travel as well as your personal comfort zone. A favourite time of the year is between December to mid March (summer season).

The best time to visit New Zealand is summer between December to March with long daylight hours and temperatures between 16°C to 24°C. As a country where scenery is the number one attraction, summer is perfect for beaches, forest walks, outdoor adventures and cycling.

Now you are ready to work out the details for your holiday.

HOW TO PLAN A HOLIDAY IN NEW ZEALAND?

Check out the list of itineraries for the North Island, South Island, & all of New Zealand. From the iconic Rotorua mud pools to Fiordland National Park there are touring routes for all age groups and interests.

BOOKING

  1. Choose direction of travel, distance to be traveled in total and distance between major towns where you plan to stay.
  2. Choose key attractions and guided tours, calculate time required to participate in each activity.
  3. Work out the number of nights required in places where you will book accommodation.
  4. Work out the route and record the number of nights in each place where you plan to stop.
  5. Book accommodation and/or key activities.  TIP  Hotels remember to check their direct website as specials are usually not listed on third party providers.  Check hotel websites for associated activities that can be simultaneously booked as well.
  6. Book activities, especially those that are instagram moments, hot tourist spots, especially if traveling in peak season and you do not want to miss out.  These do not need to be booked immediately as you might be denting the credit card.
  7. Purchase national park passes or multiple day passes, print paper copy and store downloaded copy on mobile. Paper is because in remote areas there is an issue with Wifi coverage
  8. Do not book everything in advance as we are encouraging spur of the moment decision making as well.  Freedom to choose is important.
Road trip Washpen Falls route, Ashburton, Canterubury
Road trip Washpen Falls route

NEXT STEPS

  1. Document travel times for each day, distances to be traveled, route maps to be downloaded.
  2. Route maps, purchase a paper copy, a real map.  To write on, to compare with google maps and use if connectivity is an issue.
  3. Emergency contacts list to be ticked off and filed with family and friends.
  4. Entertainment while on the road, download your favourite music.
  5. Check when sunrise and sunset occurs for those photo moments
  6. Perhaps consider a roadside assist plan with rental car company
  7. Get inspired,  it’s a road trip.

Whew, you have a holiday booked, planned and ready to go. Check you have TRIPIT or your favourite trip app for storing your booking data.

TIPS ON BUDGETING AND COST SAVINGS FOR THE PERFECT HOLIDAY IN NEW ZEALAND

Location, location, location

Accommodation, especially if you have one or two days in a place location is critical as you do not want to spend your time traveling to and from places and activities.

Location versus the cost of the accommodation is the tricky balancing act.

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Auckland Trainstation, Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland Trainstation
Christchurch Blossom in Hagley Park, New Zealand
Christchurch Blossom in Hagley Park

HOW TO ENJOY A ROMANTIC HOLIDAY ON A BUDGET IN NEW ZEALAND

AOTEAROA NEW ZEALAND is a great holiday destination for a celebration from a significant milestone to the classic honeymoon.

New Zealanders are good at cheap, fun holidays .. check out the numerous camping spots. And there is always an excellent supermarket within walking distance.

Romantic holidays are often promoted in glossy magazines and online as getaways to expensive luxury locations. The enticing scenes of tropical palms, drinks in hand and platters of nibbles at the elbow are an advertising staple. It costs money. Your holiday can be romantic, have romantic moments and here are ten tips to inspire you to think beyond the budget planning of a luxury resort.

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GETTING AROUND NEW ZEALAND WHILE ON HOLIDAY

Getting around New Zealand is effortless. Check out BEST BITS itineraries, touring routes holidays for self-drive holiday ideas and with tips on where to stay for ease of access to top sights and New Zealand highlights.

NEW ZEALAND ROAD CONDITIONS

HIGHLIGHTS OF A NEW ZEALAND ROAD TRIP

  • There are few vehicles on roads outside major metropolitan areas
  • Phenomenal scenery with plenty of off road viewpoints to savour the moment
  • Modern firm roading system
  • Excellent road mapping system (thank you google maps)
  • Well signposted system for directions, heritage sites and tourist routes
  • DRIVE ON THE LEFT

Your road trip could be on unfamiliar roads. Here are some tips about getting the most out of your road trip with tips about road conditions and an explanation of the signage used on New Zealand roads.

Road sign warning of kiwis near Arthurs Pass, South Island, New Zealand
Road sign warning of kiwis near Arthurs Pass

For more information about driving in New Zealand, getting around the country and frequently asked questions about how to travel around the country check out Itineraries, touring routes in New Zealand, facts and FAQ and enjoy your visit downunder in New Zealand.

Martinborough Hotel and main street, New Zealand
Martinborough Hotel and main street

WHERE TO STAY IN NEW ZEALAND

Where to stay in New Zealand is easy. New Zealand offers a comprehensive range of accommodation from holiday camping experiences to Department of Conservation reserves. Unearth a charming bed and breakfast lodge or a hotel nestled in a forest setting. A touch of luxury is a given in a New Zealand’s eco-lodge specialising in pampering as well as showcasing glorious scenery with customised guided tours.

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