New Zealand is both a dream destination and a once-in-a-lifetime place to visit. If you’re planning your first vacation in New Zealand, you should get to know the best spots before you arrive.
Narrowing a list down to only 10 of the best vacation spots in New Zealand is not an easy task. With its amazing beaches, spectacular waterfalls and magnificent mountains, New Zealand has probably been on your Vacation bucket list.
We surveyed over 765 travellers who visited New Zealand, and here are their top pics for their New Zealand Vacation:
10 Milford Sound, Vacation in New Zealand
Rudyard Kipling called Milford Sound the “eighth wonder of the world,” and if you visit this region of New Zealand, you’ll see why. On the west coast of the South Island, Milford Sound is a fusion of spectacular natural features with amazing visual cues around every corner.
It is approximately 16km from the head of the fiord to the open sea, which means visitors can comfortably travel the length of the fiord to open ocean and return on one of the many cruise options available in 1½ to 2 hours cruising time.
Milford sound has a long and interesting history, from early Maori habitation to the first European explorers. Recognised by early colonists as a very special place and it been visited by curious explorers for over 200 years. Nineteenth-century botanists have found rare plant life and the earliest photographers have documented its natural wonders.
Top 6 things to do while on vacation in Milford Sound
- Hike through the thick, untouched rainforest in the Tutoko Valley;
- Gaze at the resident Glow-worms, lighting up the trees;
- Milford Sound Sightseeing Cruise;
- Lady Elizabeth Bowen Falls;
- The world-famous Milford Track.
See more things to do in the Milford Sounds
Where to stay while visiting the Milford Sounds?
Home to a range of Milford Sound accommodation. Seize the opportunity to stay in Milford Sound and truly experience a magical place.
9 Bay of Islands, Vacation in New Zealand
The Bay of Islands is in the Northland region in the far north of the North Island of New Zealand.
Located in a stunningly beautiful length of sand and rock coastline that circles a sea pierced by 150 islands. You can catch a ferry or charter boat and immerse yourself in the blue-green world of island and beach, or paddle a sea kayak in and out of island nooks and crannies.
Don’t leave the Bay of Islands without seeing the Hole in the Rock, an opening in a rock formation that you can sail through when the tide is right.
Top 6 things to do while on vacation in the Bay of Islands
- ‘Hole in the Rock’ Cruise;
- Cream Trip Cruise Bay of Islands;
- Sailing & Dolphin Swim;
- Wine, Food, Craft & Scenic Tours;
- Waitangi Maori Cultural Performance & Hangi;
- Cape Reinga & 90 mile Beach.
See more things to do in the Bay of Islands
Where to stay in the Bay of Islands?
Just a 4-minute walk from Pipiroa Bay, The Clendon offers resort-style accommodation, a short walk from the start of the Russell Walkway Hiking track.
Donkey Bay Inn
Situated in Russell, Donkey Bay Inn offers beachfront accommodation 200 m from Long Beach and features various facilities, such as a garden, a bar and a private beach area. Boasting luggage storage space, this property also provides guests with a terrace.
8 Waiheke Island, Vacation in New Zealand
There’s a reason Waiheke Island was named one of the world’s top 10 regions to visit for 2016 in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel guide. Waiheke is a haven of beautiful vineyards, olive groves and beaches, all just a 40-minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland.
A Māori name for this place is Motu-Wai-Heke, which means “island of trickling water”. And it’s true there’s plenty of water.
Wander along the white sand at Oneroa and Onetangi beaches – two of the island’s best – and take a dip in the sheltered waters.
To stay overnight, rent a beach house and wake up to the sound of the waves, if you’re on a budget, go to a friendly backpacker hostel.
Top 6 things to do while on vacation in Waiheke Island
- Archery and clay shooting;
- Art galleries;
- Enjoy the beaches;
- Kayaking and paddle boarding;
- Scuba diving and snorkelling.
Discover the top 10 things to do
Where to stay while visiting Waiheke Island?
Onetangi Beach Retreat
Situated in Onetangi, 1.4 km from EcoZip Adventures and 1.9 km from Stonyridge Vineyard,
Set in Te Whau Peninsula, This detached holiday home features a garden with a barbecue and a swimming pool for guests. This property also has one of the best-rated locations in Te Whau Bay! Guests are happier about it compared to other properties in the area.
7 Christchurch New Zealand
Traditionally the most English of NZ cities, and despite being rocked by four large earthquakes between September 2010 and December 2011, Christchurch has made a true comeback.
Whatever time you have to spend in Christchurch, you’ll find it easy to fit our top attractions into your travel itinerary. Christchurch Attractions offers plenty of fun-filled activities for every one of all ages to enjoy, including some of Christchurch’s most popular and iconic places to visit.
Top 6 things to do while on vacation in Christchurch
- Christchurch Botanic Gardens;
- Avon River;
- The TranzAlpine Train;
- Port Hills;
- Hagley Park;
- Bridge of Remembrance.
Where to stay in Christchurch?
The Meadows Villa
Guests staying at The Meadows Villa can take a walk to a pine tree forest or around the on-site, fully fenced grazing areas that are home to some friendly Highland cattle. In the evening, in the warmer months, you can sit out under the large willow tree, next to the pond area, and enjoy a snack. Your family dog can be accommodated.
The Towers on the Park
Towers on the Park offers comfortable modern accommodation. Hagley Golf Course and Christchurch Botanic Gardens are just across the road from The Towers on the Park Hotel. It is a 20-minute stroll through Hagley Park to the Christchurch Casino.
6 Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand
First explored in 1865 by geologist Julius von Haast, who named it after the Austrian emperor. Franz Josef Glacier is five kilometres from the town of the same name.
Renowned for the beautiful walks from 5 minutes to 8 hours that you can do in this area to view these amazing ice features, native forest, wildlife and waterfalls. A 1.5-hour walk will take you to within 750m of its terminal face.
Franz Josef’s ice once flowed from the mountains right to the sea. Following millennia of gradual retreat, the glacier is now 19km inland.
If you want to actually make contact with the glacier, take a guided ice walk or a heli-hike. Aerial sightseeing is another option. The Franz Josef Glacier offers visitors a rare opportunity to experience a dynamic glacial environment.
Top 6 things to do while on vacation at the Franz Josef Glacier
- Franz Josef helicopter flight and glacier hike;
- Franz Josef valley glacier walk;
- Kayak adventure from Franz Josef glacier;
- Hiking to Alex Knob;
- Tartare Tunnel – glow worms;
- Peter’s Pool.
Where to stay near Franz Josef Glacier
Deep In the heart of west coast glacier country, Rainforest Retreat offers a range of accommodation set amongst lush native bush in the Franz Josef Township.
Franz Josef Oasis
Opened in 2014 and offering 20 luxurious rooms, Franz Josef Oasis is just 10 minutes’ drive from the Franz Josef Glacier. Guests enjoy a spacious, covered outdoor terrace, perfect for taking in the lovely views of Westland National Park, the garden and mountains.
5 Queenstown Holiday in New Zealand
The adventure capital of New Zealand!
Surrounded by majestic mountains and set on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, the natural beauty and the unique energy of the region create the perfect backdrop for a holiday full of adventure, discovery and rejuvenation.
Carved out of the land by glaciers, rivers and lakes, but it has been shaped by innovative adventurers and entrepreneurs from New Zealand and around the world.
Top 6 things to do while on vacation in Queenstown
- Queenstown Skyline Gondola and Restaurant;
- Zip line tour;
- Milford Sound day tour;
- Queenstown Luge;
- Skiing/Snowboarding at the many ski fields;
- Queenstown Jetboating.
Discover more things to do in Queenstown
Where to stay in Queenstown?
Blue Peaks Lodge
A 3 minutes’ walk from Queenstown Gardens, and 10 minutes’ drive from the popular Onsen Hot Pools. Queenstown Airport is a 15-minute drive away.
The Old Ferry Hotel Bed & Breakfast
A 5 minutes’ drive from Frankton Golf Course. Queenstown International Airport and Lake Wakatipu are each just an 8-minute drive away.
4 Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley, Holiday in NZ
New Zealand’s Premier Māori cultural centre, and is the perfect place to gain an understanding of New Zealand’s rich Māori culture.
Whakarewarewa is the legacy and home of the Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao people, who have been sharing their unique way of life with visitors from all around the world for over two hundred years.
Located on the edge of Rotorua and home to the world famous Pōhutu geyser, mud pools and other geothermal attractions. You can experience tours with their friendly guides, who pass on the stories and wisdom of their Māori ancestors.
Incorporating the magnificence of the geothermal landscape and the unique experience of a traditional Maori village, Whakarewarewa is a place of natural wonder and spiritual significance. 500 hot springs and 65 geyser vents are set among the distinctly colourful sinter terraces and pools that make up Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley.
What to expect
- Experience life as a local at Whakarewarewa;
- See bubbling mud pools, boiling hot pools and the ever-powerful Pohutu Geyser;
- Enjoy an authentic 30 minute cultural show by Te Pakira – one of Rotorua’s leading performance groups;
- Learn how the Maori people have adapted to this unique landscape – using nature to help in everyday life;
- Enjoy the famous sights of Rotorua city including Government Gardens, the Bath House, Rachel Spring and the stunning lakefront.
- Marvel at the lush Bay of Plenty countryside, passing forests, lakes, orchards, beaches and more.
Top 7 things to while visiting Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley
- Cycling & mountain biking;
- Walk or bike in Whakarewarewa redwood forest;
- Golf – some of New Zealand’s best golf;
- Take a dip in a hot spring;
- Maori culture – discover New Zealand’s rich heritage;
- See the Maori village of Ohinemutu.
Places to stay while on vacation near Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley
Four Canoes Hotel
A short distance from top local attractions, Hotel Four Canoes is 5 minutes’ drive from the Te Puia Maori Cultural Centre and Whakarewarewa Thermal Village. Rotorua International Airport is a 10-minute drive away.
Polynesian Spa is 5 km from the accommodation, while Tamaki Maori Village is 6 km from the property. The nearest airport is Rotorua Regional, 13 km from Karanda BnB, and the property offers a free airport shuttle service.
3 Waitomo Glowworm Caves, New Zealand
The Waitomo Glowworm Caves, naturally illuminated by thousands of glowworms, are among the most unique places to go in New Zealand.
Here you can discover an ancient world 30 million years in the making and marvel at Mother Nature’s light display as you glide silently through the starry wonderland of the Glowworm Grotto. The glowworm (Arachnocampa Luminosa) is unique to New Zealand, making the Waitomo Glowworm Caves an absolute must-do.
The Waitomo Glowworm Cave is accessible to those with reasonable mobility, with good handrails and paths.
Top 6 things to do while on Vacation in Waitomo
- Ruakuri bush walk;
- Ed Hillary walkway;
- Kawhia hot springs;
- Marokopa falls;
- Mangapohue natural bridge;
- Te Kuiti.
See more things to do while visiting Waitomo
Top places to stay in Waitomo
Woodlyn Park Motel
Situated in Waitomo Caves and with Waitomo Glow Worm Caves reachable within 1.3 km, the nearest airport is Hamilton Airport, 65 km from Woodlyn Park Motel.
Waitomo Caves Guest Lodge
Located in the centre of Waitomo Caves Village. This property is located next to the Village Store and opposite the award-winning Huhu Cafe. It is a short walk to the Waitomo Caves i-SITE/Discovery Centre, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Curly’s Bar and Bistro and a pizzeria.
2 White Island New Zealand
Get up close and personal to New Zealand’s only active marine volcano. Explore Whakaari/White Island on a day tour from Whakatane.
Your White Island tour won’t be a leisurely stroll: Because this is a very active volcano, you’ll have to wear a hard hat and gas mask. You may even see volcanologists monitoring the volcano.
Often described as a once in a lifetime trip and the highlight of a vacation spent in New Zealand, this is not to be missed. Experience roaring fumaroles, amazing colours and the sense of awe you get by stepping foot onto a live volcano.
Things to do while on vacation in White Island
Discover White Island, tours and packages
Where to stay in White Island?
White Island Rendezvous
White Island Rendezvous is a 10-minute drive from Ohope Beach, the Otarawairere Bay and Kapu Te Rangi Historic Reserve.
Rendezvous White Island is 400 m from the centre of Whakatane, and a 20-minute drive from Whakatane Airport. Whakatane Golf Course is 9 km away.
One88 on Commerce
Located in Whakatane, the 5-star motel is a short walk from the Whaktane District Aquatic Centre and walking tracks. Hiking is among the activities that guests can enjoy near One88 on Commerce.
1 Nelson Lakes New Zealand
This adventure playground has mountain biking, hiking, boating, mountaineering and skiing. Nelson Lakes National Park is the beginning of the Southern Alps.
The spectacular landscape of Nelson Lakes National Park was sculpted by massive glaciers during the most recent ice ages, and many glacial landforms remain.
The beautiful alpine lakes of Rotoroa and Rotoiti form the heart of this 102,000-hectare national park. Both are surrounded by steep mountains and fringed to the shore by native honeydew beech forests, which feed a variety of tuneful nectar-eating native birds.
Top 6 things to do while on vacation in the Nelson Lakes
- Take a hike, on one of the spectacular walks, without a doubt, this is New Zealand’s best-kept hiking secret;
- Swimming, you have plenty to choose from;
- Go on a boat cruise;
- Kayak or fish on the lakes;
- Mountain biking;
Where to stay while on Vacation in Nelson?
Ah House City B&B Nelson
Located 300 m from Christ Church Cathedral, Nelson. 1.7 km from Ah House City B&B Nelson, while Tahunanui Beach is 5 km away. The nearest airport is Nelson, 9 km from the bed and breakfast, and the property offers a free airport shuttle service.
Rutherford Hotel Nelson – A Heritage Hotel
Centrally located in Nelson, the 4.5-star Rutherford Hotel is within easy walking distance of the city’s main shopping streets and the landmark cathedral.