The Most Beautiful and Dreamy Places to Visit in New Zealand

The sun raising from below the sea, over the rocky shore of the beach.

These are the dreamiest places that you should add to your New Zealand itinerary. From stunning gorges to unbelievable fjords, from crystal clear lakes to incredible rock formations, from cultural Maori villages to mighty volcanos, there is a place in New Zealand for everyone.

Usually a holiday to New Zealand lasts for at least 2 weeks, because of how far away this beautiful country is from all the other continents. This is why you need to plan carefully your itinerary. There are so many dreamy places in New Zealand both on the South and the North Island, that it can be hard to choose only a few to visit. In this post I gathered the most fantastic places other travel bloggers have visited, that will help you plan your trip to New Zealand.

 

Franz Joseph Glacier

By Caroline from CK Travels

3 people walking on top of a glacier, behind a rocky mountain cliff

The stunning Franz Josef Glacier is located on the rugged west coast of New Zealand’s south island, and is surrounded by lush rainforest and mountains. It is one of the most accessible glaciers in the world, but is receding rapidly, so the only way to access it is by helicopter on a 3 hour guided ‘heli-hike’ where you can walk on and see the ice formations close up.

A handful of companies offer these tours which are a little on the expensive side – but it is definitely one of those once in a lifetime moments which are worth the money. The scenic helicopter flight takes 5 minutes from Franz Josef village and lands directly on the ice. A group of skilled guides then greet you and take you around the glacier tunnels, ice caves and rock crevasses, whilst explaining the history and geography along the way. There are plenty of opportunities to stop and take some epic photos, the most memorable one was when we walked through a huge bright blue ice cave!

If you are on a budget then you can still enjoy wonderful views of the glacier from the ground. There is an easy walk that takes around an hour from the carpark to get to the base of the glacier (taking you through valleys and past rivers with waterfalls).

After all that hiking, head back to nearby Franz Josef Glacier village to enjoy the wonderful thermal hot pools or the lively drinking scene!

 

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

By Darren & Lauren from Faramagan

A mountain scape with clouds below it, there is a turquoise lake on the left of the photo and heavy clouds coming from above

Set in the country’s oldest National Park, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing was the most spectacular and rewarding experience from our 5 weeks travelling New Zealand in a campervan. Unlike most hikes where you aim for a summit then return, Tongariro involves a 19.4km trail across volcanic terrain from one point to another in a single direction. You essentially park your car at the finish line then take a shuttle bus to the start and hike back to your car.

Along the route you will pass scenes straight out of a movie set including Mount Ngauruhoe known as the famous Mount Doom from Lord of The Rings. The highlight of the hike is the striking Emerald Lakes with their otherworldly thermal mist and turquoise glow. Due to these impressive scenes, the Tongariro National Park is a dual World Heritage Site for both its natural and cultural significance.

Allow around 5 hours to complete the hike although be warned you will want regular stops as the dramatic scenery is overwhelmingly beautiful and taking photos every 5 minutes is incredibly tempting. Like all hikes in New Zealand, always research the weather beforehand as Tongariro is notorious for unprepared tourists who underestimate Tongariro’s unpredictable climate.

 

Mount Cook National Park

By Nina from Where in the World is Nina

A sunset photo of Mount Cook, with warm color tones. Clouds are passing by below the cliffs, above the valley

Home to the country’s tallest mountain, Mount Cook (Aoraki), Mount Cook National Park is certainly one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand. Most may thing you have to go through great lengths to see the best views and the most gorgeous mountains in the park, but it’s crazy how accessible everything is here.

There are really five main hikes in Mount Cook National Park that you can aim your focus at. There are a few short an easy ones like Kea Point and the Blue Pools and Tasman Loop.

However, one of the most beautiful hikes is the Hooker Valley Track. Unfortunately, this hike gets very busy in summers, so I recommend starting as early as possible. The trail is very easy, it’s just long at 6.5 miles/10km. Towering mountains sprinkled with glaciers, rushing rivers crossed via suspension bridges, and at the end—The majestic Mount Cook staring back at you from across Hooker Lake! If you only do one hike while you visit, let this one be it.

If you’re up for more of a challenge, There’s the Red Tarns hike (try going for longer and summiting Mount Sebastopol) and the Sealy Tarns to Mueller Hut hike. It’s actually shorter than Hooker Valley at 5 miles/8km but it’s quite challenging. Stairs all the way to the Sealy Tarns lookout and then rock scrambles the rest of the way until you see the glinting red hut in the distance. You can spend the night in the hut for an extra cool experience and for the chance to see the best view of Mount Cook at sunset and then again at sunrise.

Mount Cook National Park will definitely be a highlight to your trip in New Zealand and hiking around the park will be the best way to experience the beauty.

 

Whakarewarewa Living Māori Village

By Lotte from Phenomenal Globe

Steam coming out from the hot water, a few houses in the background.

Visiting Whakarewarewa was one of the most interesting things we did during our New Zealand road trip, as we learned so much about the Maori culture and customs. Upon entering Whakarewarewa village, the first thing you will notice is the strong smell of sulfur. The village is built in a thermal hotspot and there are pools bubbling and steaming everywhere. Every hour on the hour you can follow a free tour guides, led by one of the Maori women living in Whakarewarewa.

These knowledgeable guides will tell you about village life and the use of the hot pools. These pools are used for cooking and bathing while the mud of the pools is used for all sorts of creams because its full of minerals, apparently it does wonders for your skin.

Be sure to visit a Māori cultural performance (these start at 11.15 am and 2.00 pm and last around 30 minutes), including a Haka. A Haka is a traditional war dance and our guide told us that when the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman discovered New Zealand in 1642, he was met by Maori performing a Haka on the beach. That scared him so much, he sailed away and never returned.

Another interesting fun fact we learned from our guide is that a couple of decades ago, the Maori Village Chief decided that half the village would be catholic and half the village would be protestant. Two churches were built and from that day on 50% of the village went to the catholic church and 50% went to the protestant church.

Besides going to their respective churches, the Maori living in Whakarewarewa also worship their ancestors. Worshipping ancestors is very important in the traditional Maori society and so they combine these religions.

From Whakarewarewa you can also see the famous Pohutu geyser, though it’s not in the village itself but in Te Puia, the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute next to Whakarewarewa (you have to buy a separate ticket for Te Puia).

 

Cathedral Cove

By Alex and Victoria from Northabroad

A photo taken from inside a cave towards the sea. A rock standing up from the sea can be seen through the walls of the cave.

Cathedral Cove is located near Hahei in the Coromandel Peninsula, just a 10-minute drive from the famous Hot Water Beach.

Cathedral Cove takes its name from the large arch cut in white rock. For years, the sea eroded the cliffs and enlarged the gate. When the tide isn’t too high, it’s possible to walk through the incredible hole and reach the wonderful beach on the other side.

Walking along the (also beautiful) Hahei Beach is one of the most scenic ways to start the hike from Hahei to Cathedral Cove, which takes about 45 minutes. The path is mostly paved and though there’s a bit of uphill and downhill, it should be do-able for most people. The mix of sea-views and native flora and fauna keeps you entertained the whole way.

Two additional beaches, a sandy beach in Stingray Bay and a rocky beach in Gemstone Bay, are accessible via short side roads along the same walkway.

It’s also possible to reach Cathedral Cove from the sea – either by boat or self-propelled on one of the kayak tours.

Cathedral Cove gets super busy in the summer months, so plan accordingly if you want to witness this spectacle of nature in serenity. Around sunrise or sunset definitely makes for stunning photos and fewer crowds.

 

Lake Tekapo

By Holly from Four Around the World

A very rocky shore of a blue lake, with snow capped mountains in the background

If you are looking for one of the most tranquil places in New Zealand, find yourself a quiet spot alongside Lake Tekapo!

Lake Tekapo is situated in central South Island and around a 3-hour drive from Christchurch. It also happens to be one of the most popular stops during a South Island road trip, for good reason.

The township of Lake Tekapo sits beside the breathtaking turquoise lake, with views of the Southern Alps providing a truly magical backdrop no matter where you stand.

What makes Tekapo extra special is the fact that it is also part of the Dark Sky Project and is one of the best places in the world to go stargazing. With such minimal light pollution in the surrounding area, you get a clear view of the night sky.

Mount John Observatory sits above the lake with beautiful views of the 3 lakes in the area by day, and exceptional stargazing by night. Or enjoy an astronomy experience with a difference, while soaking in the thermal hot pools at Tekapo Springs.

For outdoor adventures, don’t miss the chance to enjoy one of the many walking tracks in the area, such as the 3 hour Mount John Summit to take in 360-degree views of the lake and mountains.

While no freedom camping is allowed in the Lake Tekapo region, if you are camping your way around New Zealand don’t let this put you off. Book yourself a night at a private property or holiday park so you can enjoy the tranquillity longer.

 

Akaroa

By Suzy from Suzy Stories Blog

A panoramic view over the lake with mountains behind it. In the foreground there are pink flowers

A visit to Akaroa feels like reaching the end of the world. With the vast Pacific Ocean stretching beyond, city life is a distant memory as you soak in the rolling hills and unequivocally stunning scenery.

Akaroa is special in many ways. It’s far-enough removed from the nearby city of Christchurch to feel like a true escape to nature, and while Akaroa may not have the mountainous scenery of the West Coast, the sweeping volcanic coastline of Banks Peninsula provides a fascinating texture to the landscape and a sense of mystery to what lies between each bay…

One of Akaroa’s best-known residents are the local Hector’s dolphins who can be seen gleefully swimming in the harbour. These animals are especially precious to Akaroa, as they are the world’s smallest and rarest marine dolphins making a trip to see them quite remarkable.

If a dream-like experience is what you’re after, then look no further than the Giant’s House. Sitting atop the hills overlooking Akaroa Harbour, this wacky and wonderful attraction is like stepping into Wonderland. With artistically decorated grounds and brightly curated flower gardens surrounding an equally vibrant house, you’ll soon be lost in its colourful magic.

If relaxing escapism is more your vibe, the neighbouring coves and bays dotted around the Peninsula will be the ideal place to enjoy a refreshing swim, kayak, or picnic at the water’s edge. The perfect way to immerse oneself in the natural beauty of Akaroa!

 

Muriwai Beach

By Bailey from Destinationless Travel

A rock raising from the sea, at sunset. The sky is yellow. Near the rock there is a seagull nest, with tens of seagulls around

Muriwai Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in New Zealand, but surprisingly, one of the least visited by tourists. It is a local gem located only a 45-minute drive from Auckland. Muriwai hugs the same coast as Piha Beach and Bethalls Beach, and as such, is a gorgeous black-sand beach.

Muriwai Beach is perfect for swimming, surfing in the right conditions, or just relaxing. The beach is massive with lots of areas to hang out including a grassy park nearby as well as a restaurant and café. The area is popular for people visiting for the weekend from Auckland. And although there aren’t any hotels in the area, there are plenty of holiday homes and Air BnB’s.

But there is one thing in particular that sets Muriwai Beach apart from all of the other beaches in New Zealand – the Gannet Colony. Gannets are native sea birds in New Zealand. They are white and yellow and come to nest on the cliffs overlooking Muriwai Beach from August to March. Literally, you’ll find hundreds of birds here during these months. They will be sitting on their eggs, or once they are hatched, flying back and forth to get food.

The baby Gannets chicks are most commonly seen from October to December. These little guys are so cute so if you can, visit during these months to watch them!

From Muriwai Beach you can either walk or drive up to the cliffs to check out these birds. The area is marked with signs and there is even a wooden boardwalk leading out to viewing platforms for observing the Gannets!

 

Rangitoto Island

By Maureen from “So Many Places! So Little Time!”

A view of the blue lake, with the dormant volcano in the background

When was the last time you visited a volcano? In the middle of the Hauraki Gulf in Auckland is a huge green symmetrical island that can be seen all over Auckland. It is one of Auckland’s best-known landmarks- Rangitoto Island- and it is actually a volcano! Auckland was built on a volcanic field of over 50 volcanoes. Scientists consider the volcanoes to be dormant and there is little chance of any of them erupting in the near future. The last eruption in Auckland was Rangitoto Island over 600 years ago.

Rangitoto Island is a 25-minute ferry ride from Downtown Auckland or a two-hour kayaking trip from Auckland’s North Shore. The island was declared pest-free in 2011 and native wildlife, plants, and birdlife have flourished. It is home to dozens of sea, shore and forest birds. For bird watchers it is paradise!

There are several walking tracks on the island. The most popular is probably the Rangitoto Summit track which is an easy, but up-hill, two-hour return walk along well-formed paths along the lava fields. Take a torch and explore the lava caves and twisting lava tunnels on a sidetrack.

On the weekends there is a guided 4WD road train that takes people to the summit and from the summit, there are the most spectacular views.

The Wreck Bay Track is a twisting track to Wreck Bay and Boulder Bay on the northern side of Rangitoto. These bays were once used as dumping grounds for old ships and at low tide, some of the remains can still be seen.

Another popular track is the Coastal Walk from Rangitoto Wharf to Islington Bay, which passes by boatsheds and some old 1930s baches (classic New Zealand holiday cottages) one of which is open as a museum. The track passes old quarry sites, ruins of wartime storage bases for mines, and Yankee Wharf which was built during World War II.

There is no shop on the island so you will need to bring your own food and drink, and no rubbish bins so you will need to take your own scraps and rubbish off the island with you. Enjoy your visit to one of New Zealand’s dreamy places.

Have you thought about doing a cruise around New Zealand? Here are 9 reasons why you should consider it!

 

Kawarau Gorge

By Sarah and Justin from Travel Breathe Repeat

The river passing through the stone walls. On the left hand side there is a road and a tiny car is passing through

Kawarau Gorge is in Central Otago on the South Island of New Zealand. We came across it quite by accident during the part of our road trip that had us driving from Arrowtown to Wanaka to Twizel. It’s easy to see this truly stunning spot on such a drive. You can just pull over into a small parking lot and peer down into the deep gorge to see the bluest water of the Kawarau River. We visited during the beginning of New Zealand’s fall season and got to see the colors of the leaves changing as well.

Our stop at Kawarau Gorge was relatively brief, but incredibly memorable. The gorge and surrounding area is so beautiful it’s no wonder it’s one of the locations featured in the Lord of the Rings movies. Kawarau Gorge is also known for bungy jumping since the first world’s commercial bungy jumping company opened on the Kawarau Bridge in 1988.

Kawarau Gorge is 55km from popular Queenstown. But if you’re looking for somewhere a bit more relaxed to stay we highly recommend Arrowtown. We spent an incredibly lovely three days there, enjoying its fine restaurants and wonderful walks. The area also has the great Queenstown Trail Arrow River Bridges cycle route, on which Kawarau Gorge is a stop.

 

Hobbiton

By Marta from Backpackers WRO

A hobbit house with a bright yellow round door. The roof is covered with moss and outside there is a red round postbox

If you are a big fan of the Lord of the Rings and read and watched the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy several times, you should definitely visit Hobbiton and feel like a resident of the land of the Hobbits for a while. It’s worth adding that you do not have to be a Tolkien fan to have fun during this trip. Beautiful landscapes, peace, peace, and idyllic architecture will stay with you for a long time. The journey to Hobbiton is organized by an external company. You need to buy a ticket in advance and then take the green bus, which will take you to the destination. Once there, you will meet your guide. The number of stories and curiosities told by the guide is enormous, the place itself is beautiful and out of this world, and the culmination of the journey is a tasting of yummy ginger beer. An interesting fact is that the hobbit houses are empty, and all scenes inside the holes were shot in the studio. The last stage of the visit is shopping in a large store with gadgets, books, accessories, and everything related to Tolkien, Hobbit, and the Lord of the Rings movies.

 

Te Paki Sand Dunes

By James from Where You’re Between

Three people walking on the top of a high sand dune

Though on the edge of Northland’s coastline, Te Paki’s giant sand dunes are an unexpected and unbelievable sight. Surrounded by gorgeous countryside, Te Paki’s sand dunes tower over rolling fields, suddenly appearing like a mirage. Like a mountain range made of sand, Te Paki’s dunes rise to a height of 100 metres whilst stretching across seven square kilometres.

A narrow bumpy country road snakes off the state highway, leading to one of the most sensational sights in an area filled with natural beauty. From the car park it’s just a quick hop across a trickling stream to the foot of the steep dunes.

It’s a wobbly clamber up to the top of the dunes, though you can hire a sand board for a much quicker descent. The far side of the dunes slopes down onto the northern end of the breathtaking flat sands of Ninety Mile Beach. Though not quite as long as its name suggests (it’s actually 55 miles long), buses are allowed to drive on Ninety Mile Beach, which has officially been designated as a highway.

Just a twenty minute drive north of Te Paki is the beautiful headland at Cape Reinga. Crowned by an elegant lighthouse, this is where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide. Cape Reinga is of huge significance to the local Maori people, who believe that the spirits of the deceased pass through here on their journey back to their ancestral home.

 

Moke Lake

By Alyse from The Invisible Tourist Travel

THe mountain reflecting in the blue water of the lake

Have you heard of Moke Lake? My guess is probably not. Located just 20 minutes drive from Queenstown in the country’s South Island, Moke Lake is a little-known gem that’s bursting with natural beauty. What makes it so remarkable is when the weather conditions all align perfectly, the lake transforms into a gigantic magic mirror!

The tranquility here is a refreshing change from the bustling heart of adrenalin capital Queenstown. To soak in the serenity around Moke Lake, there are many walking tracks that offer incredible views of the surrounding snow-capped mountaintops reflecting on the water’s surface.

The walking track with the easiest difficulty takes around 1.5 hours, it is a little hilly and muddy in parts but nothing extreme. I thoroughly enjoyed this walk and highly recommend it. It’s one of the most scenic things to do in Queenstown in winter!

If you are up for some more adventurous activities, you can try your hand at mountain biking in the surrounding trails, have a go at fishing, take a kayak out into the lake and even camp there. When camping during the winter months, make sure to bring enough water as the pipes supplying water to the picnic area freeze.

For keen photographers visiting Moke Lake it’s possible to view the Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) here, dancing and swirling above the surrounding mountains. It’s my dream to head back one day to see the aurora there!

 

Stewart Island

By Nicholas from Rambling Feet

A very blue lake with an island covered with a dense forest in the middle

Way fewer people talk about Stewart Island than those who speak of the attractions on the North and South Islands. Those in the know, however, hold an insider’s secret. It takes a short ferry ride from Bluff to get there, and only 400 people inhabit the only town, Oban. When there are no cruise ship visitors, it feels like the setting of an Agatha Christie novel; here, there are no secrets among the townfolk. What they have in their backyard is simply stunning. Most of it is covered in forest, and this is where you’ll find the Rakiura Track, one of the seven Great Walks. Three days of tramping takes you around Stewart Island, taking in secluded beaches and pristine forest. If you’re more adventurous, you can do more of the same over a week on the North West Circuit, and see fewer souls along the way. Even if that is not your sort of thing, some of the best things to do on Stewart Island can be done in a day. They include native bird-spotting on predator-free Ulva Island, fishing for blue cod, cage-diving with great white sharks, and looking for wild kiwi birds at night. Finally, you’re never far from a beautiful view of the sea, or the ever-changing island weather. There’s a rugged beauty about the place that you won’t find, not even in the other parts of New Zealand.

 

Pipiriki Jet Boat and White-Water Rafting

By Karen from Motoroaming

A man driving a boat on a very still river in which the trees on both sides reflect into

If you love off-the-beaten-track adventures, New Zealand has them in bucket loads. We stumbled across Pipiriki, in the heart-land of Mauri country just 300km north of Wellington. With the fast running waters of the Whanganui River as your host and the majestic mountains as your backdrop, the day ahead heralds a diverse and dreamy experience.

Let me paint the picture… As you step into the boat with the team from Whanganui River Adventures you are oblivious of your impending adventures; even your research will have you unprepared for the day ahead.  As the engines start, the thrill of a speeding jet-boat that skims over the surface of the water, with the wind rushing through your hair is a great start.  Then you begin your hike through the dense Kiwi forest to the mysterious Bridge to Nowhere. Here you just gaze in awe, contemplating why no roads lead to or from this magnificent structure. The exotic birds sing high above you, the dramatic gorge below and the forest’s stillness just touch your soul. This is a special area of New Zealand that is a privilege to see and where nature is allowed to flourish.

After a nourishing lunch, you prepare yourself for the pièce de resistance.  The final part of your journey is by canoe where you are set free to explore the Whanganui’s white water and test your nerve as you navigate the rapids. The excitement of mastering the waves takes you to the edge of courage, where reaching the 50:50 Beast, capsize is probable if your course is not on point. Although despite our wet feet, the mixture of sensory delight and heart-racing adventure made this a highlight of our life-changing trip down-under.

 

Doubtful Sound

By Clare from I Live 4 Travel

A view from above of a fjord, with the water in the middle and the high mountains walling it on each side

Doubtful Sound for me has to be my favourite place in New Zealand.  It is located in the South Island in Fiordland and is less famous and less accessible than the famous Milford Sound, though 3 times as long and 10 times bigger.

I decided to do the overnight cruise on Doubtful Sound as you manage to explore a lot of the arms of the sound as far as the sea before turning around and setting anchor in one of the sounds for the evening.

To get there you need to take a boat across Lake Manapouri and then a bus to cross the Wilmot Pass.  At the top of the Wilmot Pass you will stop to get your first glimpse of Doubtful Sound, for me it was unbelievably beautiful.

Once you are on the boat you then get to explore different arms of the sounds with the hope at some point of spotting dolphins, penguins and seals.

You also have the choice of kayaking and getting a closer look at the edge of the shore, it is truly stunning and seeing the mountains, some with snow on them is truly stunning.

If hiking is more your thing then instead you can stay in Deep Cove Hostel at the start of Doubtful Sound and from there, you have the option of 4 hikes ranging from 1 hour to 3 hours return.

It is a truly magical and stunning place and the most beautiful place I have been in the world.

 

Abel Tasman National Park

By Meg from Fox in the Forest

An image of a beach and sunset, with the moon rising on the left above some cliffs

Located on the northern tip of the South Island, Abel Tasman National Park offers a wide variety of activities for any kind of adventurer. The national park features endless tropical coastline with crystal-clear blue waters. Head out on a sea kayak and explore hidden beaches, beautiful rock formations, and if you’re lucky, you may even spot a whale!

The national park is also home to some of New Zealand’s best hiking trails, including the famous Abel Tasman Coast Track. It’s one of New Zealand’s Great Walks or classic multi-day hiking trails. This easy to moderate 51 km (32 miles) walking track passes through picture-perfect beachscapes. You can hike the trail in part or in full. Opt to spend the night at one of the dedicated beach camps. Experienced hikers could accomplish the trail in one night, while more leisurely hikers will need around two nights. Just be sure to reserve your permit in advance, as spaces fill up quickly.

If you’re a beach bum, you’ll love the DOC campsite at Abel Tasman. Park your campervan just minutes from the water. Here you can relax and swim at a family-friendly beach. Explore nearby tide pools and spot exotic sea life. There are also plenty of day hikes nearby. For those who love to fish, you can try your luck at a fresh catch by fishing right off of the shoreline. There’s even a boat launch area where you can drop a kayak or small fishing boat.

 

Wellington

By Nicole from Nicole LaBarge Travel Blog 

A view of a lake with clouds above it

Wellington is often an overlooked place in New Zealand.  Most people just come to Wellington to catch the ferry to the South Island but Wellington has a lot to offer.

Recently named the coolest little Capitol and the most livable city two years in a row, Wellington has everything you could want in a Capitol.

One of the coolest things about Wellington is the green belt that goes through it.  The green belt is land that was set aside for nature and it runs through the city into the suburbs.  You can actually take a walk from CIty to Sea that takes 8 hours and goes from the Wellington Botanic Gardens to the sea in Island Bay.

Wellingtonians love to get outside and go for a walk on one of the many walkways in the city.  As a local my favorite is the Eastern Walkway close to the airport.  This 1 hour round trip walk takes you up the pass of Branda to the Ataturk Memorial and all along the way you will have epic views of the coast.  Sometimes you can even see orcas around the bays.

 

Ocean Beach, Kawhia

By Sarah from A Social Nomad

A beach at low tide, with a shovel in the foreground of the photo. The sand is black

Ocean Beach Kawhia is to be found around 90 kilometres south of Hamilton.  You will have to make an effort to find this place, but it’s well worth it.  Most people who want to find a hot water beach will head to the Coromandel, where you can share your homemade hot spring with hundreds of others.  Here in Kawhia, you have kilometres of beach to yourself.

Ocean Beach at Kawhia is one of New Zealand’s best-kept secrets.   Here you’ll find geothermally heated water bubbling up through the sand allowing you to create your own natural spa.

You can borrow shovels from the local campsite, park nearby and walk down to the beach, where you can dig yourselves a perfect natural eco-friendly spa bath.  The smell of rotten eggs, so often associated with geothermally heated water, isn’t so strong here, as there’s usually a reasonable breeze on this deserted beach.

This is one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand and that’s saying something.   You won’t find many locals or tourists here, it’s a glorious natural retreat.  Here you’ll find hiking, natural hot springs, fabulous fresh seafood (our campsite gave us freshly caught fish for free for our dinner), as the local fish and chip shop was closed that night.

Come to Kawhia Beach for a real natural Kiwi experience.

 

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

By Lauren from The Down Lo

People with wetsuits posing inside a cave

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are a natural phenomenon in the North Island about three hours south of Auckland. One of the country’s most popular day trips, the network of caves is home to thousands of glow worms that light up the underground world in an eerie and mysterious bioluminescent blue. Many areas don’t allow photos so as not to disturb the creatures so put the phones down and really be present.

You can explore in many ways from laidback family-friendly boat tours through the caves to their most popular adventure attraction, blackwater rafting, which is essentially white water rafting in inner tubes in the dark guided by headlamps through the underground river. But this is not a lazy river by any means — you’ll jumping backward down subterranean waterfalls into the black abyss of the cave. The real adrenaline junkies combine the experience with abseiling or zip-lining for an even more memorable outing.

The caves aren’t just a rush or a mystical phenomenon though, they’re also culturally significant to the Maori people with elaborate legends about each of the underground worlds. But you’ll have to descend the spiral staircase, winding walkways, and bridges to explore the grotto for yourself. Many say it’s the highlight (pun intended) of their visit.

 

Lake Pukaki

By Parampara from Award Diaries

A lake with turqoise waters. SNow capped mountains in the background and a stoney shore in the foreground

It was on our drive from Christchurch to Queenstown, when we first stopped by Lake Pukaki. We had obviously heard of the gorgeous lakes of New Zealand, by the vision of Lake Pukaki had a magnetic effect that no one told us about. Amidst a scenic road trip, we parked our car and stopped at a viewing point.

We walked straight down to witness the beauty of Lake Pukaki. We were alone, the weather was very windy and we could feel the chills. There was a huge lake ahead of us, with all gorgeous shades of blue and a mountain in the background, Mt. Cook, which added a beautiful canvas to an already beautiful setting.

It was hard to tell that the goosebumps we could feel were of the cold, of the sight ahead of us or a mix of both. But there was a strange sense of peace and calm as we sat there on the rocks, watching the waves hit the rocks. If not this, I don’t know what else would qualify to be called heaven.

If the winds and the setting sun hadn’t prompted us to rush back to our car and continue our road trip to Queenstown, we’d probably have not left!

And then, we came by again, on our drive from Queenstown to Christchurch.

Just to live the magic of that dreamy place all over again!

At Lake Pukaki, you could take a little picnic with some snacks and drinks to spend some time in this haven, or you could take a short halt on your road trip and watch the sunset. It’s a great spot for photography and you have enough space available for parking!

 

Did these dreamy places convince you to book a trip to New Zealand? Have you been to New Zealand before? Do you have other suggestions to add to my list? I would love to hear your opinions in the comment section below.

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Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

21 Comments

  1. I visited NZ twice and it’s suuuuch a beautiful place! 2 weeks is still not enough to see the county and there are many beautiful spots out in the wilderness and in the cities. The Whakarewarewa Village sounds like something right up my alley.

    If I do go back for the third time, I’ll reference this list for sure!

  2. New Zealand popped up on my radar last year and I’ve become obsessed with it. It looks like such an amazing and beautiful country.

  3. Reading you blog makes me want to visit New Zealand for sure. The pictures are also beautiful. This is a really nice blog.

  4. An informative article which will definitely be useful when we’re planning our trip to New Zealand sometime in the future.

  5. I’ve been dreaming of going to New Zealand for so long! Thanks for this detailed post, will hold on to it for when I finally can make the trip there.

    – Erin

  6. Amazing places, it might be expensive but one life time is worth the try and if you got the chance again, you can do it as long as you can.

  7. I have yet to visit New Zealand. The place looks so beautiful. I would specially mention that I really want to visit Hobbiton for one reason…hahaha.. which you probably have a hint.

    1. I heard many good feedbacks about New Zealand. Amazing places, good people, good lifestyle. Saving your suggestions!

  8. Ever since two of my bestfriends migrated to New Zealand, I’ve been wanting to visit them. I think New Zealand is a fascinating place–and your photos look amazing. I would love to see these places in person.

  9. A friend of mine lived in New Zealand for several years. I followed along on her adventures and ever since then I’ve wanted to visit.

  10. Wow, these are beautiful places. All of them are so uniquely beautiful, it is hard to choose a favorite. I have to share this with my New Zealander co-worker to see what is he favorite places on this list.

  11. Tongariro National Park is one of my favourite places on this planet. I loved my time in New Zealand and now I have more suggestions for my next trip. Thank you, awesome post!

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