Despite being one of the most isolated countries in the globe, New Zealand has been an up and coming tourist destination for a while now. The Land of the Long White Cloud has it all, secluded beaches active volcanoes and cosmopolitan cities up north, and unreal mountains, lakes and glacial valleys down south. Everything is possible in “Kiwiland”, where surfing meets skiing in less than three hours.
If you want to venture into the purest natural landscapes that blend rugged coastlines, geothermal waters and Maori culture, this is your place!
Auckland’s amazing West Coast is always worth a trip. Karekare, Piha, Anawhata, Bethells and Muriwai beaches all share the same untouched beauty that is impossible to dislike. They are just under an hour from the city, which makes them perfect for a cheeky get away if you only have a few days to explore. For more information click hereto check out our blog on Auckland’s West Coast.
Another must see are The Whangarei Falls. A bit more up north, these amazing waterfalls are surrounded by a beautiful reserve and it’s the perfect place to stop and check out whilst road tripping. They have easy access and are an ideal picnic spot.
Further up, the northern beaches. For most people heading that way, Paihia is the perfect place to start if you want to discover the coves and beaches of the Bay of Islands. Many people like to take the road trip up to Cape Reinga, the most northerly point of the country. Doing this gives an excellent opportunity to see some of these beaches along the way. Our personal faves are: Matapouri beach, Takou Bay, and the sand dunes (close to cape Reinga) where you can practice some sand boarding!
The whole of New Zealand is like a post card and the East Coast beaches are up there on the list to do! With the white sand, beautiful rock formations everywhere and lush green nature reserves make sure you see at least one! A couple of our favourite beaches within an hour or two from Auckland are Tawharanui and Te Arai point.
The Coromandel has heaps to do and see so we’ll just name a couple of must do’s!
The first is New Chums Beach. Located close to Wainuiototo Bay on the northeast coast of the Coromandel Peninsula, also voted as one of the worlds top ten beaches with its stretches of golden sand, native forest and beautiful views.
Distance 1.5km | Difficulty: Easy walking track | 1 Hour return walk
Secondly is Hot Water Beach. Its name comes from underground hot springs, which filter up through the sand between tides. It is popular as you can dig a hole in the sand and create yourself your own hot bath from the water hot spring water that is underneath!
And thirdly is visiting Cathedral Cove, which is a large pinnacle of rocks that have been shaped by wind and water over centuries. This place offers gorgeous views of the white sand beach, with its pristine blue waters.
Hobbiton – The Hobbiton Movie Set was a significant location used for The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit film series. Located in Matamata, 45 mins from Hamilton or 2 hours from Auckland, it’s a tourist must do where you can discover the colourful Hobbit houses and even enjoy a cheeky free beer or cider at the end of the tour. The entry fee is $75NZD per person including a free drink.
For all the soul surfers out there, Raglan is a must! As the town featured in The Endless Summer (epic surfer film), it is probably the best point break in New Zealand. This amazing little hippie town is packed with cafes, local artists and shops, a really cool quirky place to see!
Taupo – The main attraction to check out here is definitely the lake and its amazing views. With a surface area of 616 square kilometres, people take boats, and kayaks and do water sports on the lake however the main attraction is the Maori Rock Carving created in the late 1970s, on the cliffs of Mine Bay. The 10-metre-high carving is intended to protect Lake Taupo from volcanic activities underneath and is now popular tourist destination with hundreds of boats and yachts visiting the spot yearly.
One thing that we’ve learnt, New Zealand is a popular destination to do road trips. Whilst on our South Island adventure we decided to use Christchurch a base and did trips from one to four days long stopping off along the way. This way you can really see most of the country and get to enjoy those amazing Kiwi views.
Our first day trip took us to Castle Hill and Arthur’s Pass. This is a perfect day trip from Christchurch with a really scenic drive where you can see all the amazing Mountains along the way. Castle Hill showcases some amazing limestone boulders that will make you feel you are in movie or planet Mars. After we continued the day tour to Arthur’s Pass, a stunning township in the Southern Alps that hosts a truly breathtaking National Park! The highlight of this pit stop, “The Kea”, the world’s only alpine parrot, a highly intelligent and inquisitive olive green mountain parrot that lives only in the Southern Alps. You’ll see them everywhere in this area and the South island.
One of our favorite trips took us a lil’ further south. Queenstown was amazing. It is such a buzzy place, with loads of young people everywhere and set in the mountains so you have those incredible views from anywhere you are in town. In saying this we preferred Wanaka, as it is way more chilled and has less of a backpackers vibe.While there we did the Roys Peak trek, which was always at the top of the to-do list for our South Island trip. Arguably one of the most scenic treks in New Zealand, the walk has no undercover areas throughout which allows you to see all the incredible views throughout the trek. To top this you see panoramic views from the ridgeline of Roys Peak, most of Lake Wanaka, the surrounding peaks and Mount Aspiring/Tititea. For more info, click here to see our blog on Roys Peak, which will tell you all you need to know about one of the prettiest places we’ve ever seen!
Our last main trip was to the Aoraki/Mt. Cook Village, where you find the highest mountain in New Zealand and the Tasman Glacier Lake, which is also the biggest glacier in New Zealand. While in Mt. Cook we stayed at the Mount Cook Lodge, which was super close to all the nearby treks and reasonably priced too. En route to we stopped at Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki, two of the prettiest lakes in NZ. You will enjoy some of the best views of Lake Pukaki whilst driving along the Mt. Cook Road where you will see crystal clear reflections of the snow-covered mountains on the beautiful water! Peter's lookout is somewhere you have to stop too, as this is where you get the best of all the views from the lake and road! For more info, click here to see our blog on Mount Cook.
A decent camera
Sunblock (the sun is very strong)
A jacket (even in summer the nights are cool)
The best way to move from A to B is by car, weather you rent it or buy it. Depending on the time you are planning on staying, buying your own vehicle can be a more affordable option. The best place to by a cheap car will be any hostel or backpacker as there are lots of travellers leaving the country.