One Month in New Zealand
Collected by Liz Carlson, AFAR Local Expert
Be warned: a month in New Zealand and you'll never want to leave. Starting in the North Island, take two weeks to visit the major sites, hike, and hit the beaches before catching the ferry to Picton. From there, make your way down the east coast, for whale-watching at Kaikoura, then head to the rebuilt Christchurch, and make your way to New Zealand's beautiful adventure capital, Queenstown. Circle back up the west coast and finish your trip in Auckland. Your month in New Zealand will go by fast!
Waitemata Harbour, New Zealand
The gateway into Auckland in the Waitemata Harbour. Sprawling along the downtown area, and traversed by the Auckland Harbour Bridge (which you can climb if you're feeling adventurous), it's a good reminder of how close Auckland is to the sea. Here...
585 Waitomo Caves Rd, Waitomo 3977, New Zealand
Waitomo, on New Zealand’s North Island, is known mostly for its glowworms. This is one of the few places in the world where they exist and millions of visitors descend onto the village every year to walk through the dark caves and see the sparkly...
126 Broadway, Matamata 3400, New Zealand
Welcome to Middle Earth in the South Pacific, and an ideal stop for traveling fans of the author J.R.R. Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movie trilogies. Near the rural town of Matamata—itself a destination for its LOTR-inspired...
Maungatautari 3494, New Zealand
30 miles south of Hamilton on the North Island sits the Maungatautari Ecological Reserve. A massive nature reserve that's been fenced in to get rid of introduced pests to help regrow New Zealand's endangered bird population, including kiwis, this...
Mount Tarawera, Bay Of Plenty 3073, New Zealand
Near Rotorua you'll find Mount Tarawera, one of New Zealand's most recent volcanoes. Erupting in the mid-nineteenth century, it buried a Maori village and killed over 100 people. Nowadays, it lies quiet, overlooking the beautiful Lake Tarawera...
Lake Taupo, Waikato, New Zealand
On the shores of New Zealand's largest lake sits the holiday town of Taupo, in the center of the North Island. Popular with vacationers and adventure travelers, there is plenty for everyone. An ancient volcanic crater, nowadays Taupo is a...
Cape Palliser 5772, New Zealand
Driving around the southern roads in the North Island often lulls you into believing that this pocket of New Zealand is mostly rural farmland with more sheep than you could ever imagine. Once leaving the comfort of the Wairarapa wine region, it...
Wellington, New Zealand
I still owe my best friend millions for introducing me to Wellington's Cafe L'Affare while I was working in New Zealand. Founded in 1990, this quintessential cafe is cozy, delicious and gourmet ground breaking. What are your food choices, you ask?...
Wellington Ferry Terminal 1 Aotea Quay, Pipitea, Wellington 6011, New Zealand
Perhaps one of the most iconic kiwi experiences to be had in New Zealand is to catch the ferry between Wellington and Picton. While the Cook Strait doesn't seem too big, it actually takes around three hours to negotiate the occasionally rough seas...
Queen Charlotte Sound (Totaranui), New Zealand
Queen Charlotte Sound is the gateway to the South Island, an honor that it shares with the other Marlborough Sounds. One of the best and most traditional ways to make the journey from the North to South Islands is by ferry from Wellington into...
Christchurch, New Zealand
Once a thriving, big city in the South Island, after a devastating earthquake that leveled the town and killed a large group of people a few years ago, Christchurch is still on the road to recovery. Many people will tell you to skip it in favor of...
Lake Tekapo 7999, New Zealand
Lake Tekapo is one of those places in New Zealand that is instantly recognizable but few know its name. Bright blue with clear water surrounded by pink and purple lupines in the summer, it's the perfect background for these blooming flowers. A...
Lake Pukaki, Canterbury 7999, New Zealand
A magical alpine lake on the South Island is Lake Pukaki, crystal blue and turquoise. Oftentimes in the morning it's so still it reflects a perfect mirror of the clouds. One of many glacial lakes in the area, the best view is from the southside,...
Queenstown, New Zealand
If you visit one place in the South Island of New Zealand, let it be Queenstown. One of the most popular tourist destinations in New Zealand, and for good reason, Queenstown couldn't be in a better location. Surrounded by sweeping mountains...
Milford Track, Fiordland National Park 9679, New Zealand
Steve from Trips and Tramps makes a great tour guide through the Milford Track. The guided half-day hike, an easy seven miles on a well-groomed trail, was just a tease—given the time, the full four-day, 33-mile track would be well worth it. We...
Lake Hawea, Otago 9382, New Zealand
Near Lake Wanaka in the South Island is the remote and sparsely settled Lake Hawea. Surrounded by steep mountains untouched by man that drop swiftly down to turquoise blue waters, it couldn't be more picturesque. This is the perfect place to stop...
63 Cron Street, Franz Josef Glacier 7859, New Zealand
If there is one activity not to be missed in New Zealand, it's getting to explore Franz Josef Glacier in the South Island. One of the only glaciers in the world that drops down into a temperate rainforest, Franz Josef is a wonder to behold. The...
Punakaiki, New Zealand
Along the wild west coast of New Zealand, you will find many curious rock formations and interesting coastlines. Near Punakaiki and a rainforest are the famous Pancake Rocks, a limestone formation that has formed lined pillar-like rocks along the...
South Island 7183, New Zealand
New Zealand's smallest national park certainly packs a punch. Unlike so many of the great ragged mountains that dot the country, Abel Tasman curves along the north coast of the South Island, peppered with golden sand beaches and steep cliffs that...
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