Reasons to visit New Zealand

50 BIG Reasons to Visit New Zealand Now!

There are many reasons to visit New Zealand! The incredible scenery, adrenaline-filled activities or perhaps it is the Lord of the Rings, that makes you want to visit New Zealand.

Whatever your reason, backpacking in New Zealand is something that you should do during your lifetime.

There are lots of things to do in New Zealand and most of these double up as excellent reasons to visit the country!

If you are thinking should I visit New Zealand, then you have come to the right place, I’m going to detail several reasons as to why you should make visiting New Zealand a high priority!

Reasons to visit New Zealand

1. Scenery

There are plenty of things that make New Zealand special, but perhaps the main thing is the incredible scenery!

It doesn’t matter whether you are in the middle of a city, or what road you go down, there is amazing scenery everywhere!

This is perhaps one of the best things about travelling in New Zealand, as no matter where you go, you are guaranteed to see some incredible sights!

2. The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings

Hobbiton

New Zealand is the home of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. So, if you are a big fan of the films, then you have to visit New Zealand!

The best place to visit is Hobbiton, as you get to go on a tour around the shire, plus you get a free beer in the tavern at the end.

There are also several related tours you can do around the country if Hobbiton doesn’t satisfy your Middle Earth lust!

3. Wanaka

View of Lake Wanaka

Wanaka is somewhat overshadowed by neighbouring Queenstown, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit! I think Wanaka is more beautiful than Queenstown.

The view of the lake is incredible, and the laid-back vibe in the town is great compared to Queenstown’s more vibrant nature!

4. Adrenaline

There’s no getting away from it, New Zealand is the adrenaline capital of the world! Queenstown in particular, is the place for this, with everything from bungee-jumping to jet-boating available.

This is not just confined to Queenstown, you can skydive or bungee jump just about anywhere in New Zealand!

So, if you love adrenaline, travelling to New Zealand is a must!

5. Auckland

Auckland skyline

Auckland is the biggest city in New Zealand and is probably somewhere that you will visit during your time. I wasn’t too fond of Auckland while I was here.

I just didn’t get a feel for the place, but there a lot of things to do in Auckland. The sky tower and the marina are great places to visit and the parks here are great to relax during a hot summer’s day.

Even if you’re only in Auckland for 3 days, you’ll find a lot of things to do.

6. Road trips

Road trips in New Zealand are perhaps the best way to see the country! Virtually every road has incredible scenery and long trips are not a chore, due to the sheer beauty everywhere.

There are many routes you can take, from the East and West Coast on the South Island to a trip from Wellington to Auckland in the North Island.

If only for the views, road trips are an absolute must in New Zealand!

7. Beaches

Despite its neighbour, Australia getting all the attention regarding beaches, the beaches in New Zealand are good in their own right!

They’re much less populated than those in Australia, which is great if you don’t like crowded beaches like me!

If you like surfing, then there are some great places to go, such as Taylor’s Mistake in Christchurch.

8. Christchurch

Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch

Christchurch has experienced a rough time recently, with the city rebuilding after the devastating earthquakes in 2011.

Despite this, travelling to Christchurch should be high on your list, as the city is an extremely interesting place to visit.

Seeing the earthquake damage and the rebuilding process is an interesting experience and there are plenty of great places like Lyttleton and Godley Head to visit outside of the city.

9. Kaikoura

Kaikoura

Kaikoura is a small town, about 2 hours north of Christchurch. Despite its small size, there are a lot of things to do in Kaikoura.

There are some great hikes, especially around the coastline, and you also have the chance to go to a seal colony, if you go at the right time of the year.

This is a great experience and something I highly recommend. The nightlife here is also quite lively, which is always a bonus!

10. Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach, is as the name suggests, a beach that has hot water.

The hot water does not come from the ocean, but from digging a hole in the sand until water seeps in and fills the hole.

I’m not 100% sure why this happens, but I do know that is an interesting experience and a great thing to do on the Coromandel Peninsula.

11. Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Milford Sound is probably the number one tourist attraction in New Zealand. It is an incredible sight, and I’m saying this as someone who visited when it was grey and raining non-stop.

If you are lucky enough to visit when it is sunny, then you will be blessed with some incredible views.

You have to do a boat tour to get the scale of the sound, but it is worth it!

12. Fiordland

View of Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park

Milford Sound is located in Fiordland, and as the name suggests, the area is full of fiords. As well as Milford Sound, you have Doubtful Sound, which is less busy and considered more spectacular than Milford by some people.

The views of Fiordland are incredible! Driving to Milford Sound was a pleasure, even if the weather was terrible, as the views were out of this world.

Fiordland is a must-visit in New Zealand!

13. Wellington

View of Wellington

The capital of New Zealand, Wellington is an interesting city.

We arrived there on Christmas Day, so it was hard to get a feel for the city, as it was deserted, but it’s beautiful nonetheless!

The Te Papa museum is a must-see, with some interesting exhibits.

Wellington has a reputation as a city with changeable weather, so be on your guard and watch out for some strong winds!

14. Tongariro crossing

Tongariro Crossing

The Tongariro Crossing is arguably the best single-day hike in New Zealand. The crossing in the North Island takes you across and active volcanic area with some great views.

The crossing is one of a limited number of UNESCO world heritage sites in New Zealand, and there’s a good reason for that. It’s a spectacular area that has some of the best landscape in the country!

Parts of the Lord of the Rings films were shot here, primarily those set in Mordor. If you’re driving from Auckland to Queenstown, it’s a great activity to do along the way

The hike is tough and can get very busy, but it is worth it!

15. Dunedin

Dunedin Railway Station

Dunedin is the second biggest city in the South Island and is modelled after Edinburgh. So much so, that the name Dunedin is derived from the Gaelic Scots name for Edinburgh!

Dunedin is an interesting city with some fantastic architecture and as a student town, it has great nightlife.

It is also home to the world’s steepest street, Baldwin Street, which is worth checking out!

16. Golden Bay

Farewell Spit in Golden Bay

Located at the Western tip of the South Island, Golden Bay is a lesser-known destination, but it is great nonetheless.

The scenery here is incredible, especially once you get to the beaches, which are just incredible.

A trip to Farewell Spit, the northernmost point of the South Island, is a must!

17. Nelson

Nelson is an underrated city on the West Coast of the South Island near Golden Bay.

Despite its small size, the city has a lot of interesting architecture and a great nightlife scene, which I highly recommend checking out!

Abel Tasman National Park and Golden Bay are located within a short distance, making Nelson the ideal base to explore both from!

18. Hanmer Springs

Hanmer Springs is a great little town not far from Christchurch.

The primary attraction is the springs that give the town its name. These are located in a water park, which is great fun.

Hanmer is a great place to visit for a weekend away, especially if you are working hard on the rebuild in Christchurch!

19. Bungee jumping

If you want to do a bungee jump, then New Zealand is the place. The most famous jump is the Nevis bungee in Queenstown, at 134m, it’s a fairly big drop!

It’s not cheap either, so you should be certain that you want to go through with it before you pay.

There are plenty of other jumps throughout the country, as well, if you don’t fancy the Nevis jump.

20. Skiing/Snowboarding

Skiing in Queenstown

New Zealand has some of the best mountain ranges in the world, and during the winter these are home to some great ski fields.

I had never gone skiing or snowboarding before I visited New Zealand, but I was hooked by the time I left.

The slopes here are great, and it’s a great activity to do during the winter months. It can be costly, but it is worth it!

21. Queenstown

Mountains covered in snow above Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown

Queenstown is known as the adrenaline capital of New Zealand, and is a place you have to visit in New Zealand!

As well as, the many things to do in Queenstown, the views here are stunning. From the picturesque lake to the Remarkables, there are great views everywhere.

Any trip to Queenstown would not be complete without a night out and a Fergburger, be sure to do both!

22. Slope point

Slope point

Slope Point is the southernmost point in New Zealand, and is somewhere I was gutted not to visit. It is a bit out of the way, but it is an interesting place nonetheless.

The wind here is so strong, that the trees are bent over!

I love visiting quirky places such as this, so it was a shame not to visit. If you get the chance to go here, I would take it!

23. Night sky

Night sky in New Zealand

The night sky in New Zealand is just incredible! As the country is located well away from the rest of the world, there is considerably less pollution.

This means that you get incredibly clear skies at night, even in the big cities.

However, if you want to see the night sky at its best, heading out of the cities and into the rural areas is a must!

24. Working

working for gypsies
A lighter moment during our hell working for gypsies!

The New Zealand working holiday visa is a great way to see the country.

If you are lucky enough to be from a country that is part of the scheme, then I highly recommend taking advantage of this.

Not only do you get to visit one of the most beautiful countries in the world, but you can stay here for a year!

What are you waiting for!?

25. Hiking

New Zealand is a country made for hiking. The landscape and scenery in the country lend itself perfectly to hiking.

There are many great hikes to be done throughout the country, like the aforementioned Tongariro Crossing.

As the outdoors is one of the main selling points of the country, it makes sense to take advantage of this!

26. Southern Alps

Southern Alps

The Southern Alps are a mountain range located in the South Island, and chances are if you fly to Christchurch you will pass over them!

They are visible from Christchurch on a clear day and are a spectacular backdrop to the city. If you’re driving from Christchurch to Queenstown, you will be able to stop at various points and admire their beauty!

During the winter, you can go skiing in the ski fields here, which I recommend so you can get a better appreciation of these incredible mountains!

27. Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is one of the most incredible sights in New Zealand! Even if you are only driving past, the view is spectacular!

The backdrop is also not bad either, with Mt Cook visible in the background on a clear day!

Lake Tekapo is a great place to visit for a weekend away, and the views definitely will not disappoint!

28. Mt Cook

Mt Cook

The highest mountain in New Zealand, Mt Cook, also known as Aoraki, is one of the principal tourist destinations in New Zealand. If you are a climbing enthusiast, then this is the place for you!

The climb is quite a challenge and there are three routes to choose from. For the non-climbers among you, simply admiring the views should be more than enough reason to visit!

29. Coromandel Peninsula

Coromandel

The Coromandel Peninsula in the North Island is another area of incredible beauty in New Zealand!

The peninsula extends north from the Bay of Plenty and is home to great places such as Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove!

Driving around Coromandel is almost as much of a pleasure as visiting the places here, due to the sheer beauty of the place!

30. Taupo

Lake Taupo

Taupo was a place that I wasn’t expecting much from when I visited. However, I was quickly proven wrong, as this is a beautiful location, with much to see and do.

The views here are incredible, especially overlooking Lake Taupo!

There are also some great activities to do such as skydiving, and Action World, which I highly recommend, as it is great fun!

31. Franz Josef

View of Franz Josef glacier

As well as the glacier of the same name, Franz Josef is a small town in the South Island.

The glacier is the main attraction and most people that stop there will visit or go on one of the numerous tours available.

You can also do skydiving here if you want another adrenaline rush. Alternatively, you can simply relax in one of the bars and enjoy the views!

32. Weather

The weather may not be as good as in Australia, but I don’t feel there’s a best time of the year to visit New Zealand!

The views are just as good in bad weather as they are when it’s sunny.

In some ways, the bad weather gives the country a more moody look which is amazing!

New Zealand does get its fair share of hot days, especially in the North Island and you’ll have ample opportunity to visit the beach in the summer!

33. Arthur’s Pass

View of a green field and rolling hills at Arthur's Pass

Arthur’s Pass is a small town and national park located in the South Island. Despite its small size, there are several great walks to do here, such as Bealey Valley and Avalanche Peak.

There are some incredible views throughout Arthur’s Pass and if you are driving through it is definitely worth stopping to soak them in!

34. Rotorua

View of lake rotorua

Rotorua is one of the best places to visit on the North Island of New Zealand.

You certainly won’t forget your visit here, as due to the geothermal activity in the area, there is a distinct smell of rotten eggs in the air.

However, despite the smell, Rotorua is a great location. There are so many things to do here, a lot of them adrenaline based, so you’ll soon ignore the pungent odour!

35. Rugby

Super Rugby action

New Zealand is rugby mad! Rugby is everywhere in the country and everyone loves it! If you are a rugby fan yourself, then this is the perfect place to visit.

The national team, known as the All Blacks, are the best team on the planet and watching them perform the haka before games is an incredible spectacle!

Watching a Super Rugby match is quite cheap in New Zealand and something I recommend doing!

36. Hostels

The hostels in Australia are good, but the hostels in New Zealand may be better!

There are some fantastic hostels located throughout the country. Many of which are located in some amazing buildings.

Added to the fact that they are reasonably priced, you should enjoy your stay in these hostels. It felt like you were staying in someone’s house at times, they were that good!

37. Stewart Island

Stewart Island is often the forgotten island of New Zealand.

Overshadowed by its bigger neighbours, Stewart Island is often left off a New Zealand backpacking itinerary.

I didn’t know it existed until I arrived in the country!

However, that shouldn’t stop you visiting. There are great views here, like the rest of the country, and it offers an alternative to the two bigger islands!

38. South Island

Auckland to Queenstown road trip

I spent most of my time working and travelling around the South Island during my year in New Zealand. So, I am a little biased towards my preference for it over the North Island.

There are so many things to do in the South Island, that you could easily spend a month, maybe more, travelling around and doing everything.

As the bigger of the two main islands, it makes sense to spend more time here!

39. Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman

Abel Tasman Park is just beautiful and at times it can feel like you are in a tropical paradise and not New Zealand!

There are plenty of hikes to do in the park and I highly recommend doing these to see more of this beautiful place.

Kayaking is another good way to explore the area, with lots of routes available and secret places to explore!

40. West Coast

West Coast of New Zealand road trip

The West Coast of the South Island is one of the best places to visit in New Zealand.

It is an ideal place to go on a road trip, due to the range of scenery and many different activities to do.

You can do everything from ziplining, whitewater-rafting and hiking a glacier! There aren’t many places in the world that can offer that amount of things to do!

41. Pancake Rocks

pancake rocks

The Pancake Rocks are one of the many unique places in New Zealand.

These rocks were formed after millions of years of geographical activity and have the appearance of pancakes, hence the name.

The rocks have a surreal look to them and look like they belong in another world!

This is one of the best places to visit on the West Coast, as it is one of many strange and interesting places in New Zealand!

42. Doubtful Sound

Doubtful Sound

While Milford Sound gets all the recognition as one of the main reasons to visit New Zealand, Doubtful Sound sneaks under the radar.

However, it is arguable whether Doubtful Sound is better than Milford.

For one, there are fewer tourists there than Milford and the views are equally impressive if not better. Instead of deciding which one to visit, why not visit both?

43. Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands is one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand.

Located in the North Island, it is as the name suggests, a bay that contains a lot of islands!

There are plenty of activities for backpackers do to here, from snorkelling, kayaking and fishing, you will not be short of things to do in the Bay of Islands!

44. Te Anau

View of Lake Te Anau from the shore

If you’re going to New Zealand, Te Anau is one of the places yo have to visit!

It’s the gateway to Fiordland in the South Island. The Lake of the same name is the second largest in New Zealand after Lake Taupo.

Most people will visit here as a starting point for visiting Milford and Doubtful Sound.

Te Anau itself is a beautiful little town, which has caves that house glow worms similar to the Waitomo Caves!

45. Akaroa

Akaroa

Akaroa is an oddity in regards to New Zealand, as it is a town that has a French influence! This is due to the French establishing a settlement here in the 1800s.

Located close to Christchurch in the South Island, there are plenty of things to do in Akaroa, such as kayaking and swimming with dolphins.

As always in New Zealand, the scenery is fantastic and Akaroa is no different, with great views from virtually everywhere!

46. Moeraki Boulders

Moeraki boulders

The Moeraki Boulders are almost perfectly spherical boulders that are located on a beach in between Oamaru and Dunedin.

They look otherworldly and not the result of millions of years of erosion!

This is an interesting and quirky place to visit, and it is the perfect place for a unique photo opportunity as you can see below!

47. North Island

Coromandel

The most populated of the two main islands, the North Island is an interesting destination.

There are some cool cities from Auckland to the capital Wellington and some amazing areas of natural beauty such as the Coromandel Peninsula.

The weather is hotter than in the South Island, due to the sub-tropical climate, so be sure to make the most of the amazing beaches that are here! The North Island is a demonstration of why New Zealand is the best place to visit!

48. Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga is the northernmost point of New Zealand. It is a fair drive from the nearest town of Kaitaia, which is (62 miles) 100km further south!

The Cape is the meeting point of the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean and offers some fantastic views. The lighthouse here is also worth checking out!

49. Bay of Plenty

The Bay of Plenty is one of the best reasons to visit New Zealand and a must-see in the North Island!

There are plenty of great places to visit such as the Coromandel Peninsula, Rotorua and Tauranga!

There is a great range of geographical diversity in the Bay of Plenty, and you have everything from great harbours, geothermal pools and of course fantastic scenery!

50. Marlborough Sounds

Marlborough Sounds

Marlborough Sounds are one of the most beautiful places to visit in New Zealand!

They are a collection of sea-drowned valleys that are located in the north of the South Island.

Similar to Milford and Doubtful Sound, but with less rainfall, they are spectacular and offer another example of New Zealandโ€™s boundless beauty!

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50 reasons to visit New Zealand