Looking to plan your next holiday? Why not explore your own backyard before rushing overseas. You will experience no shortage of exciting holiday fun in New Zealand with plenty of natural wonders and an abundance of local attractions to explore. Be inspired and discover some of New Zealand’s stunning golden beaches, untamed wilderness, volcanic wonders and rich vibrant culture. To make it easier for Kiwi’s looking to explore their own backyard, we have hand-selected our top 10 favourite attractions which are definitely worth adding to your holiday itinerary.
1. Visit the Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Image via Waitomo Caves Discovery Centre
The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are one of New Zealand’s many unique natural wonders that offer visitors the chance to experience a starry wonderland, all thanks to the glowworm grotto. These ancient caves are best explored through a guided tour with the Waitomo Caves Discovery Centre. Hear about the ancient legends from descendants of the Māori Chief who originally explored the cave and marvel at the thousands of glow worms that create a magical light display on the cave ceilings. Experience the peaceful ambience as you take a boat ride through the cave streams to watch this truly unique natural phenomenon take place.
2. Exploring the geothermal activity at Hell's Gate
Image via Rotorua NZ
If you're looking to explore landscapes that have been shaped and coloured by volcanic forces for over thousands of years then Rotorua is at the heart of New Zealand’s geothermal activity. Hell’s Gate is the place where myth and legend live on, boasting 50 acres of mud pools, geysers, hot springs and the Southern Hemisphere’s largest hot-water waterfall. Once used as a healing ground for Māori warriors after they returned from battle, this sacred land is open to visitors to experience the natural healing properties of the nutrient-rich waters and thermal mud. Take a walk through the grounds and feel the awe-inspiring power of the geothermal steam all around you!
3. Take a trip to Hot Water Beach
Image via The Coromandel
Experience a truly unique kiwi experience at one of New Zealand’s renowned beaches in the heart of The Coromandel. Hot Water Beach is known for its beautiful stretch of golden sand where you will discover a natural worldwide wonder; an underground hot river that flows just below the surface. Bring a spade and dig your very own natural hot spring. Relax and take in the scenic beauty of the coastline which overlooks the Pacific Ocean and offshore Castle Island. However, make sure you check the tide times as the hot springs are only accessible at low tide.
4. Sky Tower
Image via My Guide Auckland
Standing 328 metres tall, it’s no wonder that the Sky Tower is one of Auckland’s famed icons from which you can witness the stunning skyline. The Sky Tower is also an exciting hub for many adrenaline-fuelled activities as well as its superb restaurants and cafes. So whether you’re looking for a fine dining experience with 360-degree views or looking for some action-packed adventure like sky jumping, the Sky City Tower is the perfect spot for you!
5. Tongariro National Park
Image via 100% Pure New Zealand
Immerse yourself in New Zealand’s great outdoors and visit the Tongariro National Park, which is home to some of New Zealand’s truly dramatic and rugged landscapes. Explore the staggering beauty of the 80,000-hectare park which is home to three active volcanic mountains. Here you will capture great shots of the many geological wonders including volcanic peaks, emerald lakes, steaming craters, old lava flows and the lush New Zealand bushland.
6. Milford Sound
Image via Southern Discoveries
If you're travelling down towards Queenstown, we highly recommend setting aside a day to explore the majestic fiord in the south-west, known as Milford Sound. Carved by glaciers during the ice ages, this breath-taking fiord is a must-do on your New Zealand itinerary. Join one of the many boat cruise operators which skirt the edges of the cliffs so you can get a close look at the snow-covered alpine peaks, cascading waterfalls as well as the native forests and wildlife. Enjoy the informative commentary whilst the skipper points out scenic highlights along the journey. A typical day cruise on the fiord is definitely a worthwhile experience to witness Milford Sound in all its glory.
7. Hokitika Gorge
Image via See The South Island
Enjoy a scenic walk through New Zealand’s lush farmlands of the Kokatahi region whilst admiring this highly underrated South Island treasure, the Hokitika Gorge. This dream-like place is well worth a visit to capture a truly breath-taking photo of the vivid turquoise waters which need to be seen to be believed. We recommend setting aside a full day to explore this magical place.
8. Explore the Franz Josef Glacier
Image via Viator
Located just five kilometres from the Franz Josef Glacier Village rests one of New Zealand’s most iconic glacier passages. If you want to explore the Franz Josef Glacier, take the guided ice walk through the ice caves, pinnacles and seracs of this pristine alpine environment. At the end of the day, you can reward yourself with a relaxing dip in the Franz Josef Glacier Hot Pools.
9. Marlborough Sounds
Image via 100% Pure New Zealand
A trip to the South Island isn’t complete without a visit to the Marlborough Sounds. Experience the 1500 kilometres of picturesque coastline which is home to a number of New Zealand’s historical sites, marine reserves and inland sanctuaries which provide protection to many of the native species such as the kiwi. We recommend walking or hiring a bike to cycle the bush-clad ridgelines to admire the view from the Queen Charlotte Track. Along this track, you will find it is very common to spot local sea life such as dolphins, penguins, seals and whales.
10. Kayak through the Abel Tasman National Park
Image via Abel Tasman National Park
While it may be one of the smallest national parks in New Zealand, the sheltered bays of Abel Tasman National Park provide the ideal waters for sea kayaking. We highly recommend renting a kayak for the day to explore the serene beauty of the park by the water, providing the best chance for spotting the seals and dolphins who are regulars to these coastal waters.
Need a place to stay while road-tripping or travelling between regions? Look no further than TOP 10 Holiday Parks. Our holiday parks are dotted throughout this beautiful country, making it that much easier for you to explore the best domestic attractions New Zealand has to offer.