Hi there, curious traveler!
What is it like to discover New Zealand you wonder? I have been living in this strikingly beautiful country all my life (on the North Island), so my opinion is biased. But I could tell you discovering the country is like eating a delicious, multi-colored and multi-flavored cake for the first time: each bite is filling and fulfilling, and you can’t wait for the next.
There are so many things to see and do when you get to New Zealand. But if you are limited in time coming to NZ, here are some must-see places and activities.
New Zealand has some of the most beautiful scenery on earth, and it’s easy to see why so many movies and television shows choose to film here. The South Island in particular has a stunning mix of beaches, mountains, lakes and glaciers.
In New Zealand, you can be hiking through a rainforest one minute and skiing on the slopes the next. There’s no place quite like it.
You should begin your journey with Auckland. The city is well known for its harbor, beaches and natural volcanic landscape. If you have a couple of days in Auckland, I recommend visiting the following places:
- Waiheke Island
This island is located 50 km from Auckland City and can be reached by ferry from the Britomart terminal or by water taxi from Westhaven Marina. It is a great place to escape the city’s hustle and bustle for a day trip. There are stunning beaches, wineries, vineyards, restaurants and cafes all over the island. Here you can enjoy a relaxing day out at one of the many beaches on the island or take a stroll through the picturesque vineyards. You can also visit one of the many wineries on Waiheke Island like Cooper’s Creek Vineyard or Oneroa Bay Winery to try some award-winning wines while enjoying spectacular views.
I love the fact that convenience stores are stocked with snacks.
We were traveling around New Zealand in a campervan, which meant we were constantly stopping at gas stations and convenience stores for snacks and drinks. Even though you never know what you’re going to find (or not find), there’s usually at least one thing for vegans — usually fruit, nuts, or something dairy-free.
- Tongariro Crossing
Tongariro Crossing is an active volcano crater that you can cross on foot. This is probably my favorite thing about New Zealand. While it’s not technically a walk across the whole thing, it does cross the central section of the crater, which is the most challenging part.
It was pretty crazy to be walking across an area that was once a huge volcano and has since been filled back in with trees and grasses. It was amazing to be able to look down into the crater itself and see the remnants of what must have been a much larger volcano at some point in history.
- Crazy Accommodation
If you are looking for memorable accommodation options, than New Zealand is the place to be. From sleeping in an old silo or an old cargo plane to resting in little hobbit houses, the country definitely has its share its share of fun housing.
- The Pinot Gris
New Zealand is the world’s biggest producer of Pinot Gris and this delightful wine, with its complex citrus flavors, is perfect for a sunny summer’s day.
Kiwi ingenuity, my favorite New Zealand trait.
New Zealanders are some of the nicest people I have ever met. They are very helpful, always willing to lend a hand when you need it. Everyone says “Gidday” or “Kia Ora” (which means “good day”) or “how ya goin?”. This happens all the time and its part of their culture, they are very friendly people! You can’t beat the scenery: I have stated this already but there are mountains everywhere!
From the ingenious invention of the self-opening beer can, bungee jumping and the electric fence to the brilliant but funny song Men at Work’s Down Under, New Zealanders are a creative bunch.
By the way, New Zealanders have been nicknamed ‘Kiwi’ since World War 1 by Australian soldiers. This is actually a term of endearment, and not considered an insult.
- New Plymouth
I love the region of Taranaki. It’s home to New Plymouth which I live in, it’s surrounded by mountains and has beaches. The best part is that you are so close to the beach but also just an hour away from snowcapped mountains. So, there is always something to do!
Best thing about New Zealand for travelers?
New Zealand is a small country so there’s always something to see. Whether it’s a new place to visit or somewhere new to eat, there’s always something new that might interest you. It’s also easy to travel around with most places being within an hour’s drive of each other giving you plenty of time to explore everything New Zealand has to offer.
Looking forward to your visit soon,
A happy New Zealand local 🙂