The Best Places to Visit While on Vacation in New Zealand

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Advisor - Lizz Callaway
Curated By

Lizz Callaway

  • New Zealand

  • Adventure Travel

  • International Travel

  • Solo Travel

  • Hiking

  • Local Culture

  • Outdoors

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Curator’s statement

Ever wondered what you can do in New Zealand? The answer is everything! Let me show you the best places to visit and our unique finds in this awe-inspiring corner of the world.

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Where to stay in New Zealand

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Things to do in New Zealand

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Arrive in Auckland. Fortunately, for most travelers coming from the States, jet lag is not a problem as New Zealand is 19 hours ahead of the West Coast. Check into your hotel and start wandering around. 

Walk up a dormant volcano for 360-degree views of the city. Maungawhau, also known as Mount Eden, is the highest point in the city and holds significant historical value to the Maori people. Relax at the top and enjoy the view and 50-meter-deep crater. 

Visit the Sky Tower. At over 1,000 feet tall, the Sky Tower provides the best views in the city as the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere. Pro tip: grab a scoop of hokey pokey ice cream to go along with your view. 

Embrace Maori History and view the largest collection of Treasure at the Auckland War Museum. 

Rotorua is not only the destination for hot springs, but the adventures and culture will keep you busy for days. Book yourself a private hot mineral spring at Polynesian Spa and relax after your hiking and exploring. The Rotorua Museum educates its visitors about the rich but volatile history of the region. 

Hobbiton! Not to be missed for Lord of the Rings fanatics. Book your tour of the famous film site outside of Cambridge and revel in the magic Peter Jackson brought to life. Want even more out of this experience? Book your feast at the Green Dragon Inn and end your night in the party field under the stars.

Taupo is located on the shore of the largest lake in the country. A popular base for adventures, travelers of all skill levels and interests can find something amazing in Taupo's surrounding areas. Huka Falls is an easy walk to view the rushing water, but if fishing is more your speed, trout is very popular on the lake. Geothermal walks at Craters of the Moon provide insight on this unique phenomenon. 

Tongariro National Park is an awe-inspiring landscape formed from volcanic eruptions and is a place of natural beauty and spiritual significance for many. Accessed easily from Taupo town, Tongariro offers Walks, skiing, snowboarding, more advanced hiking and more. 

Bay of Islands. Located at the top of North Island, the Bay of Islands is so named as it encompasses 500 miles of shoreline and over 150 islands. After a 3-4 hour drive out of Auckland, you'll arrive in seaside towns like Paihia where you can book a boat adventure, hire a kayak or go snorkeling in the beautiful waters. Word to the wise: the roads are curvy and narrow, so be cautious driving up but once you arrive, settle in and enjoy.

Places to eat & drink in New Zealand

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Elliott Stables, Auckland: This upscale food court is open air, and you will find your fellow diners enjoying a variety of cuisines from sushi to tacos. 

Lucky 8, Auckland: Asian-inspired small bites and tapas, plus cocktails on tap! 

The Oyster Inn, Auckland: The best seafood around! 

Paris Butter, Auckland: Everything you want French food to be. 

Ali Baba's Tunisian Cuisine, Rotorua: Watch the food being made by this humble owner and then sit back and enjoy the delicious food.

McDonald's in Taupo: I am a big proponent of eating McDonald's in different countries, so this is a must-do and the Macca's in Taupo has an airplane on top! 

Fox & Hounds, Taupo: Scratch your British pub itch with a cold beer and traditional pies. 

Onyx, Cambridge: The snapper is innovative and will leave you wanting more.

Need to Know

For stateside travel tips, check out my guide to California: A Romantic Wine Getaway in Paso Robles, California.

Advisor - Lizz Callaway

Travel Advisor

Lizz Callaway

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