17 Jul 2019
Auckland – Known as the City of Sails, it is the largest and most populated city in New Zealand, and probably where you will first land if you visit New Zealand. It’s an amazing city with activities ranging from kayaking, navigating a volcano or running along black sand beaches, to a strong foodie atmosphere and fun nightlife. There are also some amazing exhibits in the Auckland Museum or the Auckland Art Gallery. Because the city straddles the thin point of the North Island it’s also one of the few places you can walk across an entire country in an afternoon.
Wellington – The other major city on the North Island, it’s home to a massive art scene and creative spirit. The Te Papa Tongarewa is the national museum and definitely worth a visit. The city is also home to Weta workshop tours, the company responsible for LoTR’s visuals, and who have worked in many major motion pictures since.
Christchurch – Hit by four large earthquakes from September 2010 and December 2011, Christchurch is a mix of old and new, situated at the north of the South Island. The Botanical Gardens feature some of the tallest and oldest trees in the country, and there are oceans and mountains at its doorstep.
Queenstown – Known as the adventure capital, there are plenty of adrenaline-raising activities year-round in this South Island city. These range from skiing, bungee jumping, skydiving, jet boating, river rafting, the world’s highest cliff jump, and more. For those who like a bit more of a sedate pace, the Lake Wakatipu is beautiful to cycle around, or indulge in one of New Zealand’s greatest dining scenes. (We recommend Fergburger.)
Rotorua – A mix of history and relaxation, this smaller city in the North Island has a strong Maori presence and lots of geothermal activity. The Maori Arts and Crafts Institute is full of living history, or you could visit the 30-foot eruption of the Pohutu Geyser. The natural activity does lend the area a strong sulphuric smell, but if that doesn’t bother you, it’s worth a visit.
Napier – An earthquake in 1930 destroyed much of the central town and killed over 250 people. Rebuilding began immediately, resulting in a large spread of gorgeous art deco architecture filled with Maori artistic touches. The city is also home to large and tasty vineyards, along with the National Aquarium that is world-class.
Dunedin – Founded by Scottish immigrants, it’s mainly a university town and not a traditional tourist destination. It has gorgeous Edwardian and Victorian architecture and has plenty of food, art, nightlife and nearby beaches with plenty of wildlife. It’s a shining hidden jewel that is excellent to live in and visit.
Matamata – On the opposite end of the scale, this city is best known for being the location of Hobbiton, but also has many tasty cafes and the local Kaimai Mountain Range that has some excellent hikes. You can also visit as a day-trip from nearby Rotorua.
Tauranga – Not well-known outside of New Zealand, this city is the favourite for local holidaying, who go to visit the small Mount Manganui (only 30 minutes to the top) and clean and beautiful beaches. It is also situated in the heart of the Bay of Plenty, where there are many water adventures to be had, whether fishing, sailing, scuba-diving and more. If you get on a boat, there’s a strong possibility of catching sight of schools of dolphins or whales.
These are just some of the major cities that you could go visit while in New Zealand, to say nothing of the many landscapes and adventures across the country, but fully taking in even this suggestion will take a decent amount of time, so enjoy it while you’re there.