Beautiful lakes, native bush, huge waterfalls, mountainous landscapes, many sheeps, green highlands, blue rivers and an endless coastline to be jealous of: New Zealand is everything and more. It’s a true paradise for nature lovers and a must go for outdoor fans. Last March I made a four-week round trip through New Zealand and here I’ll tell you my favorite places that you really should not miss during your trip through this amazing country.
Hobbiton, Northern Island
Back to Middle Earth: Hobbiton, the original movie set of The Lord of the Rings and the Hobbiton trilogies. During a visit you step into the mythical world full of optical illusions and dramatic sceneries. It’s a bit expensive, but you’ll forget about the money once you’ve experienced this fairytale. You’re not allowed to walk around by yourself, you have to walk with a guide. But that’s totally fine, because the enthusiastic guide tells you some cool facts about how the movie was made and he shows you the most famous locations of the set. The Hobbit houses are fake, but did you know that the rest of the set is real? Even the giant pumpkins, the juicy strawberries and the delicious apples are real! Are you not a big fan of these trilogies? No worries: even if you didn’t see them or didn’t like them, I still recommend this tour!
Wai-O-Tapu, Northern Island
This is probably the most surreal place of New Zealand that I’ve seen during my trip. Wai-O-Tapu is a fantasy. It’s a place where geography books come alive. It’s nature HEAVEN. During a walk through the park you’ll see naturally colored springs, huge geysers, bubbling mud, steaming ground and other vulcanic features, with the famous Champagne Pool as highlight. This phenomenon has been sculptured by geotermal activities beneath the earth and due to this conditions, this area is known for its crazy hot springs and the nasty smell. Because yeah, it smells like rotten eggs. Visit the park for at least three hours and don’t forget to bring your camera!
Huka Falls, Taupo, Northern Island
Powerful. That’s the best word to describe this impressive waterfall. The water makes its way through narrow river canyons to eventually fall straight down. It’s so intense to stand in front of this light blue waterfall and you definitely should not miss this spectacle. Don’t you have enough time? Then park your car right on the corner. But are you in for a bit more adventure? Go for a walk through the woods and follow the path. Wanna get even closer? Hop in the Hukafalls Jet for a crazy ride.
Whangamomona, Northern Island
A republic in the middle of New Zealand: Whangamomona. Never heard of it? Me neither. Until I was driving the Forgotten World Highway, a magnificent route that is one of the best kept secrets of New Zealand. And during this roadtrip I passed through Whangamomona, a small republic with just one hotel, which is a bar and a restaurant at the same time, and some houses. Only thirty people live here! Oh, and you can get a stamp in your passport of this republic. How cool is that? Even the makers of the Lonely Planet don’t know about this. So go there and have fun!
Picton, Marlborough, Southern Island
This one is for the sun lovers and the wine drinkers. Marlborough is thé wine region of New Zealand and it’s definitely a great place to start after you arrived on the Southern Island. Hire a bike – like I did – and cross the vineyards in a couple of hours. You can stop at some local wine producers along the way to taste a selection of the region’s best wines. The tastings are for free, but if you pay a few dollars they’ll give you more wines to taste. It’s amazing to see the differences between these wine producers. Some produce everything by hand, others use machines to produce as many bottles as they can. And just enjoy the views of the vineyards, because this is such a picturesque, green and mountainous region.
Abel Tasman National Park, Southern Island
New Zealand is famous for its nature reserves with rugged mountains, deep valleys and spectacular peaks. All the nature reserves are raw and pure. But Abel Tasman National Park isn’t. Abel Tasman is different. It’s surrounded by beautiful sandy beaches and crazy blue water. Tropical. But it’s also famous for its green wilderniss. If you want to explore this national park the right way, you should go hike here for several days. And hire a kayak to complete the adventure.
Mount Cook, Southern Island
Mount Cook was definitely one of my favorite places in New Zealand, because of the snowy mountains. I really enjoyed every single view, no matter where I went. Just don’t forget to walk the Hooker Valley Track. The name of this track is a bit weird, but the views during this hike are amazing. Oh, and if you like, you can go for a heli-hike!
Fiordland National Park, Southern Island
Right in the south of the Southern Island there’s a huge national park: Fiordland. It’s actually the biggest national park of New Zealand. With Milford Sound in the north and Doubtful Sound in the south. And it’s also famous for one of the most beautiful highways of the country, Milford Road. If you still have enough time, you should go for a boat cruise of 24 hours. In another article I’ll tell you why you should make a cruise through Doubtful Sound!
Queenstown, Southern Island
Bungee jumping, bungee swinging, skydiving, jetboating, mountainbiking, hiking, rafting, kayaking, paragliding, parasailing, tubing, riding quads, ziplining, horse riding and many more activities. That’s all I need to say. Queenstown is AWESOME.
Wanaka, Southern Island
Wanaka is another cool city in New Zealand. This is the place where I jumped out of a plane while I was overlooking mountains, rivers and two beautiful lakes. I mean… how can I not love this place? Hallalujah!
What’s your favorite place in New Zealand? I’m curious, tell me!