New Zealand is undeniably one of the most charming countries in the world. The country is a relatively small island tucked away in the Pacific Ocean, with a population of approximately 4.5 million people. Its location far away from Australia and other continents makes it one of the go-to places for tourists that are looking to explore some of the world’s most sacred treasures.
In March 2018, New Zealand played host to over 3.8 million tourists. Picturesque landscapes, laidback Maori culture, and vibrant festival scenes are the primary highlights of a holiday in New Zealand. This post shall highlight the top spots you might consider visiting whenever your dreams take you to this glorious country.
1. The Fiordland National Park
The Fiordland National Park is New Zealand’s largest national park. The 12,607 square kilometers park occupies the southwestern region of the South Island and is a significant park within the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage site.
The fastest means to access the park is through a road drive from Queenstown to Te Anau, along the SH6 and SH94. You may also fly into airports located within Te Anau or other nearby towns, such as Milford Sound and Manapouri.
Vegetation in Fiordland National Park is predominantly dense forests with hundreds of plant species, including ferns, shrubs, and silver beech. There are also numerous wild animals to sight, mostly the endangered native animals and birds. Examples include possum, red deer, and dolphins, as well as birds like kakapo, mōhua (yellowhead), and takahē.
Besides game watching, Fiordland is famous for its refreshing boat tours to nearby points of interest like the Milford Discovery Centre & Underwater Observatory.
Camping in Fiordland National Park allows you a more intimate encounter with its natural wonders. Some of the most popular campsites around the park include Fiordland Great Views Holiday Park, Getaway Te Anau, and more. Visit HitTheRoad.Rentals to learn more about camping in New Zealand. The brand works with over 83 Campervan providers in North and South New Zealand all with real customer reviews.
Another great way to explore Fiordland National Park is by taking a boat cruise to Milford Sound, which is the most spectacular fjord within the park. Other activities in and around Fiordland include hiking, tramping, trout fishing, and mountain climbing.
The best time to visit Fiordland National Park is during the warmer months of December through April.
The pristine waters of Fiordland
Taranaki is located on the western coast of North Island, midway between Auckland and Wellington. The easiest way to get to Taranaki is to fly in, but the most exciting way is to take a road drive along New Zealand’s oldest heritage trail, the Forgotten World Highway SH43.
Taranaki is the ultimate adventure destination, featuring activities that suit travelers of all kinds. Popular things to do include surfing, hiking, snowboarding, mountain climbing, and watching the beautiful sunsets.
One of the special recommendations is the Pouakai Crossing, a full-day hiking tour that passes through the Pouakai Tarns. If you go on this hike on a calm day, you can see the magnificent reflections of the enormous Mount Egmont in the water. Most tourists prefer to head directly to the mountain for a full outdoor adventure, which includes mountain climbing, chartered flights over the mountain, and skiing, which happens between June and October.
If you’re into surfing, you can cruise the Surf Highway 45 and explore Taranaki’s top surfing destinations. And while you’re at it, you might consider visiting the Sugar Loaf Marine Park to swim with the seals and other marine animals.
February to mid-April is the ideal time to visit Taranaki.
3. Whangarei Falls
Whangarei Falls is arguably the most popular natural feature in Whangarei city. Nestled within Whangarei Scenic Reserve, the falls are an excellent destination for those who cherish the wild side of nature.
The 26 meters falls is located within a 10-minutes’ drive from downtown Whangarei or 2.5-hours’ drive from Auckland.
Besides sighting the mighty falls, the scenery is also perfect for photography, which makes it a preference for most honeymooners. There’s an opportunity to climb in behind the falls, and if you’re lucky to be there early enough, you can behold the rising sun as it hits the pristine waters, leaving your body covered in rainbows.
Climbing the slippery rocks around Whangarei Falls is an adrenaline-pumping adventure. However, the thought of getting behind the falls to enjoy a clearer view of the rolling landscapes and the sprawling Whangarei city makes it worth the risk. Are you afraid of heights? No need to fret, as you can still enjoy picturesque views of the waterfalls by taking a 30-minutes loop walk. Or, you can follow the trails down the Hatea River for a short but fulfilling walking safari.
The ideal period to visit the Whangarei Falls is during the summer months of December through February.
4. Muriwai Beach, Auckland
Muriwai Beach is a top destination to include in your travel itinerary of New Zealand. Located within a 40-minutes drive from Auckland, this beach is famous for its enormous black sand dunes, incredible surfing opportunities, and surreal sunsets. The Muriwai Surf School, located close-by, offers lots of surfboards and sand yachts for hire, as well as surfing tuitions.
Apart from surfing, other watersports activities include hang gliding, paragliding, and fishing. However, ensure you check with the local authorities for the most suitable areas to go fishing or paragliding. Aptly named the Wild West Coast, Muriwai can get really wild during stormy days.
If you’re a nature lover, you might consider bushwalking along the Hilary Trail. Towards the southern end of the beach is the Muriwai Regional Park, a haven for golfers, cyclists, and horse riders.
A notable nearby point of interest is Maori Bay, located far south of the beach. The bay is famous for its steep cliffs and rocky terrain, which offer nesting spots for the region’s only colony of the Australasian gannets.
You can visit Muriwai Beach during the driest months from November to March. However, January till March is the ideal period for swimming at the beach, as the waters are calmer then.
Piha is a chic town situated along the rugged coastlines of Waitakere Ranges. It’s rather secluded location makes it ideal for travelers looking to escape the bustling city life.
The town is within a 40-minutes’ drive from Auckland city and is renowned for hosting international surf competitions. Piha is actually the most popular surfing spot in New Zealand. Its powerful waves make it a preference for seasoned surfers. As a beginner, you can take short surfing lessons at the Piha Surf Academy before hitting the water.
But surfing isn’t Piha’s only claim to fame. The beautiful black sandy beaches, incredible sunsets, and massive wilderness walking trails are more reasons to visit this quiet town.
While driving to Piha, remember to stop by the Piha Lookout along Piha Road to sample the town’s picturesque views from a vantage point. The Lion Rock, located in the middle of Piha Beach, also offers sweeping views of the pristine waters of the Tasman Sea.
Piha is also endowed with one of New Zealand’s most iconic waterfalls – the Kitekite Falls. The 40-m high cascading waterfalls are located within the town’s native forest in the Waitakere Ranges, making it ideal for hiking and walking safaris.
The best period to visit is from January to March when the temperatures are moderate, and rainfall is limited.
A surfer gliding amid raging waters
There go our top recommendations for the most exotic destinations in New Zealand. Provided you visit any of these spots during fair weather, there’s no limit to how much fun you can experience.