Tourist Attractions in New Zealand

tourist attractions in new zealand

Whether you are visiting Wellington, New Zealand’s capital city, looking to tour the 150 real-world locations where the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed or to experience its architectural wonders, the island country is sure to provide a wonderful vacation.

If you are traveling halfway around the world —depending on where you are visiting from— make sure to jot down this curated list of places you won’t want to miss on your trip to NZ.

Read our roundup of the best sites to see in New Zealand, tailored for nature lovers, culture and architecture enthusiasts as well as adventure-seekers.

Before you head out, check whether you are from an eligible country, if so, you will need to apply for an NZeTA —a mandatory travel requirement to visit New Zealand since October 31st, 2019. Travelers from 60 countries around the world can now discover NZ with the eTA New Zealand.

Breathtaking Landscapes in New Zealand

From volcanoes to alpine lakes, snowy mountains and sandy beaches, New Zealand has some of the most diverse natural landscapes in the world. Here are the country’s most striking natural wonders:

North Island Natural Wonders

  • Bay of Islands, North Island
  • Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park, North Island
  • Rotorua, North Island
  • Wai-O-Tapu, North Island
  • Napier, Hawke’s Bay, North Island
  • Coromandel Peninsula, North Island

South Island Natural Wonders

  • Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound, South Island— a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Queenstown, South Island
  • Kaikoura, South Island
  • Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, South Island
  • Westland Tai Poutini National Park, South Island
  • Abel Tasman National Park & the Abel Tasman Coast Track, South Island
  • Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, South Island

If you are going to be spending a lot of time outdoors on these islands, check out which plants, animals, and insects you should avoid in New Zealand —no worries, they are very rare. Nevertheless, it is always a good idea to know what you should stay away from looks like, in order to easily recognize it.

Māori Sites and Landmarks Worth Visiting in NZ

The Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people that settled in New Zealand between 1320 and 1350. Here are the most interesting sites to visit if you are interested in learning about the fascinating Māori culture:

  • Ruapekapeka, Towai
  • Ōtuataua Stonefields, Auckland
  • Takiroa Rock Art Shelter, near Duntroon
  • Pāpāmoa, Western Bay
  • Ōtātara Pā Historic Reserve, Taradale
  • Puketakauere Pa, Brixton
  • Rangiriri, Waikato
  • Waitangi Treaty Grounds History Museum, Bay of Islands
  • Kororipo Heritage Park, Kerikeri
  • Māngungu Mission, Horeke

If you intend to buy souvenirs during your visit, make sure to check out the items you will need to declare at New Zealand customs when you return home.

Churches, Museums, and Historical Buildings in NZ

Foreign visitors looking to get a feel for the island country’s most beautiful churches and historical architecture will undoubtedly hear stories about how some of them were built after a natural disaster. Here are some architectural gems you absolutely must check out during your visit:

  • Church of the Good Shepherd, Lake Tekapo
  • First Church Of Otago, Dunedin
  • Old St Paul’s Church, Pipitea
  • Cardboard Cathedral, Christchurch
  • Cathedral of St Patrick & St Joseph, Auckland
  • St. Michael’s Anglican Church, Brightwater
  • The Taranaki Cathedral Church of St Mary, New Plymouth
  • St Patrick’s Basilica, Waimate
  • Rangiātea Church, Otaki
  • Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin
  • Sky Tower, Auckland
  • Te Papa Tongarewa Museum, Te Aro
  • Mount Victoria, Wellington
  • Maungawhau/Mount Eden, Auckland
  • Christchurch Art Gallery, Christchurch
  • Stone Store and Mission House, Kerikeri
  • Queen Victoria Statue, Albert Park, Auckland
  • Treaty House, Waitangi
  • Basin Reserve, Wellington
  • Pencarrow Lighthouse, Pencarrow Head, Wellington
  • Edwin Fox, Picton
  • Takiroa Rock Art Shelter, Takiroa
  • Lyttelton Rail Tunnel, Christchurch
  • Waitaki Dam, Waitaki Valley
  • Gabriel’s Gulley, Otago

Going Off the Beaten Path in NZ

Sports and adventure lovers will surely enjoy some of the unique and less-tourist-filled sites New Zealand has to offer, including:

  • Ski fields of Mt. Ruapehu, Whakapapa and Turoa
  • Karangahake Gorge, Karangahake
  • New Chums Beach, Wainuiototo
  • Rangitata, Canterbury
  • Castle Hill, South Island
  • Chatham Island
  • The Devil’s Bath, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
  • Putangirua Pinnacles, Wellington
  • The Waikato River, North Island
  • Whakaari/White Island, Bay of Plenty
  • Farewell Spit, Golden Bay
  • Mount Sunday, Canterbury Plains
  • Wainui Beach, Gisborne
  • The Whangarei Falls, Tikipunga
  • Lake Marian, Fiordland National Park
  • Anapai Bay, Abel Tasman National Park
  • Ripiro Beach, Northland

If you are renting a car to drive around New Zealand and visit all its unique landmarks, make sure you are familiar with their traffic rules and regulations —hint: New Zealanders drive on the right, just like in the UK, Canada, and Cyprus!

Now that you have jotted down all the places you want to visit in New Zealand, your next step towards enjoying all the wonders the country has to offer would be to obtain a travel authorization to enter the island. Fortunately, applying for an NZeta is quick and easy, and the form takes under 10 minutes to complete.