Tourist Attractions in New Zealand

tourist attractions in new zealand

Whether they 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 for foreign tourists.

If travelling halfway around the world —depending on where they are visiting from— foreigners should make sure to jot down this curated list of unmissable places in New Zealand.

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

Foreign visitors should check whether they need a permit to visit the country. Travellers from 60 visa-free countries around the world can now discover NZ with the eTA New Zealand, an electronic authorisation that can be applied for entirely online.

Breathtaking landscapes in New Zealand

From volcanoes to alpine lakes, snowy mountains and sandy beaches, New Zealand presents 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

Those who plan on spending a lot of time outdoors on these islands are encouraged to check out which plants, animals, and insects should be avoided in New Zealand — although they are very rare. Nevertheless, it is always a good idea to know what dangerous animals and plants 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 to learn 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

Indigenous souvenirs are a favourite among foreigners, who should make sure to check out the items that must be declared at New Zealand customs when returning home.

Churches, museums, and historical buildings in NZ

Tourists 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 to 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 renting a car to drive around New Zealand and visit all its unique landmarks, visitors should become familiar with traffic rules and regulations —hint: New Zealanders drive on the right, just like in the UK, Canada, and Cyprus.

With a clearer idea of what their New Zealand itinerary looks like, travellers should not forget to obtain a relevant permit for the country. Fortunately, applying for an NZeTA is quick and easy for eligible nationals, and the form takes under 10 minutes to complete.