5 Top Places and Activities in New Zealand

15 Nov
Rainbow in Queenstown

Rainbow in Queenstown - first snow in winter

I have done a number of Top 5 or Top 10 articles but have never done an overview of the places and attractions in New Zealand. Let’s be fair and round up both North Island and South Island.

Structures in Wellington, New Zealand

Sunset in Wellington, New Zealand

So, here is a list of places that if you are short for time, at least visit these places :

North Island

  1. Pahia, Bay of Islands – Hole in the Rock Cruise, Russell or Hahei – Cathedral Cove kayaking
  2. Auckland – skyjump or skywalk from Sky Tower
  3. Rotorua – tour the sulfurous landscape, raft the Kaituna River
  4. Lake Taupo – Huka Fall, jet boat, raft the Rangitaiki River
  5. Wellington – Te papa Museum, city landscape

Lake wakatipu, Queenstown

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown

South Island

  1. Christchurch – Cathedral Square
  2. Fiordland – Milford Sound cruise
  3. Lake Tekapo – Church of the Good Shepard
  4. Queenstown – rafting, bungy, hiking
  5. Fox Glacier – walking on glaciers, Lake Matteson

I have covered Queenstown, Milford Sound and a bit of Fox Glacier earlier.

For a first time visitor in New Zealand, the above places are suggestions to give you an overall sight of the country. You can do more later on the next visit and I feel sure you would want to come back!

Milford Sound boat cruise

Milford Sound boat cruise

If you have less than 7 days, I suggest concentrate on just either North or South Island.

South Island Suggested Itinerary

Day 1 : Christchurch

Day 2 – 4 :  Queenstown

Day 5 : Fox Glacier/Franz Josef Glacier

Day 6 : Christchurch.

After your arrival in Christchurch, take a walk to Cathedral Square to see the church or simply shop around. Spend quiet times at the Botanic Garden to unwind from the long flight. Next day, head to Queenstown. The drive there is spectacular as you pass by breathtaking scenery. Stop at Lake Tekapo for pictures of the beautiful landscape and the Church of the Good Shepard. Nearby is Mt Cook Village. Get a closer look at the mountains and learn the history of the place. Upon arrival in Queenstown, head to the boardwalk for a closer view of Lake Wakatipu. Take the cable car and enjoy the aeriel view of Queentown. Why not have lunch or dinner there. There are a number of hiking trails starting from the gondola. Most tours run along this itinerary with at least 2 nights in Queenstown with one day at Milford Sound. If you have a free day here, choose a combination of activities to save time and cost. Try rafting, a boat cruise on the TSS Earnslaw, skydiving – the choice is limitless. Next visit is either to Fox Glacier or Franz Josef Glacier. I prefer Fox Glacier as there is Lake Matteson. You will come back full circle to Christchurch.

Lake Matheson, New Zealand

Lake Matheson - Fox Glacier, New Zealand

For North Island, try this itinerary.

Day 1 : Auckland

Day 2  : Pahia or Hahei

Day 3 : Taupo

Day 4 – 5 : Rotorua

Day 6 : Auckland or if you have time – Wellington.

If you flight arrival is in Auckland, this will be your starting point. Go shopping or for that adrenaline kick, skyjump from the Sky Tower. Some tours skip Pahia or Hahei so there is enough time for a visit to Wellington. If you have time, on the second day head to Pahia and join a boat cruise. The highlight – passing through a rock in the middle of the ocean – very cool! Alternatively, head to Hahei. Stroll to Cathedral Cove beach or even better go kayaking – real fun on the water. At Lake Taupo, hike to the Huka Falls or jetboat there. If staying an additional night, you have time for rafting the Rangitaiki River or hike the Tongariro Crossing. Don’t miss Rotorua. It is the equivalent of Queenstown for North Island. Plenty of choice pickings here. I would highly recommend rafting the Kaituna River – what a thrill jumping over the waterfall. Visit the various sulferous landscape next and catch a Moari show. Last, but not least, chill out at Wellington. Shop here or take the cable for an aeriel view of the city.

The choice is yours whether to join a group tour, backpack or free and easy driving on your own.

Christchurch - Catheral Square

Christchurch Catheral


Pictures for your viewing pleasure. Till next time, have a wonderful day!

Panorama Lake Pukaki, New Zealand

Panorama Lake Pukaki, New Zealand

Paranoma - cows at sunset

Panorama - cows at sunset

Queenstown night view

Queenstown night view

Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Huka Falls, Tekapo

Huka Falls, Taupo

Hole in the Rock, Bay of Islands

Hole in the Rock



Milford Sound Waterfall

Waterfall Milford Sound


Rafting or drowning?


Posted by on November 15, 2010 in New Zealand, photography, Travel


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3 responses to “5 Top Places and Activities in New Zealand

  1. Galen Leeds Photography

    October 7, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Nice top five, but I have to admit that for myself the far north- Cape Reinga area for example seemed pretty awe inspiring. Also a visit to Tane or some of the other giant Kauri trees is a must. No other tree like them in the world.

    • hasayang

      October 7, 2011 at 7:57 pm

      I plan to return to New Zealand maybe next year. Some of those places you mention are among my wishlist. Here’s to wishes coming true. 🙂


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