Planning a visit to New Zealand soon?

Our team of travel enthusiasts over here at The Road Trip have come with a list of cities for you to have a look on your next trip.

While we wished that we could come up a “best of” list, every city in New Zealand has its own magic; it’d be extremely difficult for us to rank them from best to worst.

In this list are 5 of the top destinations for tourists – let’s get on with it!

Queenstown – South Island

Queenstown from Bob's Peak

We start off the list with one on New Zealand’s most famous cities – Queenstown.

Widely regarded as the adventure capital of the world, Queenstown is famous for its extreme activities that are scattered throughout the city.

As a result, the city has attracted a lot of tourists over the past decade which will make you feel more comfortable if you are a first-time traveler.

Some of the more popular activities in Queenstown includes bungee jumping, downhill skiing, and paragliding; those are just a few of the tons of activities in the city.

AJ Hackett Bungy is a must-visit location in Queenstown for one reason: they were the pioneers of the bungee jump craze. Head over to Kawarau Bridge and you’ll have the chance to take part in the original 43-meter bungee jump which started in 1988.

The island is also famous for its kiwi population. However, it can be difficult to spot the flightless birds due to its habitat and living nature. The best way to see these birds is to head over to Queenstown’s Kiwi Birdlife Park.

Here, you’ll be able to have a look at the iconic kiwis as well as a host of other activities such as bird feeding which are great activities for the family (or yourself).

Queenstown is a place that you have to visit on your trip to New Zealand.

Milford Sound – South Island

Milford Sound Fiordland

Like Queenstown, Milford Sound also has a unique (but prestigious nickname) – the eighth wonder of the world.

Tucked inside the depths of Fiordland national park, Milford Sound is one of the most captivating attractions in New Zealand thanks to its wonderful views and breathtaking sceneries.

If you are a fan of the epic Lord of the Rings series, you’ll come across some familiar sights along the way.

There are plenty of things to do in Milford Sound but the best attractions are the ones where you have access to the stunning views on display.

There are boat operators and tour guides in the island that provide cruises around Milford Sound. Some sights that you’ll come across includes beautiful waterfalls and seals basking on rocks.

Kayaking is an option for the adventurous. Unlike cruises, you’ll have the freedom to navigate wherever you want in the stunning waters of Milford Sound. You’ll be able to spot wildlife and sceneries that would be otherwise inaccessible with cruises.

However, we recommend that you stay in decent shape if you are interested in kayaking as it may get tough to navigate sometimes.  You should also be able to handle the cold as the temperature may drop to below average levels in the waters.

Kaikoura – South Island

Kaikoura city view

Kaikoura is the marine wildlife capital of New Zealand.

Home to a host of species which includes the massive sperm whale, Kaikoura is another must-visit location thanks to its abundance of wildlife habitat which are mostly endemic (unique to New Zealand).

Several companies in the island offer you the chance to spot these elegant mammals breach. Getting up close and personal with these whales are a popular choice, but aerial views via a helicopter or plane are also options for people who are not confident of being in the water.

Aside from whales, you can also see (and swim along!) with dolphins in Kaikoura. Many tourists plan their itineraries specifically to see these animals as spots are usually limited, so plan accordingly if you want to have a chance to spot these iconic sea creatures.

Thanks to its abundance of marine wildlife, Kaikoura also hosts a wide choice of fresh and delicious seafood to tourists.

One of the more popular seafood in Kaikoura is crayfish. Crayfish is usually cooked with garlic and butter to preserve its original taste and it’s a huge hit among tourists and locals.

From juicy oysters to larger-than-average lobsters, you’ll have no problems looking for delicious food in Kaikoura. Watch out for allergies, though!
Kaikoura is a destination fit for individuals who are looking for dazzling views and a peaceful atmosphere.

Rotorua – North Island

Rotorua Museum

Located in the North Island of New Zealand is Rotorua, a region famous for its geothermal hotspot and volcanic landscape.

Rotoroa is a destination for people who are interested in New Zealand’s culture; the island is filled with Maori culture and history which makes it a worthwhile visit for tourists.

The region is home to the ‘Te Arawa’ people, who are settlers who have been in Rotorua for over 600 years. Thanks to their hospitality, tourists are able to visit some iconic and authentic villages in Rotorua such as the Tamaki Maori village.

Upon reaching the region, the first thing that most travelers do (that you should do too) is to take a ride on Rotorua’s famous skyline gondola. This ride leads you to the top of Mount Ngongotoha while enjoying a scenic top-down view of the region – an experience that you do not want to miss.

Of course, nice views are not the only attraction in Rotorua. If views like the hot springs and geysers of Wai-o-Tapu don’t give you a kick, then experiences like the Agroventures Adventure Park or whitewater rafting are an option – only if you can handle the intensity!

While it’s certainly not as well-known as cities like Auckland or Queenstown, Rotorua’s activities and points of attractions are more than enough to satisfy even the most demanding of tourists.

Waikato – North Island

Waikato city view

Waikato’s name is derived from the river in the region – the Waikato river.

Once again, LotR fans will love Waikato; Hobbiton is a village that was a movie set for the famous trilogy (and the Hobbit). There are tour packages that bring tourists into the actual sets where the scenes were filmed as well as reliving the atmosphere of the film.

There also spots like Port Waikato where one of the memorable scenes in the movie was filmed. Even if you are not a fan of Tolkien’s series, the history and story behind the locations in Waikato is an experience in itself.
Of course, there are other things to see in Waikato; Waitomo Caves is a popular tourist spot due to its glowworm habitat. Tourists are guided via a boat into the musky cave.

Inside, your surroundings will be cool and dark, but you’ll be rewarded with an astonishing display of greenish lights – a unique characteristic of the glowworms in the caves.

Waikato is a great location for tourists who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of living in a city thanks to its peaceful atmosphere.

Further information

Over here at the Road Trip, we have a host of exciting tour packages for interested tourists.

Check out our 14-day South Island self-drive road trip package where you’ll have the opportunity to explore the island with total freedom.

We also provide an 8-day luxury tour for tourists who seek for maximum comfort and majestic experiences in their travels.

Our very popular private guided tours are also available to tourists who want to experience the very best of the South Island. Our 16-day guided tour package will definitely leave you feeling ecstatic after the trip.

If you’d like to get in touch with us, head over to our contact page for more information.

You can also reach us at 0800 4 ROADTRIP if you are within New Zealand or +64 2191 0433 if you are not in NZ.