Best 30 Places To Visit In New Zealand - Updated 2024

Hannah
Hannah 
Updated
| 15 min read

New Zealand is blessed with picturesque landscapes in varied forms and exciting things to do for all types of tourists. From icy glaciers, tropical beaches, and stunning movie backdrops to whale watching and divine wine tasting, this island country in the southwestern part of the Pacific Ocean surely has a lot to offer. Thousands of tourists fly out to New Zealand each year not only because of its stunning beauty, friendly locals, and unique eats but also to visit the filming locations of the movie Lord of the Rings. Not sure where to begin your adventure? Get started with the best places to visit in New Zealand listed below.

1. Auckland (from USD 44.0)

Auckland is the largest city located on North Island, New Zealand. Its enormous size comes with all the massive things you can do in this city. Major sporting events, concerts, music festivals, thrilling outdoor escapades like climbing a volcano or relaxing on an island, luxury shopping, and world-class dining are just a few of the things you can do as there is always something happening here. Get the best view over the city from the top of Mt. Eden. Visit K Road, Auckland Domain, and the Mission Bay beaches. Explore scenic neighborhoods such as Parnell, Ponsonby, and Northcote Point.

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Auckland Half-Day City Sightseeing Tour

Duration: 240 to 250 minutes

637 reviews

2. Christchurch (from USD 21.47)

best places to visit in new zealand | christchurch

Situated at the seat of the Canterbury Region, Christchurch is the largest city in South Island, New Zealand. This place is well-known for its unique mix of urban regeneration and heritage. Christchurch boasts a constant evolution that always has something new to offer locals and tourists. The central area features innovative architecture coexisting with some of the oldest buildings in the country. Visit Avon River, which intersects the city with a natural landscape, explore the surrounding picturesque towns of Canterbury, and go on thrill-seeking adventures or zen-like retreats. This great metropolis will surely have something quirky for you to do during your visit.

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Christchurch: Hop-On Hop-Off Tour by Vintage Tram

287 reviews

3. Hamilton

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account


Hamilton is the center of the Waikato region and is located in North Island, New Zealand. This city features places where tourists can dine, have fun, discover, and relax. Walk through strips of streets packed with quaint cafes and restaurants, visit museums rich with history, dance the night away at music festivals, catch a game of cricket or rugby, or appreciate the stunning beauty of nature on a boat cruise. Hamilton is not foreign to things that can excite both locals and visitors. Thousands of tourists from across the globe are drawn to its charm, and maybe you will enjoy it as much as they do!

Hamilton

Address: Hamilton, North Island, New Zealand

Website: Hamilton

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4. Tauranga

Omanawa Falls
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Haydn Curtis used under CC BY 2.0

Tauranga is a large and fast-developing city embraced by a beautiful coastline. Go sailing, fishing, or dolphin-watching. Enjoy the scenic view offered by the coastline by walking around the area. Although it is a metropolitan hub, this city has several historically significant sites and natural wonders like McLaren Falls and Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park. If you are traveling with kids, they will surely enjoy the Hairy Maclary bronze sculptures that are straight out of the children’s book by Lynley Dodd. Tauranga has something for everyone to enjoy, so arrange your trip to this urban city complemented by a majestic waterfront landscape.

Tauranga

Address: Bay of Plenty, North Island, New Zealand

Website: Tauranga

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5. Wanaka (from USD 159.0)

Wanaka is a resort town nestled in the lakes of South Island, New Zealand that offers thrilling outdoor adventure and boasts an exciting history. Stroll through the nineteenth-century gold mines of Gibbston Valley, traverse the vineyards of Kawarau George, and gaze at the amazing view along the Crown Range road. If you are not much of an outdoor enthusiast, explore the downtown streets which are packed with quaint cafes, restaurants, and local artisan shops. You can also appreciate Wanaka’s art and culture at local galleries.

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Full-Day Arrowtown and Wanaka Tour from Queenstown

Duration: 7 hours 30 minutes

83 reviews

6. Dunedin (from USD 13.99)

best places to visit in new zealand | dunedin

Dunedin features a unique mix of fascinating history, stunning landscapes, and diverse wildlife. Stroll through streets that showcase Scottish and Maori heritage and Victorian and Edwardian architecture. Get up close with colonies of albatross, sea lions, and rare yellow-eyed penguins. Go hiking or sightseeing at Dunedin’s breathtaking hills, harbors, and its long stretch of coastlines. Truly, this part of New Zealand has a lot to offer all kinds of travelers all year round. So plan your trip and start exploring this amazing city.

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Dunedin Self-Guided Audio Tour

Duration: 3.0 hour

7. Taupo (from USD 13.99)

taupo

Seated near the center of North Island, New Zealand, Taupo is known for its lakefront landscape paired with outdoor sporting like fishing and jet boating. Hike the dramatic Huka Falls then relax at the natural hot springs surrounding the town. Check out the Orakei Korako thermal park, which features caves and boiling mud pools that are ideal for detoxifying your body and calming your mind. If you are in dire need of pampering, Taupo offers a natural way to do so.

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Taupo Self-Guided Audio Tour

Duration: 3.0 hour

1 review

8. Nelson (from USD 30.0)

Nelson is a city in South Island New Zealand best known for the local artisans, craftsmen, and designers. You will surely not run out of galleries, museums, and studios to visit since these are scattered almost everywhere. They showcase the great artistry and culture of people living traditionally, and even feature the Maori. Caving sites and vineyards are also great spots to visit alongside the stunning beaches, forests, and mountains. This is the place where culture and art coexist with commercial growth amidst breathtaking natural landscapes. An attractive mix for tourists, you should definitely explore what Nelson holds on your next vacation.

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Nelson City Walking Tour - Guided

Duration: 2 to 3 hours

37 reviews

9. New Plymouth

Mt Taranaki, New Plymouth, New Zealand
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user enjosmith used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Located on the west coast of New Zealand, New Plymouth is a coastal walkway that features a sunny climate. The beautiful Mount Taranaki is ideal for hiking enthusiasts, trailers, and mountain climbers. This city also prides itself for its art and culture, as showcased by the famous Govett-Brewster Art Gallery which exhibits contemporary art. Close to this gallery are areas owned by Mother Nature, like the Pukekura Park. This location holds some fauna and flora, a subalpine forest, and waterfalls, housing a great deal of the city’s wildlife. If you are a fan of the great outdoors as well as local art and culture, then include New Plymouth to your list of places to visit in New Zealand.

New Plymouth

Address: North Island, New Zealand

Website: New Plymouth

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10. Invercargill

Spring in Esk Street - Invercargill
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Phillip Capper used under CC BY 2.0

Invercargill is the southernmost city of New Zealand, a district close to the capital and a commercial hub in the Southland region. Because of its location, it is fondly referred to as ‘city of water and light’, attributing to the long summer days and the frequent appearances of the Aurora Australis. Make sure to plan your trip wisely so you can catch these one-of-a-kind southern lights. This city is also worth the visit because of the diverse birdlife and trout population. Enjoy navigating cultural attractions, reserves and parks, galleries, and cafes. Due to the layout of this metropolis, exploring the city will not be a problem. There is a very laid-back atmosphere here, which will suit everyone in your family, so bring your bunch to New Zealand and be sure to visit this city.

Invercargill

Address: Southland, New Zealand

Website: Invercargill

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11. Hawke's Bay

Te Mata Peak, Hawke's Bay
Source: Photo by Flickr user itravelNZ® - New ... used under CC BY 2.0

Hawke’s Bay is seated on the east coast of North Island and offers different things to see and do for tourists. Best known for its outdoors, beaches, and wines, be sure to head out to Waimarama beach for a lazy day. You can also walk up Te Mata Peak, or go on a rafting trip to Mahaka River. A visit to Hawke’s Bay is never complete until you get to taste their full-bodied reds and complex chardonnays. As New Zealand’s oldest wine region, each glass is undoubtedly the best.

Hawke's Bay

Address: North Island, New Zealand

Website: Hawke’s Bay

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12. Palmerston North

Memorial Park, Palmerston North, New Zealand 05
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Michal Klajban used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Art galleries, heritage museums, and street art are paired with a colorful strip of cafes and restaurants. Palmerston North is a city in New Zealand that gives you a little tour of different time periods. From the vintage rugby artifacts and other sports histories to motorsport mayhem and urban art and music festivals, this city always has something on its sleeve all year round. Aside from the lively events, they boast many natural landscapes. Its location is also nestled by the Tararua and Ruahine mountain ranges, which offer fantastic views of mountains, seas, and the countryside.

Palmerston North

Address: North Island, New Zealand

Website: Palmerston North

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13. Raglan

Raglan, New Zealand - panoramio (1)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user новичёк used under CC BY 3.0

A surfing hotspot with a dramatic black sand coastline, Raglan is a coastal town in Waikato that offers tourists many thrill-seeking outdoor activities to enjoy. Walk to the top of Mount Karioi or the Te Toto Gorge, where there are stone wall remnants used by the Maori people. Explore the Pipiwharauroa Trail and see the wind turbines at Te Uku wind farm. Aside from these land activities, other popular things to do here are water sports, most especially surfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and cruising alongside the harbors. After a day of extreme activities, head out to town where you can appreciate the beauty of local life. Traverse the streets where cafes, restaurants, and bars can be found to satisfy your tastebuds. Galleries and specialty shops for sustainable lifestyles are also available.

Raglan

Address: Waikato, North Island, New Zealand

Website: Raglan

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14. Paihia

Motumaire Island off the coast at Paihia
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Pseudopanax used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

If you are into outdoor day trips and exploring coves, Paihia is the best place to start! Cruise to the ‘hole in the rock’ at the tip of Cape Brett, where you can swim and play with dolphins. Head to the treaty house at Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where a historical event in New Zealand took place. Hike on the trail to the horseshoe-shaped Haruru Falls and enjoy a refreshing dip after this challenging feat. On the southwestern side of town, gaze at the panoramic views from Opua Forest Paihia Lookout Track. The list of outdoor adventures you can have here is endless.

Paihia

Address: Far North District, North Island, New Zealand

Website: Paihia

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15. Blenheim

Blenheim, NZ - 22410941296
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Stephen Colebourne used under CC BY 2.0

Are you a traveling foodie? If so, then the vibrant town of Blenheim is an ideal destination for you! Try their local wines and explore the rich food scene, which will guarantee an amazing gastronomic experience. This place is located at the heart of the wine-growing Marlborough region, where more than 30 wineries welcome guests with free samples. Blenheim also features a wide array of cafes, restaurants, and artisan food outlets. Get your fresh produce at Marlborough Farmers’ Market and buy directly from local producers. Taste the local flavors of this borough and enjoy the many specialties on offer.

Blenheim

Address: South Island, New Zealand

Website: Blenheim

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16. Picton

View of the harbour in Picton 03
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Krzysztof Golik used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Thinking of spending a laid-back afternoon by a picturesque seaside café? Then the heart of Marlborough Sounds is the best place to be. Picton is built around a sheltered harbor featuring many restaurants, cafes, galleries, and specialty shops. Check out the unique floating museums, or the aquarium and wildlife rehabilitation center. Cruise around town with your local tour guide. If you need a spot that will get your creative juices going, just find a bench and watch this town work its magic. Something interesting will surely come along.

Picton

Address: South Island, New Zealand

Website: Picton

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17. Gisborne

Gisborne, New Zealand (Unsplash)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user maxwelllawton used under CC0

Located in the easternmost tip of the country, Gisborne is said to be the first city in the world to get a glimpse of the sun every day. Boasting fine wineries, beaches, and a rich heritage, this is a place that can excite anyone no matter the age. Ride some waves at Makorori beach or visit the Tairawhiti Museum, where exhibits of indigenous history are displayed. Take the kids camping along the coastlines of Gisborne District during the summer and gaze at the starry skies at night. This is one of the most family-friendly places to visit in New Zealand, so if you are planning a vacation with your loved ones, this city is a must-visit.

Gisborne

Address: North Island, New Zealand

Website: Gisborne

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18. Akaroa (from USD 13.99)

akaroa

In the past, Akaroa was the only French settlement in New Zealand. Presently, this lovely town looks like a little France. You will be welcomed by several historic buildings and the town’s passion for great food. Discover something new and fascinating with every step you take. Pastel-colored shops and cafes are abundant, and most of them serve French cuisine. Be sure to make a stop at Barry’s Bay Cheese where a century-old method is used to preserve their dairy goods. See the historic cottages and museums and learn about the interesting past of Akaroa. Lastly, take a harbor cruise to see dolphins dancing in the water and some penguins playing. Spending a day in this town will be like living a scene from a French movie.

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Akaroa Self-Guided Audio Tour

Duration: 3.0 hour

2 reviews

19. Hastings (from USD 13.99)

hastings

Another haven for foodie travelers is Hastings, a major agricultural center in New Zealand. Pairing their food scene is the evolving open-space plan. These spots are perfect for chilling out - diverse restaurants, cafes, wineries, and more are found here. They also boast a spectacular display of artworks, most notably at the Ngā Pou o Heretaunga landmark, which is a collection of Maori carvings. During the weekends, the famous Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market transforms into a delicious Kiwi experience. Indulge in handmade cheeses, fresh produce, and prime meat products. Be sure to pair these delights with world-class wines from Gimblett Gravels and Bridge Pa. Satisfy your taste buds with the fine food found here at Hastings, New Zealand.

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Hastings EQ Self-Guided Audio Tour

Duration: 3.0 hour

1 review

20. Whangarei

Whangarei Falls, Whangarei, New Zealand (Unsplash eOpewngf68w)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user timswaanphotography used under CC0

Whangarei is a city in Northland that is home to a vibrant arts community and to breathtaking natural wonders. Visit Whangarei Falls, which features a natural pool and is considered the ‘most photogenic waterfall in New Zealand’. Check out the Town Basin, an area fenced with restaurants, shops, galleries, and museums - one of which is Claphams Clock Museum, which displays unique vintage clocks. Admire the perfect mix of modern landscape and colonial architecture that attracts tourists from across the globe. After a day of exploring, you might find yourself feeling a tad bit hungry, so head out to Quayside, a known hub for great dining options and local entertainment.

Whangarei

Address: North Island, New Zealand

Website: Whangarei

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21. Porirua

Papakowhai suburb of Porirua, North Island, New Zealand
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Arnhemcr used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Porirua offers family-friendly getaways to tourists and locals alike. If you are interested in Maori and Pacific Island art, then visit the famous Pataka Art + Museum. This city completely surrounds Te Awarua-o-Porirua Harbor, which is a popular location for thrill seekers. Tourists can go windsurfing, water skiing, and jet skiing. Gear rentals are available at the harbor. For those who prefer land activities, there are cycling and walking tracks at Te Araroa. Aotea Lagoon, on the other hand, is the go-to place for family picnics. This is where kids can spend a whole day at the playground. Porirua provides entertainment and fun for all ages - it is definitely a must visit in New Zealand!

Porirua

Address: Wellington Region, North Island, New Zealand

Website: Porirua

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22. Hokitika

Mungo River Valley Tributary of Hokitika River New Zealand Aotearoa
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user LawrieM used under CC BY-SA 4.0

A small and relaxed beach town in South Island, Hokitika is a place where you can appreciate history and nature. This town became a settlement in 1860 when gold was discovered on the West coast. Since then, stories of shipwreck, treasure hunters, and gold miners have been part of its history. Presently, Hokitika is also known as the ‘Cool Little Town’, thanks to the lovely vintage buildings and the galleries featuring pounamu jewelry and art. When visiting this town, make sure to catch their Wildfood Festival every summer and enjoy sampling some local quintessential delicacies.

Hokitika

Address: South Island, New Zealand

Website: Hokitika

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23. Matamata

Hobbiton, The Shires, Middle-Earth, Matamata, New Zealand - panoramio (5)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user David Broad used under CC BY 3.0

If you are a big fan of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Matamata should definitely make it on to your itinerary. Traverse through the 44 hobbit holes, The Shire, The Old Mill, the double-arched bridge, and The Party Tree. Recreate the scenes and take as many photos as you can, because this surreal experience is literally like living in a movie. Take a guided tour of the Hobbiton Movie Set, or explore the place by yourself - either way, you will surely have an adventure you will never forget.

Matamata

Address: North Island, New Zealand

Website: Matamata

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24. Stewart Island (from USD 31.0)

Stewart Island is the third-largest island in New Zealand. It boasts a simpler and slower lifestyle lulled by the sea and the tides. To the locals, this island is known as ‘Rakiura’ which means 'the land of the glowing skies’. True to its name, tourists and locals will get to see the magnificent Aurora Australis that often lights up the southern skies. This place is truly blessed with natural wonders, from stunning seascapes and landscapes to local wildlife. The latter includes the brown kiwi, a species that outnumbers the human population on the island, the blue penguins, and the rare, yellow-eyed penguins. Get a much-deserved rest and relax in the heart of nature when you travel to Stewart Island.

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Stewart Island: Village and Bays Tour

Duration: 1 hour

69 reviews

25. Kerikeri (from USD 44.85)

kerikeri

Explore the distant past of Kerikeri when you walk around the streets and alleys of this quaint town. Kerikeri is home to many historical artifacts and notable people. Travel back in time when you visit Kerikeri Mission Station, which features the oldest European-style building still standing in New Zealand, as well as the nearby Stone Store which was built in the 1830s. Presently, this place also attracts tourists for the boutique wineries, local shops, and restaurants that emulate their heritage. In your visit, be sure to catch the farmers’ and artisans’ weekend market where you can purchase skin care products, handmade chocolates, and many other local goods. This city is built on culture and arts, so check out some of the artists’ studios and galleries where potteries, paintings, and other creative arts are on display.

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Kerikeri 3-Hour Sightseeing Tour From Paihia

Duration: 3 hour

2 reviews

26. Queenstown (from USD 70.0)

queenstown

Queenstown is a resort town in Otago, in the South Island of New Zealand. It was carved out of the land by glaciers, rivers, and lakes, and has been shaped to what it is today by innovative locals and tourists from far and wide. Queenstown comprises of attractive villages where you can immerse yourself like a local and learn a thing or two about how to have fun like one. Explore what this side of the country has to offer, whether you are in for an adrenaline-kicking adventure, a fun family time, a total indulgence in nature, or a unique gastronomic experience - this is a place that is ready to please you.

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Best of Queenstown 4-Hour Scenic Tour: Arrowtown & Gibbston

Duration: 4.5 hour

31 reviews

27. Rotorua (from USD 98.0)

rotorua

Rotorua is a paradise for travelers who love to explore the wild and discover what nature holds. Situated in the Bay of Plenty region of New Zealand, this city is surrounded by staggering natural landscapes and unique geothermal environments perfect for adventure-seekers. Go backpacking in the countryside, climb a mountain, explore the forest, or relax in natural spas - the nature-lover in you should not miss these. This place is known not only for its stunning scenery but also for the well-preserved Maori culture that is featured almost everywhere you go. From art forms, tribal dances and chants to their famous geothermal activities, Rotorua is a journey of total immersion with a community that has been thriving for generations.

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Rotorua Sights: Te Puia, Rainbow Springs and Agrodome

Duration: 4 hour

3 reviews

28. Kaikoura (from USD 223.0)

Boasting natural wonders in the land, air, and sea, Kaikoura offers a one-of-a-kind journey to travelers all year round. This is a coastal town in the South Island of New Zealand known for the abundant wildlife it houses. Go whale-watching, swim with friendly dolphins and fur seals, and experience bird-watching tours. Immerse yourself with the indigenous people and learn a thing or two about the unique Maori culture. In their language, ‘kai’ is the word for food and 'koura’ means crayfish. This is surely the best place to devour this famous local dish, as it is named after it. So head out to Kaikoura for an unforgettable journey in a picturesque landscape.

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Full-Day Kaikoura Tour from Christchurch

Duration: 10 hours 30 minutes

10 reviews

29. Napier (from USD 299.0)

Travel back to the 1930s when you step onto the streets of Napier, New Zealand. This coastal town is known for having some of the most beautifully restored art deco buildings in the world. Stroll around town and appreciate the architectural styles from different eras: stripped classical, Spanish Mission and, of course, Art Deco. If you plan to visit in February, make sure to catch their Art Deco Festival, where all things that feature the 1930s are on display, including vintage cars, fashion, music, and more.

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Private Vintage Car Tour (extended)

Duration: 2 hours

2 reviews

30. Wellington (from USD 132.0)

Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and is famous for its vibrant culture, great food, and charming scenery and wildlife. A cosmopolitan metropolis packed with sandy beaches and harbors, you can enjoy a day of outdoor sports while soaking up the sun in the middle of the city. Get a glimpse of their art, culture, and history by visiting the museums and suburbs, or gaze at a stunning view of Mt. Victoria via cable car. Try out the local food on offer from their lively streets. Wellington provides a unique experience for travelers who love places with a good blend of city, nature, and heritage.

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Wellington City Sightseeing Small-Group Tour

Duration: 8 hours

10 reviews

A country nestled in nature

As the country that is first to be greeted by the sun each day, get ready to be greeted by new adventures and scenic views every second you spend here. Discover the rich Maori culture, hike the countryside, and traverse the urban scene. You will be amazed by how well these aspects of New Zealand complement each other. They have great respect for nature, thus it is always taken care of. Visit the place where heritage, nature, and innovative advancement coexist. Make sure to check out all the best places to visit in New Zealand from this list.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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A Filipino travel enthusiast who is passionate in experiencing life to its fullest and in going beyond her horizon. She has traveled to some parts of Asia, especially the islands of the...Read more

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