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New Zealand travel guide

New Zealand is world-renowned for its natural beauty — a captivating mix of glacial mountains, alpine lakes, steaming geothermal activity and lush countryside. Combine those stunning surroundings with an array of cultural experiences and you have all the makings of a great holiday…

Begin by exploring your choice of the country’s key urban centres — including Auckland, Wellington, Dunedin and Christchurch — where world-class galleries, museums and dining options await. Each of these cities offers something really special, and you’ll need three or four days to do any of them justice.

If you love the great outdoors, you’ll adore the South Island. It’s home to some of the world’s most spectacular scenery — including the Southern Alps or the shimmering waters of Milford Sound. Marvel at the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers and take in the stunning vistas of Mount Cook. A helicopter snow landing is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Image courtesy of Tourism New Zealand

Notch it up a gear with an adrenaline-filled adventure break in wonderful Queenstown. Located on the shoreline of gorgeous Lake Wakatipu, this amazing city also offers a superb wine and cultural scene.

Up in the North Island, there’s also no shortage of natural wonders to enjoy. Chill out in the stunning Bay of Islands or enjoy a soak in one of fascinating Rotorua’s thermal springs. Rotorua is also an important centre for Māori culture, so make sure you experience a traditional cultural presentation and hāngī feast while you’re there.

New Zealand travel guide
New Zealand travel guide Image courtesy of Polynesian Spa, Rotorua

Find a destination

Browse all our New Zealand destination stories and Big Five City Guides here.

New Zealand travel tips

➲ Only got a limited amount of time to get to know a new city? Our Big Five City Guides can help. We break each destination down into culture, history, dining, shopping and relaxation must-sees and dos. Access our city guides here.

➲ Check the Australian Government’s Smart Traveller website for travel advisories regarding your chosen destination, and always register your travel plans with Smart Traveller.

➲ New Zealand is a year-round travel destination that offers easy access to a range of quality urban experiences and spectacular natural beauty. It’s not hard to see why New Zealand is the most popular overseas travel and touring destination for Australians. The North Island is home to three-quarters of the population and the centre of Māori culture, while the South Island offers stunning natural landscapes and an amazing range of adventure activities. Across both islands the food and wine offering is superb.

New Zealand travel guide
New Zealand travel guide

➲ Self-drive and motorhome holidays are very popular with travellers to New Zealand. In theory you can pull up for the night in a motorhome as a ‘freedom camper’ anywhere in New Zealand, unless otherwise signed or you are blocking access. However, the use of designated campsites is recommended to minimise impact on the environment. Book your car or motorhome well in advance for peak periods.

➲ New Zealand has weather patterns that are similar to Australia’s southern regions. However, the further south you travel the more unpredictable the weather can get. Wellington for example is renowned for the icy winds that come in off the Cook Strait, while the west coast of the South Island can be very unsettled. Check the average temperature carefully for your travel dates and pack accordingly.

New Zealand travel guide
New Zealand travel guide: Nugget Point

➲ New Zealand offers a staggering array of accommodation options and the standard is generally excellent. From high-end luxury lodges, to wellness and eco retreats, to golfing resorts, hotels and guesthouses, there are options to suit every budget. Shop around for the best deals and book well in advance for peak seasons, which correspond with those in Australia. Airfares are generally cheapest flying into Auckland, where you can connect with domestic flights to regional centres.

➲ Always be respectful of Māori culture and cultural sites. Generally when you visit a marae (traditional meeting-house) you must be invited to enter. As always, ask permission before you photograph anyone.

New Zealand travel guide
New Zealand travel guide: Learn about Māori culture and heritage.

➲ New Zealand is one of the world’s safest travel destinations, with a low crime rate and amazing hospitality. As always though, be open to experiences but be aware of your surroundings and personal safety. If something feels wrong it probably is. Trust your intuition!

Do you have any tips to add to our New Zealand travel guide? We would love to hear from you. Please send us a message.

Additional images: Bigstock

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