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Explore the North and South Islands.

Although extremely small in comparison to its closest neighbour, New Zealand is truly packed with breathtaking landscapes, diverse attractions and plentiful flora and fauna. With two islands to uncover, both as unmissable as each other, hiring a car makes it easy to get around and fit plenty in.

Take in the sights of Abel Tasman National Park, famed for its gorgeous clear waters and venture to Stewart Island where you can meet the country’s national bird, the Kiwi, in its natural habitat. Alternatively visit the Otago Peninsula where a colony of albatross and plenty of penguins can be found. You may prefer to travel around with a hire car and tackle the Pacific Coast Highway with its hot water beaches of the Coromandel, or even visit Raglan which is an excellent spot for learning to surf. New Zealand has something for everyone to enjoy!

New Zealand Tourist Board: The official website for the New Zealand National Tourist Office – a useful resource for planning your trip to New Zealand.

Know Before You Go: Travel advice for New Zealand from the FCO.

Things to see and do

  • Scale either the Fox or Franz Josef Glaciers on the west coast of the South Island and uncover this stunning frozen wilderness. Embark on a guided ice hike or see it from above with a heli hike.
  • Visit Auckland, the largest city on the lush North Island. Scale the Sky Tower or climb the Harbour Bridge for fantastic views, relax on the beautiful Piha Beach and visit some of the nearby national parks and islands.
  • New Zealand boasts some fantastic wines so be sure to visit one or more of the great wine areas such as Marlborough, Hawkes Bay and Waikato among others.
  • Take in the UNESCO World Heritage listed Milford Sound; a truly beautiful fjord located on the south west coast of the South Island. Walk, hike or kayak here at your own pace for an unforgettable trip.  
  • No trip to New Zealand would be complete without visiting famous Rotorua, home to steaming mud lakes and hot springs!
  • Venture to the city of Christchurch, nicknamed ‘the Garden City’ which has plenty to offer visitors of all ages. Great restaurants and pretty parks await you, as do great beaches and hiking just outside the city limits.
  • Take in the beauty of New Zealand’s high mountain, Mt Cook which is found nestled among the Southern Alps. Spend a day or two walking or hiking here or simply appreciate it from afar.
  • From bungee jumping to high speed jet boating and abseiling to white water rafting, not to mention skiing and snowboarding, Queenstown is an essential place to visit for all manner of adrenaline inducing activities.
  • Hop aboard a boat tour and go whale watching off the coast of Kaikoura with stunning scenery as your backdrop.
  • Uncover the secrets of the Catlins Coast which is home not only to a petrified forest but a staggeringly diverse offering of flora and fauna.

Festivals and events

  • Marlborough Wine and Food Festival takes place every February in the heart of the Marlborough wine region. There are wine seminars, tastings, and plenty of produce available to purchase. (February)
  • Pasifika Festival is themed around the Pacific Islands and takes place at Western Springs Park in Auckland each March. Enjoy the celebration of music, food, arts and dance. (March)
  • March welcomes the Waiheke Jazz Festival, which showcases both local and international jazz musicians. Held over three days, there will be something to suit everyone’s tastes. (March)
  • The annual Bluff Oyster Festival celebrates all things sea food, including of course, oysters! It’s held in May and also features live bands as well as other entertainment like eating contests. (May)
  • Matariki is an important Maori festival which lasts for a month from June to July and signals the start of the Maori New Year. The festival features everything from kite flying to art exhibits and dance performances. (June - July)
  • Featuring six different venues and musicians from both New Zealand and Australia, the Bay of Islands Jazz and Blues Festival is one not to be missed for music lovers. It takes place over a weekend each August. (August)
  • The Parnell Festival of Roses is held in Auckland over the course of a weekend in November. Free to enjoy, it appeals to the whole family and coincides with the blooming of the roses with music, children’s entertainment and food and craft stalls. (November)

Time difference

GMT + 12