For many travelers, New Zealand is both a dream destination and a once-in-a-lifetime place to visit. If you’re planning your first trip to New Zealand, or if you’re planning a return trip to see more of this beautiful and wild country, you may want to know which places in New Zealand are at the top of the must-see list. Here are our picks for the 10 best places to go in New Zealand.

10. Cape Palliser

Cape Palliser is a costal area about 2 hours from Wellington, and it’s the perfect place to see some of New Zealand’s…. wetter residents. The drive from Wellington is a trip in itself, firstly winding through the infamous Rimatukas and finally reaching a stretch of spectacular coastline.

Keep your eyes peeled as there will be seals lounging in the sun along the the rugged, rocky beaches. Be sure to climb up what feels like the never-ending stairs to the red and white striped lighthouse for views which will take your breath away.

9. Hokitika Gorge

Hokitika Gorge is situated in New Zealand’s South Island and due to a natural and unique cocktail of glacier water, plankton and a few other ingredients the river is a vibrant blue. There are several walking trails in and around the gorge which are great to do, and if you are feeling brave you can even go for a dip! But be warned, the water is freezing and there are strong currents in places so be careful!

8. Mount Maunganui

Regularly voted one of New Zealand’s best beaches, it’s not difficult to see why Mount Maunganui is so popular. Not only is this cool seaside town the perfect getaway brimming with trendy cafes and restaurants, it is also as pretty as a picture. The iconic views from the top of the mount have become synonymous with New Zealand, and no trip here is complete without hiking to the top to see the spectacular views of the peninsula for yourself. The turquoise water lapping white sands will ensure the climb is more than worth it.

7. Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island is only a 45 minute ferry from Auckland CBD, however you could be forgiven for thinking the boat had docked in Hawaii. With it’s palm trees, white sand beaches and stunning coast it is the perfect way to experience tropical paradise without venturing too far.

Not only is the island picture perfect but it produces some of New Zealand’s finest wine which means a wine tasting session at atleast one of it’s vineyards is an absolute must. Each vineyard offers something different, from lawn games to spectacular views and, of course delicious wines which will ensure you will be hard pushed to pick a favourite. Lounging in the sun with friends, sipping on amazing wines while watching the sunset is pretty hard to beat, and a New Zealand experience which promises to be one of your best.

6. Hobbiton

As a massive Lord of the Rings fan, visiting Hobbiton had been on my New Zealand must do list, and it did not disappoint! The Shire was exactly as I had expected it to be and more, and i felt instantly whisked away to the magical place of Middle Earth. From wandering around the tiny houses to sipping beer at The Green Dragon Inn, it is the ultimate Lord of the Rings experience.

5. Abel Tasman

Abel Tasman is a spectacular National Park located at the North Western tip of the South Island. Blessed with golden beaches, rich vegetation and the bluest of water, it is one of the most beautiful areas in the country. There are various ways to see this gorgeous corner of New Zealand, you can kayak around the various coves and don’t be too surprised to see dolphins and seals swim along side you. Alternatively you can hike along its costal track, these walks can take anywhere from a few hours to 5 days. The scenery is mesmerising regardless of how you chose to view it, just be sure that you do!

4. Cathedral Cove

Another one of New Zealand’s popular beaches, Cathedral Cove is a marine reserve located on The Coromandel peninsula. The beach is only accessible by a 30 minute track from the nearest carpark, winding your way through native bush and past stunning cliff faces you will eventually end up on this gorgeous stretch of sand. You will no doubt be roasting by the time you get here so it’s the perfect place to take a dip in the cool water and relax on the beach.

3. Rotorua

The town of Rotorua is one of the most unique sites in the world, sitting on top of a volcanic plate the strong smell of sulphur welcomes you into the town. Wai-O-Tapu is a geothermal wonderland, complete with exploding geysers, brightly coloured lakes, hot springs and steaming craters. Walking through this park I felt like I had accidentally wandered into another world, it is a truly unique and awe inspiring experience.

2. Milford Sound

Milford Sound is a spectacular Fiordland in the South East corner of New Zealand. It is home to jagged cliffs, cascading waterfalls and a mysterious air. Cruising through The Sounds was, without a doubt, one of the best things I experienced in New Zealand. It is so magnificent and breathtaking, you can’t help but be left in awe of your surroundings. There are literally thousands of waterfalls around you, all plummeting into the still waters with such force is mesmerises you . You will also sail past sunbathing seals, and although it rains here 90% of the year, if you are lucky enough to get a glimmer of sunlight peaking through the jagged rocks and see it illuminate The Sounds, the sight of it’s raw beauty is something that will stay with you long after you leave.

1. Queenstown

Putting this list together was a difficult task as New Zealand is such an amazing country, what wasn’t difficult however, was deciding on number one.

It was always going to be Queenstown.

This stunningly beautiful town is everything Kiwi rolled into one. Its landscape is unprecedented, I mean, just look at that photo?! New Zealand is the home of adventure, and Queenstown is its adrenaline pumping capital. Bungy jumping, skydiving, mountainbiking, luging, here you can do it all.