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Top things to do

Top ChoiceHistoric Site in Paihia

Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Occupying a headland draped in lawns and bush, this is NZ's most significant historic site. Here, on 6 February 1840, after much discussion, the first 43 Māori chiefs signed the Treaty of Waitangi with the...

Top ChoiceLandmark in Waipoua Forest

Te Matua Ngahere

Te Matua Ngahere

From the Kauri Walks car park, a 20-minute walk leads past the Four Sisters, a graceful stand of four tall trees fused together at the base, to Te Matua Ngahere (The Father of the Forest). At 30m, he has a...

Top ChoiceLandmark in Waipoua Forest

Tāne Mahuta

Tāne Mahuta

Near the north end of the park, not far from the road, stands mighty Tāne Mahuta, named for the Māori forest god. At 51.5m, with a 13.8m girth and wood mass of 244.5 cu metres, he’s the largest kauri alive, and...

Top ChoiceLake in Queenstown

Lake Wakatipu

Shaped like a cartoon lightning bolt, Lake Wakatipu is NZ's third-largest lake. It reaches a depth of 372m, meaning the lake bed actually sits below sea level. Five rivers flow into it but only one (the Kawarau)...

Top ChoiceCultural Centre in Rotorua

Te Puia

Te Puia

Te Puia dials up the heat on Māoritanga (things Māori) with explosive performances from both its cultural troupe and Pōhutu (Big Splash), its famous geyser that erupts around 20 times a day, spurting hot water up...

Top ChoiceNational Park in Arthur's Pass

Arthur's Pass National Park

Arthur's Pass National Park

Straddling the Southern Alps, known to Māori as Ka Tiritiri o Te Moana (Steep Peak of Glistening White), this vast alpine wilderness became the South Island's first national park in 1929. Of its 1144 sq km,...

Top ChoiceVolcano in Kingsland & Mt Eden

Mt Eden

Mt Eden

From the top of Auckland’s highest volcanic cone (196m), the entire isthmus and both harbours are laid bare. The symmetrical crater (50m deep) is known as Te Ipu Kai a Mataaho (the Food Bowl of Mataaho, the god...

Top ChoiceBird Sanctuary in Oamaru

Blue Penguin Colony

Blue Penguin Colony

Every evening the tykes from the Ōamaru blue penguin colony surf in and wade ashore, heading to their nests in an old stone quarry near the waterfront. Stands are set up on either side of the waddle route....

Top ChoiceViewpoint in Cape Reinga & Ninety Mile Beach

Cape Reinga

Cape Reinga

State Hwy 1 terminates at this dramatic headland where the waters of the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean meet, breaking together into waves up to 10m high in stormy weather. Cape Reinga is the end of the road both...

Top ChoiceNatural Feature in Taupo

Orakei Korako

Orakei Korako

Tucked away from other more popular thermal fields, Orakei Korako is (since the destruction of the Pink and White Terraces, at least) arguably NZ's most spectacular thermal area, with active geysers, stunning...

Top ChoiceVolcano in Auckland

One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill

This volcanic cone was the isthmus’ key pā and the greatest fortress in the country. At the top (182m) there are 360-degree views and the grave of John Logan Campbell, who gifted the land to the city in 1901 and...

Top ChoiceNatural Feature in Rotorua Lakes

Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Waimangu Volcanic Valley

The most visible wound from Mt Tarawera's 1886 eruption, the Waimangu geothermal area spreads down a valley to Lake Rotomahana (Warm Lake). The experience is quite different from the other ticketed thermal areas...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Parnell & Newmarket

Auckland Museum

Auckland Museum

This imposing neoclassical temple (1929), capped with an impressive copper-and-glass dome (2007), dominates the Auckland Domain and is a prominent part of the Auckland skyline, especially when viewed from the...

Top ChoiceIsland in Ruby Coast & Moutere Hills

Moturoa/Rabbit Island

With a Māori name that translates as 'Long Island', this low-lying expanse forms an 8km-long barrier to the ocean with a gorgeous sandy beach spread along its entire length. A pine plantation forest provides...

Top ChoiceWildlife Reserve in Leigh

Goat Island Marine Reserve

Goat Island Marine Reserve

Only 3km from Leigh, this 547-hectare aquatic area was established in 1975 as the country’s first marine reserve. In less than 40 years the sea has reverted to a giant aquarium, giving an impression of what the...

Top ChoiceWildlife Reserve in Otago Peninsula

Nature’s Wonders Naturally

Nature’s Wonders Naturally

What makes the improbably beautiful beaches of this coastal sheep farm different from other important wildlife habitats is that (apart from pest eradication and the like) they're left completely alone. Many of...

Top ChoiceWildlife Reserve in Stewart Island (Rakiura)

Ulva Island

A tiny paradise covering only 269 hectares, Ulva Island / Te Wharawhara is a great place to see lots of native birds. Established as a bird sanctuary in 1922, it remains one of Stewart Island/Rakiura’s wildest...

Top ChoiceMuseum in Blenheim

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

When Sir Peter Jackson has a passion for something, there are no half measures. That's abundantly clear in the 'Knights of the Sky' exhibition, which features the movie director's personal collection of WWI...

Top ChoiceNatural Feature in Rotorua Lakes

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland

The most colourful of the region's geothermal attractions, Wai-O-Tapu (Sacred Waters) has a variety of features packed into a relatively compact, heavily cratered area, with the highlights being the...

Top ChoiceNatural Feature in Collingwood & Around

Farewell Spit

Bleak, exposed and positively sci-fi, Farewell Spit is a wetland of international importance and a renowned bird sanctuary – the summer home of thousands of migratory waders, notably the godwit, Caspian tern and...