WHAT TO DO IN THE CITIES OF NEW ZEALAND

Visiting New Zealand, you’re likely to spend a good amount of time out in the country, or stopping in smaller towns. But there are a few bigger cities on the islands as well; If nothing else, you’ll probably be flying in and out of them on either end of your trip. So why not plan some time exploring the fun things to do in the cities of New Zealand.

Christchurch

Christchurch is the second most populace city in New Zealand, but far and away the most noteworthy one on the country’s South Island. It’s on the East Coast of that island, at the lower end of Pegasus Bay, and perhaps fits the image most would come up with for a New Zealand city better than any other. It feels like it simply sprung up in the midst of the typically stunning nature of the country.

In truth, this is a city best enjoyed by simple exploration. The Avon River winds through the city and produces excellent walking and biking paths; Hagley Park is a wonderful walking area known for spring blossoms and general beauty; and the Botanical Gardens are the biggest and most spectacular in the country. The city itself – in terms of skyline and modern attractions – is not particularly special to look at. But wandering around some of these main areas you can get a sense for the peaceful and relaxed quality of the city.

As with any self-respecting New Zealand destination, there’s some adventure to be had as well. The city is located right on the bay, so sea kayaking and even swimming with the dolphins are options for the more adventurous travelers. Additionally, jet boating (a famous activity in New Zealand), sky diving, and hot air balloon tours are all options either within or just outside the city.

Auckland

Auckland is the biggest and best-known city in New Zealand. Situated on the North Island it’s actually a fascinating town in terms of layout. Auckland feels almost like a city of islands given that it more or less exists between multiple bays, though in reality it constitutes something of a land bridge between larger masses. At any rate, it’s a large, bustling city with a lot to offer for travelers.

Like Christchurch, the city has a lot of interesting areas to explore on foot, and wandering is never going to be a bad idea. Beyond beauty and sightseeing, however, it’s also filled with a little bit more in the way of modern attractions. The Auckland Zoo is always a nice stop, and multiple museums are worth your time. Bars and restaurants are as good as you’d expect from a nation’s largest city. And then there’s SkyTower, a skyscraper that doubles as a sort of entertainment complex. There are rides at the top and a casino within. Given that gambling activity in New Zealand is highly regulated, you can trust that it’s the sort of establishment you can enjoy safely as well.

Aside from wandering through parks and ducking into museums and casinos, you might best enjoy your time in Auckland checking out the nearby islands. In particular, Rangitoto Island – just a short ferry ride away – is a fantastic place to visit for some picturesque hiking.

What to do in the cities of New Zealand

Wellington

And then there’s Wellington, a lovable city that comes about as close as any to joining the two main islands of New Zealand. It’s right on the southern tip of the North Island, between the Cook Strait and the Wellington Harbour, and is simply a beautiful city to look at.

Frankly, it’s also a harder city to characterize for visitors. It’s marked by a quirky and eclectic blend of attractions, from wildlife reserves to specific museums to the Beehive, which is far more unique than you’d expect for a building known as Wellington’s Executive Office Building. It’s actually where the New Zealand parliament meets, but it’s a pretty interesting sightseeing stop on a tour. And it sort of captures the vibe of the city, bizarrely impressive and full of surprises.

The very best way to enjoy this city might just be to take in some of its best views though. Hiking the 200-meter Mount Victoria just beside the city can give you a breathtaking look at the harbor, and for that matter getting out in the harbor on a boat (or visiting Matiu Island in its center) is a great move as well. It’s most certainly a city to enjoy with your eyes above all else.

So which city appeals to you?! Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

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What to do in the cities of New Zealand
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Showing 14 comments
  • Helene Choo
    Reply

    Would love to go to New Zealand and see all these cities:) I have this image in my mind of New Zealand just being grassy landscapes from Lord Of The Rings, but I’m obviously wrong:P Great post, makes me want to go really badly!!

  • Marcie
    Reply

    Great tip about exploring these cities by foot! New Zealand has been on my travel bucket list for awhile and each of these cities would be on my itinerary! And doing a boat ride sounds like a fun plan!

  • Judy
    Reply

    Bookmarking this article for my future reference. Wellington looks so beautiful. I guess for the first visit and limited time covering major cities along with few small towns is a great idea..

  • Sara Essop
    Reply

    I can’t decide which of these cities to visit when I go to New Zealand . They all sound great. I guess I’ll just have to budget more time there and visit all of them.

  • Lyf&Spice
    Reply

    I really want to go to Auckland and check out all the gorgeous hiking trails New Zealand has to offer, or like they say ‘tramping’ trails. 🙂 Cheers!!

  • Abhinav Singh
    Reply

    I have been to Australia but not New Zealand. I love small towns as much as I love big cities. Auckland is surely on my wish list. I prefer exploring an area on foot as it helps you absorb more. I am glad it is a pedestrian friendly place.

  • lexieanimetravel
    Reply

    I’ve never been to New Zealand, it has a very high reputaion in Asia. I guess all people would love to visit here and those older people loves to stay here after their retirement. Auckland and Wellington are just right up there side by side for us to make a tour! definitely a great guide

  • Travelquartz
    Reply

    I remember my visit to Auckland and then going to Rotorua via Bombay hills — the pictures shared here signify the true beauty of this place. I love Auckland.

  • FS Page
    Reply

    Lovely write up on places to visit in New Zealand. Exploring city through walking and boating is interesting. All the cities look great. I am so looking forward to our trip to New Zealand next year. Thanks for sharing.

  • James
    Reply

    You guys are so lucky to have visited these cities in New Zealand. How was the jet lag after the long flight? How did you travel between the cities. Your photos of the cities are wonderful, I love the angle you chose to photograph the cable car.

  • DTG
    Reply

    New Zealand is deffo on the bucket list I have read so much about it and watch so many videos, the scenery and places to visit look so beautiful, booked-marked your post – great article.

  • Suma
    Reply

    Although I have always wanted to visit New Zealand, I am yet to be lucky to visit the stunning place. Auckland seems like a pretty nice city, the SkyTower is on my bucketlist mostly to try the jump from the top of the tower. New Zealand from what I have heard is also famous for many adventure activities. Have you tried any of them during your visit?

  • Manjulika Pramod
    Reply

    I have always heard of New Zealand as a place for great adventures. Wellington is my favorite among the cities mentioned above and I would like to go there someday soon.

  • Kim
    Reply

    Always been a dream of mine to visit New Zealand and Oceania in general. I didn’t realize there were only a few main cities, will keep them in mind! Hopefully I come across cheap plane tickets one day soon to make my dream come true!

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