Why does New Zealand have 15 cities
Our tips for your New Zealand vacation
We'll show you why you should definitely plan a New Zealand vacation. The green land at the other end of the world is one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world and I can confirm that you will find it here if you are after pure nature and seclusion.
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New Zealand consists of two main islands: the North and South Islands. Both islands have their highlights and you can be sure to get to know beautiful landscapes, cozy villages and hospitable New Zealanders.
Top sights in New Zealand
It's hard to tell with the naked eye how beautiful New Zealand is. But there are some spots that are simply of a completely different caliber - and we show you exactly these TOP sights in New Zealand here.
- Doubtful Sound (South Island): Untouched nature, beautiful green landscapes that surround the fjord and waterfalls that couldn't be more beautiful. Doubtful Sound is a fjord in Fiordland National Park in the south of New Zealand's South Island. Few people get to see it every day - and only on a guided tour. If you ask me, you have to visit Doubtful Sound!
- Cape Reinga (North Island): Cape Reinga is located on the northwestern tip of the North Island. According to Maori legends, this is where the souls of the deceased begin their journey to Hawaiki, the distant land of their ancestors. Indeed, sea winds, stormy seas and breathtaking landscapes come together here - an incomparably beautiful place. Learn more about Cape Reinga.
- Hobbiton - Hobbiton (North Island): Lord of the Rings fans can enjoy the great detail of the film set of the Shire. For me, this part of the film always creates a homely feeling. And the visit to Hobbiton is just as beautiful.
- Kaikoura (South Island): Another TOP attraction of New Zealand is off the coast of Kaikoura on the west coast of the South Island. Here you can see humpback whales passing by, and also watch blue whales. You can watch these whales on a boat tour and they will stay in your memory for a lifetime. Read more about Kaikoura here.
- White Island (North Island): White Island is a volcanic island off the town of Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty. The special thing about it: the volcano is active and last erupted in December 2019. You can get to know White Island on a guided tour.
Our TOP 5 cities in New Zealand
There are few large cities in New Zealand. But they all have one thing in common - they show that New Zealand cities have a relaxed atmosphere too. Here we show you our top 5 cities in New Zealand
- Auckland (North Island): The largest city in New Zealand is Auckland. It is located in the very north of the North Island. Here you can not only discover urban flair and cool spots like (harbor district), with two bays and the Hauraki Golf in front of the door you also have many opportunities to enjoy the beautiful nature. My tip: admire the city from the top of the Auckland Sky Tower.
- Christchurch (South Island): The largest city on the South Island is still under construction in some places. Many old buildings in the city were destroyed by a major earthquake in 2011. Shopping lovers will also get their money's worth in the many small boutiques. More about Christchurch.
- Queenstown (South Island): Hardly any other city in New Zealand is as lively as Queenstown. A rather young crowd is drawn here, because in the city you can do a lot of action-packed things such as jet boating or skydiving. My tip: come to Bob‘s Peak at sunset and enjoy the view of the region. Find out more about Queenstown here.
- Wellington (North Island): The capital of New Zealand is picturesquely located in the south of the North Island. From here you can take the ferry to the South Island, but please not without exploring the city beforehand. Visit the National Museum, including the Te Papa Tongarewa art gallery, and stroll through beautiful Cuba Street.
- Dunedin (South Island): Dunedin is one of the most beautifully preserved Victorian cities in New Zealand. Here is New Zealand's only castle - you should definitely visit Lanarch Castle.
Other cities in New Zealand
Of course, there are many other interesting places in New Zealand. You can find our contributions to them here.
The most beautiful regions in New Zealand
You should visit New Zealand especially if you like the beautiful nature at the other end of the world. We'll show you which regions of New Zealand really inspire us.
- Northland: The northernmost region of the North Island is a popular holiday region with beautiful coastlines and beautiful beaches. The Bay of Island is on the doorstep and the towns of Whangarei and Paihia are well worth a visit.
- Southland: You can see the breathtaking fjord landscape in the southernmost region of New Zealand. Over a third of the total area of Southland is taken up by Fiordland National Park, one of the largest national parks in the world. The gigantic park is famous, among other things, for its three Great Walks, which attract many nature lovers and hikers. Especially Te Anau, the “gateway to Milford Sound” is a real Mecca for those who like to run. But a visit to the island of Stuart Island is also worthwhile, because here you can still encounter a species of New Zealand's heraldic animal - the kiwi - in its natural environment.
- Waikato: There are many interesting places to visit in the Waikato region, named after the river it crosses. The Waitomo Caves are known beyond the national borders for the multitude of fireflies that you can see here. But Hobbiton, the Lord of the Rings film set, is also really interesting. A must see is Cathedral Cove in Mercury Bay, where you can see the ocean under a cathedral-shaped rock.
- Bay of Plenty / Coromandel Peninsula: Southeast of Auckland lies the densely forested Coromandel Peninsula, which many consider to be the most beautiful region of the North Island. Outdoor lovers will feel at home here, and there are plenty of opportunities for snorkeling, fishing and hiking. The small towns on the peninsula are small and easy to visit. The Bay of Plenty is bursting with orchards. The two largest cities here are Tauranga, with its large port a trading hub, and the small town of Whakatane.
- Marlborough:The Marlborough region is home to the beautiful Marlborough Sounds. They are located near the small town of Picton, in whose port the ferries from Wellington arrive several times a day. Further west are Golden Bay, Tasman Bay and Nelson, the largest city in the region. Nelson impresses with its pretty town center and its proximity to Golden Bay. Two national parks are perfect as a base for hiking or other nature adventures.
Our New Zealand map: cities and regions
In this overview map you will find all interesting regions and cities in New Zealand. Click on the spots and get more information so that you can plan your trip.
Explore New Zealand on a road trip
Probably the nicest way to explore New Zealand is to take a road trip across the North and South Islands. In addition to the large metropolises and small cozy cities of the country, you will experience the fascinating nature of New Zealand. Whether volcanoes, glaciers or fjords, a road trip through New Zealand is simply varied. Depending on the travel time, we can recommend the following road trips through New Zealand:
- 4 weeks over North and South Island: On this trip you will explore both the North and South Island of New Zealand and visit the most beautiful highlights of the country. The journey takes you from Auckland via Wellington to the South Island, which you explore to Doubtful Sound in the south. The trip ends in Christchurch.
- 3 week round trip across the South Island: On this New Zealand round trip you will explore the South Island in 3 weeks. Here you will mainly get to see the varied nature. My personal highlight was the tour to Doubtful Sound. But the hike to the Franz Josef Glacier is just wonderful.
- 2 week round trip across the North Island: If you don't have much time, a trip across the North Island is just right for you, because you can experience it in just 14 days.
Travel tips for New Zealand
New Zealand - in the Maori language too Aotearoa called - is one of the most livable countries in the world. And you notice that every time you visit. A New Zealand holiday is particularly suitable for you if you are nature fans and like to be in the fresh air. A total of 4.9 million people live in New Zealand itself, of which around 1.4 million already live in Auckland.
The North and South Island of New Zealand
If you are planning your New Zealand vacation, you will certainly ask yourself at some point whether you should travel to the North or South Island or even both. Because New Zealand consists of two main islands, the North and South Island. There are many other small and large islands in the bays and off the coast of the mainland. Stewart Island on the southern tip of the South Island is the largest of these and is known for its breathtaking scenery and stately kiwi population.
As a tourist from Germany you do not need a visa for your New Zealand trip. Nevertheless, you have to apply for an NZeTA - the New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority - in advance. You can find more tips on New Zealand visas here.
11 regions and 6 unitary authorities
largest cities (inhabitants)
Auckland (1.4 million inhabitants)
2 main islands (North Island and South Island)
Many other smaller and larger islands such as Stewart Island, Waiheke Island, Chatham Island or Auckland Island
New Zealand Dollar (NZ $)
If you travel to New Zealand, you have to overcome a time difference. In New Zealand it is (depending on the season) 10-12 hours later than in Germany. But don't worry: we have found that you get used to the new era very quickly.
Weather and best time to travel to New Zealand
New Zealand is in the southern hemisphere, which is why the seasons are opposite to ours. While it's winter here, New Zealand's summer has plenty of sunshine and high temperatures.
14.1 ° C to 20.4 ° C
14.3 ° C to 20.6 ° C
13.1 ° C to 19.3 ° C
11.3 ° C to 16.9 ° C
10.1 ° C to 15.3 ° C
8.4 ° C to 13 ° C
7.1 ° C to 12.3 ° C
7.3 ° C to 12.7 ° C
8.7 ° C to 14.3 ° C
10 ° C to 15.7 ° C
11.1 ° C to 17.1 ° C
13 ° C to 19.2 ° C
The warmest summer months are December, January and February. The New Zealand winter is cold and there is snow, the coldest months are July and August. A New Zealand holiday is particularly suitable for winter sports enthusiasts at this time of the year. It is coldest in the south of the South Island and the region around Queenstown and the New Zealand Alps is a popular destination for skiers.
If you want to tour both main islands, you should go for All kinds of weather be prepared. The New Zealanders say: “In our country you can often experience all four seasons in one day” - and that's true!
The North Island comes with you all year round mild weather therefore. Giant ferns and palms thrive in the subtropical climate of the far north. The middle and the southern end of the North Island is rather densely populated by New Zealand standards and is used a lot for agriculture. The landscape here is reminiscent of German hill country in many places.
On the South Island of New Zealand you have to be up in the summer too cooler temperatures to calm down. The proximity to the South Pole is noticeable through long winters, changeable weather and fresh summers. With its seemingly endless forests and almost fairytale mountain landscapes, the South Island offers a spectacular backdrop for hikes.
Accommodation in New Zealand
In New Zealand you can choose your accommodation according to your taste, because there is accommodation for every budget. You can rent a house or apartment with AirBnB or check into a hostel or hotel.
Food in New Zealand
New Zealand is all about healthy, delicious food! There is a lot here that your heart desires: Fresh seafood, because the best freshly caught fish can be found almost everywhere. Many of the exotic fruits and vegetables such as kiwis and avocados are grown in New Zealand.
Many New Zealanders have English roots, so it is not surprising that many dishes are reminiscent of England. Roast is a popular option on Sundays and pavlova is eaten for dessert. But we were able to notice a big difference: Due to the proximity to the ocean, there is very fresh fish and seafood almost all over New Zealand. Sheep and cattle are raised on the country's lush pastures, which are exported all over the world, but also like to end up on the table in New Zealand itself. Read more about food in New Zealand here. Find out more about food in New Zealand here.
More facts about New Zealand - the discovery of New Zealand
In theLegends of the Maori it was the Polynesian explorer and Captain Kupewho discovered New Zealand. As early as the first millennium AD, long before the Europeans set foot on New Zealand's islands, Kupe sailed towards the still unknown land. According to traditional stories, it was his wife who first sighted the clouds over the land mass. Surprised, she called out: "He Ao, he Aotea, he Aotearoa!" - "A cloud, a white cloud, a long white cloud!"
This is how New Zealand, or Aotearoa, got its name.
The original explorers of New Zealand lived undisturbed in their island paradise for many centuries, until the first Europeans finally joined them.
Adventurers and emigrants
The history of New Zealand is quite short compared to that of Germany: Although the Dutchman Abel Tasman reached the undiscovered country as early as 1642, he quickly fled again after some Maori warriors had murdered several members of his team. Back home in the Netherlands, Tasman reported about a newly discovered country called "Nova Zeelandia". Discouraged by the bloody encounter with the Maori, no further expedition to the Pacific was started for the time being, the island kingdom was forgotten.
It was not until 1769 that the captain and explorer laid James Cook with his sailing ship "Endeavor" on the north coast of the North Island. Cook and his crew dealt appropriately with the now rediscovered country, created maps, met the Maori (this time successfully) and gathered knowledge about the landscape, fauna and flora of New Zealand.
When Cook's news spread across Europe that a true paradise had been found in the Pacific, whale and seal hunters, and later farming families and missionaries, soon left their homes to start a new life in New Zealand.
The serious colonization of New Zealand by Europeans began in the first decades of the 19th century. The value of the kauri tree and its resin was discovered, the immigrants began farming and quickly spread across both islands.
Country and people in New Zealand
The country itself is about two thirds the size of Germany, but populated many times more sparsely. Just under 4.5 million people in New Zealand live in an area that can accommodate over 50 million people.
The largest part of New Zealand's population lives on the North Island, with around 3.5 million inhabitants. The landscape here is used for agriculture, many export items such as wood, kiwis and avocados, seafood and fish are grown or produced here. In addition, many thousands of herds of cows graze on lush pastures in the midst of lonely hilly landscapes. A large part of the North New Zealanders is active in the "dairy farming business", and the dairy farmers are very proud of their good New Zealand milk.
The armies of sheep that are typical of New Zealand are more likely to be found on the South Island. Only about one million New Zealanders live scattered on the South Island, which with over 150,000 square kilometers is even slightly larger than the North Island. The largest city on the South Island is Christchurch with around 340,000 inhabitants. An interesting fun fact: even before Great Britain seriously began to settle the region, the entire city of Christchurch was planned down to the last detail. That explains the clean grid structure of the inner city and the almost exclusively British street names.
New Zealand's population is a mixed bag of Polynesians, Asians and Europeans. Above all, Scots, English and Dutch can be found en masse here. Just over half of all New Zealanders have European roots. The Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, make up about 15% of the population.
New immigrants are still pouring into the green islands from all over the world. A little less than a quarter of New Zealand's residents were born in another country.
Frequently asked questions about New Zealand vacations
We are asked many questions about New Zealand, which we are happy to answer here.
What do I have to consider when traveling to New Zealand?
I can give you the advice to plan your travel outfit for New Zealand in the so-called onion look. The weather here is quite changeable and a fresh wind can suddenly follow the nicest t-shirt weather when the sun comes out. Therefore, you are always on the safe side if you have a windbreaker, a handkerchief and a hoodie with you.
What does a New Zealand vacation cost?
Unfortunately I have to answer this question with: It depends! Of course, it depends on how you plan your vacation and how you travel around New Zealand. A flight to New Zealand is around € 1,000, the cost of living in New Zealand is similar to that in Germany. I can especially recommend the trip through New Zealand in a motorhome. There are of course different price ranges for campers. In my experience, camper hire in New Zealand can be cheaper compared to rented accommodation and rental cars - especially if, like me, you just do Freedom Camping.
What do you need for a New Zealand vacation?
Adventure lust 🙂 No, seriously, you don't need that much for a New Zealand vacation. One flight, at least the first accommodation, a camper or rental car and your New Zealand adventure can begin! Oh yes, and you shouldn't be afraid of Sandflies (the black flies) - because these annoying beasts can be found in New Zealand. You can buy defense spray anywhere in New Zealand.
How long should I plan for my New Zealand vacation?
The longer you have time for your New Zealand vacation, the better! On my first trip I had 3 weeks to explore the South Island and can tell you that I was able to use the time very well to get to know the country and its people without the trip being stressful.
Should I explore the North Island or South Island on my New Zealand vacation?
You should think about what to expect from your New Zealand trip. If you want to get to know the great metropolis of Auckland, you should travel to the North Island. If you are a Lord of the Rings fan and would like to relive the filming locations, you could especially explore the North Island. The South Island has its charm especially in the overwhelming nature. The Milford and Doubtful Sound as well as the Fox and Franz-Josef Glaciers, but also the towering Mount Cook are uniquely beautiful spots that I can definitely recommend!
Which is better: a vacation in New Zealand or Australia?
It's not an easy question. Even if my heart beats for Australia, you should think about what you want to see on your trip. I got to know New Zealand as one of the greenest countries in the world, whose fjords and glaciers, snow-covered mountains and lonely beaches made a lasting impression on me. In contrast, there is (depending on the region) in Australia red earth, drought or coral reefs on the Great Barrier Reef or in Exmouth and rainforest. If you have the opportunity, both countries should be on your travel bucket list.
Holidays in New Zealand: Tips from the insider
On Loving Travel you will find all of our insider tips for your New Zealand vacation. For inspiration, check out our latest reports here.
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