New Zealand

South Island

On your trip to New Zealand, make sure to see the dramatic Southern Alps. Christchurch and Queenstown are the two  destinations for those arriving from the North Island. From Abel Tasman National Park to Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers and Mount Cook National Park, South Island is a true adventure paradise. 

 Queenstown is a true gateway to recreational activities. Alpine heliskiing, snowboarding, hiking and zip-lining are just a few among myriad of other options at your disposal.

Queenstown also boasts a vibrant downtown overlooking Lake Wakatipu and an impressive art scene. A number of stores in the downtown area sell tours and packages that include everything from helicopters tours to Franz Josef Glacier to Whitewater rafting and alpine skiing.


Hotels in Queenstown are pricey, and if you are looking to save money, hostels and AirBnb could your best option. Wherever you stay, make sure that you can easily reach the town, as some parts of Queenstown are only accessible by bus. 

Walk along the main drag, you will hear dozens of languages spoken. While Queenstown is fairly remote, visitors from all over the world have come to admire it for its natural beauty. 

The opposite side of the coin is that Queenstown, a town with about 20,000 residents has been struggling to keep up with an influx of tourists. The number of tourists is only projected to grow and local officials are looking for ways to accommodate all visitors. 

Bob’s Peak and Skyline Gondola

Take a Skyline Gondola to get a perfect postcard picture of the area framed by the majestic mountains from the 1,500-feet observation deck. This attraction is located in the heart of downtown Queenstown and offers an array of attractions when you get to the top where you will be able to get a breathtaking view of the Remarkables, Coronet Peak and Lake Wakatipu.

Ben Lomond hike in Queenstown

Ben Lomond Hike

If you are in for a challenge, hike to Ben Lomond, a peak which stands just over 5,700 feet and offers panoramic views of Lake Wakatipu. 

The hike is considered challenging because of the elevation gain, so make sure you have enough water and food. Also, be sure to wear season-appropriate clothing and footwear. And don’t forget to apply sunscreen, because even on a clear day, you still risk getting a sunburn at higher elevations.

Ben Lomond Hiking Tips

It takes about 3 hours to get to the summit and about 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to Ben Lomond Saddle, a half point where the hike gets progressively steeper. Before you push for the summit, make sure you feel comfortable with the elevation. There’s no need to ask for trouble as getting transported by helicopter to a hospital from the mountain is not cheap.

If you keep going, you will have to scramble up a steep hill. After that, the worst part will be over and the winding trail will lead you toward the top. You will be beat at the end, but you won’t regret your decision to push for the summit.


Otherworldly views from the Ben Lomond peak will be your best reward but don’t leave your belongings laying around as you take a break. Ben Lomond is home to many Keas, a bright-green alpine parrot that lives in the mountains of New Zealand South Island. 

While Keas are notorious for trying to steal food and other items that they can get ahold of, you shouldn’t feed them any food from your backpack, as it could be really bad for their health.

Kea population is on decline due to a combination of factors, human conflict is among them. So the best thing to do is to adore the lovely Keas from afar and avoid direct contact with them.

Milford Sound in New Zealand

Milford Sound

A gorgeous fiord in the southwestern part of South Island, Milford Sound is home to cascading waterfalls, lush rainforests and colonies of seals that bask in the sunshine below the sheer cliffs. 

If you have a little bit more money you can take a plane from Queenstown to Milford Sound. If you plan to get to Milford Sound by bus, you will have to make a reservation ahead of time.

The bus will depart from Queenstown early morning and arrive to Milford Sound early afternoon. The drive may seem a bit long, as the highway winds through the mountains, but the bus makes numerous stops along the way as you will drive through incredibly beautiful areas.

After you arrive to your destination, you will get on a boat and take an awesome ride along the waters of Milford Sound. The ride will be pure magic as you will get close to rapid waterfalls and observe beautiful wildlife. 

If you are not traveling with a group, I recommend taking a kayaking tour, as you will be able spend more time in the area. For those who stay in the area longer, I recommend hiking  around Milford Sound and checking out Fiordland National Park.

North Island

New Zealand’s southern and northern islands are vastly different from each other, but equally breathtaking. The Northern Island has mild climate as it’s closer to the equator. The humidity should also be factored in, especially if you travel during the summer season which lasts from December through March.

Best places to visit in Auckland

1. Sky Tower – Enjoy the 360 degree view of the city and try some bungee jumping

 2. Auckland City Heritage Walk – Auckland City boasts a mix of modern architecture that’s combined with historic buildings

 3. Devonport village – a quiet seaside suburb with charming pubs and corky stores that also boasts an impressive skyline view of Auckland

 4. Auckland Botanic Gardens – Enjoy an impressive collections of plant and flowers native to New Zealand and other countries

 5. One Tree Hill – A historic location in the middle of beautiful countryside

Coromandel Peninsula New Zealand

Best beaches in Auckland

Another advantage of the Northern Island is its beautiful beaches. The Auckland area has a number of beaches that are great for swimming, picnicking and surfing, so make sure to visit at least one of them.

1. Takapuna Beach – one of the most popular sun-bathing places on the eastern coast of Auckland

2. Milford Beach – Not far from Takapuna Beach but considerably less crowded

3. Pihai Beach – Auckland’s most dramatic beach with black volcanic sand that’s also a top spot for surfers

4. Muriwai – Another popular surfing location near Auckland. Muriwai also has a gannet colony nearby that’s worth checking out

5. Te Arai Point – More well-known among locals, Te Arai Point is one of the best surfing spots

Best islands around Auckland

1. Waiheke Island – Take a 40 minute ferry ride ride from downtown Auckland to enjoy Waiheke’s lush vineyards, sprawling beaches and beautiful scenery. 

2. Tiritiri Mantagi Island – A wildlife sanctuary for endangered native birds and reptiles

 3. Rangitoto Island – Auckland’s youngest volcano popular with hikers and kayakers

 4. Great Barrier Island ( Aotea ) – Home to the only multi-day wilderness walk in the Auckland region

 5. Kawau Island – Perfect retreat for those who want to enjoy a quiet atmosphere and get a glimpse of New Zealand’s history