Follow me along the Eastern coast of New Zealand!
Here are the cities I visited and what I most enjoyed doing in each:
This isn’t exactly a city, but instead a National Park. In fact, it is the largest National Park in New Zealand, and stretches along 280 miles of the South Island. It is gorgeous, and you are surrounded by tons of waterfalls and lush greenery. My family and I boated through the fiords, but we saw kayakers and people on plane tours.
With a name translating for “Edinburgh of the South” there are lots of Scottish influences here. We visited Larnach Castle (built in 1873) and Olveston House (a Jacobean-style mansion built in 1904). While both were amazing and have fascinating histories, I preferred Olveston House. I also enjoyed seeing murals throughout the city and visiting the steepest street in the world!
This city is situated in a volcanic crater and has French influences. We hopped on the KiwiRail (Tranz Alpine Train or Southern Alps Express) and headed west to Rolleston. During this two hour journey, we traveled through the Southern Alps! The open Canterbury Plains were gorgeous – filled with lakes, sheep, farms and cows. We also stopped at Arthur’s Pass National Park, the highest pass over the Southern Alps and a great viewpoint.
This foodie city is a great place to find lunch with a beautiful setting. Work up an appetite with a short hike through the Kaipupu Wildlife Sanctuary, ending at a fabulous lookout spot. Then grab a bite at one of the many café options along the water. I opted for Gusto, where the coffee is strong and the grub is good.
Napier is a cute port town decked out in Art Deco flair. Drive through the Art Deco District near the seaside and take it all in. Then head toward Cape Kidnappers and go four wheel driving along cliffs and countryside. Be sure to see the gannets (there are 6,500 of them!), beautiful seagull-like birds that are native to New Zealand. I really enjoyed this city!
- Tauranga This city is so incredibly beautiful. Definitely my favorite on this list. I originally came here to see Hobbiton, where Lord of the Rings was filmed, but that didn’t work out. I ended up spending the day enjoying the views of the beaches and the mountains. Perfect place to hike, SUP, or just soak up the sunrays on the sand. When you get hungry, head to Fat Cow Café for a brisket sandwich.
- Auckland I spent the most time here, in New Zealand’s most populous city, and loved every minute of it. Read my full post here.
What are your thoughts on New Zealand? Let us know below.