5 great cities you absolutely have to check out in New Zealand

If you value your life, never get New Zealand and Australia confused. It’s not that they’re bad neighbors or anything like that. The situation is more of a friendly-ish rivalry that goes back a few years. The key takeaway is that they’re both incredible countries that are worth a visit.

New Zealand has really come into it’s own as a tourist destination in recent decades. There’s a lot to do in this fantastic island nation that some people might overlook. It’s a unique, engaging country with several fun cities to check out.

Lower Hutt, New Zealand

New Zealand is made up of two major islands, as well as 700 smaller ones. Lower Hutt is located on the southern end of the North Island. It’s an incredibly beautiful part of New Zealand, with a surprising range of activities for visitors.

The biggest thing to do in the Lower Hutt is to get outside and enjoy the gorgeous natural beauty around you. This coastal region is filled with trails for biking and hiking as well as several nature sanctuaries. It’s where tourists go to experience the natural bounty of the country.

Wellington, New Zealand

New Zealand

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – SEPTEMBER 22: A general view of Wellington City after a move to COVID-19 Alert Level 1 on September 22, 2020 in Wellington, New Zealand. Coronavirus restrictions have eased across New Zealand as of midnight, with all cities outside of Auckland moved to COVID-19 Alert Level 1. Some restrictions remain in place for Auckland, with the city to move to COVID-19 Alert Level 2 as of 11:59 pm on Wednesday 23 September. In Auckland, face coverings will still be required on public transport and on planes while for the rest of New Zealand, face coverings will no longer be mandatory but will be encouraged on planes and public transport. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

Not too far away from Lower Hutt on the North Island of New Zealand is Wellington. While it has a marvelous marine climate, it’s also reputed to be the world’s windiest city if you go by average wind speed. That’s not a bad thing but definitely keep it in mind.

Spending time on the Wellington waterfront is a great way to wile away a day. Te Papa Tongarewa, the country’s national museum, is both engaging and informative, particularly if you’re interested in Māori art and culture.

Hamilton, New Zealand

On the other end of New Zealand’s North Island is Hamilton which rests on picturesque banks of the Waikato River. It covers an area that used to be home to several Māori villages. The city has now become one of the fastest growing in the country.

Checking out the glowworms that live in the Waitomo Caves is incredibly popular with visitors. Waikato Museum and Hamilton Zoo are great stops, as is Sanctuary Mountain. Plus, high tea at the stunning Zealong Tea Estate is wonderful.

Christchurch, New Zealand

New Zealand

CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND – JULY 21: A giant Crusaders jersey circles above the Christchurch earthquake damaged skyline prior to the start of the Super Rugby Qualifying Final match between the Crusaders and the Bulls at AMI Stadium on July 21, 2012 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Martin Hunter/Getty Images)

The second biggest city in New Zealand and the biggest one on the South Island is Christchurch. It was settled by the United Kingdom in 1848, though people have been living in the region since at least 1250. This is the oldest established city in the country.

Hagley Park is a great place to spend a relaxing day, as is Sumner Beach. The International Antarctic Centre is an outstanding interactive museum that has resident Little Blue Penguins. And if you’re interested in checking out more animals, stop by the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve.

Tauranga, New Zealand

Settled by the Māori in the late 1200s, Tauranga has become a fast growing city on the North Island. That’s not surprising as its location in the Bay of Plenty region has made it an enviable spot to put down roots.

The Tauranga Art Gallery is an exceptional place to check out some incredible art. But don’t overlook the street art in the city, too. The various markets like Tauranga Farmers’ Market are also worth the time as they offer access to a lot of delicious local food.