Nz mahurangi regional park 2 discoverpage detail regions
Nz otago peninsula beach seal 2 discoverpage detail regions
Nz bay of islands sand dunes 23 discoverpage detail regions
Nz mahurangi regional park 2 discoverpage detail regions
Nz otago peninsula beach seal 2 discoverpage detail regions
Nz bay of islands sand dunes 23 discoverpage detail regions
A land of diverse culture and nature

Regions of New Zealand

New Zealand is a relatively small country, but with huge diversity. From lush rolling hills, glacial lakes, sub-tropical rainforest to snow-capped mountains, native wildlife and fascinating culture. The whole country is extraordinary. Therefore, to help you decide, we have made a list of some of our most favourite regions.

Which regions should you visit in New Zealand?

Depending on how much time you have, you will most likely need to make some choices of which regions you would most like to visit. We can advise you on which regions are best suited to your interests. And, we highly recommend travelling at a slow pace, getting to know each region like a local.

Discover the remarkable, North Island

Bay of Plenty

Golden beaches, ancient rainforests, mystical lakes and volcanic geysers. A diverse region where the Māori culture is deeply embedded. Listen to legends and stories from local Māori. And, experience a traditional feast called a Hangi.

Great sea views at Mount Maunganui Beach | New Zealand nature
Join the locals at Mount Maunganui Beach
Sunrise on Ohope Beach | New Zealand holiday
Catch the sunrise on Ohope Beach


Rotorua is one of New Zealand’s first tourist destinations, warmly welcoming people from all over the globe for over 200 years. Situated in one of the world’s most active volcano regions, it's brimming with remarkable Maori culture, world-class geothermal activities, and stunning scenery.

White smoke coming out of a geyser on a sunny day
Explore geysers, mud pools and hot springs
Maori man and a woman with their faces touching each other
Learn a warm Maori greeting
© TravelEssence

Lake Taupo

Lake Taupo is the heart of the North Island. On its shores is the town of Taupo, which many consider the "adventure capital" of the North Island and Turangi, the gateway to Tongariro National Park. Enjoy spectacular geothermal walks past steaming terraces and bubbling mud pools. Cycle along forested shores, go trout fishing or take a leisurely cruise.

Aerial view of a large blue lake and a road on the edge of it
Go fishing, cycling, and hiking along the lake and see the spectacular Huka Fallss
A white seaplane on a white sand beach and turquoise waters with mountain behind it
Take a scenic flight over the majestic Lake Taupo

Central Plateau & Tongariro

In the heart of the North Island, is a natural wonder with three active volcanoes - Mount Ruapehu, Mount Tongariro, Mount Ngauruhoe. Home to the oldest national park in New Zealand - Tongariro National Park. And, one of the best day hikes in the world - Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Blanket of snow in the Tongariro National Park
Blanket of snow in the Tongariro National Park
© Barton Matthews
Cycle the Tongariro River Trail | New Zealand active holiday
Cycle the Tongariro River Trail


Discover the laid-back vibes on the Coromandel Peninsula, where pristine beaches meet misty forests. A popular spot for locals, you will experience the quintessential Kiwi beach lifestyle. Hike the Pinnacles, explore Cathedral Cove or spend your days on the glistening water - kayaking, sailing, snorkelling and fishing.

A yellow and white sailing boat on clear turquoise water
Sail away at Coromandel Peninsula
© TravelEssence

Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island is the second-largest island in the Hauraki Gulf and boasts a subtropical climate, perfect for exploring the many white sandy beaches, vineyards, olive groves and art galleries. It’s a place to relax, unwind and slip into the Kiwi beach lifestyle.

Explore the award-winning vineyards and wineries on the island
© Joshua McCormack
Aerial view of a stretch of white sand, blue ocean and houses and buildings on the shore
Go swimming or kayaking at the beautiful beaches

East Cape & Gisborne

A remote region on the east coast of the North Island, but that makes it all the more special. It’s the first place in the world to see the sunrise. Gisborne is home to vineyards, golden beaches, good surf and Māori villages. The East Cape is sparsely populated with many bays, that can be enjoyed often uninterrupted. Nature, culture and fine wine - what more could you ask for?

East Cape coastline | New Zealand holiday
Follow the remote and rugged East Cape coastline

Hawke's Bay

A place that is renowned for sunshine, fruitful vineyards and award-winning wineries. Go back in time to the 1930s, with a visit to the Art Deco-styled, Napier. Te Mata Peak offers spectacular views of the region or for a seaside escape, spend the day at Waimarama Beach. Visit the impressive gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers or groove to live music at Black Barn Vineyards.

Sleep between the vines in Hawkes Bay
Sleep between the vines in Hawkes Bay
Gannet colony | New Zealand wildlife
Visit the impressive gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers


Boasts a sub-tropical climate, diverse landscape ranging from pristine white beaches to rugged coastline and holds immense Māori significance. With a large Māori population, strong tradition and culture, it's the perfect region to integrate and learn about the indigenous people of New Zealand. It is the home of Tane Mahuta - the Lord of the Forest, a giant Kauri tree located in the Waipoua Forest.

Visit Waipoua Forest with a local guide
Visit Waipoua Forest with a local guide
Cape Reinga lighthouse | New Zealand holiday
Venture to the Cape Reinga lighthouse for sweeping ocean views
© TravelEssence


An adventure hub, bubbling with outdoor activities. Venture into Egmont National Park to discover walking tracks with lush rainforest, waterfalls and soaring views of Mount Taranaki. Mount Taranaki is the most distinctive and iconic volcano in New Zealand and makes for a striking backdrop. The rugged coastline also produces some of New Zealand’s best surf.

Enjoy spectacular views of the striking Mount Taranaki
Enjoy spectacular views of the striking Mount Taranaki
© TravelEssence

"Whether you’re a passionate hiker or simply enjoy being outdoors, Taranaki has plenty of options.”

Laura, Product & pricing

The South Island, a natural wonderland

Abel Tasman

Discover secluded bays, islands, golden beaches, and marine life such as seals, penguins and dolphins. An outdoor adventurer's dream and a coastal paradise featuring granite and marble rock formations. Explore the coastline and lush native forest by foot, go sailing on a catamaran or paddle through the crystal blue water in a kayak.

Discover Abel Tasman National Park | New Zealand holiday
Kayak, hike or set sail in the Abel Tasman National Park

"We love Abel Tasman for the sunny hills, dotted with vineyards, olive groves, cafes, galleries, the sea, rivers and the mountains."

Local hosts, Alastair and Fiona


Best known as the home of bungee jumping, Queenstown is a bustling city with award-winning restaurants, bars, cafes and boutique shops. Being bored will never be an option as the range of activities includes skydiving, bungee jumping, skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, luging, and rafting. Or you could opt for a jet boat trip to the northern tip of Queenstown and visit rural Glenorchy and Dart River.

Aerial view of a green mountain peak with a river winding around the bottom of it
Explore the adventure capital of the world
Adventure jet boating in Queenstown region | New Zealand holiday
Take a thrilling jet boat ride down the Dart river


Diverse landscapes, stretching from the ocean to the mountains. The impressive Southern Alps mountain range makes for a beautiful backdrop. Arthur's Pass and Aoraki/Mount Cook National Parks offer magical hiking and cycling tracks as well as skiing in the winter months. And, a great place to experience the day-to-day rural life of a farmer and their animals.

Explore Mount Cook with a local expert guide
Explore Mount Cook with a local expert guide
© TravelEssence

Fiordland National Park

Named on the UNESCO World Heritage List - this region is not to be missed. Unforgettable hikes, nature, wildlife and home to both the Doubtful Sound and Milford Sound fiords. Explore the national park on foot, by kayak, on an overnight boat or for the ultimate views, take a scenic flight over the region.

Incredible nature | New Zealand holiday
Do you love nature and unique wildlife? Fiordland National Park is a must-do!


A vibrant alpine town, set around Lake Wanaka. The crystal clear waters are ideal for fly fishing, boat cruises, jet boating, kayaking and swimming. And, the ultimate outdoor base to explore the Southern Alps and Mt Aspiring National Park.

Beautiful Lake Wanaka | New Zealand holiday
Lake Wanaka is the gateway to exploring the Mount Aspiring National Park


It’s all about wine and nature. Spend your days vineyard-hopping and tasting world-famous Sauvignon Blanc, among other delicious wines, fresh seafood and local delicacies. A magical network of waterways with scattered islands, secluded bays and clear blue waters make up the Marlborough Sounds. Love the outdoors? Kayak, cycle and hike through the diverse landscape and soak up the views.

Spend your day's vineyard hopping in Marlborough
Spend your day's vineyard hopping in Marlborough
© TravelEssence
Kayak, sail or hike in the Marlborough Sounds | New Zealand active holiday
Kayak, sail or hike in the Marlborough Sounds
© TravelEssence

The Catlins

A beautiful, rugged corner of New Zealand - where the countryside meets the wild ocean. Rolling hills dotted with sheep, lush rainforest and remote coastline. Featuring some of the best surf in the country. At Curio Bay, you can swim with rare Hector’s dolphins. Spot yellow-eyed penguins, fur seals and sun-bathing sea lions in their natural habitat.

"From the moment you enter the canopy of native bush that is our driveway in The Catlins, you enter another world."

Local hosts, Lyndon and Gill
Stunning coast line | New Zealand holiday
Be mesmerised by the natural beauty of The Catlins
© Barton Matthews

Stewart Island

New Zealand’s third-largest island is situated 30-kilometres south of the South Island. Travel back in time, visiting Stewart Island is like New Zealand was 50 years ago. Experience the wild beauty with dense forest, rugged coastline and sandy beaches. There is a good chance of spotting Kiwis in their natural habitat, with 85% of the island being part of Rakiura National Park.

Visit Stewart Island at the southern end of New Zealand
Visit Stewart Island at the southern end of New Zealand

West Coast

A wild and rugged region that stretches down the west coast of the South Island. Unpredictable weather conditions add to the excitement. Conquer the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, walk through ancient forest and along the dramatic coastline to see the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. Soak up the wilderness that surrounds the region. Indulge in freshly caught seafood!

"Route 6, from Haast to Westport is a road trip you'll never forget. With the Tasman Sea on your left and the Southern Alps on your right."

Nicole, Travel specialist
Amazing landscape | New Zealand nature
Go "off the grid" in the wild West Coast

Would you like more information about visiting these regions? Or other regions? We are happy to meet with you at your most convenient time and discuss all the possibilities.

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Discover a world beyond ordinary

At TravelEssence, we specialise in crafting custom-made holidays that take you off the beaten path and create memories to last a lifetime. We believe in connecting with the heart and soul of a place, introducing you to the locals who call it home. Engage in conversations with fascinating individuals who will share their stories, traditions, and way of life, leaving an indelible mark on your journey.