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New Zealand: Destination Guides

The best places to visit in New Zealand

What makes New Zealand such a popular study destination? We investigate.

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Breathtaking scenery, friendly people, an outdoors lifestyle and cosmopolitan cities, New Zealand has it all. From hiking across snow-topped mountain ranges, swimming in crystal blue lakes to soaking yourself in a hot spring, New Zealand is packed full of adventurous experiences. If you choose New Zealand for your studies, you will be gaining more than just a degree. Not only will you be studying in a primarily English-speaking country, but you will also have the opportunity to explore new places, meet new people, experience new cultures, and admire New Zealand’s natural beauty.


So, let’s take a look at some of the best places to visit in New Zealand…




The country’s capital and one of the most popular cities in New Zealand, Wellington sits in the south of the northern island between Cook Strait and the Remutaka Range. Based on the coast, Wellington boasts sandy beaches (497km to be exact!), a harbour, and surrounding mountains. As the city is quite compact, you can easily see the sights on foot, stopping off at one of the many cafes along the buzzing laneways.


Wellington is also praised for its creative culture of live music and art which adds to the vibrant atmosphere. Plus, if you consider yourself a foodie, Wellington won’t let you down. From street food festivals, pop up events and many restaurants offering food from all over the world, there’s plenty of tasty treats in Wellington. Besides the food, there are many cultural hot spots to visit such as Te Papa Tongarewa, the national museum, which is free of charge, the City Gallery Wellington, and Wellington Museum.



Plus, Wellington is home to prestigious universities such as:



Wondering which courses are most popular in New Zealand?




Ranking as the number one most livable city in the world, Auckland will not disappoint. Based in the north of the country’s northern island, Auckland is New Zealand’s most populous city. Commonly referred to as ‘the city of sails’, Auckland is surrounded by beautiful coastline, home to superyachts and sailing competitions. In fact, most people live within just half an hour of the beaches.


Although an urban metropolis, you’re never too far from natural landscapes in Auckland. From rainforests, black sand beaches to volcanoes and parkland, you can quickly escape the busy city streets. If you’re a seasoned hiker, you might want to visit the Waitakere and Hunua Ranges or the Shakespear Regional Park for spectacular views. Or there’s also the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, which is home to more than 50 islands with wildlife such as native birds, whales, dolphins, and penguins.



Check out the following universities in Auckland:



The University of Auckland in particular ranks 85th in the world and 1st in New Zealand (QS World University Rankings 2022). Want to find out more about the top universities in New Zealand?


While the cities in New Zealand are well worth visiting and no doubt will be your base as a student, there are many rural parts of New Zealand that should not go amiss.  


Tongariro National Park


Between Wellington and Auckland lies large areas of parkland and national parks. For example, Tongariro National Park which is a UNESCO Dual World Heritage Site because of the Māori cultural significance and volcanoes. In fact, the park has three active volcanoes, turquoise lakes, and mud pools. You can get to the park from Taupo town or Turangi where shuttles and tours typically begin. There are also campsites and huts that you can book if you wish to stay the night in the park. If you don’t fancy a day trip, there are also many short walks available in the region.


Milford Sound


An area of outstanding natural beauty situated on the west coast of the South Island; Milford Sound is a fjord that was carved by glaciers during the Ice Age. It is located four hours from Wellington and two hours from Te Anau by car, but you can also take a bus as part of a cruise tour. Once you arrive, you can go kayaking and hiking to truly experience the fjord and its marine life. Some of the waterfalls at Milford Sound even reach 1000 meters tall, making for an impressive view.



Mackenzie region


Located just two hours from the city of Christchurch, the Mackenzie region is home to lake Tekapo which is perfect for swimming in the summer and makes for a jaw-dropping views in the winter. From here you can also explore Mount Cook National Park which is home to the tallest mountain in New Zealand. This region is also known for being the Dark Sky Reserve, making it one of the world’s best stargazing spots.


Check out the following universities based in Christchurch:



Wondering how to apply to study in New Zealand?




For more Māori culture and epic landscapes, you should check out Rotorua, situated on the north island of New Zealand. Here you can enjoy natural hot springs, mud pools and bursting geysers. You can also learn more about the local iwi (tribes) and traditions such as hāngī which is the term for cooking food in the earth. Plus, there is the Rotorua Museum of Art and History and the remains of the Te Wairoa village which was buried and preserved by an 1886 volcanic eruption.


Hopefully you’re feeling excited and inspired by this guide and perhaps you’re ready to start looking for courses and universities in New Zealand? If so, you can use our course matcher tool to begin your journey.