Come check out these 7 cities to visit in New Zealand. We’ve also thrown in some towns for good measure.

New Zealand typically gets most of us thinking about spectacular nature, out of this world glaciers and native wildlife. The country is naturally made for travelling, especially if you love the outdoors.

But not everything exciting in New Zealand comes from the wilderness. The cities and towns New Zealand has to offer are pretty awesome too.

cities to visit in New Zealand Wellington

1. Wellington 

The cultural capital of New Zealand. If you like quirky spots then you’re in the right place. Also, don’t let the nickname ‘Windy Wellington’ put you off, that’s just because Wellington’s sat on an awesome harbour.

Cuba Street is a real fave for bars, restaurants, cafés and shops. Make sure you check out the Best Ugly Bagels for a great selection. Climb up Mount Victoria for panoramic views or take a ride on the Wellington Cable Car up to the Botanical Gardens.

If you want to check out Wellington’s cultural offerings, there’s no better place to visit than the Te Papa museum (plus it’s free entry!). You could spend days in that place.

When the selection is this good, Wellington definitely deserves to make our cities to visit in New Zealand list!

2. Queenstown 

The party and adrenaline capital of New Zealand, Queenstown is a popular spot for travellers. With a buzzing vibe, you’ll never be short of a party or two here. Be sure to visit Minus 5° Ice Bar, even if it’s just for the novelty.

In Queenstown, there’s loads to do that can get your heart pumping. The highest bungy jump in New Zealand exists here, the Nevis Bungy. It’s 134m high over water! If you want more exhilaration, try taking the Ledge Bungy and Swing too.

There’s also the Skyline Gondola (cable car) that takes you 450m above Queenstown. To get down, a ‘must do’ is to take the luge, or alternatively you can hike.

cities to visit in New Zealand queenstown

3. Christchurch

Despite the devastating earthquakes in 2011 and 2016, Christchurch is recovering and growing to be better than ever. Give this city a chance, it might just win your heart.

Visit the Canterbury Museum, Arts Centre or Art Gallery for your cultural kicks and take a ride around on the quaint Christchurch Tramway for a tour of the city.

If you’re a breakfast kind of traveller and fancy a little splurge, Bunsen Restaurant does great eggs Benedict.

4. Kaikoura

Only a couple of hours from Christchurch, Kaikoura is an ocean lover’s dream. This coastal town actually means ‘crayfish’ in local dialect, so it makes sense that crayfish is on the menu here.

Head out to the ocean during the right season and get the chance to see amazing marine life such whales, orcas, dolphins and seals. Get your cameras ready!

Kaikoura cities to visit in new zealand

5. Auckland

Auckland’s the largest urban area in New Zealand, with a population of over 1.5m that is growing by the week. Auckland can be easily misjudged as just ‘a big city’, but we assure you it has lots to shout about.

With a cool and growing social scene in places like Ponsonby, Newmarket or on the side streets off Queen Street, Auckland’s going out scene is definitely not one to turn your nose up at.

Plus, when you’ve got the Hunua Ranges to explore, surfing in nearby Piha and hiking ops on Rangitoto Island, there’s certainly plenty to do.

Auckland cities to visit in new zealand

6. Nelson

Nelson is New Zealand’s second-oldest city. Head to Bridge Street for New Zealand’s best craft beers, explore its wineries, visit Nelson Market and check out the Centre of New Zealand Monument.

Plus, this city’s famed for its outrageous natural surroundings. It has to be said, Abel Tasman National Park is the biggest highlight. Hike, kayak, visit the beaches and even skydive over beautiful landscape. We’re talking about snow-capped mountains, turquoise waters and islands. Wow.

Nelson cities to visit in new zealand

7. Rotorua

A small city of less than 70,000 people, Rotorua still has tons to do. The thermal hotspot of New Zealand, the stunning otherworldly geysers spouting hot gas and acids are a must-see.

You’ll also find adrenaline activities. Why not take the luge down from the Skyline cable car, or try some white water rafting? Need some time to relax after all that adventure? There’s the Polynesian Spa to check out.

For a dose of Maori culture, visit the Maori villages to see traditional dancing, singing and rituals. These can be found at Te Puia, Mitai and Tamaki Villages.

rotorua cities to visit in new zealand

New Zealand’s cities and towns are home to some of the most unique activities in the world. Whether you’re a cultural cat, a social butterfly or an adrenaline junkie, these destinations have it all for you to explore.

Been inspired by our list of cities to visit in New Zealand? We’ve got trips to take you there.

Want even more inspo other than just our list of cities to visit in New Zealand? Check out our video.

Tommy Walker
Tommy has been on the road since 2012. He is a freelance travel writer, manages 150k travellers through Facebook, works in radio and travel conservation. He’s worked with the BBC, Business Insider,, NZ Herald and Daily Express. If you don’t find Tommy working he’ll by the beach, roaming the jungle or hanging with the locals.