It’s no secret we’re home to some of the most stunning scenery in the world, but what really makes New Zealand unique is its diversity. Towering mountains give way to tropical rainforest, windswept beaches and glassy lakes - while our geothermal region offers boiling mud, steaming geysers and active volcanoes. And nestled among these picturesque locations are postcard-perfect towns that really are something to write home about.
So have your pen at the ready people - because this is where you should be going! Here's our take on the nine nicest New Zealand towns:
A picturesque coastal town to the west of Hamilton, Raglan is known for its laid back vibe and sensational beaches. Revered as one the best surfing spots in the country, it is also surrounded by beautiful rainforest-clad national parks. Of particular note are the black sand Ngarunui Beaches, Manu Bay and the bridal veil falls.
Although relatively close to Auckland, Mangawhai feels distinctly separate from the city. Rugged sand dunes flank quiet bays and wild seas alike. Home to many rare birds and tree-lined nature trails Mangawhai is also known for its art scene and many galleries.
On the west coast of the South Island Hokitika is a thriving river port surrounded by rainforest, glaciers and the rugged Tasman sea. Founded in the late 1800s during the gold rush, it has a vibrant history and offers many unique activities and attractions - one such event being the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival showcasing delicacies like huhu grubs and pigs ears.
A tiny town balanced between steep mountains and wild ocean, Kaikoura was devastated in the 2016 earthquake. Recently the new and improved coastal road into the town has reopened allowing the tourism population to thrive once more. Whale-watching, dolphin spotting and swimming with seals are just some of the many activities to do here not to mention trying the local delicacy - freshly caught crayfish.
Yes yes, we know - we’re biased towards this one given that we live here. However, Wanaka is truly a beautiful town and we stand by our decision to include it. Gateway to the pristine Mount Aspiring National Park, Wanaka is known for its lake, towering peaks, ski fields, hiking tracks and waterfalls. A stones throw from kiwi ‘adventure capital’ Queenstown, make our hometown your base for exploring the delights of the lower south.
Nestled in the beautiful Bay of Islands, Russell is a small town with a large history. Originally the very first capital of New Zealand, Russell sports some of the oldest architecture in the country. With golden sand beaches and clear waters surrounded by tropical forest, Russell is a holidaymakers paradise.
Known as the gateway to White Island (one of New Zealand's most active volcanoes) Whakatane often records the highest sunshine hours annually in New Zealand. It is also renowned as the ‘Kiwi capital of the world’ and is home to many of these native birds. Located in the Bay of Plenty, this coastal town is perfect for swimming, bird watching and as a base for exploring the North.
Nestled in the on edge of Banks Peninsula, Akaroa is a quaint french and British settlement with colonial architecture and a colourful history. Here, you’ll have the chance to visit artisan galleries and craft stores, hike the surrounding peninsula, go dolphin spotting, or enjoy a lazy swim in the calm waters of the bay.
A picturesque portside town, Picton is situated in the heart of the spectacular Marlborough Sounds. A beautiful boardwalk lines the main harbour surrounded by cafes, restaurants, and galleries. You can also visit the Edwin Fox Maritime Museum, a 19th-century former convict ship, while the nearby Queen Charlotte Track takes you through pristine native forest and round coastal bays.