Image courtesy of dmmaus/

Many travellers are surprised to discover that New Zealand is technically made up of two large and very distinct islands. The North Island is home to busy cities like Auckland and Hamilton, as well as beautiful beaches and the tranquil Lake Taupo. The South Island, too, is home to thriving urban areas like Christchurch and Queenstown, and it boasts some stunning natural scenery and many opportunities for outdoor adventure. It can be hard to pick just one island to explore, which is why having a rented car is such a big advantage when travelling around New Zealand. Europcar is a great option, with a wide range of vehicles that will allow you to visit each of these top attractions in the North and South Islands of New Zealand.

North Island

Auckland: See the City of Sails
As the largest city in New Zealand, Auckland is often a top destination for international travel itineraries. Amazingly, more than one-third of the entire country’s population lives in Auckland, better known as the City of Sails. If you are interested in culture and history, Auckland is a fabulous choice thanks to attractions like the Auckland War Memorial Museum, the Auckland Art Gallery, the Stardome Observatory, and the Auckland Zoo. You might also want to make time for a trip to the top of the Sky Tower or a walk across the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

Hamilton: Sporting Heaven
The beautiful city of Hamilton is cut almost in two by the majestic Waikato River that flows through the middle. There are plenty of museums, affordable restaurants and exciting attractions in Hamilton, but there is no question that sports remain a top priority for locals and visitors. While you are there, don’t miss out on the chance to watch the Magic play ANZ Championship netball or the Chiefs play Super 14 Rugby. This is a fun way to experience sports alongside the local residents and see what it’s like to immerse yourself in the Kiwi lifestyle.

Waitomo: Incredible Caves to Explore
About an hour away from Hamilton, the caves of Waitomo are far from ordinary. The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are more than 30 million years old, and the interior is made up of limestone that glows at night thanks to the illuminating glowworms. Other caves in Waitomo include the beautiful Aranui Cave and the Ruakuri Cave, which is a sacred spot to the Maori people as it was once a burial ground.

South Island

Nelson: Wineries and Sunshine
Nelson has a reputation as the sunniest city in New Zealand, and it is located at the very top of the South Island. Along with the perfect climate, which makes it ideal for relaxing at the many beaches along the coast, Nelson boasts a number of amazing wineries and craft breweries. There are approximately 23 different breweries and wineries within a 30-minute drive of Nelson’s city centre, which allows travellers to visit several in one day. Relaxing in the sun with a glass of local wine is the perfect way to spend your holiday on the South Island.

Milford Sound: Breathtaking Natural Beauty
Arguably the most beautiful attraction in all of New Zealand is the Milford Sound, which is a two-hour drive from Te Anau. Visitors are often in shock when they realise the scale of the sound and its incredible beauty. Here you can hike around Milford Sound, kayak out in the water to spot dolphins and seals, or even take a cruise where you can sip a cocktail as the stunning vistas pass you by.

Queenstown: Adventure Capital of NZ
Surrounded by natural landmarks like Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables Mountain Range, it should come as no surprise that Queenstown is a gorgeous scenic location. It is also a major destination for those who want to experience the outdoors and get active. For everyday excitement, you might opt to go hiking, parasailing or horseback riding. For a bit more of a rush, consider bungee jumping, jet boat tours, white water rafting or zip-lining.

New Zealand is a diverse and beautiful destination. Whether you plan to visit the North Island, the South Island or even road trip through both, you can easily find attractions that will interest you and your friends or family.