Travel to North or South New Zealand?

Both North or South New Zealand offers numerous tourist attractions. However, each region has its unique landscapes and attractions, making it never an easy task for travelers to choose where to visit. So, let’s look at the highlight for both North or South to make a comparison. 

1.    Transport systems

Both areas can be easily accessible by any methods of transports (plane, bus, trains).


However, as compared to the South Island, North Island is home to 4 international airports (in the overall 7 in New Zealand), including the biggest one located in Auckland and one in the capital city, Wellington. That is why these airports handle most of the domestic and international arrivals and become the hottest tourist spot. 




But the second-largest International Airport is based in Christchurch, followed by that in Queenstown and Dunedin, which are large cities of the South Island. So, do not worry since the service is always available whatever the destination is. The international airports give you enough infrastructure to check-in your NZ Visit eTA


Road transport

South Island has a larger size than North Island, but possess only one-third of the population in North Island. Therefore, most buses of the North Island tend to run more frequently. This is easily understandable since the terrain is separated by mountain ranges.   


2.    Landscapes 

New Zealand has diversified attracting landscapes, ranging from tranquil lakes, sandy beaches to volcanic mountains and glaciers, … 

North Island

The North of New Zealand is renowned for its bustling cities, geothermal wonders like volcanoes, and beautiful coastal beaches.

  • Tourists can enjoy basking on North Island beaches, even in winter. The climate gets warmer in the North than the South. It’s ideal for water sports, swimming and sunbathing. 
  • Geothermal wonders: Head to bubbling mud pools in Rotorua, where giant geysers and acid-green lakes are located to get a truly out-of-this-world experience. There is geothermal activity aplenty here - not something that you can see every day! The geothermal area stretches as far as the Coromandel Peninsula where at Hot Water Beach you can dig your own hot water pool in the sand from the underground springs. 




  • If you fancy hiking on a volcano, try the Tongariro Alpine Crossing - it's one of the world’s finest day walks. Make sure you are well prepared though: the alpine conditions can change quickly.




  • Step through the cinema screen into Middle Earth of “Lord of The Rings”. Spectacular sceneries in “The Lord of the Rings” are filmed mostly in a rural village in the movie set Hobbiton in Matamata. It was favored by nature with cool climate, calm lake, and beautiful landscapes, making it become the top tourist destination in New Zealand.
  • Enjoy the most dynamic atmosphere in vibrant Auckland and Wellington city: Auckland and Wellington are two incredibly harbor cities, each offers world-class dining, arts and culture. 




South Island 

Whereas, South Island offers a more variety of majestic sceneries and bigger picture than North Island. Despite also having gorgeous coastline, the region is best known for the ranges of mountains, fjords, and glacier lakes. Since South Island is generally colder and drier in the winter, with lots of snow in the deep south, this leads to the formation of a snow mountain in New Zealand. 

  • Moeraki boulders: These rocks are one of the featured highlights of South Island. You can enjoy the most beautiful moment of the Moeraki boulders in the early morning when the first sunlight shines covered the rocks. Tidal time is also very important since the boulders maybe half submerged.  




  • Hooker Glacier Lake: It is one of several glaciers close to the slopes of Mount Cook (or Aoraki) in the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Walking along the tracks is the best way to experience this spectacular landscape. In addition, New Zealand’s highest peaks are also found in the Southern Alps.




  • Milford Sound: Being hailed as the eighth world wonders, Milford Sound is a magnificent fjord located in Fiordland National Park. Your trip will be regarded as incomplete if Milford Sound is not included in your itinerary plan. The most iconic sights in Milford Sound that you must not miss are Mitre Peak, Lake Marian, Bowen Waterfall, … Coming there, tourists have the chance to watch endangered whales jumping over the sea. All those places can be explored by joining a nature cruise, kayaking, scenic flights or even an overnight cruise. 




  • If you are seeking lakeside tranquility, the South Island is where 8 of 10 biggest lakes in New Zealand located.  The turquoise water will refresh your soul. Tourists are suggested to visit Lake Pukaki in mid-November when pink and purple lupin flowers bloom for a gorgeous and colorful landscape.


Lake Pukaki in lupin season


3.    City life and cultural activities

City life

Both islands offer metropolitan cities, but the most outstanding ones are Auckland and Wellington. The cities of the North Island will be more expensive than the smaller centers on the South Island, but regarding adventure activities, the South Island will balance out any costs. 

Cultural activities

Originated with settlers from eastern Polynesia, Maori indigenous people arrived in New Zealand about 1200 years ago. For years, they have formed a unique culture that distinguishes New Zealand with other territories. With the tattoos on their face and unusual facial expression, they just want to give tourists a warm welcome. 90% of Maori people reside in the North Island. Therefore, North Island is where you can learn thoroughly about that culture. 




To really immerse yourself in Maori culture, head for Rotorua, where there are two unique experiences. One is a cultural performance and traditional hangi dinner at Mitai Village; another important spot is Te Puia, home of the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, where Maori guides will show you around the geyser-rich lands of their ancestors. 


After making a comparison, North or South Island has its own attractions. It depends on what types of scenery you enjoy, what sorts of activities you want to do, and how long you intend to stay in New Zealand. If you stay there for more than two weeks, it is highly recommended that you should spend time visiting both islands with a careful plan. 


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