If you are looking for the best places to go in south island New Zealand. You have found it! It also includes NZ south island things to do. Places I am mentioning are very Instagrammable so, I suggest including them in your new Zealand south island itinerary.

Read about the best Instagrammable places in North Island of New Zealand here.

Now without further ado, let’s begin New Zealand south island highlights.

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1. Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo is a small town located at the southern end of the lake of the same name in the inland South Island of New Zealand. There is also a Church of Shepard at the lake. Church keeper said back in the day people came over here to build the dam (which is behind the lake) and later on decided to live here because of its beautiful landscape. No wonder it is one of the most scenic places south island New Zealand.

If you want to do hitchhiking or/and carpooling, NZ is one of the safest countries to experience it. But In case something goes wrong, before you get in the car I suggest you take the photo of the car plate and send it to your family/friends and do your FB/google investigation beforehand. Just in case!

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2. Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park

Mount Cook has been in my must-see list of places for a long time. It worked out great because it was only an hour drive from Lake Tekapo. On the way there, my rideshare and road trip was all about sharing stories and listening to A LOT of music. I can definitely say I know most songs of Ed Sheeran now!

Aoraki / Mount Cook national park is New Zealand’s highest peak and possibly the most Instagrammed part of the country. You can also experience the beauty of Mt cook on foot wandering the easy Hooker Valley Track, enjoying a birds-eye view or take to the surrounding turquoise waters by boat or stargazing at night. I would say Mt cook is a must-do if you are on South Island New Zealand travel. Also, hooker valley around the area may be worth a visit.

3. Queenstown aka adventure capital of the world

Today I was ready to head towards Queenstown also known as the adventure capital of the world. This stunning lakeside resort reminded me of Banff in Canada which is equally beautiful and serene. In Queenstown, you can find all kinds of thrills for adrenalin seekers. From the iconic bungy jumping and jet boating to quad biking, white water rafting, river surfing, skydiving and canyon swings. There is something for everyone!

I always thought I would love to experience Bungy Jump in New Zealand because of its beautiful landscape. I had it even on my bucket list. Luckily the day I went, it was Aj Hackett’s Birthday anniversary! So Bungy Jump was half priced at $100! I was nervous but took the discount as a green light to do it! It is fair to say it is one of the fun things to do on south island New Zealand.

Queenstown is one of the best city in south island New Zealand. Though bit touristic, there are places you can find all to yourself.

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4.  Fiordland National Park

Travellers will never get tired of the breathtaking scenery – new vistas around every corner – and the natural beauty of this glacially scarred landscape. I had been told it was one of the world’s best landscape and it certainly lived up to it. On the way, there was plentiful postcard perfect snow-capped mountains, jaw-dropping beautiful valleys, cascading waterfalls flowing down from massive heights over sheer rock faced mountains, dense forest and stunning lakes and rivers.

Of course Milford Sound is the ultimate destination but there are plenty of other sights to see including the Mirror Lakes, the Chasm, and many waterfalls. Watch for the inquisitive Kiwi birds as well. Tours will start at 5 am for the same day return from Queen towns or self-organized drive around with a group of people is cheaper and flexible.

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5. Stewart Island/ Rakiura National Park

Not many people know or skip Stewart Island but I reckon it is worth a visit. Stewart Island/Rakiura is the third-largest island of New Zealand. It lies 30 km south of the South Island which makes it the most southern of the three main populated New Zealand islands. Despite being as close to Antarctica as you can get, its clear turquoise sea and white sand beaches make Stewart Island look more like a tropical paradise.  You can have some pretty unique experiences on the island. For example: spotting some penguins on Oban Wharf on evenings, a kiwi bird in the wild, walk to a wide selection of white sand bays such as Dead Man Bay and Horseshoe Bay, Great White shark cage diving (only available in summer) or seeing the Southern Lights.

The main (and only) town of Oban offers all the essentials like backpacker accommodation and a convenience store (which isn’t horrifically expensive). The most common and cheapest way to get here is by ferry from Bluff. The journey takes approximately one hour. It departs from both Stewart Island and Bluff three times a day. Keep in mind, departure times change depending on the season.  You could also rent a scooter, mountain bike or car to see as much of the island as possible during short visits or take a quick boat ride over to Ulva Island.

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6. Mount Aspiring National Park

Do you like epic walking and hiking tracks or a beautiful lake with (that Wanaka) tree? You can find it all at Mount Aspiring National Park. It is the highest outside of the Aoraki Mt Cook region. Now we know why that the mountain is “aspiring” to be the highest mountain! There are many experiences to be had here like seeing the glacier features like Rob Roy Glacier and the Blue Pools, winding jetboat ride into the National Park, canyoning in the Routeburn valley or taking a scenic flight to see Mt Aspiring from above or skydive.

I cannot decide which is my favourite National Park in NZ, but it might be this one. Mount Aspiring is situated in the southern end of the alps. The snow-capped mountains change in appearance with changes to the light and the sunshine. You could spend your day just watching the changing vista and not be bored. If you don’t want to hike I recommend the drive and you can still see the glacier from the parking lot.  Mount Aspiring is just so wild and there is so much to explore! You could spend a lifetime and so much would remain untouched. Rugged beauty to the max!

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7. Arthur’s Pass National Park

What better way to start the trip than going through the scenic Arthur’s Pass National Park via Castle Hill.  It was established in 1929, becoming the first national park in the South Island and the third in New Zealand. In Arthur’s Pass, there are several different walking trails to choice, some are longer and some are shorter. You can get information and maps from Arthur’s pass visitor Centre before you go.

The Devil’s Punchbowl Trail is so beautiful and has a great sight, but there are about 300 steps up and down! You are surrounded by beautiful native flora & stunning views over Arthurs Pass. Well worth doing. However, keep in mind it’s not a loop track, you have to return the same route. It also connects to other tracks. The views are awesome and definitely Instagram worthy.

 

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8. Punakaiki Pancake Rocks

This would be an easy stop on the side of the road and worth it. Easy track walk, very short and good to see the sights and things. The large part is wheelchair friendly as well. The track has a number of lookout points showcasing all the features. The only slight disappointment was blowholes not blowing due to calm seas. If you are passing by Punakaiki, Paparoa National Park, it is a good idea to stop and see the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes. There is a toilet across the street and 30 minutes of free wifi!

 

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9. Marlborough Sounds

Another beautiful and must-do place in South Island of New Zealand. Marlborough Sounds are the nature-lovers’ paradise. Sailing, hiking, dolphin watching, fishing, camping or just relaxing. There is something for everyone. Don’t forget the beautiful Queen Charlotte walkway that runs along its length. As the Interislander ferry comes into the sounds the views are amazing. The sounds offer such a striking landscape which is so picturesque. It really is serene and easy to see why it is one of the new Zealand south islands must see.

It is hard to describe the peace, beauty, and tranquillity of the Marlborough Sounds. Whether you are in a small boat, cruising at your own pace and whim, or on an Interislander or Bluebridge ferry, you cannot fail to be amazed and enthralled at the variety of constantly-changing scenery which surrounds you on all sides, and the limitless possibility of visits which can be made from your boat, time permitting.

There are many accommodation and boating options to make sure you can get the most out of your visit. It is so beautiful, everywhere you look captivates the senses and provides you with a true appreciation of nature.

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10. Christchurch

Things to do in new Zealand south island also includes visiting Christchurch. After my North Island trip, it was time to solo travel again. However, before starting my South Island trip, I wanted a couple days to relax and rest. Though still recovering from the earthquake of 2011, Christchurch city was full of arts and optimism. I was impressed with the city art and soaked the creative vibe as I grabbed my Flat while and walked around.

It also gave me some time to plan my south island trip. As I like to mix my accommodation between Airbnb for that home away from home feeling, hostels to meet other travellers and hotels for some rest; I booked all my accommodation through Airbnb, Agoda and Hotels Combined. You can find some valuable travel resources here.

I didn’t have enough time but the following places also come highly recommended. Franz Josef glacier fox glacier and Tasman national park. If you didn’t know New Zealand also has three Unesco World Heritage sites. Such as Te Wahipounamu, Tongariro National Park, and the Subantarctic Islands.

What I used to take these photos:

This has been my favourite Camera so far. I love how my pictures come out crisp and colourful. It also has a screen which is useful when vblogging. You can check out what I meant on my Instagram which is here.

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Check it out

This is my good old Go pro that I take with me everywhere. I recommend it because it is small, light weight and waterproof. I have had made many memories with this trusted iteam and looking forward to more.

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– Check it out

I been using SanDisk since my first camera which was back in 2009. They build quality memory cards. I recommend getting at least two, just in case something happens to one of them.

Do you think it’s a hassle of plugging your camera into your computer? This memory card reader will fit cards of all sizes and make an easy transfer to your computer. The reader supports all popular SD memory card formats, including SD™/SDHC™/SDXC™ memory cards, UHS-I SDHC/SDXC memory cards, and microSDHC™/microSDXC™ memory cards. It is also compatible with the latest UDMA 7-enabled CompactFlash cards.

Over to You:

  • Can you add any other places to this list of ‘Most beautiful places in New Zealand South Island’?
  • Would you like to visit South Island of New Zealand?
  • Which places have you popped on your travelling in South Island list?
  • If you like to keep up to date with me or this blog, subscribe here.

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Most Beautiful Places In New Zealand South Island
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50 thoughts on “Most Beautiful Places In New Zealand South Island

  • December 5, 2017 at 12:59 am
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    New Zealand looks gorgeous.

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  • December 5, 2017 at 1:06 am
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    What stunning photos! Definitely a bucket list trip.

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  • December 5, 2017 at 1:33 am
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    All the travel spots of New Zealand about which you have talked about is really amazing.. The pictures you have posted are giving prove about the picturesque beauty of those areas. ? Thanks for sharing.. People who are looking for spending their vacation in that Kiwi land is going to find this article much handy.

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  • December 5, 2017 at 1:41 am
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    New Zealand is on our bucket list. Hope to visit and checkout these views in person some day soon.

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  • December 5, 2017 at 2:03 am
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    I would love to get to New Zealand and explore its South Island. The scenery is so amazing and I love it that there are not many tourists around.

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  • December 5, 2017 at 2:21 am
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    OMW what a beautiful unspoilt country. I would do my nut to do that bungee jump at Kawarau. I’ve done the Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa and it was awesome

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  • December 5, 2017 at 4:10 am
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    this place looks like a dream! Loving all the purples! Im so envious of you right now!

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  • December 5, 2017 at 4:36 am
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    I have always wanted to travel to New Zealand. I think your pictures are amazing and they really capture your experience. Christchurch looks/sounds like my cup of tea. Thanks for sharing.

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  • December 5, 2017 at 4:47 am
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    New Zealand is such a heaven on this earth and a picture perfect place. Really enjoying your photos.

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  • December 5, 2017 at 6:05 am
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    Bookmarked for a furture trip! Always wanted to go.

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  • December 5, 2017 at 6:59 am
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    I would love to see the waterfall at Queenstown, but I’m not brave enough to bungee jump! You are one brave soul!

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  • December 5, 2017 at 7:43 am
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    this looks as if taken from a movie! Definitely, a place to see but it is too far and expensive from Spain…

    xx
    lau

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  • December 5, 2017 at 12:53 pm
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    These pictures are stunning, it looks like a paradise. NZ is definitely on my bucket list

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  • December 5, 2017 at 1:47 pm
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    oh man New Zeland looks like one of the most beautiful places! Definitely has been on my bucket list for soooo long! Your photos are just exquisite! And that bungee jumping video, how awesome!!

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  • December 5, 2017 at 3:02 pm
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    I travelled the South Island back in the mid 1990’s. I can see that everything and nothing has changed.

    I still fondly remember my adventures and the stunning vistas are forever painted in my memories.

    You have captured it beautifully both with your words and images.

    I look forward to returning to New Zealand one day with the Four Friends and I will be sure to have your top 10 list with us.

    Keep travelling and posting, there is a big world full of adventure waiting for you.

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  • December 5, 2017 at 3:34 pm
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    These photos are stunning! I would love to visit to each place one day! 🙂

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  • December 5, 2017 at 8:08 pm
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    New Zealand Is really the perfect place to be. All my life I’ve been wanting to visit NZ. The views are stunning and you capture all your moments perfectly.

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  • December 5, 2017 at 9:23 pm
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    Our honeymoon was on the South Island and we visited many of these places!Such a beautiful island!

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  • December 5, 2017 at 11:07 pm
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    Looks like a wonderful trip. I would only skip the bungee jump 🙂

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  • December 5, 2017 at 11:14 pm
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    Wow, looks beyond amazing. I would love to be able to visit a place like this, some day. Until then, keep those photos coming!!

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  • December 6, 2017 at 2:01 am
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    Another bucket list destination for me and my husband! I’m not sure which spot to visit first though.

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  • December 6, 2017 at 2:24 am
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    Stewart island looks so beautiful and surreal..all the pictures are so gorgeous and are forcing me to plan my next travel soon!

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  • December 6, 2017 at 2:28 am
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    You have shared really amazing pictures in this post. I will love to visit this place the coming month.

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  • December 6, 2017 at 3:25 am
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    Queenstown’s falls is majestic! Good photography!

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  • December 6, 2017 at 3:46 am
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    I would love to visit New Zealand someday and explore all of these beautiful places! They have so many areas that are untouched by civilization, which I absolutely love!

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  • December 6, 2017 at 4:25 am
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    All of those places look absolutely stunning and would love to explore them sometime soon

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  • December 6, 2017 at 4:29 am
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    The views is just amazing! I would like to see that waterfall in person!

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  • December 6, 2017 at 6:03 am
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    I’ve always wanted to visit New Zealand but now even more so after seeing your amazing post, how gorgeous is each location and your pictures?! I don’t think there’s a single location I’d pass up here!

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  • December 6, 2017 at 6:37 am
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    Okay, I knew New Zealand was a beautiful place, but I had no idea it was THIS gorgeous! WOW! And I LOVE your photographs – you totally capture the spirit of the countryside!

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  • December 6, 2017 at 8:58 am
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    I’d love to visit New Zealand. It looks like such a naturally beautiful country.

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  • December 6, 2017 at 9:11 am
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    It is one of my dreams to go to New Zealand. These photos look so gorgeous, makes me want to go even more.

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  • December 6, 2017 at 12:20 pm
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    this is so beautiful! I have always wanted to go to New Zealnad!

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  • December 6, 2017 at 2:46 pm
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    New Zealand is so beautiful, It is on my travel wish list, I didn’t know few of the places you mentioned here, they look and sound amazing. Lake Tepako is breathtakingly beautiful, with the view of mountains and water. Love all the pictures.

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  • December 6, 2017 at 2:48 pm
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    wow I always wondered what there was to do in new Zealand ever since I met a graduate student from new Zealand while I was an undergraduate at yale university. these places looks so beautiful, but I could never go bungee jumping lol it is way to scary for me.

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  • December 6, 2017 at 4:18 pm
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    I’ve wanted to go to NZ to visit Hobbiton, but I definitely need to add some of these places. They’re stunning!

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  • December 6, 2017 at 6:02 pm
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    Omg, all these places are simply fabulous! Norway is definitely on my must-see travel list!
    (Your second picture in this post is amazing!)

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    • December 6, 2017 at 6:04 pm
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      Was about to write New Zealand, but was thinking of Norway, haha! Sorry!
      Both on my travel list! I guess they have something in common, don’t they?

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  • December 6, 2017 at 6:12 pm
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    New Zealand looks lovely and your pictures are totally incredible and really have inspired me. I need to book some travel for next year x

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  • December 6, 2017 at 8:52 pm
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    I explored some parts of New Zealand and immensely enjoyed. Now explored other parts of this beautiful country through your post. Awesome pics.

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  • December 6, 2017 at 10:39 pm
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    I’d really love to visit New Zealand because of its beautiful and peaceful scenery of this place. I will definitely save this for my future references in case we travel here in New Zealand.

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  • December 7, 2017 at 1:29 am
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    Wow, these are all beautiful pictures. I have New Zealand on my travel list, I hopefully will visit one or two of these beautiful places.

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  • December 7, 2017 at 5:18 am
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    Each place in the list looks amazing. Never heard about few of them before. Want to visit New Zealand one day.

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  • December 7, 2017 at 5:29 am
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    Beautiful places! I want to travel to New Zeland badly! And after your post even more. I wish flight was less expensive

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  • December 7, 2017 at 6:03 am
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    These are some great place to visit this 2018. The beautiful scenery, views are so fulfilling and worth to visit. I will definitely add this on my bucket list.

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  • December 7, 2017 at 9:37 am
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    Love New Zealand! I would love to travel there for holiday someday

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  • December 7, 2017 at 3:33 pm
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    Those photos are stunning! The scenery is so beautiful. I would love to visit here.

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  • December 8, 2017 at 1:07 am
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    Like so many, New Zealand is on our list to visit. I just want to start booking now after reading your article and viewing your beautiful photos!

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  • December 10, 2017 at 4:27 pm
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    Everything looks so beautiful! New Zealand is on my list of places to visit before I die, and now you’ve inspired me to work harder and visit the place already!

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  • April 4, 2019 at 9:21 am
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    I lived in NZ for 8 months and I did everything on this list! So you were spot on with this post! I love NZ so much I’m glad you enjoyed it too

    Reply

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