New Zealand's largest cities are Auckland and Wellington in the North Island, and Christchurch in the South Island.

Auckland is by far the biggest city, with around 1.5 million people or one third of New Zealand's population. Wellington is the country's capital, and Christchurch is the largest South Island city, with around 350,000 people.

Explore New Zealand's cities, and see what they're famous for, using the map below. 

Auckland – Tāmaki Makaurau 

Auckland is New Zealand’s biggest city and its most ethnically diverse. Nearly two million people live in Auckland, creating a vibrant multi-cultural centre ringed by beaches, bush and sparkling harbours. 

Auckland’s bustling city centre (CBD) sits on the edge of the Waitematā Harbour, where the wineries of Waiheke Island are just a ferry ride away and Rangitoto Island's iconic volcanic cone rises from the waters.

The Sky Tower pierces the city skyline and offers spectacular 360-degree views. 

Explore the inner city and its buzzing waterfront for shopping, restaurants and bars, and theatre shows. Stroll the golden beaches that line Tamaki Drive just minutes from downtown, or head northwest to the wineries, bush and black sand surf beaches of the west coast.   

As New Zealand’s main international gateway, Auckland also plays host to a wide range of major sporting, musical and cultural events throughout the year.  


Hamilton – Kirikiriroa 

The city of Hamilton sits on the banks of the mighty Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest river. It’s in the heart of the rolling green countryside of the Waikato farming region. The central city is compact and easy to walk for exploring shops and cafés.  

There’s something for everyone in Hamilton, with the beautiful Hamilton Gardens to explore, local history, Māori art and artefacts to discover at Hamilton Museum, and plenty of family fun at Hamilton Zoo, which is home to New Zealand’s largest free flight aviary.  

Hamilton is also a great base for day trips, with the wonders of the Hobbiton™ Movie Set(opens in new window) and awe-inspiring glow worm caves and adventure activities of Waitomo, less than one hour away. The black sands and chilled vibes of surf town Raglan are close by too.  

The annual Balloons over Waikato Festival(opens in new window) and National Agricultural Fieldays(opens in new window) (held in winter) in Hamilton draw huge crowds each year. 


Wellington – Te Whanganui-a-Tara 

Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and you’ll find some of our most important cultural and historical attractions in amongst the cool urban style of this city on the water’s edge.  

As the home of government, Wellington is home to the distinctive Beehive and New Zealand’s Parliament buildings. New Zealand’s national museum Te Papa Tongarewa is here too, as is the National Library of New Zealand, where Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treat of Waitangi) is on display.  

Wellington is known as New Zealand’s coffee and craft beer capital and is a foodie’s delight with a vibrant restaurant, bar and cocktail scene. 

It’s easy to explore the central city on foot, from the stylish fashion and homeware shops around Lambton Quay to the quirky stores and cafés of Cuba Street, Hannah’s Laneway and surrounds. Ride the Wellington Cable Car for fantastic views of the city and harbour. 

The magical world of Weta Workshop is where you’ll see how the special effects for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies were created. For real local wildlife, visit beautiful eco-sanctuary Zealandia or Kapiti Island nature reserve. 

Christchurch – Ōtautahi 

Christchurch is the largest city in the South Island and combines the fresh energy of its revitalised centre with the beautiful heritage attractions and scenery that made it famous.  

Discover the sights on the inner-city cycle paths or jump on the Christchurch Tram for a fun way to get around.  

Join locals at the bustling new boutiques and eateries that have sprung up in the city centre (CBD). Go Punting on the Avon River, which flows through the city, and then explore the green heart of Christchurch at its famed Botanic Gardens. Christchurch is an international gateway to Antarctica, and the International Antarctic Centre is a fascinating window into life on the ice.  

See the panoramic patchwork of the Canterbury Plains from the comfort of the Christchurch Gondola, high in the Port Hills(opens in new window). 

From Christchurch, you can visit the French-style coastal settlement of Akaroa on Banks Peninsula, head to the vineyards of the Waipara wine region, soak in the thermal waters of Hanmer Springs, or go whale spotting in Kaikōura 

Dunedin – Ōtepoti 

The university city of Dunedin is famed for its rich Scottish heritage and the natural wonders on its doorstep.  

Dunedin has some of the best preserved Victorian and Edwardian architecture in the Southern Hemisphere. A city walking tour reveals the stories of its historic buildings, such as the iconic Dunedin Railway Station, as well as exciting street art and galleries.  

The grandeur of Larnach Castle offers a glimpse into Victorian life in Dunedin and you can step back in time to the city’s beginnings at Toitū Otago Settlers Museum 

The nearby Otago Peninsula boasts incredible wildlife experiences. It is home to the world’s only mainland breeding colony of Northern Royal Albatross, as well as fur seals and New Zealand penguins

New Zealand cities on a map

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North Island