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New Zealand Main Cities

New Zealand is a relatively small country, with a population of little more than 4 million people. Consequently, our cities and towns are mostly quite small with large amounts of forestry and farmland surrounding them. If you are looking for a great place to holiday, then New Zealand is the perfect place. Throughout New Zealand you will find beautiful scenery, adrenaline activities, world-class skiing, geothermal attractions, towering alps, cascading waterfalls, vast glaciers, a strong culture, rich heritage and great lifestyle options.

North Island Cities

The main cities in the North Island of New Zealand are:

Name Approx. Population Brief Description Map


405,000 Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand. The city is built around 2 large harbours, and has many world famous attractions including the Sky Tower. The Auckland Region has a population of about 1.3 million people, and enjoys a warm, temperate climate. Auckland Map More Information


393,000 Wellington is the Capital City of New Zealand and is home to Parliament, the head offices of all Government Ministries and Departments and the bulk of the foreign diplomatic missions in New Zealand. It is also home to Te Papa (the ground-breaking interactive Museum of New Zealand) and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. Wellington Map More Information


129,000 Hamilton rests on the banks of the Waikato River, south of Auckland City. The vast underground network of caves and caverns at Waitomo are near to Hamilton City. Hamilton Map More Information


121,000 Tauranga City rests on the south-eastern edge of the Tauranga Harbour and enjoys a sunny, "subtropical" climate. One of New Zealand's fastest growing cities, the Port of Tauranga is a main New Zealand export port. The sunny, beachy lifestyle attracts holiday makers from around the world - many come to swim, surf, kayak and kitesurf the local beaches. Tauranga Map

Palmerston North

78,000 Palmerston North is a vibrant city with a large youth population. The city enjoys a rich arts and theatre scene with many restored heritage buildings. Here you will find Massey University and several other institutes of importance. Map More Information


70,000 Rotorua is a multi-cultural city, built in the heart of a geothermal wonderland, with bubbly mud pools, spouting geysers and hissing vents. There are 17 lakes in the Rotorua district that offer great freshwater fishing, waterskiing, swimming and other water activities. Rotorua Map More Information


66,000 Located less than 20 kilometres from Napier, Hastings has many heritage buildings. Other local attractions include Splash Planet - a large amusement park, Cape Kidnappers - home to the world's largest mainland gannet colony and Te Mata Peak. Hastings Map


58,000 A seaport, Napier was leveled in 1931 by a devastating earthquake, and rebuilt in the Art Deco style of the day. Today Napier prides itself as the "Art Deco Capital". Wine tours, heritage tours, sailing, fishing and other activities are popular here. Napier Map

New Plymouth

52,000 New Plymouth is a port city, known for its beautiful gardens. A popular attraction is the Coastal Walkway - an 11 kilometre path that forms an expansive sea-edge promenade stretching almost the entire length of the city. New Plymouth Map


52,000 Whangarei is the northernmost city in New Zealand and enjoys a sunny, oceanic climate. Whangarei is a popular holiday detsination, with spectacular beaches and beautiful scenery. Whangarei Map

North Island Towns

Some of the larger towns in the North Island include:

Name Approx. Population Brief Description Map


43,000 Wanganui is a large town built on the shores of the Whanganui River. Wanganui located about 75 kilometres northwest of Palmerston North. The surrounding region is a part of New Zealand's Nature Coast, featuring rivers, beaches, lakes, mountains, parks and golf courses. The Whanganui River is the longest navigable river in the country, with 239 rapids and stunning bush scenery. Wanganui Map


34,000 Gisborne enjoys a sunny climate and is one of the first places in the world to see each new day. Gisborne is also the first part of New Zealand to be sighted by the crew of Captain James Cook's ship the Endeavour. Gisborne Map More Information


33,000 Whakatane is a population holiday town, nestled along the beautiful eastern Bay of Plenty coastline. The warm waters here are famous for deep sea fishing, whale watching and swimming with dolphins, and a variety of marine sports. Offshore from Whakatane, White Island is an active volcano that visitors can take a live volcano tour to. Whakatane Map


23,000 Masterton is the largest town in the Wairarapa region, and boasts great shopping and cafe culture. Explore the boutique shopping area in Kuripuni Village, the Queen Elizabeth Park or the huge Kidzone playground. Masterton Map


22,000 Taupo is nestled on the shores of Lake Taupo. With a surface area of 616 square kilometres, Lake Taupo is the largest lake by surface area in New Zealand. Other popular attractions include the spectacular Huka Falls and the Craters of the Moon thermal area. Taupo Map More Information


13,000 The Ruapehu District is home to Mount Ruapehu, Tongariro National Park, and the Raurimu Spiral on the North Island Main Trunk railway line. The main towns of the Ruapehu region are Whakapapa, National Park and Ohakune. Ruapehu Map More Information

South Island Cities

The main cities in the South Island of New Zealand are:

Name Approx. Population Brief Description Map


380,000 Christchurch City is the largest city in the South Island of New Zealand. The city is known as the "Garden City"; The city suffered greatly with several large earthquakes in 2011 - 2012, and is still in the process of rebuilding its city center. Christchurch Map More Information


117,000 Dunedin is the second largest city in the South Island of New Zealand. Nestled on the shores of the Otago Harbour, Dunedin is a large eco tourism attraction. Explore the penguin colonies and other natural attractions on the Otago Peninsula. Dunedin Map More Information


60,000 Nelson is a sunny city located at the top of the South Island of New Zealand. Nelson is home to the World of Wearable Art and Classic Cars Museum, and is near to three National Parks - the Abel Tasman National Park, the Kahurangi National Park and the Nelson Lakes National Park. Nelson Map More Information


53,000 Invercargill is the most southern city of New Zealand, resting on the Southland Plains beside the Oreti River. Invercargill is home to the Southern Institute of Technology, a polytech that offers a zero-fees scheme to students. Invercargill Map More Information

South Island Towns

Some of the larger towns in the South Island include:

Name Approx. Population Brief Description Map


42,000 Timaru is a major port town located in the Canterbury region, southwest of Christchurch. The port of Timaru is the most centrally located port in the South Island, and a base for many tourism activities. Caroline Bay is a popular local swimming beach. Timaru Map


30,000 Blenheim is well known for its many wineries. The town enjoys on of New Zealand's sunniest climates, with hot dry summers. Attractions include the Omaka Aerodrome - the setting for the biennial Classic Fighters Marlborough airshow, the annual "Blues, Brews and BBQ's" festival and the nearby town of Picton. Blenheim Map


30,000 Ashburton is located along State Highway 1, south of Christchurch City. The town sits between the Rangitata River and the Rakaia River, so is ideally located for fishing enthusiasts. Blenheim Map


13,000 Oamaru is a small coastal town, located south of Timaru. The town is famous for its historical white stone architecture, and the colonies of yellow-eyed penguins and little blue penguins that live nearby. The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony is now Oamaru's largest tourist attraction. Oamaru Map


10,000 Queenstown is a four season lake and alpine resort town, and the "Adventure Capital" of New Zealand. The town plays host to a constant stream of tourists year round. Queenstown has world class skiing, bungy jumping, sky diving, luging, Gondolas and many other activities. Queenstown Map More Information


10,000 Greymouth is the largest town on the West Coast of New Zealand. Greymouth is located at the mouth of the Grey River. Local attractions include Lake Brunner and the nearby Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki. Local activities include fishing, hiking, boating and gold mining tours. Greymouth Map

Did you Know?

New Zealand has more flightless bird species than any other place on earth.