Are These the Best New Zealand Small towns?

Sometimes you just need to get out of the city. But for die hard urbanites, New Zealand’s remote and wild countryside might be a step too far. But with a visit to one of these New Zealand small towns; you can have the best of both worlds – with a smattering of shops and cafes to chill out and plan your next move. Here are four of my favourites.

Best New Zealand Small towns to Visit


Friendly Feilding has won the award of New Zealand’s Most Beautiful Town countless times and once you see its colourful murals and pretty flowers you’ll soon see why. Edwardian architecture, a clutch of boutique shops and interesting museums round out the scene. Time your visit to coincide with one of the bi-weekly animal auctions or rock up on a Friday to join a guided tour led by a local farmer who’ll fill you in on the importance of agriculture in these parts.

Feilding Hotel. New Zealand small towns
Feilding Hotel by Michal Klajban / CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons


Gold was first discovered at Waihi almost 140 years ago. The Martha Mine drew thousands of miners and speculators to the area until it closed in 1952. These days, an open cast mine operates, viable as a consequence of rising ore prices. You can loop round the Pit Rim trail, pausing on the way back to admire the imposing Cornish Pumphouse. Don’t leave before you take a look inside the Waihi Gold Discovery Centre which will tell you all you need to know about this sought after precious metal.

The Cornish Pumphouse, Waihi


Nestled in a narrow, steep-sided gorge on the edge of the Clutha River, Clyde, like Waihi, made its money on gold. These days the surrounding Otago countryside is planted with fruit orchards and row upon row of grape vines, the world’s most southerly vineyards. Clyde’s Pinot Noir alone is worth making the trip. In town, the many historic buildings give the place an olde worlde charm; encouraging all but the most jaded travellers to linger.

Clyde’s pretty church by Benchill CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


If Clyde’s about the wine, Bluff’s all about the oysters. The cold waters of the Foveaux Strait allow the oysters to grow slowly until they’re big, fat and incredibly tasty; their silky texture enabling them to slide down the throat. The season runs from March until August, so there’s still plenty of time to head down south to try them for yourself. While you’re there, check out the exquisite Paua House; a once ordinary bungalow painstakingly covered in shells by Fred and Myrtle Flutey and now a museum.

Inside the Paua House by amanderson2 / CC BY 2.0 via Flickr

Have you been to any of these New Zealand small towns or do you have a favourite that isn’t on the list? We’d love to hear from you if you do.

About JuliaHammond


Julia Hammond is a Geography teacher turned travel writer with a passion for places. Winning Mail Travel's Deep South competition was the catalyst to write for a diverse range of publications including Bradt's Bus Pass Britain Rides Again. She’s written Kindle guides to Cape Town, Peru and London for Unanchor and advice on Savannah for Wanderlust. When not travelling, she can be found at home in Essex planning her next trip, her two golden retrievers curled up at her feet.

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2 Responses

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    Pilot Mark

    Great list! I love the little towns in New Zealand, but I must admit I´m in love with the wild countryside – the imposing mountains and seemingly endless waterfalls. The country is also great to see by train or on a road trip by car.


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