The Prettiest Small Towns in New Zealand 

New Zealand, a land of staggering natural beauty, isn’t just about its majestic mountains, stunning lakes, and pristine beaches. Scattered across this diverse landscape are small, charming towns that steal the hearts of visitors with their unique allure. 

These towns, each with its distinct character, offer a slice of Kiwi life. From coastal gems to alpine retreats, let us take you on a journey through some of New Zealand’s prettiest small towns. 

1. Twizel 

Often overlooked in favour of its more famous neighbours, Twizel’s charm lies in its awe-inspiring landscape of towering mountains, clear blue lakes, and vast open plains. 

For one, watching the sunrise over Mount Cook from one of the many scenic spots in Twizel is an unforgettable experience. The mountain peaks are bathed in a golden light, and the sky is ablaze with colour.

And on a clear night, you can see the Milky Way galaxy in all its glory over Lake Pukaki. 

Pro Tip: 
If you visit Twizel in autumn, the trees in Twizel turn a brilliant red and orange. And in spring, the fields around Twizel are carpeted in wildflowers, including lupins. 

2. Reefton

Reefton is a charming and picturesque small town that offers visitors a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty.

This town was once a thriving gold mining town, and its rich history is still evident today in its well-preserved Victorian buildings and heritage sites. Reefton is also surrounded by some of New Zealand’s most beautiful scenery, including the Victoria Conservation Park, the Inangahua River, and the Paparoa Ranges. 

Pro Tip: 
If you’re looking for the best spot to enjoy the sunset in Reefton, head to the Victoria Bridge. The views from the bridge are simply stunning, and it’s a great place to relax and unwind after a day of exploring.

3. Foxton

Foxton is a charming small town located on the Manawatu River on the North Island of New Zealand. It’s known for its beautiful beaches and stunning scenery. 

Some of Foxton’s stunning scenery includes the Manawatu River, the Foxton Estuary, and Foxton Beach. The town is also home to many parks and gardens, making it a great place to enjoy the outdoors.

Pro Tip: 
If you’re visiting Foxton, check out the Foxton Beach Walkway. This scenic walkway takes you past the Foxton Estuary, where you can spot various birds and other wildlife. The walkway also offers stunning views of the Manawatu River and the surrounding countryside.

4. Glenorchy

With its stunning mountain scenery, glacial lakes, and ancient beech forests, Glenorchy is a nature lover’s paradise. Glenorchy is surrounded by some of New Zealand’s most iconic scenery, including the snow-capped peaks of the Remarkables and the crystal-clear waters of Lake Wakatipu. 

On a clear day, you can see the mountains reflected in the lake’s still waters, creating an unforgettable scene.

Pro Tip: 
If you’re looking for a truly unique experience, be sure to check out the Paradise Zipline course. This thrilling zipline soars over the Oxburn Stream with stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

5. Mangawhai  

Mangawhai is a popular, pretty small town because of its stunning beaches and rolling farmland. The town is blessed with some of the most beautiful beaches in New Zealand. 

On the Pacific side of town, you’ll find long stretches of golden sand and perfect waves for surfing, swimming, and sunbathing. On the harbourside, you’ll find calm, sheltered waters that are ideal for swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding.

In addition to its beaches, Mangawhai is also home to other natural attractions, including the Mangawhai Heads Lighthouse, the Mangawhai Cliffs Walkway, and the Te Arai Point Walkway. 

Pro Tip: 
One of the best ways to experience the beauty of Mangawhai is to take a walk or bike ride along the Mangawhai Heads Causeway. This scenic walkway connects Mangawhai Heads to the mainland and offers stunning views of the harbour, sand dunes, and coastline. 

6. Arrowtown 

Arrowtown has several well-preserved gold rush-era buildings, including shops, hotels, and cottages. The town’s main street is lined with these historic buildings, which give Arrowtown a unique and charming atmosphere.

The town is also surrounded by stunning natural scenery, including the Arrow River, the Remarkables mountain range, and the Gibbston Valley. 

Pro Tip: 
Visit Arrowtown in the autumn (March-May). The trees in Arrowtown turn brilliant red, orange, and yellow during this time of year, making for some truly spectacular scenery. One of the best places to see the autumn foliage is along the Arrow River Trail.

7. Oamaru

One of the things that makes Oamaru so picturesque is its distinctive limestone architecture. The Victorian Precinct is a particularly good place to admire the town’s limestone architecture. 

Another thing that makes Oamaru so pretty is its natural setting. The town is on the Pacific coast, surrounded by rolling hills and farmland. Many beaches and parks are nearby, making it easy to get out and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.

Pro Tip: 
Take a walk or bike ride along the Oamaru Harbour Walkway. It’s a great place to spot wildlife, such as penguins, seals, and dolphins.

8. Russell

Russell is a charming coastal town that was the first permanent European settlement in New Zealand. It’s surrounded by sparkling waters and lush green hills, making it a truly idyllic place to visit. 

Its rich history is also evident in its well-preserved colonial architecture. The town’s beauty is evident in its many historic landmarks, including the Christ Church, the Pompallier Mission, and Flagstaff Hill.

Pro Tip: 
If you’re looking for a truly unique experience, take a boat trip to the nearby islands in the Bay of Islands. There are many islands to choose from. 
Some islands are uninhabited, while others have small communities and offer a variety of activities, such as hiking, swimming, and kayaking.

9. Akaroa

Akaroa is often described as one of the prettiest small towns in New Zealand, thanks to its picturesque harbour, rolling hills, and colourful French-inspired architecture.

The town is surrounded by stunning scenery, including the Akaroa Harbour, the Banks Peninsula, and the Canterbury Plains. Akaroais also home to several picturesque buildings, including the Akaroa Museum, the St Patrick’s Catholic Church, and the Akaroa Lighthouse.

Pro Tip: 
If you’re looking for a stunning view of Akaroa and its surroundings, head to the top of Mount Akaroa. The hike to the top is relatively easy, and the views from the summit are well worth the effort.