New Zealand is a country that has so much to offer, from glaciers to beaches, from whale-watching to wine tasting, from hiking to bungee jumping! You might feel overwhelmed when trying to plan your trip to this beautiful country, so here are our recommendations for top things to do in New Zealand.
1. Visiting Hobbiton Land
If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, then you must visit “Middle Earth,” or the Hobbiton movie set in Matamata, the setting for the Shire’s lush green pastures. Matamata is located in the town of Waikato, which boasts a lush dairy farming landscape. The village of Hobbiton was created here, and since then, it has become a permanent attraction.
2. Hiking a glacier
Did you know you could take a helicopter to the top of a glacier and walk along it with a guide? The West Coast of New Zealand is known for its fascinating and accessible glaciers. Two of the glaciers in this area include Franz Josef and Fox. Both are unique in that each glacier’s terminal face is quite low in altitude, and both are accessible for a hike. Don’t miss this experience when planning your list of top things to do in New Zealand.
3. Kayaking Paihia
If you like kayaking, a few hours north of Auckland is Paihia, which turns out to be a fantastic base to explore 144 islands, swim with dolphins, take a cruise, or hang out on beautiful beaches. You can also visit the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
4. Exploring a volcanic landscape
One of the top things to do when in New Zealand is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, known to be New Zealand’s best day walk. It is located in one of New Zealand’s oldest national parks, which doubles as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s a 12-mile (19-kilometer) hike that traverses ancient volcanic terrain, emerald lakes, old lava flows, and an active crater. Don’t miss the views of Lake Taupo and Ruapehu region, which are absolutely stunning and well worth the effort. Unique landforms — including the volcanic peaks of Ngauruhoe, Tongariro, and Ruapehu — ensure that the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a world-renowned trek.
5. Spending a day at the beach
New Zealand is home to many beautiful beaches, such as Cathedral Cove, where you can walk from the north end of the beach to a naturally formed archway.
The Coromandel rivals Northland for the best beaches. Try beaches such as Fletcher Bay, Wainuiototo Bay, Matarangi, Cooks Beach, Hot Water Beach, and Hahei and Cathedral Cove. Beaches are a must see on a list of top things to do in New Zealand.
6. Visiting wineries
New Zealand is also famous for its Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and the Central Otago Pinot Noir. You can even take a road trip and meet local winegrowers along the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail.
Auckland also has some great wine producers and culinary experiences, and wineries are concentrated in Waiheke Island, Kumeu / West Auckland, and Matakana. Hawke’s Bay is also New Zealand’s most established wine region, and the wineries here grow a wide range of grape varieties. The Marlborough wineries are located in Marlborough, and many people around the world consider this the best wine region in New Zealand. Central Otago also boasts stunning scenery and is the perfect place for a wine tour.
7. Going dolphin- and whale-watching
Whale-watching is one of the things to do when in New Zealand, as sea adventures await you in pretty Kaikoura, just two hours north of Christchurch. You can have an up-close encounter with giant sperm whales and dusky dolphins on a cruise, or even go snorkeling with fur seals.
8. Seeing volcanic craters
One of the top things to do in New Zealand is visiting Rotorua on the North Island, a location known for its geothermal activity and Maori culture. You will find bubbling mud pools and the 100-foot-tall (30-meter) Pohutu Geyser, which erupts many times daily. Rotorua is also home to a Maori village, and you will even have the opportunity to visit a Maori Arts and Crafts Institute to see traditional wood-carving and weaving schools. Kuirau Park is minutes away from the central city and is a geothermal wonderland. It has mud pools, hot pools and even freely accessible public foot pools.
9. Traveling to Milford Sound
Fiordland National Park is home to Milford Sound, New Zealand’s most stunning natural attraction — picture mountain peaks, dark blue waters, dramatic forest-clad cliffs. A pristine scenic destination, Milford Sound really should be on your list of top things to do in New Zealand.
For a long time, Milford Sound could only be visited by foot or boat. Today, it’s easier to reach this destination from Queenstown or Te Anau. During your time in Milford Sound, watch out for New Zealand fur seals on Seal Rock.
10. Finding adventure near Mount Cook (Aoraki)
Mount Cook, also called Aoraki, is the highest mountain in New Zealand. It’s located in a national park that’s a rugged land of ice and rock, where 19 peaks soar to a height of over 9,800 feet (3,000 meters). Mount Cook is a hiker’s paradise, providing access to many short walks as well as more challenging expeditions. Giant glaciers cover 40 percent of the land, including New Zealand’s largest glacier — the Tasman Glacier.
And don’t worry about finding a place to rest after spending a full day exploring this national park — Aoraki/Mount Cook Village offers accommodation options if you want to spend a few days here to explore the park.
Dreaming of New Zealand? Visit this incredible country with us! On our New Zealand tour, you’ll marvel at luminous glow-worm caves, indulge in a traditional Maori feast, hike scenic mountain trails, and cruise and kayak through Milford Sound. Don’t wait — book your trip today!
Written by Preethi Chandrasekhar.