New Zealand is an amazing country, full of natural sights to see and adventures to experience. It’s larger than you might think (similar in size to the UK and Italy), so don’t plan to do too much in one day!
1. Whale spot and swim with the dolphins
This is possible in several New Zealand locations, but the water’s warmer in the Bay of Islands. Explore New Zealand’s history at Waitangi, Russell and Paihia while you’re on land.
2. Try bungy jumping with AJ Hackett
Throw yourself off the southern hemisphere’s highest jump (or one of half a dozen other locations) with the world’s first commercial bungy operator.
3. Do a Great Walk
With nothing poisonous and no large mammals, New Zealand is one of the safest and most rewarding place to hike. Forests drop down the sea; mountains turn to glaciers to fjords. The Great Walks are nine multi-day hikes that are especially spectacular, but there are plenty of shorter hikes to choose from.
The forests can be dense and people do occasionally get lost, so let someone know where you’re going and when you plan to be back, and take a good map with you and more food than you need.
4. Road trip!
Hire a car or camper, like the Kiwi-made Spaceship, and take to the roads with ultimate freedom to explore the dramatic countryside.
Roadtripping is a popular Kiwi pastime, and you’ll be well-rewarded by the spectacular views that seem to be around every bend in the road. Be aware that freedom camping is only allowed in very limited, designated areas — stay at DOC campsites, hostels, or holiday parks instead.
5. Cruise Milford Sound
One of the world’s most dramatic and easily accessible Sounds, the hundreds of waterfalls pouring into Milford Sound from the lush native forest is unforgettable.
6. Enjoy a South Island train trip
Although we’re yet to try them, the Transalpine and Transcenic rail trips just keep on coming up in every conversation. You’ll be amazed by the beautiful views, and rail is a great way to relax and enjoy the sights without having to think about driving.
7. Go wine tasting around the country
From the small-town farmers’ market in Matakana to the powerhouse wine regions of Marlborough and Otago, wine is as an important part of Kiwi culture as travel itself.
Many wineries don’t charge for tasting, but it’s considered good form to buy something. One bottle among two or three people is acceptable, but feel free to buy more if you like what you taste!
8. Eat a traditional Kiwi roast
That’s Kiwi as in “New Zealander”, not the bird, or the fruit! Roast lamb with freshly picked veges washed down with Pinot Noir or a healthy dose of beer. Yum.
If you don’t manage a roast, have a savoury pie for lunch from a local bakery. Roast lamb pies are available in some locations; if not, go for a tried-and-true steak and cheese. Don’t forget the tomato sauce.
9. Go to an All Blacks match
The New Zealand All Blacks are one of the world’s best-recognised sporting brands and, some would say, the best rugby team on the planet. Seeing them play live is an excellent experience that you won’t forget in a hurry. Make sure you get there early so you don’t miss the haka before the game.
10. Visit Christchurch
New Zealand’s second city was hit by two major earthquakes in recent years, and is still recovering physically and emotionally. Tourism numbers fell dramatically in the wake of these disasters, but the city is up and running and keen to see more visitors. We love the Re:Start container mall in the city centre — it represents the city’s determination to keep on going.
There’s plenty to do in New Zealand, and you’ll probably end your stay wishing you had more time! What are your top picks for things to do in New Zealand? What do you most want to see or do there? Leave a comment below.