It’s home to Lord of the Rings, kiwis and the world’s most beautiful landscapes.  Why haven’t you visited yet?  If you have, it’s time to go back!  We’ve put together a list of New Zealand’s most awesome bucket-list experience, so it doesn’t matter whether this is your first or your fifth trip to the Land of the Long White Cloud – prepare to make some of your most awesome holiday memories.

 

New Zealand’s Best Experiences

1. Explore Milford Sound

Yes, fjords exist outside Scandinavia, and yes, this one is stunning.  Milford Sound is the South Island’s biggest draw, and we cannot stress how beautiful it is.  Pack a camera, a warm coat and start exploring this mountainous region.

Milford Sound in the South Island of New Zealand

2. Visit Hobbiton

Have you watched The Lord of the Rings?  No?  Open up Netflix and get cracking.  This enchanting movie set was heavily featured in Peter Jackson’s timeless trilogy, and remains open as a way for tourists to explore Middle Earth.

Panorama of Hobbiton in the North Island of New Zealand

3. Visit Whakarewarewa

The name might be a tongue-twister, but the Living Māori Village is nothing short of fantastic.  Experience the legacy of the Tūhourangi Ngāti Wāhiao among ornate wooden buildings and drifting geothermal steam.  If you’re feeling particularly brave, get a Ta Moko (tattoo) as a permanent reminder of your NZ holiday.

The beautiful turquoise hot spring called "Champagne Pool" in Whakarewarewa the living Maori village in Rotorua, New Zealand.

4. Smell the sulphur at Rotorua

Where else in the world can you find Māori culture, bubbling geothermal pools and ancient forests all right next to each other?  Rotorua is one of New Zealand’s coolest tourist destinations, and it’s our opinion that you haven’t lived until you’ve had a sniff of its sulphurous springs.

Rotorua sulphur springs in the North Island of New Zealand

5. Ski at Wanaka

Did you think Queenstown was the South Island’s most adventurous destination?  Surprise!  Wanaka is just as heart-pumpingly awesome.  Even though you can do everything from canyoning to hunting in this outdoorsy paradise, hitting the slopes of Wanaka’s world-famous ski resorts is a definite must.

Man standing on Roy's Peak, Wanaka, New Zealand.

6. Go wine-tasting in the South Island

To drink, or to drink more – that is the question.  Wine connoisseurs, rejoice.  This is what you’ve been waiting for.  A South Island holiday wouldn’t be complete without at least one tasting tour exploring New Zealand’s famous vineyards.

Wine being poured into a glass in the South Island

7. Get thrown across a canyon

Afraid of heights?  Time to get launched (literally) out of your comfort zone.  Queenstown’s Shotover Canyon Fox is a zipline on a serious dose of steroids – speed through the air at a terrifying 182 metres above ground for 445 metres.  Yes, it scares us too.

Shotover Canyon fisheye photo in South Island, New Zealand
Located in New Zealand’s South Island, the Skippers Canyon Road is known for its scenic roads, and scary narrow road. There are steep sheer cliff face. Below is the famous shotover river stream.

8. Go white-water rafting on the Kawarau River

The stunning Kawarau River passes through both wine regions and Lord of the Rings shooting locations, and, if that’s not cool enough, it also features plenty of white-water rapids.  Cling on to your inflatable and wave your paddle triumphantly as you conquer another NZ challenge.

The Kawarau River in the South Island, New Zealand

9. Skydive over the Southern Alps

Okay … we don’t blame you if this seems a little too intense.  Plummeting through the air at 200 kph, roughly 15,000 feet above ground?  It’s definitely an experience you’ll remember for the rest of your life.

Tasman Valley and Mt Cook

10. Explore Tongariro National Park

Are you craving a dose of undiluted nature?  If you answered ‘yes’, visiting Tongariro National Park is one bucket-list item you need to tick off ASAP.  This sprawling swathe of wilderness features dozens of amazing hiking trails, including the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which traverses the breathtaking Mt. Tongariro itself.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand

11. Stand above the Huka Falls

“A waterfall?”, we hear you say.  “That’s not exactly bucket-list material!”  Ah, we beg to differ!  Huka Falls is one of those incredible nature phenomena you have to see to believe.  With more than 220,000 litres of water pounding through the falls per second, this furious channel of foaming water is more than a little intimidating.

Powerful Huka Falls on the Waikato River near Taupo North Island New Zealand

12. Interact with wildlife at Wellington Zoo

You probably won’t get to see New Zealand’s national icon in the wild, but, at Wellington Zoo, you can get up close and personal with truly adorable kiwis.  One-legged kiwi Tahi is probably the most famous resident, but you can also meet other animals like the native kea and the very unique wētā.

Baby capybara at Wellington Zoo

13. Visit Waitomo

Waitomo is a village with a lot to offer, but if you’re like us and you love bright ’n’ shiny things, head straight to its Glowworm Caves.  Take a boat through these subterranean caverns and gaze up a ceiling full of shimmering stars.

Waitomo Glow Worm Caves in New Zealand

14. Bungee jump off the Sky Tower

Like the idea of visiting New Zealand’s tallest building?  Try jumping off it!  The Auckland SkyJump is like that trust-fall you played as a kid – leap off a ledge 192 metres in the air, and hope that you come back up in one piece.

Sky tower and high rises in Auckland

15. Visit Fox Glacier

This giant dome of rock and ice is absolutely stunning, and, as one of the world’s most accessible glaciers, is a must-see if you’re in the South Island.  Explore its pristine natural beauty via heli-hiking, ice-climbing or guided tours.

Tourists hiking on the Fox Glacier, New Zealand

16. Walk on a volcano

Does the thought of walking on an active volcano terrify you?  Don’t worry – White Island is completely safe.  If you embark on a guided tour, they’ll even provide you with gas-masks so you don’t suffocate on the island’s plumes of steam and clouds of yellow sulphur.  How nice is that?

White Island, New Zealand

17. Kayak around the Bay of Islands

Experienced kayaker?  Paddling amateur?  Small child?  This guided tour is perfect for everyone, young or old.  Learn about local history and Māori culture while circling the horseshoe waterfalls at Hauru.  If you’re in need of a day outdoors or some family bonding, you’ll love kayaking around the Bay of Islands.

Bay of Islands aerial view

18. Walk along Ninety Mile Beach

Yes, we share your disappointment that Ninety Mile Beach is, in fact, only 54 miles long.  On the bright side, 54 miles (88 kilometres) is still really far, so you probably won’t be able to walk the full distance anyway.  Recommended if you like swimming, surfing or long walks on the beach.

4x4 driving on Ninety Mile Beach

19. Step into Waipoua Forest

Best explored with a local Māori guide, Waipoua Forest is home to New Zealand’s largest kauri tree, Tāne Mahuta.  Maybe it’s just us, but anything that’s known as ‘the Lord of the Forest’ and is 2,500 years old is 100% worth a visit (and lots of photos).

Tane Mahuta kauri tree in Waipoua Forest, New Zealand

 

 

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