New Zealand’s dramatic scenery, rich Maori culture and wide-ranging activities have made it one of the most unique travel destinations in the world. Whether you’re looking for an action-packed adventure or a relaxing getaway, New Zealand has something for everyone. There is no shortage of interesting tours, extreme sports and natural beauty to discover. With so many fascinating things to do and see, it can be overwhelming trying to decide where to start. Here are 8 of the best things to do in New Zealand that aren’t to be missed.
If you’re travelling to the Waikato region, a visit to the Waitomo Caves is a must. This unique attraction gives visitors the chance to experience an incredible light display of thousands of glowworms underground. The New Zealand glowworm is a truly magical species that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
The expert guides at the Waitomo caves will tell you all about the lives of these interesting creatures and provide further information about the history of the formation of the caves. The tour explores two caves, one by river raft and the other by foot. It’s the perfect activity for families and kids, and one that is sure to leave everyone in awe.
The Kiwi is New Zealand’s native. These nocturnal, endangered birds live in mostly remote, dark bush areas. They are also quite shy creatures, so the chances of bumping into one when you’re hiking or walking in the bush are quite low.
However, there are official guided tours you can take that specialise in Kiwi spotting, like the Stewart Island Kiwi Encounter Tour & Cruise. But if you’re pressed for time, the quickest and easiest way to see a Kiwi up close is at a conservation house or centre, like Rainbow Springs. Here you can take a behind the scenes tour and see a working Kiwi nursery and hatchery first hand, which is a truly special New Zealand experience.
With so many different landscapes to explore, New Zealand is a hiker’s dream. From remote native bush walks to majestic mountain hikes, there is something to suit everyone’s level of fitness.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is widely considered New Zealand’s greatest day walk, and one of the best walks in the world. This19km day trek is a challenging yet rewarding journey. Along the way, you will see different shaped crates, brightly coloured lakes, mountain springs and scattered volcanic rocks. There’s nowhere else quite like it.
Located in the heart of the Waikato region, the Hobbiton movie set is one of New Zealand’s most unique tourist attractions. This attraction gives visitors the once in a lifetime opportunity to experience the real Middle Earth as seen in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit Trilogies. The tour takes guests on a journey around the 12-acre set, past all the hobbit holes, the Mill and into the iconic Green Dragon Inn.
You can also choose to take an evening banquet tour where a delicious banquet feast is served to guests. Hobbiton is a must do experience for any Lord of the Rings fan, but the set has so much beauty and charm that anyone can enjoy the magic.
New Zealand is home to some of the best adrenaline-pumping activities in the world. Queenstown, in particular, is famous for its adventure sports. The stunning South Island city has a wide array of options for thrill seekers to choose from, including bungee jumping, white water rafting, jet boating, skiing, zip lining, mountain biking, skydiving and more.
There are plenty of opportunities for adventure on the North Island as well. Some standouts include the Sky Tower walk in Auckland, the Zorb in Rotorua and the Harbour Bridge Climb and Bungy. These New Zealand activities are sure to give you an adrenaline rush and leave you with lasting memories.
There is no doubt that Rotorua is one of New Zealand’s most unique destinations. The region is a geothermal wonderland of natural hot springs. Every year visitors from all over the world come here to experience its spectacular thermal parks and attractions. Just a few minutes from the town centre you will find Kuirau Park foot pools, which is known for its bubbling mud pools and foot baths.
Kerosene Creek is another great hot spot, only a short drive south from Rotorua. Here you can bathe in a pool of hot water under a 2-metre foot waterfall. It’s the perfect place to come and relax after a long day of exploring.
New Zealand is a wine lover’s paradise. You can find some excellent wine tours across Auckland, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Nelson, Central Otago and the Bay of Plenty. However, if you’re planning to do an extensive wine trail, Marlborough is the best place to go.
With over 140 wineries, Marlborough is New Zealand’s largest winemaking region. It is best known for its Sauvignon Blanc, which put Marlborough on the world stage back in the 1980s. In addition to its exquisite wine, the region is also renowned for its diverse landscapes and delicious fresh seafood.
The Maori, New Zealand’s native inhabitants, keep their traditions alive and on display at various Maori heritage sites and traditional events. The Mitai Maori Village in Rotorua, for instance, is a popular tourist attraction and one that provides visitors with the most authentic introduction to Maori culture.
An evening at Mitai gives guests get the chance to experience a 3-hour traditional hangi feast and performance. If you want to gain a deeper understanding of the fascinating cultural history of New Zealand, a visit here is definitely worthwhile. At the very least, you should make some time to seek out any other Maori events or shows while you’re travelling. No visit is complete without a glimpse into the Maori culture one of the best things to do in New Zealand.
Harper Reid is a freelance writer from Auckland, New Zealand who is passionate about travel and adventure. When she’s not writing, she spends her weekend hiking with friends or going on impromptu road trips. Find more of her work here.
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