Located around 4,000km from Australia, New Zealand isn’t the easiest or cheapest country to get to, but it’s worth the journey to see all that this scenic country has to offer. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or a thrill-seeking adventure, you’re sure to something to suit you. Here are eleven of the best things to do in New Zealand:
1) Tuck in to a tasty meal at revolving restaurant, Orbit in New Zealand’s tallest building, the Sky Tower, Auckland, admiring the unrivalled 360-degree city views as you eat.
If you’re brave, you can even take a walk around the Sky Tower’s 1.2 metre-wide pergola, or jump off the tower (probably best to do that before your food)!
2) Satisfy your inner adrenaline junkie with a 15,000-foot bungee jump or sky dive, or a jet boat ride at the breath-taking Great Lake Taupo – the biggest lake in New Zealand, overlooking the mountains of Tongariro National Park on New Zealand’s Central North Island.
3) Dig your own hot pool at Hot Water Beach, Mercury Bay. Hot springs underneath the sand bubble up to the surface when you burrow down towards them. Jacuzzi on the beach, anyone?
4) Take a heli-hike of the Franz-Josef Glacier on the West Coast of the South Island. Enjoy a helicopter ride high above the snowy peaks and mountains, before embarking on a three-hour guided glacier trek.
After your hike, warm up in the Glacier Hot Pools or unwind with a massage.
5) Marvel at the natural beauty of Lake Matheson, just a 30-minute drive from the Franz-Josef glacier. On a clear day, you can see a mirror reflection of snow-capped Mount Cook in the still, dark waters.
6) Enjoy the true kiwi experience with an overnight stay at Tamaki Māori Village in Rotorua; renown for its Māori culture and geothermal environment.
Join an organised tour and visit a marae (tribal meeting ground) to listen to Māori chanting and singing, visit the carved meeting houses, get to know the locals and tuck in to a traditional Māori meal cooked in a hangi (earth oven).
7) Take a ride on Wellington’s red cable car, from Lambton Quay up to Kelburn. Once at the top, observe the scenic views from the look-out, or take a peek inside the Cable Car Museum or the Space Place at Carter Observatory.
When you get back down, wander through the beautiful botanic gardens, taking in the bright colours of the flowers. You may even spot a native bird or two!
8) Visit Christchurch. Although much of the city is still being rebuilt after the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, it’s still very much worth a visit. Contemporary, creative and colourful, the newly built city is built out of shopping containers (like Re:Start shopping mall, pictured below) and covered in eclectic street art, with plenty of green space to relax in.
9) Explore the Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, Waikato. See the lush green pastures of The Shire, spotting iconic sights from Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit such as The Green Dragon Inn, Mill and Hobbit Holes.
After your tour, refuel with a bite to eat from The Shire’s Rest Cafe, or a feast fit for a Hobbit at the evening banquet.
10) Go whale-watching in Kaikora; situated just a two-hour drive away from Christchurch. Keep your eye out for humpback whales, pilot whales, blue whales and southern right whales or, if you’re lucky, a giant sperm whale. Whatever you see, you’ll have a whale of a time!
11) Step out of your comfort zone in Queenstown; widely regarded as the adventure capital of the world. Ride down the gravity-fuelled Skyline Luge (similar to a toboggan – pictured below) or take your pick from jet boating, bungee jumping, white-water rafting and sky diving. If that’s not your thing, you can play-it-safe with hiking and biking.
When the colder months arrive, the city is transformed into a winter ski resort complete with bars, restaurants and spas.
For further inspiration on the best things to do in New Zealand, take a look at My Guide New Zealand’s guides – My Guide Auckland, My Guide Rotorua, My Guide Wellington, My Guide Christchurch and My Guide Queenstown. Each one is brimming with local content, insider expertise and business directories to help you make the most of your stay in New Zealand.