Posted on: December 14th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
Things to Do in New Zealand
When people think New Zealand they think stunning mountains, rolling green landscapes and sky diving from every inch of the skies.
But there’s so many more unique things to see and do in New Zealand, and we think it’s important you know about all the different wonders this destination has to offer.
New Zealand is divided into two islands, almost as different as night and day. Head to the North Island for beaches, wine and Maori culture. Venture to the South Island for dramatic scenery, mountains and extreme adventures.
To help inspire you, we’ve rounded up a list of the best things to do in New Zealand, divided up into the North Island and South Island.
Map of What to Do in New Zealand
New Zealand is a rather small nation, with roughly the same surface area as Colorado. But looking at New Zealand on a map can be deceiving because it stretches out north to south. We’ve made it easy with this map of all the best things to do in New Zealand to help you plan your trip.
1. Visit Hobbiton
Where to stay: Auckland or Rotorua
You don’t have to be a Lord of the Rings fan to feel the magic of Hobbiton. The green rolling hills, the bursts of colorful gardens and picturesque hobbit holes will transport you straight into the Shire of the films.
Tours of the Hobbiton movie set are led by passionate guides offering insightful tidbits and knowledge even diehard Tolkien fans might not know. Stay at the head of the group for the best opportunities to capture that winning shot in front of a hobbit hole with no bystanders in the frame!
For an unforgettable experience, book an evening tour with an included banquet. Seeing the Shire by twilight is only beatable by the indulgent feast you’ll share with other enraptured fans.
Contact an About New Zealand specialist for the best arrangements on including Hobbiton on your New Zealand trip.
2. Explore the Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Photo: Shaun Jeffers
Where to stay: Auckland or Rotorua
There’s something about twinkling lights that our eyes simply can’t resist.
That’s what makes the Waitomo Caves so enchanting. Adorned with thousands of tiny glowworms, the pitch-black caverns are illuminated by their unearthly blue glow. It seriously looks like something out of a fairy tale.
The most popular way to see the glowworm caves is on guided tours through the caverns, ending with a boat tour on the subterranean lake drifting through the illuminated caverns.
But one of our favorite ways to explore the caves is on a thrilling black water rafting adventure. Thrill seekers glide through the cave system and underground waterfalls, ultimately floating serenely through the Glowworm Grotto.
No matter how you choose to see the Glowworm Caves, it’s undoubtedly one of the best things to do in New Zealand.
3. Indulge in Waiheke Island
Photo: Miles Holden
Where to stay: Auckland
New Zealand is dappled with wine regions all across the country, but nothing beats what’s known as New Zealand’s “Island of Wine.”
Waiheke Island, less than an hour ferry ride from Auckland, is an indulgent retreat for food and wine lovers. Complete with gorgeous bays, scenic walks and countless vineyards, this sublime island feels like something out of a Mediterranean legend.
Go on an endless wine-hopping adventure and delight your taste buds with the gourmet dishes of the island’s renowned restaurants. Everything from delectable oysters, Greek meze platters, woodfired pizzas and even gelato is on offer, paired with glasses of Waiheke’s finest wines. This decadent island is one of the best things to do in New Zealand for foodies and wine lovers.
The Coromandel Peninsula is one of the North Island’s idyllic stretches of green pastures, misty rainforests and golden beaches. Its crown jewel is Cathedral Cove, a turquoise bay ringed by soft sands and gigantic arched caverns.
The secluded cove is perfect for a relaxing beach day, complete with several scenic walks and excellent snorkeling at the Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve. An array of sea sponges, delicate corals and colorful fish can be seen in the waters of the reserve.
The remoteness of the beach and its stunning natural beauty create an almost tangible sense of serenity. As this is one of the best things to do in New Zealand, we recommend visiting early in the morning not only to beat the crowds, but to witness the sunrise cast a breathtaking glow upon the beach. Cathedral Cove by dawn is truly like a slice of paradise that time forgot.
5. Learn About Maori Culture in Rotorua
Photo: Fraser Clements
Location: Throughout the North Island
Where to stay: Rotorua
New Zealand’s indigenous Maori culture is rich in history, unique traditions and inspiring stories.
One of the best places to immerse yourself in Maori culture is at Te Puia in Rotorua. This center is where the Maori heritage is passed on through the arts institute, where Maori students hone their skills in traditional Maori woodwork and crafts.
Here you can also experience an authentic Maori hangi feast, where food is traditionally prepared underground by the heat of the earth.
Visit a recreated indigenous village at Tamaki Maori Village for a glimpse of how the Maori lived before European settler-days. Witness the powerful haka war dance, the graceful poi performance and other incredible Maori rituals.
6. Explore the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
Where to stay: Rotorua
The North Island is famous for its turquoise bays and black sand beaches, but its most surreal landscapes are found in the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.
As one of the best things to do in New Zealand, some of its most spectacular volcanic features are found here. Bubbling mud pools, unusually colored lakes and spouting geysers highlight the trails laid out through the steaming valley.
Catch the spectacular colors of Champagne Pool, a hot spring of emerald water ringed by bright orange mineral deposits. See the neon green sulfur lake, Devil’s Bath, and catch the Lady Knox geyser in action.
7. Visit the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Photo: Te Papa Museum
Where to stay: Wellington
New Zealand’s most enrapturing museum resides in its capital, Wellington. Te Papa Tongarewa, located on Wellington’s waterfront, is a dedication to New Zealand’s art, history and culture.
This huge museum contains six levels, each with a central theme displayed through an array of exhibits. Discover the stories of New Zealanders during World War I in Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War exhibit, located on the second level. Explore the cultures of Maori and other Pacific peoples through artifacts, architecture and artworks located on the fourth level.
In short, you could spend days in this museum. Though you may like to wander on your own, we highly recommend a guided tour for the expert insight and information your guide will share. There’s no better way to explore a museum than with someone who knows it like the back of their hand.
Location: Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, West Coast
Where to stay: Fox or Franz Josef Villages, or Queenstown
You’ve probably never thought about climbing a glacier. It’s hardly a thought that enters the mind.
But once it does, don’t you kind of want to do it?
Thrill-seekers who aren’t afraid of a little ice can hike on New Zealand’s glaciers.
New Zealand’s most famous glaciers are Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier, both located along the west coast of the South Island. What makes these glaciers so breathtaking is the sprawl of tropical rainforest hugging their base. One minute you’re in lush rainforest, the next you’ve stepped back in time into the ice age!
Both glaciers provide an array of adventures for all levels of fitness, from guided walks to climbs complete with ice picks and crampons. For a truly spectacular experience, opt for a heli-hike, beginning with a scenic helicopter ride to the top of the glacier and hiking your way down.
9. Dolphin and Whale Watching in Kaikoura
Photo: Sara Orme
Where to stay: Kaikoura or Christchurch
Kaikoura is New Zealand’s unofficial capital of marine wildlife. In fact, Kaikoura is considered as one of the world’s best whale watching destinations.
Visit between June through August to catch a whale watching cruise with up close encounters with migrating humpback whales.
These gentle giants aren’t the only thing you’ll see in Kaikoura’s waters. Dolphin swims are very popular, with local dusky dolphins frolicking in the waters beside you. Seal swims are also available, offering a truly unique opportunity to interact with New Zealand Fur Seals.
Cruises are the most popular way to see the sounds, departing from Queenstown and Te Anau. As you glide on the glassy waters, a pod of dolphins swimming before your vessel and crystal clear waterfalls cascading down the forested cliffs around you, you’ll know you’ll never see a place like this anywhere else on Earth.
Milford Sound is the more popular fiord, but we like to recommend a cruise on Doubtful Sound. Bigger and arguably more majestic, the fewer crowds make cruising this fiord one of the best things to do in New Zealand.
11. See Mount Cook from Lake Pukaki
Photo: Rob Suisted
Location: Mount Cook National Park
Where to stay: Queenstown or Christchurch
The milky turquoise color of Lake Pukaki, framed by purple lupin flowers and the Southern Alps in the distance create a scene straight out of a story book.
Rivaling the beauty of the Swiss Alps, this snowy mountain range is home to Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. The glaciers atop the mountain peaks feed into the remarkable Lake Pukaki, giving it its unique turquoise color.
Scenic helicopter rides and guided tours from Queenstown to Mount Cook Village are the best way to add Mount Cook into your New Zealand itinerary. More adventurous travelers can hike on tracks beginning near the village or climb the peaks for the ultimate challenge.
12. Go on a Bike Tour
Photo: Dean McKenzie
Location: Throughout the North and South Islands
Where to stay: Nelson
If the idea of mounting a bike while on vacation sounds dreadful, you definitely need to get on a bike in New Zealand.
This is just one of those places that makes you want to stay outside as much as possible.
The best part about cycling in New Zealand is that there are dozens of trails, ranging from super easy to hardcore mountain biking, in some of the most gorgeous landscapes in the world.
One of our favorite bike trails is in Nelson, known as the Tasman Great Taste Trail. This leisurely trail loops through charming countryside and coastline, with stops at art galleries, boutiques, craft breweries and wineries.
Bike tours are also popular ways to explore New Zealand’s cities. There’s nothing like getting some fresh air in your lungs and color on your cheeks with an invigorating bike ride.
13. Bungy Jump in Queenstown
Photo: AJ Hackett Bungy
Where to stay: Queenstown
Queenstown is the destination for those extreme bucket list adventures. Skydiving, bungy jumping, canyon swinging – basically anything related to jumping through the air, with an optional cord attached to you.
If bungy jumping is on your list of things to do in New Zealand, there’s no better place to do it than Queenstown. As the birthplace of bungy jumping, you can jump from the Kawarau Bridge, the world’s first commercial bungy site. The breathtaking scenery around this historic bridge is enough to inspire your jump, with the turquoise waters of the Kawarau River rushing below the bridge.
For the more brave at heart, take the jump on the Nevis Bungy, the highest bungy site in all New Zealand. We guarantee the adrenaline rush will have you shouting and laughing with glee. And the bragging rights will be unbeatable.
The romance of train travel from days long past is still alive and well in New Zealand. With rails running through mountains, viaducts and along the coasts, these scenic train journeys are among the finest in the world.
For stunning views of the Southern Alps, the TranzAlpine train is a must. This 5-hour train journey includes destination stops along its path from Greymouth to Christchurch, offering time to explore hidden gems of the South Island.
Ride in the observation car, wide open to the elements, to truly immerse yourself in the scenery around you.
Posted on: March 20th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
New Zealand is a nation of otherworldly scenery, but one of its most magical sights is the Shire at Hobbiton.
This scenic movie set is preserved just as it appeared in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films.
Middle Earth comes to life before you the moment you step onto its picturesque landscape. It’s like walking straight into a Lord of the Rings film, adventure waiting just around the corner.
Hobbiton draws in visitors from around the world – that means you must book a tour way in advance if you want to go. There are several types of tours including lunch, an evening banquet, or even private tours.
For travelers seeking a magical adventure in New Zealand, a Hobbiton private tour is perfect for experiencing the Shire without the crowds.
Begin Your Journey to Your Hobbiton Private Tour
Private Hobbiton tours depart from the Shire’s Rest, located on 501 Buckland Rd in Matamata.
To get there from Rotorua, the scenic drive through the Kaimai ranges is about one hour. From Auckland the journey is about two hours – a delightful day trip.
Driving in New Zealand may be tricky for first time visitors, as they drive on the left side of the road. If you don’t want to drive to Hobbiton on your own, our Destination Experts at About New Zealand are able to arrange transfers from Auckland or Rotorua.
We’ll make sure your journey there and back again goes without a hitch.
Experience the Real Middle Earth
From the Shire’s Rest your guide will escort you with a scenic drive through the farmland of Hobbiton. The spectacular views of the distant Kaimai ranges and stunning green hills prepare you for the visual spectacle of the Shire.
Along the way your guide will recount tidbits and fascinating details about how the Hobbiton movie set was created.
You’ll walk through the twelve-acre site and explore the Shire on your guided tour. Colorful Hobbit holes overrun with verdant vines and gardens, bright flowers and shrubs towering over fences – this set will take your breath away.
You’ll see Frodo and Bilbo’s Hobbit holes, as well as Samwise Gamgee’s. Spot the Bag End Party Tree, decked with hand-crafted artificial leaves. Stop in at the Green Dragon Inn for a pint or a bite to eat – what better place to eat, drink and be merry than in Hobbiton?
The best part about a private tour is all the incredible photo opportunities with the least amount of crowds.
But you may find yourself forgetting about snapping photos altogether as you’re taking in the amazing details and sweeping views.
Want to Tour the Shire?
If seeing Hobbiton isn’t on your bucket list, it should be! Even non-fans leave raving about this magical place.
Not sure if you want to drive to Hobbiton or take a transfer? We’ll help you decide the best option for your trip. As New Zealand experts, we’ll make sure your vacation is the trip of a lifetime.
Posted on: March 6th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
Transport yourself into Middle Earth and experience a magical evening on the Hobbiton Movie Set and Dinner Tour.
This evening banquet tour is perfect for Tolkien fans looking for something a little more special on their trip to New Zealand – be sure to come hungry!
How often do you get to feast on a banquet set in the cozy Green Dragon Inn?
How to Get to Hobbiton for the Evening Banquet Tour
Surrounded in stunning green landscapes and far-off mountain ranges, the Shire’s Rest houses a cafe and gift shop. This is where you’ll meet to depart for the evening banquet tour.
To get to the Shire’s Rest from Rotorua, self-drivers must make their way from Rotorua through the Waikato region – about one hour’s drive. From Auckland, the drive is about two hours.
The scenic pastureland and Kaimai ranges in the distance make this a perfect option for travelers self-driving in New Zealand. Booking in advance is strongly recommended, as the Evening Banquet Tour sells out fast.
When you book your evening Hobbiton tour with About New Zealand, we’ll make sure you get your preferred booking squared away. We may also arrange private transfers from either city if you so wish – we’ll make sure you see Hobbiton your way.
Your guide will walk you through the perfectly manicured village of the Shire and recount fascinating stories and movie secrets. You’ll make your way through the gorgeous green hills covered in gardens and colorful hobbit holes.
Perhaps the most charming features of Hobbiton are the details put into the set. You’ll spot mailboxes, clotheslines, food baskets – small remnants that give life to the Shire.
Pass by Bilbo and Frodo’s Hobbit hole, or linger just a little and snap a photo in front of the bright, round door. The set is so exact it’ll feel like Frodo will come around the corner at any moment.
Evening Banquet at the Green Dragon Inn
Your tour will conclude at the Green Dragon Inn, the popular watering hole of the hobbits in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films. Let the warmth of the fire place and a complimentary beverage relax you as preparations for your banquet finish.
You’ll then be guided into the Green Dragon Inn dining room where your massive feast awaits.
The tables before you heave with decadent platters of meats, potatoes, rolls, salads – a hearty feast of traditional Hobbit fare.
As is tradition in the Shire, second helpings are strongly encouraged.
See the Shire by Dusk
After dinner you will rejoin your guide for a stunning journey under the moonlight.
See the Shire illuminated by bright lanterns and feel the magic flow through the glowing hills.
Walk along the lighted paths with your own authentic lantern, provided to all guests.
The soft glow of the Shire by night makes for a truly breathtaking scene.
Ready to See the Shire?
As your New Zealand planning experts, we want your Hobbiton experience to be a highlight of your New Zealand trip. Whether you’re booking your Hobbiton trip from Auckland or Rotorua – we’ll take care of the details for you.
Book a Hobbiton Evening Banquet Tour and experience magical Middle Earth for one night!
Posted on: March 5th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, those magical Middle Earth landscapes of New Zealand are no doubt on your bucket list.
You’ll need to travel across both New Zealand’s North and South Islands to experience all the scenic locations featured in The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films.
But one of the absolute musts is Hobbiton, where the green hills of the Shire preserve the simple comforts of food, song and dance.
And if you’re in Auckland or Rotorua, Hobbiton is just a delightfully short trip away.
How to Get to Hobbiton from Rotorua or Auckland
When you book your Hobbiton Movie Set tour with About New Zealand, we’ll arrange a coach tour that takes you to Hobbiton from Rotorua or Auckland. This way you may also use the tour as a transfer between the two cities.
You’ll arrive in Matamata, where director Peter Jackson scouted out the Alexander Farm, the large sheep farm transformed into the magical Shire.
For the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the original set was made of non-permanent materials and was torn down after filming. A few remnants remained, though rather dilapidated and unkempt.
Still, the site attracted tourists and Tolkien fans from everywhere. This led to an agreement for filming the “Hobbit” trilogy – the set must be rebuilt to stand permanently once filming finishes.
Now Hobbiton has become one of the most popular attractions in New Zealand. Who wouldn’t want to explore a little slice of Middle Earth?
Your tour guide will walk you across the unbelievably green landscape and show you the hobbit holes within the hills. Apart from the lush trees, flowers and gardens, keep an eye out for the incredible details you’ll find throughout the tour.
You’ll walk through the charming hobbit holes, all varying in size, as your guide shares filming and movie set secrets. See the famous Bag End Party Tree, and if you’re lucky your guide might give you one of its leaves as a souvenir!
Enjoy a Feast Fit for Hobbits
When you book your Hobbiton adventure with your About New Zealand travel agent, you’ll enjoy a buffet style lunch brimming with decadent meats and fresh produce.
Indulge in a variety of desserts and wash it all down with a pint from the Green Dragon Inn.
It may not be Second Breakfast or Elevensies, but it’ll truly be a feast fit for hobbits!
Ready to go to Hobbiton?
Visiting Hobbiton from Rotorua or Auckland is easy – we’ll take care of all the planning for you. As specialists in New Zealand travel, we’ll make sure your New Zealand vacation is the trip of a lifetime. We’ll tailor your vacation to include all your bucket list items.
New Zealand is known for its green hills, mountain scenery and picturesque views. It has been the set of a number of movies but the most well-known and, dare I say the most-loved, is J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
The twelve-acre spread in Matamata gave Peter Jackson the perfect backdrop to bring Tolkien’s world to life and now this magical world is a reality for all who visit New Zealand.
While popular landscapes from the movie can be seen across both islands, Hobbiton Movie Set is the only place where the set, including 44 Hobbit holes, has remained in place.
Here are 5 reasons you need to visit the Hobbiton Movie Set!
1. It is one of the most visited attractions in New Zealand!
Though one of the newer attractions in New Zealand, opening after its reconstruction for The Hobbit series in 2011. The Shires Rest & Hobbiton Movie set located on Alexander Farm has quickly risen in the ranks and now hosts more than 350,000 visitors each year!
Photo credit: Hobbiton Movie Set
2. Enjoy Ginger beer at The Green Dragon Inn!
The Green Dragon Inn, featured in the movies as a popular meeting spot for Hobbits in The Shire, is open to the public. Every tour offers a complimentary beverage at The Green Dragon Inn including Ginger Beer, apple cider or ales.
Photo credit: Hobbiton Movie Set
3. The guided tour is full of movie secrets!
The Hobbiton Movie Set is only available by tour but that doesn’t limit you on what you’ll see. The best part about a guided tour is you hear tidbits of information about Peter Jackson, movie making techniques — like how some Hobbit Holes are larger than others depending on the size of the actor — and interesting facts around the set. Did you know The Party Tree in the movie is artificial? The leaves were imported from Taiwan and wired onto the branches!
4. You can now eat dinner like a Hobbit!
One of the newest additions to Hobbiton is theEvening Dinner Tour. You’ll make your way through the twelve acre set as your experienced guide recounts facts and movie magic. At the end of the tour, you’ll settle in at The Green Dragon Inn and enjoy traditional Hobbit Fare in a banquet style feast. To end this magical night, every guest will be given a lantern and will travel back through the glowing enchanting village. The Shire in the moonlight is a breathtaking view that is unforgettable.
Photo credit: Hobbiton Movie Set
5. The photo opportunities are endless!
The stunning scenery and sets of Hobbiton make you feel like you’ve stepped into Tolkien’s world. Throughout the tour you’ll get opportunities to take pictures at iconic stops including Bilbo Baggin’s house, The Green Dragon Inn and the home of Samwise Gamgee. The picturesque charm of Hobbiton will inspire anyone to snap a picture or two.
Photo credit: Hobbiton Movie Set
The best part is that The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit sights don’t stop there! There are a number of locations in New Zealand that you can visit to retrace the steps of beloved Tolkien characters including Christchurch, Wellington & Queenstown.
If you need some help planning your Middle Earth vacation or just want to know more about Tolkien themed day tours, call us Toll Free 888-359-2877 (Mon-Fri 8:30am – 5:00pm Central US).
Posted on: August 4th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
New Zealand is full. Booked. No vacancy.
“But I reallllyyy want to see those beautiful landscapes! The fiords! The glaciers!”
Too late. Nothing else to see here, move along, pick a new country to visit, later gator.
In 2017, New Zealand officially has more people wanting to visit than there is space available to house them.
It’s a huge problem.
Of course, it’s not surprising. New Zealand’s postcard-ready landscape, mild climate and rugged coastline seem tailor made for the wanderlust of travelers of all ages.
But as native Aussies, in proper brotherly fashion we prefer to blame a Kiwi – namely Peter Jackson, director of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies.
Since the release of the Lord of the Rings films, New Zealand has absolutely exploded as a tourist destination.
Hardcore fans of the film look to retrace Frodo’s steps to Mt. Doom or have a pint at the Green Dragon Inn, while non-movie buffs can’t help but appreciate the photogenic, sweeping vistas of the countryside.
Photo: Hobbiton Tours
There really is something that could tickle anyone’s fancy – and that’s exactly why tourism in New Zealand is shattering records all over the place.
Developers have been scrambling the past few years, trying their best to put up more hotels and rooms for eager visitors. But it seems like they just can’t put them up fast enough.
Room for accommodation is so tight that just recently a group of 53 traveling senior-citizens had a delayed flight and ended up stranded for the night – not a single hotel room left to spare.
Luckily, they were treated to some Maori hospitality and put up for the night in a traditional Maori meeting house. Sleeping bags on the floor and all – just like at camp.
And that’s just the hotels!
Photo: Auckland, New Zealand
New Zealand’s overall infrastructure is being stressed so much that estimates put a $1.5 billion-dollar price tag on improvements to set the tourism industry up for the future.
Think about the rental cars needed to go on those epic self-drive adventures New Zealand is so well known for. The tickets and space needed to participate in the extreme sport staples people know and love like bungy jumping and skydiving.
All these pieces work in unison to create an amazing New Zealand experience and if you don’t plan ahead, you could find yourself stuck.
We’ve been in the travel game for nearly 20 years and we’ve never seen anything like it. But we have picked up some tips along the way to make your trip seamless.
The earlier you book, the better your chances at getting your preferred trip, it’s as easy as that. Some seasons are busier than others, but the fact remains that the quicker you get your trip booked, the easier it will be.
But don’t expect to simply book a hotel room and be on your merry way.
How will you get to the hotel from the airport?
Taxi queues can be long and that meter keeps running no matter how much traffic you’re stuck in.
Uber, Lyft and other car-sharing services are available in New Zealand, but increasingly subject to increase rates during peak times known as surge-pricing. With the number of tourists and locals clamoring for a ride, you could be paying even more than a taxi.
That’s why car-transfer shuttles with their flat rate are the way to go. They’ll be ready and waiting for you at the airport. The last thing you want to do is figure out getting your cell phone to work in a new country immediately after your 13 hour flight! Better book this early while you’re at it.
December, January, February – By far the busiest season. Warm weather and school children are on vacation.
March, April, May – Milder temperatures and the summer rush is dwindling. Fall is a GREAT time to experience the great New Zealand outdoors.
June, July, August – You’ll want to bring a coat, but there’s still plenty to do in the colder months like skiing, glacier hiking and more. The North Island tends to stay a bit warmer than the South Island, but if you really want to embrace the wintery chill, head to the mountains for snowy peaks and fun, outdoor winter activities.
Photo: Julian Apse
You’ve always wanted to snowboard in July, haven’t you?
September, October, November – Beautiful weather. The perfect time to hike one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, like the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Pleasant weather all the way through.
Make your car your home by freedom camping in a pop-up camper vehicle or RV. Freedom camping in New Zealand is just as it sounds: the freedom to drive yourself around to your hearts content, pull in to a designated area and stay the night.
No hotel check ins, no shuttle transfers. Just you, the open road and a sense of adventure.
Freedom camping can get you places you otherwise might miss, but despite the name, there are still a few guidelines you need to follow.
Until the past couple of decades, New Zealand was a free-wheeling, camping free-for-all and you could pull over wherever you wanted and stay the night in your camper van or truck.
But as word got out on this come-as-you-please, bohemian travel style, property owners began to crack down and “No Camping” signs began to go up.
Nowadays, a map of designated DOC (Dept. of Conservation)-friendly sites will do you good for finding spots to call home for the night.
The good news? DOC sites are plentiful and can get you beyond the average tourist bubble of accommodations. Find yourself in a remote wilderness one day and chatting up the locals at a pub the next.
Oh, and did we mention they’re free?
Have an Expert Plan Your Vacation to New Zealand For You
We don’t mean to toot our own horn, but after 20 years we think we’ve got this travel thing figured out. We can put you up in a preferred travel accommodation, book you a ride from the airport and get you to and from tours without hassle.
Sometimes the slightest snag can throw off a perfectly good vacation. Can’t find a ride to the airport in Auckland? You could miss your flight to Queenstown.
Trying to bungy jump or simply tour Hobbiton but tickets are sold out? If you didn’t book ahead, you’re out of luck.
We specialize in putting the parts together and setting them in motion. All you need to do is enjoy the ride.
Let us build a free quote for you and we’ll make sure you have a place to lay your head at night.
Posted on: May 15th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
Sometimes seeing a place in photos is all it takes to get yourself excited to take a trip. You browse through photos imagining yourself in far off places. But plain old photos are officially a thing of the past. These 360-degree images show off some of the most scenic places in New Zealand in the second best way possible – right behind seeing them live in person.
Be sure to click and drag around these breathtaking 360-degree photo-spheres and you’ll get a taste of what it’s like to be there yourself.
Aoraki / Mt. Cook National Park
Aoraki / Mt. Cook is the highest peak in New Zealand and offers incredible views. Alpine flora and crystal lakes dot the landscape of this incredible mountain trek.
Zoom in close on the crater lakes at the foot of the mountain for a small look at how glacial minerals give the waters that beautiful sapphire look.
Tip: Want to see more amazing glacier-lakes? Jump right over to Franz-Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier for guided tours through these amazing natural wonders. You’ll fly in on a helicopter to hike these icy landscapes – truly incredible!
Horuhoru Rock / Waiheke Island
Waiheke is the second largest island in New Zealand, just behind Great Barrier Island. Horuhoru Rock sits just off the coast of Waiheke and is most notable for being a a safe nesting site for more than 2500 Australian gannets, a large seabird native to New Zealand. Access to Horuhoru Rock is limited, but we love the remoteness of this uninhabited isle! Not to mention that great panorama of the Hauraki Gulf.
If you look up and to the left of the island and the distance you can even see an Australian gannet swooping in to Horuhoru Rock!
This active volcanic vent is located in Tongariro National Park. Mt. Ngauruhoe breaths sulphurous gases in to the atmosphere from the cone. This volcano shot to worldwide stardom with the release of the Lord of the Rings films. Director Peter Jackson used Mt. Ngauruhoe to represent Mt. Doom in the films.
After you see Mt. Ngauruhoe, see the rest of Tongariro National Park. Go with a guide on a trek of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing – a hike you’ll never forget in one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
Fiordland National Park
This park is the largest national park in New Zealand. Its giant fiords were carved out by glaciers little by little for hundreds of thousands of years. What’s left is an amazing natural wonderland that is pure New Zealand. Fiordland is consistently voted one of the best places to go in New Zealand. Milford and Doubtful Sound’s amazing landscapes are some of the top travel destinations in the world. Take a guided tour of Milford Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.
Mt. Aspiring National Park
Just north of Fiordland, Mount Aspiring National park is located in the Southern Alps in New Zealand. Some of the country’s greatest walks and hiking sites are located in the park. Incredible rock formations and crater lakes are some of the best and most accessible in New Zealand.
In December 2015, Air New Zealand will host direct flights from Houston to Auckland, New Zealand. This means traveling to New Zealand just became even easier with five Air New Zealand hubs in North America!
Training with Tourism New Zealand
In preparation for the inaugural flight from Houston, the staff at About New Zealand partnered with Tourism New Zealand for a massive training event Thursday. 24 vendors from all across New Zealand showed up Thursday morning and, after a Texas sized breakfast, the teams got to work.
The morning jumped right into fast paced training sessions for our staff. The vendors in town ranged from luxury accommodations to award winning Maori Cultural experiences and even self-drive experiences in the comfort of a camper van, like tourism New Zealand’s Kombi Diaries.
There are some pretty interesting things waiting you in New Zealand including Helicopter Tours to Franz Josef, luxury day cruises on Doubtful Sound, accommodations fit for royalty (literally) and lots of Hobbit inspired experiences. We even got a look at a real prop worn by a Dwalin in The Hobbit!
Photo courtesy of Weta Workshop in Wellington, New Zealand
By midday the About New Zealand staff was full to the brim with New Zealand knowledge and Tourism NZ was out the door to Houston for their final stop. Housing this many vendors in one day was a milestone for About New Zealand. It was exciting and exhausting but most importantly it was another way we can improve your travel experience!
What does this mean for you? Our partnership with Tourism New Zealand and the amazing turn out of New Zealand vendors ensures your next New Zealand vacation is one you’ll never forget! After extensive training, our Destination Specialists are even more excited to start planning your New Zealand vacation!
(...) reservation on our itinerary was made and we did not have one problem. We had an awesome tri and because it was planned out so extensively by Ana. Thank you. We would recommend you to anyone and everyone.
Overall Great Trip
We loved New Zealand and hope to return! 10 days was not long enough for the amount of public transportation we used. Queenstown was fun and we’re glad we added one day there to our itinerary. (...)
(...) Our flight from Queenstown to Christ Church was cancelled, so we had to fly from Queenstown to Auckland to Christ Church to pick up our rental car. Since we didn’t arrive in Christ Church until mid afternoon, we had to leave for Kaikoura without seeing Christ Church. We enjoyed Kaikoura that evening and the next morning. We had to be at the ferry by noon, so we had to move along to Picton. The ferry ran 1.5 hours late so when we arrived in Wellington, Thrifty was closed. So, we had to get to our hotel and back to the ferry the next morning to pick up the car. We felt like there was too many moving parts and wasted time on all of the public transportation delays. From Wellington, we drove on our own to Napier then Rotorua. All of the hotels arranged for us were nice. We also enjoyed the prearranged tours. We traveled in September and the weather was mostly sunny with highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s. About New Zealand was good to work with, and very responsive by phone and by email. The cost of the trip was very reasonable. The next time we travel to New Zealand we will rent a camper van, and move along at our own pace. There was plenty of camping on both islands. We will also spend more than 10 days. Thanks for a great trip!
We had an awesome honeymoon! Thank you!
My husband and I booked our honeymoon trip to New Zealand and Fiji through About New Zealand and were fortunate to have a great travel agent, Darin! He organized our entire itinerary with(...)
(...) activities, drop offs/pick ups, hotel accommodations etc. and did a great job. The trip was awesome, even though we did miss one or two of our already paid for activities haha! Would definitely recommend About Australia to anyone traveling to an unknown country/continent :) Thanks Darin!
Our trip to New Zealand was fantastic.
Darin our coordinator with About Australia did a fantastic job coordinating our trip for us. Everything went smoothly with accommodations,car rentals and all of the attractions we were going to(...)