Tag Archive for "Milford Sound" - About New Zealand
 

14 Best Things to Do in New Zealand

Posted on: December 14th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

Mount Cook 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 the Best Things 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 see in New Zealand to help you plan your trip.

North Island

1. Visit Hobbiton

Hobbiton

Location: Matamata

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

Waitomo Glow Worm Caves credit Shaun Jeffers

Photo: Shaun Jeffers

Location: Waitomo

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.

3. Indulge in Waiheke Island

Waiheke Island Auckland credit Miles Holden

Photo: Miles Holden

Location: Auckland

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.

If you’re looking for things to do in Auckland, Waiheke Island needs to be at the top of your list.

4. Check Out Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove

Location: Coromandel Peninsula

Where to stay: Pauanui or Auckland

The Coromandel Peninsula is one of the North Island’s idyllic stretches of green pastures, misty rainforests and golden beaches. It’s 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. 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

Te Puia Rotorua credit Fraser Clements

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 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

Champagne Pool Rotorua

Location: Rotorua

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.

Some of New Zealand’s 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

Te Papa credit Te Papa Museum

Photo: Te Papa Museum

Location: Wellington

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.

Check out our guide on the best things to do in Wellington.

South Island

8. Hiking on the Glaciers

Franz Josef Glacier credit Jackman Chiu

Photo: Jackman Chiu

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

Kaikoura Canterbury credit Sara Orme

Photo: Sara Orme

Location: Kaikoura

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.

Check out our highlights of the best things to do in Kaikoura.

10. Cruise the Fiords

Milford Sound

Location: Fiordland National Park

Where to stay: Te Anau or Queenstown

New Zealand’s famous scenery includes dramatic, green-clad peaks jutting out of dark, tranquil waters. No place better captures this landscape than Fiordland in the South Island.

Home to the stunning fiords Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound, the natural features found in Fiordland encapsulate untouched wilderness at its most pristine.

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 this fiord a true gem.

11. See Mount Cook from Lake Pukaki

Aoraki Mount Cook National Park credit Rob Suisted

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

Women biking through Nelson vineyards credit Dean McKenzie

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

The Ledge Bungy, Queenstown credit AJ Hackett Bungy

Photo: AJ Hackett Bungy

Location: Queenstown

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, 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.

Check out our guide for more things to do in Queenstown.

14. Ride the TranzAlpine

TranzAlpine credit Great JourneysofNZ

Photo: Great Journeys of NZ

Location: Greymouth through Christchurch

Where to stay: Christchurch

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.

Curious about more things to do in New Zealand?

As one of our favorite travel destinations, we love planning trips to New Zealand for our clients.

Connect with our Destination Specialists for a one-on-one consultation about things to do in New Zealand for your trip. We’ve been where you want to go, and we’d love to tell you all about it.

Plan a Custom New Zealand Trip

Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm)


You May Also Like

Sunset over Auckland

10 Best Things to Do in Auckland

Kiwi bird

Most Unique New Zealand Wildlife

New Zealand Volcanoes

A Guide to New Zealand Volcanoes and Geothermal Sights


33 Reasons Why the Best Time to Visit New Zealand is in the Spring

Posted on: December 1st, 2017 by MelissaM No Comments

Thinking about a vacation to New Zealand and not sure when to go?

We think the best time to visit New Zealand is in the Spring (Sept, Oct, Nov.) The weather is beautiful, the flowers are blooming and the food & wine are at their best!

Don’t believe us? Here are 33 reasons to visit New Zealand in Spring!

1. The weather is gorgeous! Crisp, sunny days perfect for hiking through the gorgeous alpine landscapes.

Weather in New Zealand

Source: weather.com

2. Not as many tourists! New Zealand is very remote – and sometimes left out of world maps altogether! But that just means you can enjoy more of this unique island paradise!

Open roads for Spring travelers

3. World of Wearable Art happens every September! The rule is anything that’s in any way wearable is allowed on stage. The results are unbelievably breathtaking, original and creative! Who needs New York Fashion Week? Check out some of the awesome pieces in the past.

The World of Wearable Art

4. Spring time means so many cute lambs! We’re not kidding – New Zealand has the highest ratio of sheep per person in the world. Currently there’s about 27 million sheep and more than 4 million people. That’s about 7 sheep per person!

spring lamb in New Zealand

5. Perfect temperature for a canopy tour in Rotorua! Just imagine it…zip lining through ancient forest, adrenaline pumping through your veins, soaring through great heights – no better way to experience the natural beauty of Rotorua!

View from the Canopy Tours in Rotorua

6. The gardens are in full bloom! Purple lupins, golden Kowhai flowers, Mount Cook buttercups…colors are bursting everywhere!

Gardens in front of the Dunedin Train Station

7. Adorable baby kiwis are hatching! Though they are flightless, that didn’t stop them from becoming the national bird of New Zealand!

Adorable Baby Kiwi Birds

Photo Credit: kazzy from Instagram

8. The BEST time to see Milford Sound! Perfect for kayaking or a cruise on the glassy water. But for a tour to match this dramatic landscape, a scenic flight over the fiord is just the thing!

Milford Sound in Springtime

9. Whale watching is incredible this time of year, and Kaikoura is the place to be! Known as the whale watching capital of New Zealand, you’ll spot giant sperm whales, fur seals, humpback whales and maybe even blue whales!

spermwhale saddleback breaching Credit: Whale Watch Kaikoura

10. The Whangarei Growers Market happens every Saturday and has some of the best locally grown produce. Here you’ll find anything from bananas to olives, cheeses to salamis and so much more!

The Whangarei Growers Market

Image credit: The Whangarei Growers Market on Facebook.com

11. The lupins and bright blue waters of Lake Tekapo. I mean, come on. This looks like out of a fairy tale picture book!

Gorgeous Lupins at Lake Tekapo

12. Once you’ve see the lupins, why not stay in Tekapo and do a little stargazing? You’ll be in the heart of the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve, the largest dark sky reserve in the world with a Gold rating from the International Dark Sky Association. Keep an eye out for shooting stars and the Phoenix constellation!

Stargazing in Tekapo

13. Kayak through the Botanic Gardens in Christchurch. In a city known as the Garden City, there’s no way you’ll skip out on its gardens!

Christchurch Botanic Gardens

14. Imagine seeing New Zealand in spring by train. That is an event in and of itself! Pass through looming mountains, green hills and bursts of flowers on the TranzAlpine, known as one of the great rail journeys in the world!

KiwiRail Scenic in the Spring

Image credit: KiwiRail Scenic on Facebook

15. Hiking in the South Island is pretty spectacular this time of year. Check out the Routeburn Track in the Fiordland National Park!

Gorgeous View of Hollyford Valley on Routeburn Track

16. Snow may still be on the ground in certain places, time for a late season shred? Some say this is the BEST time of year to ski. Head to Queenstown for remarkable skiing in the Remarkables mountain range!

Spring Sking in New Zealand

17. Love spicy food? Try New Zealand’s hot sauce – Kaitaia Fire, made from the chilies blooming in spring in Northland. Once you’ve tried Kaitaia you’ll accept nothing else!

Kaitaia Fire from Chilies in Northland

18. Fiordland National Park, New Zealand’s last great wilderness, gorgeous every time of year. In spring, even more gorgeous! This is THE place for hiking with spectacular views – nothing else will come close!

Fiordland National Park

19. Ohau Waterfall & Seal Pups. Don’t know what this is? Check this out! It’s a bunch of baby seals having an epic cuddlefest!

Seal in Kaikoura

20. Abel Tasman National Park! Perfect for hiking, kayaking, snorkeling or just relaxing at the beach. You can do it all in the spring!

Abel Tasman Beach

21. Dunedin Craft Beer and Food Festival. (This happens in late spring!) Taste craft brews from all over New Zealand – from crisp pale ales, juicy saisons to refreshing lagers and heavy stouts, you’re sure to find something that hits the spot!

Dunedin Craft Beer and Food Festival

Image credit: Dunedin Craft Beer and Food Festival on Facebook

22. Warm, sunny days in Nelson wine region. And absolutely incredible Chardonnay. I mean, if you’re into that kind of stuff. The Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and aromatics aren’t too shabby, either.

nelson vineyards spring

 

23. Better deals on hotels and airfare during non-peak seasons! Who doesn’t like to save?

24. It’s fishing season in New Zealand, where you’ll find the world’s best wild trout fishing! Anglers are welcome! Be on the look out for “Anglers Access” signs. They’ll help you find the best fishing spots.

Spring Creek, West Coast Fishing Season

25. Baby yellow-eyed penguins in Dunedin! These babies may grow over 2 feet tall and are the rarest penguins in the world.

Yellow-Eyed Penguins

26. Golf courses in New Zealand. Enough said.

Kauri Cliffs Northland Golf Course by Amos Chapple

27. Hiking in Rotorua along the awesome volcanic and geothermal landscapes is a must. Get a light workout in and hike to the world’s largest hot spring in the Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley – the surreal landscapes will make you feel like you’re walking on another planet!

Hiking in Rotorua

28. Seeing the gorgeous peaks in Wanaka with an experienced guide is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s a dreamland of mountains, glaciers, river valleys and lakes so blue you won’t believe there’s not an Instagram filter overlaying them.

Man Hiking in Mount Aspiring Lake Wanaka

29. The weather in the Bay of Plenty is perfect for full gardens, vibrant wildlife, amazing beaches and spectacular sunsets! It’s easy to see why this is a favorite holiday destination for many locals.

30. Visit the rain forest in the Coromandel Peninsula in spring and have your own personal safari without the hustle and bustle of lots of tourists. Even better, try it by bike! Pedal along the Ohinemuri River to see the spectacular Owharoa Falls, or try the Coromandel Mountain Bike Track for more of a challenge.

Hauraki Rail Trail Waikato

31. The culture and sights in Northland in spring. Ancient Kauri forests, healing waters of Ngawha Springs, paddling a traditional Waka (maori war canoe) – the cultural sights and experiences are out of this world.

Northland-Sara-Orme

32. Do you have a green thumb? Check out the Taranaki Garden Spectacular, an event filled with gardens, landscape design ideas, tours, garden walks and community events. Find inspiration for your next gardening projects or simply admire the colorful and exotic plants around you.

 

Taranaki Garden Spectacular

Image credit: Powerco Taranaki Garden Spectacular on Facebook.com

 

33. And best of all, longer daylight hours means more time you can spend in the beautiful landscapes on the North and South Islands. If only there were more hours in a day!

Castle Point in Wairarapa

If you’re not convinced yet, give us a call Toll Free 888-359-2877 (Mon-Fri 8:30am – 5:00pm Central US)! Our Destination Specialists are experts in planning the best vacations in New Zealand. Tell them what you like and let them give you 33 more reasons to visit New Zealand!

Start planning my trip

Best Things to Do in Queenstown

Posted on: October 16th, 2017 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments

You’ve heard all the praise about Queenstown as the “Adventure Capital of the World.” Adrenaline-seekers everywhere know they can choose from skydiving to snowboarding, rafting to bungy jumping and anything in between among the best things to do in Queenstown.

But maybe your idea of the perfect vacation is a little more simple.

The good news is Queenstown offers many low-key local gems that are just as exhilarating and unforgettable as its fast-paced adventures. From world class hot pools with a view to mesmerizing starry skies, scenic day tours to unique New Zealand wildlife, you’ll achieve the perfect balance between adventure and relaxation.

Here’s our list of the best things to do in Queenstown.

Lake Wakatipu

This lightning bolt-shaped lake is the crown jewel of Queenstown.  It’s the third largest lake in New Zealand, and also the longest. Maori legend says this lake was created by the remains of a giant, named Matau, burned to death while sleeping as punishment for kidnapping Maori princess Manata. Matau’s heart remains beating in the depths of the lake, creating a ‘heartbeat’ or standing wave. The lake rises and falls about 20 centimeters every 27 minutes, adding to the magic and mysticism of Wakatipu.

Surrounded by incredible mountain scenery, Lake Wakatipu is a local favorite for scenic walks, bike trails, fishing and cruising. Board the TSS Earnslaw, a restored vintage steamship, for a leisurely cruise around the lake and take in the beauty of Queenstown.

Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown, New Zealand

Skyline Gondola and Luge

Rated as one of the top ways to experience the best views of Queenstown, the famous Skyline Gondola is the perfect way to begin your visit.

The Gondola cable car takes you on the steepest lift in the Southern Hemisphere, carrying passengers more than 1400 ft above the city. Sit back and relax as you overlook the majestic views of Coronet Peak, The Remarkables mountain ranges and Lake Wakatipu as you ride to the top of Bob’s Peak. 

The View from the Gondola

The stunning view from the peak will leave you feeling on top of the world. What better way to ride the high than racing downhill on a Luge!

Skyline Luge puts you in complete control as you ride down Bob’s Peak. You’ll begin with a scenic, leisurely track to get familiar with the controls and brake system. Don’t worry about your speed as you start out – you can go as slow as you like! And you’ll want to take it slow to enjoy the magnificent surrounds.

Once you’ve got the hang of luge you can choose the Advanced Track and feel the glorious mountain air as you zoom downhill through tunnels, dips and bends. With these two tracks to suit the inexperienced as well as thrill seekers, there’s no reason to skip this top must-do Queenstown attraction.

Luge in New Zealand

 Ski and Snowboard

You don’t want to just see Coronet Peak and The Remarkables from Bob’s Peak – you’ll want to experience these mountains.

What do we mean by experience?

Visit Queenstown in the winter to see its mountains transformed into one of the world’s top ski and snowboarding destinations.

Start with Coronet Peak, the closest mountain to Queenstown and only a 25-minute drive out. This local favorite offers stunning trails for seasoned skiers to glide effortlessly down the mountain. Coronet Peak is also perfect for first timers, providing dedicated trails and slopes for novice skiers.

Enjoy untouched early morning snow from 8am to 9am daily. Don’t worry if you can’t get your snow fix during the day – Coronet Peak also offers night skiing from 4pm until 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

For epic skiing and snowboarding, The Remarkables provides the best terrain parks in New Zealand. Hire performance ski or snowboard gear on site and explore the steeps and gradients along its slopes with the striking mountain range in the background.

Skiing in Coronet Peak, Queenstown

 Movie Location Tours

The Queenstown region has captivated movie-goers with its otherworldly landscapes as seen in movies including The Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Hobbit film franchise, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, 10,000 BC and many others. Its towering mountains, ancient beech forests and turquoise blue rivers and lakes make the region perfect for a fantasy setting.

Fall into your own fantasy on one of many film location tours in Queenstown. Traverse the dramatic landscapes you’ve seen on the big screen and see what makes New Zealand scenery a repeat star in Hollywood.

Tour Film Locations in New Zealand

Milford Sound

Only a few hours away from Queenstown lies what Rudyard Kipling called the “Eighth Wonder of the World” – the Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park.

Tall cliffs jut out of the dark waters and tower over the sound, creating a dramatic landscape that has attracted tourists from around the world. This is a must-see attraction for Lord of the Rings film buffs, to visit the natural wonder that served as the backdrop for Middle Earth.

Take a scenic boat cruise on the sound and admire the numerous waterfalls cascading before you, or spot bottlenose dolphins swimming below and sea lions basking on the rocks. Get up close and explore the sound by kayak and see the stark Mitre Peak, the tallest peak in Fiordland.

Quiet yet imposing, Milford Sound is a must to relax yet still experience the best of New Zealand in your Queenstown adventure.

milford and doubtful sound fiords

Kiwi Birdlife Park

No trip to New Zealand is complete without seeing its iconic wildlife. And no way you’ll miss the chance to see famous flightless bird, the kiwi. Cross this New Zealand must-do in Queenstown at the Kiwi Birdlife Park.

Find 10,000 native plants and more than 30 animal species, including tuataras, rainbow lorikeets, rare black stilts and brown kiwi at the park. Get up close and personal with New Zealand’s flora and fauna on a private tour or in a live conservation show. Observe the nocturnal kiwi at the park’s Kiwi Houses, set up with specialized lighting effects and infra-red cameras which allow the birds to feel at home and freely roam.

New Zealand wildlife

Queenstown Gardens

Located on a small peninsula jutting out into Lake Wakatipu, the Queenstown Gardens offer a nice, secluded respite for peaceful relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of the town.

Take the opportunity to enjoy the view of The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu at your own pace, or bring a frisbee and play a couple rounds of frisbee golf. Be sure to bring a camera to take shots of the blooming rose gardens, towering heritage trees and ducks.

This small snapshot of tranquility is a must while in the city of endless adventure.

Relax in Queenstown Gardens

Bungy

Looking for a bit of culture in your Queenstown adventure? For a truly authentic New Zealand experience, take the plunge with Kawarau Bridge Bungy!

AJ Hackett put Queenstown on the map as a global adventure destination when he launched the world’s first commercially operated bungy jumping site in 1988. Native New Zealander Hackett was inspired by an ancient Vanuatu ritual in which young men journey into manhood by testing their courage and jump from tall wooden platforms with vines tied to their ankles.

Test your own courage as you hurtle down more than 140 ft towards the emerald green waters of Kawarau River.

 Looking to conquer even greater heights? Try the tallest jump in New Zealand and soar down 400 ft into glorious mountain terrain with the Nevis Bungy. This once in a lifetime experience will be sure to leave its mark on your Queensland adventure.

How’s that for New Zealand authenticity?

AJ Hackett Bungy in Queenstown

Swing

Want more than just a few seconds of thrilling aerial views over Queenstown? Get the best fast and furious sightseeing around on The Ledge Swing.

Forget the low-hanging swings in the playgrounds of your childhood. The rope style swing is the only swing found in the heart of Queenstown. Board the Gondola and up top to the Ledge platform on Bob’s Peak, where you’ll be strapped to a harness and lifted 1300 ft above the city. When you’re ready, pull the release cord – that’s right, you’re in control – and take flight!

Sky Swing in Queenstown

Skydiving

Skydiving is on every adrenaline seeker’s bucket list, and Queenstown – the birthplace of tandem skydiving – is the perfect place to take the plunge.

You’ll receive instruction and a history of the surrounding areas as you are transported through Queenstown’s stunning surrounds to the drop zone. Suit up and strap on to an instructor for a safe dive. Then plummet from 15,000 feet in the sky and free fall for up to 60 seconds towards glimmering Lake Wakatipu, tall, snow-capped mountain ranges and even the dusky fiords of Fiordland National Park.

You won’t get a better view of Queenstown’s gorgeous scenery than this.

NZOne Skydiving

Jet Boarding and Rafting

You’ve conquered Queenstown by air and land. Now you’re ready to take on the town by water with more fast-paced adventure. Extreme water activities can be found in abundance for visitors brave enough to traverse the crystal clear New Zealand rapids.

Hop aboard the Shotover Jet for a high-speed boat ride through the daunting and narrow Shotover Canyons. The boat is custom built for expert maneuvering and 360-degree turns, so be ready for a few hairy spins and close encounters with the canyons on your ride as your boat driver tears up the river!

If you’re looking to get your rafting on in Queenstown, you can whitewater raft on the Shotover and Kawarau Rivers. Immerse yourself in the brisk waters of the rivers – expect to be soaked to the bone!

For beginners, the four rapids on the Kawarau River are a great introduction to whitewater rafting. Calm stretches of water allow rafters to take in the scenery of the historic Kawarau Bungy Bridge and surrounding rocky cliffs.  

The Shotover River provides more challenging rapids for the adventurous rafter – with names like Aftershock, Squeeze, Toilet and Pinball, conquering this river will be a thrilling feat.

Jet Boating in Shotover River

Hot Pools

After experiencing the extreme thrills of the Adventure Capital of the World, unwind and pamper yourself in the lap of luxury in a rejuvenating hot pool. Soak in the gorgeous alpine view and fresh mountain air as your body and mind surrender to the pure waters and penetrating warmth of Queenstown’s world class hot pools.

On-site massage rooms are available for ultimate rest and relaxation.

Relax in Queenstown

Stargazing

The scenery in Queenstown is stunning from any location – land, air, or water. But at night, look up from the landscape below you and greet the illuminating expanse of stars above for a view you won’t want to miss.

Take the Gondola in the center of town to the top of Bob’s Peak, where you’ll be guided to a spot above the clouds with zero light pollution for ultimate clarity. Expert guides will have you spellbound with their wealth of information on stars, constellations and planets all visible from the industry standard telescopes available for viewing.

Canadian Goose down jackets are provided for maximum warmth to fight off the cold. But you’ll soon forget the chill as the mesmerizing stars of the Southern Hemisphere captivate you with their unbelievable brightness.

If you hail from a location too light-polluted to enjoy the night sky, stargazing is a must to complete any trip to Queenstown.

Skyline Gondola Stargazing

Experience the Best Things to do in Queenstown

Queenstown makes completing your bucket list a breeze. With so many things to do, it’s hard to pack the best the town has to offer in one visit. We’ll help you plan your trip to the Adventure Capital of the World and make sure you don’t miss the must-dos during your stay.

I want to visit Queenstown!

Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm) and speak to one of our expert Destination Specialists today


You May Also Like:

New Zealand Must-See: Milford and Doubtful Sounds

Posted on: July 6th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments

Think of Milford and Doubt Sounds as metaphors for life. The grandiose fiords are world-famous for their size and striking appearance. But they didn’t start out that way.

Sometimes, the key to creating something grand is by making small steps every day. Over time, these subtle changes will lead to something magnificent.

Monumental even.

You don’t have to look far to see this proven right in your own life. The very ground you walk on was shaped and shifted over millennia. Land masses broke from super-continents to form the places you call home.

It was smell steps like these that formed Milford and Doubtful Sound, the “Eighth Wonders of the World”.

See why New Zealand’s most beautiful places are two can’t-miss destinations on your next trip to Kiwi country.

milford and doubtful sound

Fiordland

Both Milford and Doubtful Sound are in a region of New Zealand known as Fiordland National Park. The nearly 5,000 square miles of New Zealand’s south-west tip contains some of the most quintessential and incredible landscapes in the world.

When you think about New Zealand and the amazing scenery it’s known for, you’re probably thinking of two things: the rolling, grassy vistas that were popularized in movies like The Lord of the Rings, and tall, steep peaks, shadowed by mist, rising above calm waters below.

milford and doubtful sound

Photo: Tourism Holdings

The latter is Fiordland. And by far the two most visited places in Fiordland are Milford and Doubtful Sound.

Over the course of millions of years, shifting tectonic plates caused tall rock formations to reach out from beneath the sea. As the earth continued its slow-motion crash on to itself, sharp peaks reached high in to the air.

During the ice age, glaciers formed and began to move. Inch by inch, they slowly began to erode rock and sediment, forming the narrow-tunnels found in Fiordland today.

Small steps. Big changes.

Milford Sound

milford and doubtful sound

Photo: Tourism New Zealand

Sometimes it’s the journey. Other times it’s the destination. When it comes to Milford Sound, it’s both.

The scenic drive out from Queenstown is like a “best-of” tour of New Zealand’s pristine landscapes. You’ll drive along winding roads that hug Lake Wakatipu, a turquoise-blue, glacier-fed lake.

Stop along any of the pull-outs and viewing points along the way and you might recognize the vast expanse of water, rimmed by mountains. On the big screen, it served as the backdrop for Middle Earth in several scenes of The Lord of the Rings.

As you enter New Zealand hill country, tall mountains give way to grass-covered, wavy hills and colorful lupins line the highway.

This scenic highway is precisely why Milford Sound is New Zealand’s most accessible and most visited site in Fiordland.

Tip: Want to skip the traffic on the way back? Go for a Milford Sound Cruise and Scenic Flight. Return from your Milford Sound cruise in style on a scenic plane journey back to Queenstown

Every year nearly 600,000 tourists come to Milford Sound, taking advantage of the highway leading there. This makes it easy to take a day trip from the populous city of Queenstown, or a quick stopover if you make your base in Te Anau.

And it’s easy to see why once you arrive. Although you could argue that the word “epic” is a bit overused in travel writing, there is no better way to describe Milford Sound.

milford and doubtful sound

Photo: Adam Bryce

The tall, steep crags jut out of the water, peaking high overhead. It’s home to the tallest peak in Fiordland, Mitre Peak, reaching in to the sky nearly 6,000 feet. It’s the iconic landscape that single-handedly has attracted visitors from across the globe.

But an increase in visitors also means an increase in the number of boats cruising the Sound to accommodate them. On Milford Sound, you’re in the company of a number of different tour boats, operators and cruise ships, all looking to see the same sites that you are.

However, this doesn’t mean you’re going to be surrounded by raging party-boats – but nothing beats the ambiance of feeling alone on the water, a mere speck among rocky skyscrapers towering overhead.

Doubtful Sound

If silent ambiance is your prime objective when visiting a natural wonder, look no further. Doubtful Sound is the slightly less popular younger brother to Milford Sound. It doesn’t have quite the same name recognition, it’s a little bit harder to get to and the peaks aren’t quite as tall.

milford and doubtful sound

But being a little more out of the way proves beneficial to the unmatched ambiance found at Doubtful Sound.

Access to Doubtful is limited to a ferry ride over Lake Manapouri. You won’t find the rows of coaches, buses and cars that cover Milford. Instead, a very limited number of boats cruise through the beautiful fiord.

This makes Doubtful Sound a slightly more solemn excursion, if you’re looking for a true “one-with-nature” type of experience.

The rocky cliffs that arise from Doubtful Sound apex at a round crest, as opposed to Milford’s angular, jagged peaks. Soft, green ferns and forest cover much of the mountainous rises and foggy mist often rests like pillows in the treetops.

But the main attraction at both Milford and Doubt Sounds isn’t what you see, but what you hear.

 The Sound of Silence

Much like the world’s other natural wonders, Milford and Doubtful Sound have the power to leave you speechless. If you’ve ever been to the Grand Canyon, you’ll know that upon reaching the rim, there’s a distinct shift that happens upon arrival.

All the usual chatter that fills the parking lot on the way of families swapping stories of the road and siblings arguing over who won the “License Plate Game” seems to disappear.

Looking in to the void that the Earth created renders an eerie hush where you could almost hear a pin drop all the way in the valley below.

milford and doubtful sound

Maybe it’s the overwhelming sense of your place on the planet, or maybe no one wants to be the sole person to break the silence and ruin the mood. In any case, it’s an experience that’s unique to witnessing something so grand that an entire crowd can be left short for words.

At Milford and Doubtful Sounds, you’ll feel that same majestic sound-of-nothing from the “valley” itself, on a “sound of silence” cruise. You’ll cruise through the giant fiords, craning your neck to take in the enormous rock formations, standing tall around the still water.

As you reach a center point in the great fiord, the captain of the ship turns off the ship. Then, all you’re left with is the soft babble of water and the call of birdsong. But the Captain didn’t call for silence.

They didn’t need to.

Visit Milford and Doubtful Sounds

Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound are the crown jewels of Fiordland. Let us plan your Fiordland adventure. Whether you’re up for a scenic drive from Queenstown or a ferry ride in to the unknown, it’s a trip that you’ll never forget.

Add Fiordland to My Trip

Want to start planning your trip now?

Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm) and speak to one of our expert Destination Specialists today.


You May Also Like

New Zealand Honeymoons Picnic QueenstownNew Zealand Romantic Getaways

Glorious Glaciers of New Zealand

Most Scenic Views in New Zealand

 

 

 

Tags



About New Zealand Reviews
Rating of  Average of 4.83 on a total of 18 Ratings
Janet H. Rust
Wonderful Time!

We had a fabulous time in Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. You arranged fun excursions that we all enjoyed and then a relaxing time in Fiji before we returned to the US. Especially enjoyed(...)

Gene and Sandy Bauman
Perfect Adventure

Our trip covered several stops in New Zealand, Australia and Fiji over about a month. Each accommodation, shuttle, arranged tour and request was fulfilled beautifully. We couldn't have asked(...)

Dave Palazzolo
A fantastic service

Really outstanding. The pre-arranged activities were really incredible, from an ocean cruise around milford sound right up to a walking tour of Hobbiton. The van was a great way to see a lot(...)

Nancy Goetze
Exceeded expectations!

This was a very well planned trip by About Australia of both the North and South Islands of New Zealand. The included itinerary was terrific and the add ons were of great value. In some cases(...)