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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)


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The Shire – Hobbiton Private Tour

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

Guests looking out from Hobbit hole in Hobbiton

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

Blue Hobbit Hole door in Hobbiton

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.

I Want to Take a Private Hobbiton Tour!


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Hobbiton Evening Banquet Dinner Tour


Hobbiton Evening Banquet Dinner Tour

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

Lanterns hanging above the Shire in Hobbiton

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.

Tour Hobbiton

Details of Movie Set in Hobbiton Evening Banquet Tour

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

Hobbiton Evening Banquet

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

Shire by Dusk at Hobbiton Evening Banquet Tour

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!

I Want to See the Shire!


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Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

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

Visitors taking pictures in front of Hobbit hole in Hobbiton

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?

Discover Hobbiton

Lush gardens surrounding Hobbit hole in Hobbiton

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

Party Marquee for Lunch in Hobbiton

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.

I Want to Go to Hobbiton!


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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

You May Have Missed Your Chance to Vacation to New Zealand

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.

vacation to new zealand

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.

vacation to new zealand

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!

Vacation to New Zealand Auckland

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.

Book Early

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.

Travel in the Off Season

This one needs no explanation. Make no mistake – travel in the off season is much more flexible than peak season. We have an in-depth guide to New Zealand’s travel seasons but overall, it’s pretty simple.

Summer

December, January, February – By far the busiest season. Warm weather and school children are on vacation.

Fall

March, April, May – Milder temperatures and the summer rush is dwindling. Fall is a GREAT time to experience the great New Zealand outdoors.

Winter

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.

new zealand vacation

Photo: Julian Apse

You’ve always wanted to snowboard in July, haven’t you?

Spring

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.

Freedom Camp

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.

 new zealand vacation

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.

I Don’t Want to Miss Out On New Zealand!

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.


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Treat Yourself in Rotorua

Posted on: July 27th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments

Lake Spa in Polynesian Spa

What’s your travel style? Are you an avid by-the-shoestring kind of traveler, tramping around (that means hiking in Kiwi-speak!) and bunking up with a bunch of hostelers? Never been one to bask in the lap of luxury?

Sure, we’re all about saving a few dollars if it means extending your trip a bit – an extra few nights, a flight to another city – all in the name of experiences over luxury.

But sometimes, it’s good to treat yourself to the 5-star, rock-star treatment you deserve. Five-star hotels, spa-treatments, the works – a real A-list experience.

When you’re short on time and can’t spend a month loafing around New Zealand (though we do recommend it!), a bit of pampering is the best way to supercharge your vacation for the ultimate in relaxation that makes you feel like you spent a month abroad.

And for the best city in New Zealand for that first-class experience, look no further than Rotorua.

Polynesian Spa

Polynesian Spa in Rotorua credit Fraser Clements

Photo: Fraser Clements

Plane travel has certainly improved since the early days of commercial flying, but 13-hours in close quarters over 6,000 miles will leave even first-class flyers feeling a bit worse for wear.

Still, not a bad trade-off for getting around the world in less than a day!

Settle in to your first round of star-treatment in Rotorua’s geothermally heated hot pools in a “World Top-10” spa resort.

The Polynesian Spa features 28 hot-pools, fed from natural springs in the Taupo Volcanic Zone.

Each spring features a unique combination of minerals to provide an experience that is relaxing and therapeutic.

Water from the Priest Spring contain a high sulfur content, with other minerals to aid in soothing tired and cramped muscles. Perfect for a post-flight soak.

The Rachel Spring combines highly alkalized water with sodium-silicate that nourishes skin and leaves you feeling rejuvenated.

The Polynesian Spa is a perfect refresher when the rigors of the road wear you down.

Hell’s Gate Hot Pools and Mud Baths

rotorua luxury

Photo: Fraser Clements

That’s right, we’re spa-hopping and next on your list is Hell’s Gate. That’s how the rock stars do it, right?

This geothermal wonderland was originally named Tikitere.

All geothermal springs in Rotorua were originally given Maori names, as the Maori people are considered the “guardians of geothermal activity” in the region.

It became known as “Hell’s Gate” when an English playwright in for a visit thought the rising steam and bubbling mud pools must be what the gates of Hell looked like.

The star of Hell’s Gate are the hot mud baths. Semi-private vessels filled with geothermally-heated mud and sulfur water.

The pools are known for their curative properties as well as the gentle exfoliation that can leave your skin feeling renewed up to 6 weeks after your visit. A lingering reminder long after you’ve made it back home.

White Island Helicopter Tour

White Island Helicopter Tour

Sure, spa treatments and massages are great, but your indulgent, pampered tour of Rotorua doesn’t end there.

Nothing says “living the rock-star lifestyle” like boarding a helicopter and landing on an active volcano for a tour.

White Island Helicopter Tours offer an up-close look at New Zealand’s largest, most active volcano with an entrance that’ll leave you speechless.

Sure, maybe you’ve rented a fancy car or taken a limo out for a date night or special event, but once you board a chopper for a chauffeured ride out to an island, you’ll wonder why you travel any other way.

You’ll feel like James Bond being taken out to an evil villain’s lair. Or the Rolling Stones receiving that premium, star-treatment.

Everyone deserves a bit of pampering every now and then.

Te Po Dinner

rotorua luxury

Wind down with a relaxing dinner with entertainment and storytelling by Maori guides.

Upon arrival, you’ll view a Maori feast being prepared in the traditonal Hangi-style, a traditional, underground-oven cooking style used for centuries.

Then, a poi-dance (traditional Maori dance) and haka (war-cry) demonstration provides an intimate, cultural experience missed by many who travel to New Zealand.

After a blessing by a Maori leader, you’ll be treated to a feast featuring foods cooked in the Hangi and an array of delicious Maori and New Zealand cuisine.

 To cap off your luxury-dinner experience, you’ll board a waka (Maori canoe) for a sightseeing, night float filled with oral history and storytelling that culminates at the famed Pohutu Geyser.

rotorua luxury

Treat Yourself in Rotorua

When you finally make it back home, skill still soft and glowing from the hot pools and mud baths, feeling culturally enriched and spoiled, you’ll understand why everyone needs a true A-list travel experience every so often.

We’ll set you up with the ultimate Rotorua experience so you can travel like a rock star from start to finish.

Add a Pampered Rotorua Experience 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.


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New Zealand Honeymoons and Romantic Getaways

Posted on: June 28th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments

There is perhaps no trip more memorable than a honeymoon. You’re riding the high from the biggest day of your life and want the good times to keep going. It’s a story you’ll tell for the rest of your life.

Better not make it a boring one!

The story of your New Zealand honeymoon is one that you’ll never get tired of telling. Just imagine the conversation when you get back:

“So, how was the honeymoon?”

“Well we went to New Zeala-“

“Wow New Zealand! THAT’S AMAZING!”

You won’t get too far in that conversation until everyone’s excitement is soaring. People are fascinated by the country and we’re sure you will be too.

Whether you’ve seen it in movies like the Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit, or you’re already aware of the gorgeous landscapes, fiords, glaciers and mountains. Any way you decide to experience New Zealand, you’re sure to have the perfect post-wedding adventure.

New Zealand Honeymoon Essentials

New Zealand Honeymoons Picnic Queenstown

Photo: Miles Holden

Romantic Dinner for Two

You’ve landed in New Zealand. It’s your first evening in Kiwi country and you want to get it started right.

New Zealand Honeymoons Romantic Dinner

Nothing says romantic night out like a quiet dinner out on the town. But don’t settle for just anywhere. Make it extra special with a visit to one of these amazing restaurants.

  • Want to dine from more than 700 feet up in the air? Orbit Restaurant at the top of the Auckland Sky Tower is the perfect option for bird’s eye views of the city. The restaurant even slowly spins 360° so you can see the city from all angles.
  • How about a romantic sky-gondola ride followed by dinner with an amazing view? Take a gondola ride up the Skyline to Stratosfare Restaurant in Queenstown. With a focus on delicious wine and fine dining fare, Stratosfare makes for a great spot for dinner, or even just after dinner drinks with a view.
  • Afraid of heights? Go underground to the chic Japanese restaurant Tanuki’s Cave. This hip sake bar is the perfect spot to start off a night on the town.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

You just ate dinner and the night is still young. What next? Dive in to New Zealand’s best night life and dance the night away at these clubs and bars.

  • Orleans – You may be thousands of miles away, but don’t skip out on this Kiwi take on The Big Easy. Orleans in Auckland specializes in New Orleans cuisine, but turns up on the weekend with live band, upbeat rhythm and blues.
  • Impala – This new addition to Auckland night life is all about the dancing. Craft beer, fancy cocktails and amazing wine round out the bar at this upscale venue. Famous guest DJ’s make sure the party stays turned up at Impala.
  • Ink Bar – Located in the super trendy “K-Road” neighborhood of Auckland, Ink Bar is a late night spot for underground house music and drinks.

Recover in Style with a Spa Day

New Zealand Honeymoons Polynesian Spa

Photo: Polynesian Spa

Partied a little too hard on your night out? Find the ultimate in rest and relaxation in one of New Zealand’s many spas and hot pools. There’s nothing like a soak in a heated mineral pool to clear the toxins from your body!

  • The Polynesian Spa is an amazing oasis surrounded by natural plants and rocks. Pools are filled with heated, natural mineral water for a relaxing soak. The Polynesian Spa was voted one of the top 10 spas in the entire world – it’s that good.
  • How about a personal spa of your own? Head to Hot Water Beach, rent out a shovel and get to digging. The water below the sand is HOT due to the geothermal heating beneath the surface. Hot Water Beach is one of our top thermal pools in New Zealand and we’re sure you’ll love it.
  • Hell’s Gate is a geothermal attraction with hot mud pools, geysers and waterfalls. In this unique spa experience you can exfoliate in the hot mud, see the southern hemisphere’s largest hot waterfall and take a soak in hot, healing sulphur pools.

Couple’s Wine Tasting and Vineyard Tour

New Zealand Honeymoons Vineyards

Photo: Camilla Rutherford

After you’re rested up, keep the relaxation day going. Go for the quintessential romantic couple’s experience: a vineyard and winery tour in New Zealand’s beautiful wine regions. Stroll through lush orchards. Treat yourselves to some of the finest dining in New Zealand. Taste New Zealand’s world-famous wines and toast to the rest of your lives.

Waiheke Island alone is home to nearly 20 wineries and vineyards. With splendid views of expansive, rolling vistas and the surrounding water in the distance, Waiheke Island is that picturesque, romantic getaway you’ve been searching for. Travel + Leisure even named Waiheke Island one of the best places to honeymoon right now.

Leaps of Faith

Now that you’re rested up, it’s the perfect time to get your adrenaline going again. New Zealand is packed with adventure experiences that you’ll love doing together. There are enough unforgettable experiences to be had to last a lifetime. Hop on over to Queenstown and participate in some of the extreme sports that this “Adventure Capital of the World” is known for.

  • AJ Hackett Bungy Jumping – The first commercial bungy company in the world. Bungy jumping put New Zealand on the map for extreme sports nearly 30 years ago.
  • Skydiving Queenstown – You’re 15,000 feet up and every instinct in your body is telling you not to do it. Your toes hang over the ledge of the plane as the countdown begins. And then you jump and find out first hand what made it all worth it. Skydiving over New Zealand’s picturesque landscape is indescribable, but we’re sure you’ll have the time of your life.

Take to the Open Road

New Zealand Honeymoons Kaikoura

Photo: Sara Orme

Driving yourself through a new country with just the two of you is an amazing journey and a personalized experience you’ll never forget. Every mile of a self-driven New Zealand road trip is a delight.

New Zealand is the ultimate self-drive destination. Rent a car and head up the rocky coast. Stop along the way for lunch. Wind your way along rolling hills, careening through lush greenery. Stop for a photo-op wherever you want – and believe us, you’ll want to stop often as you see the landscape pass by your windows.

No longer will you ask, “are we there yet?”. Instead, you’ll be saying “I can’t wait to see what’s next.”

Explore Nature

Want to get outside but not quite the jumping-out-of-a-plane type? New Zealand is nearly 1/3 covered in National Parks, so you’ll find plenty to do to experience the country’s beautiful landscapes.

Take your partner on a kayak-for-two and paddle around Rangitoto Island. See amazing seal colonies in the wild. Crane your neck to the sky for unmatched views of rugged, mountainous landscape. You’ll both work together paddling your way around calm waters to secluded beaches and more.

Stargaze the Darkest Skies in the World

You may never look to the stars the same way again. The Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve is a gold-rated reserve. This means that it has some of the least light pollution on the planet.

Did you know that in many urban areas as few as 300 stars are visible at any given moment? At Dark Sky Reserves you’ll be able to see as many as 15,000!

See the cluster that makes up the Milky Way. Constellations come to life and you can pinpoint individual stars with ease.

Stargazing New Zealand Honeymoons

Photo: Vaughan Brookfield

With the use of telescopes, high powered binoculars and the simple naked eye, you can point out planets, distant galaxies, other planets’ moons and more.

Cozy up with your partner and stare off in to the galaxy. Keep an eye out for shooting stars – they’re more common than you think when there’s no light pollution washing everything out!

Get Away From it All

Honeymoons and other romantic vacations are meant to get away from it all and put the focus on having an enriching experience with you and your partner. So how about a chance to really get away?

Imagine yourself in a secluded, luxury cabin embraced on 3 sides by tall, lush hills. Right out front, through floor to ceiling windows and wide open space is a beautiful, calm bay just outside your doorstep.

New Zealand Honeymoons Secluded Lodge

Photo: Scrubby Bay

 

Bask in the lap of luxury with a stay in one of New Zealand’s luxury cottages. With your own personal waterfront, the privacy of complete seclusion, a private swimming pool and spa and New Zealand’s amazing landscape in your backyard – rest and relaxation has never been more relaxing.

Check out Scrubby Bay, just outside of Christchurch. The remote bay is only accessible via a 40 minute four-wheel drive transfer. Or, really live it up and upgrade to a scenic helicopter ride that lands just steps away from your luxury property for an epic entrance and exit you’ll never forget.

Don’t Start Off with a Headache

There are so many sublime experiences to be had in New Zealand, you owe it to yourself to make it your honeymoon destination. Remember, you’ll be relaying this story to friends and family for years to come – make it a good one. A New Zealand honeymoon is the perfect way to start your lives together and we can make it easy for you. Tell us what you’d like to do and we can make it happen for you. We’ll send you a free quote so you can start making priceless memories in no time.

Let’s Plan My Honeymoon

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.


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Overseas Adventure Travel Capital of the World – Heart-Pounding New Zealand

Posted on: June 20th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
Overseas Adventure Travel Bungy Jumping

Photo: AJ Hackett Bungy

If A. J. Hackett jumped off a bridge would anyone follow him? That’s the question the New Zealand native asked back in 1986 when he opened the world’s first commercial bungy jumping operation in Queenstown. The world answered with a resounding “Yes!” and soon people from New Zealand and all over rushed to see the extreme sport of “bungy jumping”.

The rest is history and New Zealand’s place as the overseas adventure travel capital was solidified.

We’ll show you why picturesque Kiwi country continues to be known the world over for extreme adventure sports in our guide to overseas adventure travel in New Zealand.

Skydiving New Zealand

New Zealand’s landscape is some of the most picturesque in the world. Deep fiords, tall, snow-capped mountains and green, rolling vistas give New Zealand that postcard-look at every turn. What better way to see it all than by plummeting towards it from 12,000 feet up?

Skydiving in New Zealand is the most epic way to top off your overseas adventure travel vacation in New Zealand. You’ll receive instruction, suit up and strap on to an instructor for a safe dive. However, nothing can prepare you for that initial leap through the clouds!

Overseas Adventure Travel New Zealand Sky Diving

Photo: NZOne Skydive

Not ready to take the plunge? Opt for a bungy-jump with the company that started it all. The A. J. Hackett Ledge Bungy provides you with nearly 9 seconds of free-fall before being hurtled back up by your ankles. It’s the unforgettable experience that put Queenstown on the extreme sport map.

High Speed River Boats and Kayaking New Zealand

Hop aboard a high-speed thrilling river boat for an exhilarating journey through the Shotover River Canyons. You’ll zip past past jagged cliff-faces at nearly 60 mph. Squeeze through stunning narrow canyons mere inches away from the rocky walls to your side. Hold on tight as the unique Shotover Jet performs high speed, 360-degree spins along the way. This is not your average river boat cruise.

Want to take it a little bit slower? Get your feet wet first with a bit of kayaking at Tonga Island Marine Reserve. Embark from Onetahuti Beach in a double-kayak and see some of Abel Tasman’s amazing landscape. Paddle around pristine waters and New Zealand’s renowned rugged coastline and rock formations. You’ll feel like you’re exploring uncharted land as you paddle your way through. Lay your eyes on the lush, jungle landscape that surrounds you.

Once you make landfall, you’ll have the chance to explore some of the island and continue your adventure on foot.

Kayaking Abel Tasman New Zealand

Photo: Camilla Stoddart

Tip: Paddle over to see the Seal Colony where you could see native fur seals frolicking in their natural habitat! Along the way, lookout for more of New Zealand’s great wildlife like sea birds or even a Little Blue Penguin. The pristine waters around the reserve are so clear, you can even see fish swimming by as you paddle through.

Caving and Canyoning New Zealand

Get to know New Zealand from the inside-out by trekking through some of its best caves and canyons. Strap on your helmet, turn on your headlamp and harness up. This spelunking adventure is the best way to see some amazing subterranean wonders. New Zealand’s cave system is among the most diverse and challenging in the world.

Sure, you can take the simple walk through wide caverns and see some great sights. Stalactites and black water rivers are pretty accessible to those looking for a slightly more hands-off experience.

Overseas Adventure Travel Waitomo Caves

Photo: Absolute Adventure

But what would overseas adventure travel be without the adventure? For a a more harrowing trek you’ll want to head in to New Zealand’s narrow cave system. You’ll crawl, squeeze and rappel through the complex cave network. Feel your way through certain sections with only the light of you and your cave mates headlamps. Along the way your guide will give you an informative run down of the caves history and geology.

Overseas Adventure Travel Glow Worm Caves New Zealand

Photo: Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

No trip to New Zealand is complete without heading to Waitomo for the iconic Glow Worm Caves. You’ll see beautiful rock formations and geological wonders before embarking on a silent “black-water raft” ride. The silent float on the river-cave offers a stunning look at thousands of glow worms that call the cave home. See the soft, blue light that these bio-luminescent insects give off as you drift silently through the dark expanse. Staring at the glow worms as you float through the silent, dark cave makes you feel like you’re looking at thousands of stars in the sky.

Glacier Walks and Volcano Hikes

Mountaineering has a special place in the hearts of New Zealanders. Did you know that Edmund Hilary, the first person to summit Mt. Everest, was a Kiwi? His interest in climbing mountains was spurned from a childhood trip to Mt. Ruapehu in Tongariro National Park. Celebrate Hilary’s legacy with an adventure of your own in New Zealand’s glacier and volcano regions.

Start off at Franz Josef Glacier where you’ll take a scenic helicopter ride to the top. You’ll get an incredible view of the top of the glacier area along the way before landing right on the ice. An expert guide will lead you through the glacier’s rugged terrain. Walk through narrow ice canyons. See snow-capped mountains and pristine blue-ice. The almost Antarctic feel to Franz Josef Franz Josef Glacier makes you feel a thousand miles away.

Overseas Adventure Travel Franz Josef Glacier New Zealand

Photo: Franz Josef Glacier Guides

From there head for the North Island. Make a stop in Tongariro National Park and participate in a “Great Walk of New Zealand“. You can even trek up Mt. Nguaruhoe – better known as Mt. Doom in the Lord of the Rings.

Your final stop on this circuit of New Zealand wonders is the sulfuric, geothermal region in Rotorua. Once you arrive, don’t be alarmed if things smell a bit odd. “The Sulfur City” is more than just a nickname for Rotorua. The sulfur rich minerals brewing below the earth escape in to the atmosphere leaving a strong sulfuric smell all around. But after some getting used to, it’s just a reminder of the amazing geothermal activity happening just below you.

Just outside Rotorua proper sits the Waimangu Volcanic Valley. This area was created by New Zealand’s largest volcanic eruption more than 100 years ago in 1886. In geologic terms, where things are measured in hundreds of millions of years, this valley is brand new. Valley walks take you through stunning emerald pools, hot springs and steaming crater lakes. Be sure to check out Frying Pan Lake – as the name implies, the lake cracks and sizzles from geothermal heating!

Geothermal Rotorua New Zealand Overseas Adventure Travel

Photo: Rotorua Geothermal Region

New Zealand – Overseas Adventure Travel Mecca

In New Zealand you’re never short on options to push your vacation to the next level. Sure you’ll want to see the stunning landscapes that made Middle Earth come to life in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films. But in between the relaxing walks and scenic drives, make a few stops that will truly take your breath away. Let us plan a trip that will show you why New Zealand’s reputation for overseas adventure travel is well-earned.  

Add Some Adventure to My Tour

Want to start planning your trip now? Call 888 -359-2877 (M -F 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.) today and talk to one of our Destination Specialists. We’ll work together to create the perfect trip for you.


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A Guide to New Zealand Volcanoes and Geothermal Sights

Posted on: June 8th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments

Champagne Pool in Wai-O-Tapu near Rotorua

New Zealand is, pardon the pun, a hotbed of geothermal activity. It’s located in the “Ring of Fire”, an aptly named cluster of volcanic activity around the Pacific Ocean.

In fact, many of the islands surrounding New Zealand were formed from volcanoes.

Luckily, most of the New Zealand volcanoes and powerful cones haven’t erupted in hundreds or thousands of years. Shooting geysers, hot springs and sulfuric lakes are active reminders of the country’s volcanic history.

Check out our list of the best places to experience the sights, sounds and smells of New Zealand volcanoes and geothermal regions.

Whakaari / White Island

White Island, New Zealand Volcanoes

Photo: Chris Sisarich

White Island is New Zealand’s most active volcano. Its peak rises more than 1,000 feet in the air, but much of the mountain is hidden below sea level, making this the largest volcano in New Zealand!

For an epic tour of White Island, you’ll arrive by helicopter and land on its surface. Walk the rugged surface and feel real volcanic rock beneath your feet.  

White Island seems to live and breathe as a living being as steam rises and falls. Vents and cracks along the islands exterior hiss and release gases up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit!

You can get up close to the bubbling mud pits and steaming acid lakes that make up the island.

White Island, New Zealand Volcanoes and Geothermal

Photo: Rob Suisted

Like many New Zealand volcanoes and regions, White Island was originally named by the Maori. In Maori, the name for White Island is “Te Puia o Whakaari”, or “the dramatic volcano”.

No stranger to drama, this volcano wants to be seen and heard. Numerous small eruptions and a peak with seemingly constant cover from thick, white steam ensure that White Island stays on the minds of native Kiwi’s and tourists alike.

Rotorua, The Sulphur City

Whakarewarewa Thermal area, Rotorua, New Zealand Volcanoes and Geysers

Photo: Chris McLennan

Just a skip away from the Bay of Plenty, Rotorua is known for its unique Maori culture and amazing hot springs and geysers.

You’ll know you’ve arrived in Rotorua when you sense that distinct smell of sulfur that permeates the air.

It might take some getting used to at first, but just think of it as the Earth’s magic at work! Besides, it’s a small price to pay for being in one of the most historically significant sites in all of New Zealand.

You’ll want to check out Te Puia,  an amazing geothermal wonderland that is home to the Maori Arts and Culture Institute. 

Start your visit off with a visit to the largest active geyser in the Southern Hemisphere. Pohutu Geyser shoots steaming water more than 100 feet in to the air once or twice every single hour.

It’s a geyser so reliable you could almost set your watch to it.

Boiling mud pools, hot springs and steaming valleys all cover the landscape of Te Puia.

Witness unique Maori cooking that utilizes Te Puia’s boiling springs. Known as hangi in Maori, meat and vegetables are placed in to baskets and lowered in to steaming water from the Earth which cooks it through. The Maori have used this method of cooking for centuries and it’s still used today.

Participate in a Te Puia Steambox Lunch to try for yourself the fantastic foods that this method produces.

Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach Coromandel Peninsula New Zealand Volcanoes

Photo: Adam Bryce

At first glance this may look like a regular beach. But bubbling just beneath the sand is naturally heated mineral water from springs below.

This makes Hot Water Beach a prime location to pull up, dig in and treat yourself to your own personal spay day. Dig a hole big enough for all of your friends, or keep it small for a solo soak.

You should plan on arriving to Hot Water Beach about 2 hours before or after low tide. This gives you a lot of easy digging area to hit the spa in no time.

Forgot to pack a shovel? Local cafes and shops within rent out digging implements if you didn’t pack a shovel in your carry-on

TIP: Always test the temperature of your newly-dug hot spring before getting in. As its name suggests, the water can get VERY HOT!

We gave Hot Water Beach a spot on our list of the most amazing beaches in New Zealand where you’ll find more of our favorites!

Waimangu Volcanic Valley

Waimangu Geothermal Region New Zealand Volcanoes

Photo: Waimangu Geothermal Region

New Zealand is a new island nation. Its land isn’t even 10,000 years old yet! That’s just a blink of an eye in geologic terms.

The Waimangu Volcanic Valley was created just over 100 years ago from the eruption of Mount Tarawera. This eruption is New Zealand’s deadliest on record and remnants of the site’s violent history are still evident to this day.

Take a walk through Waimangu’s Volcanic Valley and you’ll see the rising steam of hot springs and crater lakes. The Emerald Pools are a stunning bright green water feature that sit atop a crater left by Tarawera’s eruption.

Many New Zealand volcanoes feature crater lakes and miniature ecosystems in the water atop extinct cones.

Be sure to check out Frying Pan Lake, the largest hot spring in the world.  You’ll be able hear the lake crack, sizzle, sputter and hiss from the geothermal heating below!

Tongariro National Park

Tongariro Alpine Crossing New Zealand Volcanoes

Photo: Camilla Rutherford

Take a trip to Mt. Doom and see how the real-life mountain of Mt. Ngaruhoe became the fictional volcano of Mordor in the Lord of the Rings films.

Tongariro National Park also provided the backdrop for many of the films iconic scenes. The amazing local landscape, incredible mountain peaks and lush forest is unlike any other.

It’s no wonder that director and native Kiwi Peter Jackson chose to film much of the movie in his home country.

Tongariro is also the home of many of New Zealand’s greatest walks and hiking tracks. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing and Northern Circuit are among the top 9 Great Walks in the country. You’ll see the park’s amazing plant and animal life, snow-capped mountain tops and the emerald pools of the park’s crater lakes.

Microscopic minerals suspended in the water give the lakes a super-saturated, amazing turquoise and blue color.

New Zealand Volcanoes

We have no doubt that you’ll find these great regions and New Zealand volcanoes just as amazing as we do.

Maybe you’re a geology super-fan who wants to tour the “Ring of Fire”. Or you’re a Lord of the Rings super-fan who just has to see Mt. Doom. Or maybe you just want to walk on a real volcano.

Either way, we can put together the perfect itinerary to see one or all of these amazing sights.

Give us a call at (888) 359 – 2877 Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. CST or  and we’ll plan the New Zealand trip of your dreams.

Create a Custom Trip


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About New Zealand Reviews
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Eric Olberding
My wife and I had a wonderful trip to New Zealand.

About New Zealand did an excellent job of covering all the details which led to a very organized and stress free vacation! A couple of the IBIS hotels we stayed at were disappointing but on the(...)

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(...)

Beck S.
Fantasic Job

I had a fantastic time in New Zealand. I only wish I could have been there longer! Thank you for putting together such a great itinerary on such short notice.

Scott Nowak
What a great way to spend our 40th Anniversary! Thank you!!

It was a fantastic vacation to both New Zealand & Australia (Melbourne area). Bekah arranged a self drive tour in NZ with all the tours/hotels to fit into our schedule. Amazing views of the(...)