Posted on: December 14th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan No Comments
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.
1. Visit Hobbiton
Where to stay: Auckland or Rotorua
You don’t have to be a Lord of the Rings fan to feel the magic of Hobbiton. The green rolling hills, the bursts of colorful gardens and picturesque hobbit holes will transport you straight into the Shire of the films.
Tours of the Hobbiton movie set are led by passionate guides offering insightful tidbits and knowledge even diehard Tolkien fans might not know. Stay at the head of the group for the best opportunities to capture that winning shot in front of a hobbit hole with no bystanders in the frame!
For an unforgettable experience, book an evening tour with an included banquet. Seeing the Shire by twilight is only beatable by the indulgent feast you’ll share with other enraptured fans.
Contact an About New Zealand specialist for the best arrangements on including Hobbiton on your New Zealand trip.
2. Explore the Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Photo: Shaun Jeffers
Where to stay: Auckland or Rotorua
There’s something about twinkling lights that our eyes simply can’t resist.
That’s what makes the Waitomo Caves so enchanting. Adorned with thousands of tiny glowworms, the pitch-black caverns are illuminated by their unearthly blue glow. It seriously looks like something out of a fairy tale.
The most popular way to see the glowworm caves is on guided tours through the caverns, ending with a boat tour on the subterranean lake drifting through the illuminated caverns.
But one of our favorite ways to explore the caves is on a thrilling black water rafting adventure. Thrill seekers glide through the cave system and underground waterfalls, ultimately floating serenely through the Glowworm Grotto.
3. Indulge in Waiheke Island
Photo: Miles Holden
Where to stay: Auckland
New Zealand is dappled with wine regions all across the country, but nothing beats what’s known as New Zealand’s “Island of Wine.”
Waiheke Island, less than an hour ferry ride from Auckland, is an indulgent retreat for food and wine lovers. Complete with gorgeous bays, scenic walks and countless vineyards, this sublime island feels like something out of a Mediterranean legend.
Go on an endless wine-hopping adventure and delight your taste buds with the gourmet dishes of the island’s renowned restaurants. Everything from delectable oysters, Greek meze platters, woodfired pizzas and even gelato is on offer, paired with glasses of Waiheke’s finest wines.
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
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
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
Photo: Te Papa Museum
Where to stay: Wellington
New Zealand’s most enrapturing museum resides in its capital, Wellington. Te Papa Tongarewa, located on Wellington’s waterfront, is a dedication to New Zealand’s art, history and culture.
This huge museum contains six levels, each with a central theme displayed through an array of exhibits. Discover the stories of New Zealanders during World War I in Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War exhibit, located on the second level. Explore the cultures of Maori and other Pacific peoples through artifacts, architecture and artworks located on the fourth level.
In short, you could spend days in this museum. Though you may like to wander on your own, we highly recommend a guided tour for the expert insight and information your guide will share. There’s no better way to explore a museum than with someone who knows it like the back of their hand.
Location: Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, West Coast
Where to stay: Fox or Franz Josef Villages, or Queenstown
You’ve probably never thought about climbing a glacier. It’s hardly a thought that enters the mind.
But once it does, don’t you kind of want to do it?
Thrill-seekers who aren’t afraid of a little ice can hike on New Zealand’s glaciers.
New Zealand’s most famous glaciers are Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier, both located along the west coast of the South Island. What makes these glaciers so breathtaking is the sprawl of tropical rainforest hugging their base. One minute you’re in lush rainforest, the next you’ve stepped back in time into the ice age!
Both glaciers provide an array of adventures for all levels of fitness, from guided walks to climbs complete with ice picks and crampons. For a truly spectacular experience, opt for a heli-hike, beginning with a scenic helicopter ride to the top of the glacier and hiking your way down.
9. Dolphin and Whale Watching in Kaikoura
Photo: Sara Orme
Where to stay: Kaikoura or Christchurch
Kaikoura is New Zealand’s unofficial capital of marine wildlife. In fact, Kaikoura is considered as one of the world’s best whale watching destinations.
Visit between June through August to catch a whale watching cruise with up close encounters with migrating humpback whales.
These gentle giants aren’t the only thing you’ll see in Kaikoura’s waters. Dolphin swims are very popular, with local dusky dolphins frolicking in the waters beside you. Seal swims are also available, offering a truly unique opportunity to interact with New Zealand Fur Seals.
Cruises are the most popular way to see the sounds, departing from Queenstown and Te Anau. As you glide on the glassy waters, a pod of dolphins swimming before your vessel and crystal clear waterfalls cascading down the forested cliffs around you, you’ll know you’ll never see a place like this anywhere else on Earth.
Milford Sound is the more popular fiord, but we like to recommend a cruise on Doubtful Sound. Bigger and arguably more majestic, the fewer crowds make this fiord a true gem.
11. See Mount Cook from Lake Pukaki
Photo: Rob Suisted
Location: Mount Cook National Park
Where to stay: Queenstown or Christchurch
The milky turquoise color of Lake Pukaki, framed by purple lupin flowers and the Southern Alps in the distance create a scene straight out of a story book.
Rivaling the beauty of the Swiss Alps, this snowy mountain range is home to Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. The glaciers atop the mountain peaks feed into the remarkable Lake Pukaki, giving it its unique turquoise color.
Scenic helicopter rides and guided tours from Queenstown to Mount Cook Village are the best way to add Mount Cook into your New Zealand itinerary. More adventurous travelers can hike on tracks beginning near the village or climb the peaks for the ultimate challenge.
12. Go on a Bike Tour
Photo: Dean McKenzie
Location: Throughout the North and South Islands
Where to stay: Nelson
If the idea of mounting a bike while on vacation sounds dreadful, you definitely need to get on a bike in New Zealand.
This is just one of those places that makes you want to stay outside as much as possible.
The best part about cycling in New Zealand is that there are dozens of trails, ranging from super easy to hardcore mountain biking, in some of the most gorgeous landscapes in the world.
One of our favorite bike trails is in Nelson, known as the Tasman Great Taste Trail. This leisurely trail loops through charming countryside and coastline, with stops at art galleries, boutiques, craft breweries and wineries.
Bike tours are also popular ways to explore New Zealand’s cities. There’s nothing like getting some fresh air in your lungs and color on your cheeks with an invigorating bike ride.
13. Bungy Jump in Queenstown
Photo: AJ Hackett Bungy
Where to stay: Queenstown
Queenstown is the destination for those extreme bucket list adventures. Skydiving, bungy jumping, canyon swinging – basically anything related to jumping through the air, with an optional cord attached to you.
If bungy jumping is on your list, there’s no better place to do it than Queenstown. As the birthplace of bungy jumping, you can jump from the Kawarau Bridge, the world’s first commercial bungy site. The breathtaking scenery around this historic bridge is enough to inspire your jump, with the turquoise waters of the Kawarau River rushing below the bridge.
For the more brave at heart, take the jump on the Nevis Bungy, the highest bungy site in all New Zealand. We guarantee the adrenaline rush will have you shouting and laughing with glee. And the bragging rights will be unbeatable.
The romance of train travel from days long past is still alive and well in New Zealand. With rails running through mountains, viaducts and along the coasts, these scenic train journeys are among the finest in the world.
For stunning views of the Southern Alps, the TranzAlpine train is a must. This 5-hour train journey includes destination stops along its path from Greymouth to Christchurch, offering time to explore hidden gems of the South Island.
Ride in the observation car, wide open to the elements, to truly immerse yourself in the scenery around you.
Posted on: 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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Posted on: June 20th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
(...) the rooms were on the small side but adequate and comfortable. The guidance of my rep, Darin, was spot on and very valuable. I will use them again for a trip to Australia. The trip was a great value.