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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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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

11 Amazing New Zealand Beaches You Don’t Want to Miss

Posted on: February 9th, 2017 by About Australia Staff No Comments

New Zealand has more than 9,000 miles of coastline, making it a premier destination for beach-goers. Whether you prefer active adventures like surfing and kayaking, or tranquil days soaking up the sun with a backdrop of the world’s most beautiful scenery, New Zealand’s diverse beach culture is worth a top spot on your vacation to-do list.

We’ve compiled 11 of the most amazing New Zealand beaches to check out on your next vacation to Kiwi Country.

Rangitoto Beach

Rangitoto Island

Alright, so you’re on your way to Rangitoto Island. You’ve got your flip-flops, your sand buckets. You’re all set.

But wait… where’s the sand? Where are the umbrellas? The lifeguard stands??

New Zealand isn’t your average country and this isn’t your average day at the beach. You didn’t fly halfway around the world to see the same old thing you could see back home!

What you will find is a 600 year old (just a baby in geological terms!) volcanic island with its rugged, black volcanic rock. Rangitoto Island and Scenic reserve is part nature hike and part sea kayaking adventure.

Take a sea kayaking tour, ending up with a hike to the top of the island that provides vast 360-degree views of the water and land around you. Along the way, you can explore the native flora and volcanic rock.

Start things off with a unique visit to this island reserve and we assure you won’t even miss the sand!

Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove, Coromandel Peninsula

Despite Cathedral Cove being tucked away from the main roads, it still proves to be one of the most popular – and picturesque – New Zealand beaches.

The 2,100 acre marine reserve, accessible only by foot or by sea, still manages to attract more than 150,000 visitors per year.

A one mile hike in over gorgeous terrain takes you deep in to the heart of some of New Zealand’s most beautiful topography, rock formations, and coastline.

Sure to be worth the trek, Cathedral Cove’s crystal clear waters provide some of the best snorkeling in the area, while white sand beaches provide the perfect spot to simply sit and relax surrounded by some of the most pristine, undeveloped natural land in New Zealand.

Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach

A staple among all New Zealand beaches, Hot Water Beach is notable for its heated mineral water that naturally springs up through the sand.

The interesting thing about the beach and the hot natural spring below the sand, is that you can dig your own personal hot spring beneath the sand.

Forgot to pack your shovel? Local cafes and stands have taken to renting shovels out for curious tourists.

Be sure to arrive two hours before or after low tide, as the stretch of sand that is hiding the hot water will be exposed enough to dig.

Both Hot Water Beach and Cathedral Cove are ideal to visit in one New Zealand visit. Check out a potential itinerary for taking in both beaches here.

Kaikoura Canterbury

Kaikoura, Canterbury

A small coastal city on the northeast portion of the South Island, Kaikoura is a must see just a short drive from Christchurch.

While the coast has plenty of great recreation options such as kayaking, white water rafting, and mountain biking, the real highlights in Kaikoura are the numerous wildlife experiences available.

Whale watching trips leave throughout the day and the coastal area is home to many of New Zealand’s native animals, such as dolphins and fur seals.

Piha Beach

Piha Beach, Auckland

Best known for its striking black sand, Piha Beach – on the west coast of Auckland – is a must see for your New Zealand trip.

The shining feature of this rugged coastline is Lion Rock, a large rock formation eroded from a volcanic neck some 16 million years old.

In fact, the black sand of the beach is caused by its high iron content, a by-product of its volcanic beginnings.

Although this beach is also known as the birthplace of surfing in New Zealand, its calm looking waters hide deceptive rip currents invisible to the untrained eye. For this reason, surfing and swimming at Piha Beach are recommended for confident swimmers, while lifeguards are on duty.

Piha Beach is also part of the overall Piha Canyon area, where more adventurous visitors can participate in canyon adventuring.

Taking you rappelling through narrow canyon crevices, through waterfalls, swimming through canyon waterways and jumping in to natural pools, a canyon adventure is the most heart pounding way to experience the entirety of the Piha Beach and Canyon Area.   

Eastland Gisborne

Eastland, Gisborne

In Eastland, you can truly be the earliest riser in the entire world. Due to its geographical location, Eastland holds the unique distinction of being the first land in the world that the sun touches every morning.

Whether from the soft sand beach or standing atop Mount Hikurangi, the sunrise in Eastland is a breathtaking event not to be missed. After the sunrise, the beach area is pure New Zealand splendor with its quintessential white sand beaches and clear waters.

Don’t forget to take some time out to walk along the pier at Tolaga Bay, the longest pier in the country at nearly half a mile in length.

Buffalo Beach

Buffalo Beach

Located on the eastern side of the Coromandel Peninsula, Buffalo Beach is another of New Zealand’s beaches famous for its white-sand coast and surrounding local beach culture.

While named for a ship that crashed off the coast in 1840, Buffalo Beach has calm waters suitable for all swimming during all tides of the day.

While you are in the area, check out the surrounding Lost Spring Thermal resort close to Buffalo Beach.

Tunnel Beach

Tunnel Beach, Dunedin

Located in Dunedin, in the southeast region of the South Island, the tunnel for which Tunnel Beach was named was hand carved nearly 150 years ago to provide an entrance to a small, secluded beach at the bottom of a rock cliff.

Tunnel Beach is popular for its stunning views, interesting geology, and crystal clear waters. It’s one of the most popular of New Zealand’s beaches, attracting both locals and tourists all throughout the year.

Even in the colder months, the views and rock formations make Tunnel Beach a must visit no matter when you travel. The walk to and from tunnel beach features a fairly steep grade, so wear your walking shoes and come prepared for an experience well worth the short hike in and out.

Scrubby Bay

Scrubby Bay

Located on a private stretch of coastal bay, Scrubby Bay is perfect for those seeking a private beach retreat that features everything New Zealand nature has to offer.

Surrounded by high cliffs, vistas, and beautiful rock formations, Scrubby Bay features a semi-open air farmhouse nestled in a valley overlooking the water.

A lush, green meadow takes place of sand on this coastline just east of Christchurch, making Scrubby Bay a unique inclusion on our list, but its feeling of seclusion and relaxation is unprecedented.

Spend your day in nearby Christchurch before taking the 1.5 hour drive on a highway that takes you through the beautiful rolling vistas of New Zealand, straight to your own private bay.

Sumner Beach

Sumner Beach

Very much a locals hang out spot, Sumner Beach is sure to provide an intimate look at local beach culture in New Zealand, besides being a spectacular natural site to behold.

Surrounded by a quintessentially coastal, beachy town, Sumner Beach provides both your standard feet in the sand beach experience, along with easy walks and strolls along the promenade, giving you picturesque views of coastal New Zealand.

Along the promenade, take some time to stop in to local cafes and restaurants, many of which provide open air café-style outdoor seating, allowing you to drink in the local scenery with your latte.

Easily accessible by car, with ample public parking, Sumner Beach is best visited as a stop along a self-drive tour through New Zealand.

Birdlings Flat

Birdlings Flat

Dangerous rip currents, rough breaching waves, and not a speck of sand in site, Birdlings Flat is not your average day at the beach.

Due to dangerous conditions in the actual water, it is not advised to swim in the ocean here, but what Birdlings Flat lacks in water sport, is made up for with wildlife spotting, gemstone hunting, and walking along the unique flat, pebbly surface of the coast.

Birdlings Flat is worth a visit for those not looking to take a dip, but simply enjoy the natural beauty of a beach that trades tons of sand for millions of tiny flat rocks, hiding agates and other semi-precious stones.

Also keep an eye out for the local wildlife like dolphins, whales, and seals that are known to call this coast home. Birdlings Flat is by far one of the most unique New Zealand beaches and a can’t miss on your next trip!

Make Birdlings Flat a part of a driven tour of New Zealand as you ride the beautiful coast at your own leisure.

Ready to See New Zealand’s Fantastic Beaches?

The diversity of beaches and relative ease of getting to them make New Zealand’s coast a must visit for anyone planning a trip to the country. Because New Zealand is such a great country to rent a car and get around yourself, you can easily jump from some of the larger cities to several beaches in no time, at your own pace.

If you’re ready to see all that New Zealand has to offer, let us do the work for you and book your next custom New Zealand vacation today.

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!

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New Zealand Adventure Tours

Posted on: August 25th, 2015 by Lexie No Comments

new zealand adventure travel

Does the thought of an international adventure entice you?

New Zealand is full of geographical diversity; the entire country is covered in mountains, glaciers, rainforests, lakes, farmland, and the most gorgeous coastline, which provides an enormous amount of variety for thrill-seekers. It is the adventure travelers paradise. If you’re wondering where to go in New Zealand, there are locations all over the country that yield extreme sports, adventures and fun. We have compiled a list of the top 26 adventure destinations and attractions that you must visit once in your lifetime. Travel-Tip: If you’re up for a road-trip, self drive tours are the best way to explore New Zealand at your own pace.

Queenstown, New Zealand | South Island

Queenstown, home of the New Zealand Winter Games, is the ‘adventure capital of the world’ and the ‘adrenaline capital of New Zealand- it’s no wonder it’s number one in adventure tourism! You’re sure to find an overwhelming amount of thrilling adventures guaranteed to supply the adrenaline rush all daredevils search for.

1. Kawarau White Water Rafting

A ” leisurely” grade 2-3 white water adventure rafting adventure suitable for persons of all rafting abilities – a great family experience. If you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings, the scenery may be familiar; raft down into Middle Earth.

 

2. Kawarau River Sledging

Get up close and personal with the roaring rapids of the Kawarau River while you soar through canyons, gorges and whirlpools for a world-class “wet & wild” river experience.

 

3. Kawarau Bridge Bungee Jump

Home to the world’s first commercial site and most famous of leaps; it is the world’s most beloved bungee site at a 141 foot leap, it is New Zealand’s only tandem bungee jump site. ProTip: Tandem refers to two or more people.

 

4. Shotover Canyon Swing

Launch yourself from a mounted platform 358 feet above the Shotover River, a thrilling 197 foot free fall, until you reach a gigantic 656 foot swing where you will act as a human pendulum until you rest. You can drip in a chair, upside down, backwards, and even tandem. It’s all about your comfort level!

 

5. Shotover Jet Country

The world’s most exciting Jet Boat ride that whips through Shotover canyon at 56 mph.

 

6. Nevis Highwire Bungee

The 14th highest bungee jump in the world, it is dubbed the “world’s wildest bungee jump.” After a rugged 35 minute 4×4 drive you’ll launch yourself into an 8.5 second freefall, a 440 foot drop over the Nevis Valley. Nervous? Can’t decide? Maybe this hilarious and informative client review will soothe your nerves.

 

7. Ski & Snow Board

Hit the slopes during New Zealand’s longest season and find adventure in every corner. There’s sNOw excuse – Queenstown is surrounded by lakes and gorgeous mountains which makes it extremely popular for extreme sports. Even the dogs in New Zealand are daredevils!

 

8. Dart River Safari

A stimulating wilderness jet trip excursion through the most incredible scenery across glacier-fed rivers while learning about fascinating New Zealand Maori legends and culture.

 

9. Skydive

Experience an authentic skydive in the birthplace of tandem skydiving. This is not for the faint of heart – jump from 9,000-15,000 feet at nearly 125 mph for an insane 60 second free fall before you deploy your parachute and reach land again.

 

10. Moa Zipline

Ride up the Skyline Gondola and then glide through the treetops on a series of four flying foxes.

 

11. Tandem Paraflights

Strap into your harness and get ready for the flight of a lifetime at over 600 feet in the air, enjoy an exhilarating birds-eye-view of the incredible scenery .

 

12. Ledge Sky Swing

Enjoy a scenic gondola ride before you’re strapped in to swing 1,300 feet over Queenstown. This takes swinging to a whole new level!

13. Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride

If you’re an early riser, take a tour over the most awe-inspiring landscape in the world.

 

Auckland, New Zealand | North Island

Despite being New Zealand’s largest and most urban city in the country, it is the only city in the world built on an active underground volcano field, which yields thrilling adventures for you to embark on.

14. Sail the Auckland Harbor

Explore the colorful landscape and sandy beaches while sailing on an American Cup Racing Yacht through the most unique sea kayaking locations.

 

15. Piha Canyon Abseiling Adventure

Abseil down cascading waterfalls surrounded volcanic rock walls, swim through pools of blues and greens, bungee jump, cave explorations, and slides as you wander the canyon.

 

Tauranga, New Zealand | North Island

Located along the coast in the Bay of Plenty, it is the 6th most populated city in New Zealand, while a bit more leisurely than thrill-seeking, it still yields a fascinating adventure.

16. AquaTek Fishing & Diving

Inshore & offshore game fishing, scuba diving, and snorkeling – the perfect mix of thrill and adventure. Be ready to catch and see some of the ocean’s largest fish.

 

17. Swim With the Dolphins

Experience Tauranga’s natural aquatic life – above or below sea level, and swim with the dolphins. Alternatively, watch the dolphins, orcas, and whales safely in an aquatic vessel.

 

18. Surf Lessons

Whether you’re just learning, or a professional surfer, Tauranga has some of the best waters to surf with equally impressive backdrops. You’ll be catching waves in no time.

 

Rotorua, New Zealand | North Island

Located in the heart of the North Island, this city is known for its geothermal activity and critically acclaimed tourist attractions.

19. Geothermal Park

50 acres of volcanoes, fumaroles, and pools of boiling mud; you can feel the Earth come alive beneath your feet. Helicopter over Hell’s Gate Thermal Valley to the Pacific Ocean coastline and into the active volcano of White Island.

 

20. Agroventures Adventure Park

Five of the most iconic New Zealand adventures all in the same area: bungee jump, sky swing, jet boat rides, New Zealand’s only wind tunnel – Freefall Xtreme, and the world’s only shweeb racing in a suspended monorail racing pod.

 

21. Rotorua Canopy Tour

Voted the best outdoor activity on the North Island. Zipline and swing bridge across the native forest for a thrilling way to experience the forest canopy.

 

22. Wairoa River Kayaking

Pick from a series of grade 2-5 experiences and raft or kayak through the world’s most commercially rafted waterfall.

 

23. Zorb

Roll down the hills of Rotorua in a giant inflatable globe for some thrilling wet or dry adventures.

 

Honorable Mentions

24. Franz Josef Glacier Heli-Hike | North Island

After an exciting scenic flight, take a two hour guided hike the magnificent glacier scenery and landscape.

 

25. Mangaweka Gravity Canyon | Taihape, New Zealand – North Island

Home to NZ’s highest bungee jump and original zipline equipped with flying foxes and giant swings, you can raft through the Rangitikei River (grade 5) after you launch yourself 262 feet into the impressive canyon.

 

26. Horse Back Riding | North Island

Trek around the peaceful Manawatu River for a leisurely adventure with breathtaking backdrops and natural outdoor experiences.

Awaken your wanderlust.

We have custom New Zealand Adventure Tours and packages that include all of the main New Zealand attractions and activities that are sure you to give a rush of adrenaline and provide you with experiences you’ll cherish for the rest of your life.

We do hope that you find this information helpful. Should you have any questions or need some help planning your New Zealand adventure tours, don’t hesitate to call us directly Toll Free 888-359-2877 (Mon-Fri 8:30am – 5:30pm Central US) or visit www.AboutNewZealand.com. We’d love to help you customize your once-in-a-lifetime bucket-list vacation to New Zealand.

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About New Zealand Reviews
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Janet H. Rust
Wonderful Time!

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

John B
Outstanding trip and customer service

Wound up with an opportunity to take some vacation time on short notice. After reaching out with a little less than a month to go til departure, we were able to arrange the most active and(...)

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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(...)

Carol Strickler
Thanks!

Thanks to Layla for planning our trip to New Zealand. Our hotels were lovely & well situated and our travel transportation worked well. The only glitch was we had to wait for our pickup shuttle(...)