Posted on: December 14th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan
Things to Do in New Zealand
When people think New Zealand they think stunning mountains, rolling green landscapes and sky diving from every inch of the skies.
But there’s so many more unique things to see and do in New Zealand, and we think it’s important you know about all the different wonders this destination has to offer.
New Zealand is divided into two islands, almost as different as night and day. Head to the North Island for beaches, wine and Maori culture. Venture to the South Island for dramatic scenery, mountains and extreme adventures.
To help inspire you, we’ve rounded up a list of the best things to do in New Zealand, divided up into the North Island and South Island.
Map of What to Do in New Zealand
New Zealand is a rather small nation, with roughly the same surface area as Colorado. But looking at New Zealand on a map can be deceiving because it stretches out north to south. We’ve made it easy with this map of all the best things to do in New Zealand to help you plan your trip.
1. Visit Hobbiton
Where to stay: Auckland or Rotorua
You don’t have to be a Lord of the Rings fan to feel the magic of Hobbiton. The green rolling hills, the bursts of colorful gardens and picturesque hobbit holes will transport you straight into the Shire of the films.
Tours of the Hobbiton movie set are led by passionate guides offering insightful tidbits and knowledge even diehard Tolkien fans might not know. Stay at the head of the group for the best opportunities to capture that winning shot in front of a hobbit hole with no bystanders in the frame!
For an unforgettable experience, book an evening tour with an included banquet. Seeing the Shire by twilight is only beatable by the indulgent feast you’ll share with other enraptured fans.
Contact an About New Zealand specialist for the best arrangements on including Hobbiton on your New Zealand trip.
2. Explore the Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Photo: Shaun Jeffers
Where to stay: Auckland or Rotorua
There’s something about twinkling lights that our eyes simply can’t resist.
That’s what makes the Waitomo Caves so enchanting. Adorned with thousands of tiny glowworms, the pitch-black caverns are illuminated by their unearthly blue glow. It seriously looks like something out of a fairy tale.
The most popular way to see the glowworm caves is on guided tours through the caverns, ending with a boat tour on the subterranean lake drifting through the illuminated caverns.
But one of our favorite ways to explore the caves is on a thrilling black water rafting adventure. Thrill seekers glide through the cave system and underground waterfalls, ultimately floating serenely through the Glowworm Grotto.
No matter how you choose to see the Glowworm Caves, it’s undoubtedly one of the best things to do in New Zealand.
3. Indulge in Waiheke Island
Photo: Miles Holden
Where to stay: Auckland
New Zealand is dappled with wine regions all across the country, but nothing beats what’s known as New Zealand’s “Island of Wine.”
Waiheke Island, less than an hour ferry ride from Auckland, is an indulgent retreat for food and wine lovers. Complete with gorgeous bays, scenic walks and countless vineyards, this sublime island feels like something out of a Mediterranean legend.
Go on an endless wine-hopping adventure and delight your taste buds with the gourmet dishes of the island’s renowned restaurants. Everything from delectable oysters, Greek meze platters, woodfired pizzas and even gelato is on offer, paired with glasses of Waiheke’s finest wines. This decadent island is one of the best things to do in New Zealand for foodies and wine lovers.
If you’re visiting Auckland, Waiheke Island needs to be at the top of your list.
4. Check Out 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. Its crown jewel is Cathedral Cove, a turquoise bay ringed by soft sands and gigantic arched caverns.
The secluded cove is perfect for a relaxing beach day, complete with several scenic walks and excellent snorkeling at the Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve. An array of sea sponges, delicate corals and colorful fish can be seen in the waters of the reserve.
The remoteness of the beach and its stunning natural beauty create an almost tangible sense of serenity. As this is one of the best things to do in New Zealand, we recommend visiting early in the morning not only to beat the crowds, but to witness the sunrise cast a breathtaking glow upon the beach. Cathedral Cove by dawn is truly like a slice of paradise that time forgot.
5. Learn About Maori Culture in Rotorua
Photo: Fraser Clements
Location: Throughout the North Island
Where to stay: Rotorua
New Zealand’s indigenous Maori culture is rich in history, unique traditions and inspiring stories.
One of the best places to immerse yourself in Maori culture is at Te Puia in Rotorua. This center is where the Maori heritage is passed on through the arts institute, where Maori students hone their skills in traditional Maori woodwork and crafts.
Here you can also experience an authentic Maori hangi feast, where food is traditionally prepared underground by the heat of the earth.
Visit a recreated indigenous village at Tamaki Maori Village for a glimpse of how the Maori lived before European settler-days. Witness the powerful haka war dance, the graceful poi performance and other incredible Maori rituals.
6. Explore the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
Where to stay: Rotorua
The North Island is famous for its turquoise bays and black sand beaches, but its most surreal landscapes are found in the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.
As one of the best things to do in New Zealand, some of its most spectacular volcanic features are found here. Bubbling mud pools, unusually colored lakes and spouting geysers highlight the trails laid out through the steaming valley.
Catch the spectacular colors of Champagne Pool, a hot spring of emerald water ringed by bright orange mineral deposits. See the neon green sulfur lake, Devil’s Bath, and catch the Lady Knox geyser in action.
7. Visit the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Photo: Te Papa Museum
Where to stay: Wellington
New Zealand’s most enrapturing museum resides in its capital, Wellington. Te Papa Tongarewa, located on Wellington’s waterfront, is a dedication to New Zealand’s art, history and culture.
This huge museum contains six levels, each with a central theme displayed through an array of exhibits. Discover the stories of New Zealanders during World War I in Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War exhibit, located on the second level. Explore the cultures of Maori and other Pacific peoples through artifacts, architecture and artworks located on the fourth level.
In short, you could spend days in this museum. Though you may like to wander on your own, we highly recommend a guided tour for the expert insight and information your guide will share. There’s no better way to explore a museum than with someone who knows it like the back of their hand.
Check out our guide on the best things to do in Wellington.
8. Glacier Hiking
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
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.
Check out our highlights of the best things to do in Kaikoura.
10. Cruise the Fiords
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 cruising this fiord one of the best things to do in New Zealand.
11. See Mount Cook from Lake Pukaki
Photo: Rob Suisted
Location: Mount Cook National Park
Where to stay: Queenstown or Christchurch
The milky turquoise color of Lake Pukaki, framed by purple lupin flowers and the Southern Alps in the distance create a scene straight out of a story book.
Rivaling the beauty of the Swiss Alps, this snowy mountain range is home to Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. The glaciers atop the mountain peaks feed into the remarkable Lake Pukaki, giving it its unique turquoise color.
Scenic helicopter rides and guided tours from Queenstown to Mount Cook Village are the best way to add Mount Cook into your New Zealand itinerary. More adventurous travelers can hike on tracks beginning near the village or climb the peaks for the ultimate challenge.
12. Go on a Bike Tour
Photo: Dean McKenzie
Location: Throughout the North and South Islands
Where to stay: Nelson
If the idea of mounting a bike while on vacation sounds dreadful, you definitely need to get on a bike in New Zealand.
This is just one of those places that makes you want to stay outside as much as possible.
The best part about cycling in New Zealand is that there are dozens of trails, ranging from super easy to hardcore mountain biking, in some of the most gorgeous landscapes in the world.
One of our favorite bike trails is in Nelson, known as the Tasman Great Taste Trail. This leisurely trail loops through charming countryside and coastline, with stops at art galleries, boutiques, craft breweries and wineries.
Bike tours are also popular ways to explore New Zealand’s cities. There’s nothing like getting some fresh air in your lungs and color on your cheeks with an invigorating bike ride.
13. Bungy Jump in Queenstown
Photo: AJ Hackett Bungy
Where to stay: Queenstown
Queenstown is the destination for those extreme bucket list adventures. Skydiving, bungy jumping, canyon swinging – basically anything related to jumping through the air, with an optional cord attached to you.
If bungy jumping is on your list of things to do in New Zealand, there’s no better place to do it than Queenstown. As the birthplace of bungy jumping, you can jump from the Kawarau Bridge, the world’s first commercial bungy site. The breathtaking scenery around this historic bridge is enough to inspire your jump, with the turquoise waters of the Kawarau River rushing below the bridge.
For the more brave at heart, take the jump on the Nevis Bungy, the highest bungy site in all New Zealand. We guarantee the adrenaline rush will have you shouting and laughing with glee. And the bragging rights will be unbeatable.
Check out our guide for more things to do in Queenstown.
14. Ride the TranzAlpine
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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Posted on: September 27th, 2018 by Lizandra Santillan
Photo: Rob Suisted
Many first time travelers to New Zealand skip over Wellington, but this capital city is full of surprises at every turn.
As the the king of all things cool, Wellington thrives on the creativity emanating from its passionate locals. Step in any direction and you’ll come across a fantastic coffee shop, a lively art gallery or bright new eatery. In fact, Wellington has more cafes, bars and restaurants per capita than New York!
The large city delights combined with a small town feel create an experience entirely its own.
Known as the “coolest little capital,” the thriving arts, culinary, coffee and food scenes are heaven for the city lover. The gentle bays, lush greenery and surrounding hills offer a natural playground for the nature lover.
Here’s our guide on the best 11 things to do in Wellington.
Visit the Mount Victoria Lookout
Photo: Julian Apse
The best way to get your bearings in Wellington is to take in the whole city at once at the Mount Victoria Lookout.
The spectacular panoramic views of the city are framed by lush greenery, the tranquil harbor and rolling hills in the distance. You’ll get a feel for Wellington’s unique coastal charm of vibrant city life set against serene waterways.
Located right next to the city center, you can take the Number 20 bus all the way up or take the scenic walk up to the lookout. The clearing is perfect for a picnic overlooking the city.
Be sure to take a light jacket – nicknamed windy Wellington, you’re bound to feel a breeze as you make your way to the summit of Mount Victoria.
But as you take in the breathtaking vista below you, you might not even feel the wind.
Ride on the Wellington Cable Car
One of Wellington’s most charming assets is the historic Cable Car.
This little red cable car climbs the steep slope from Lambton Quay in the heart of Wellington to Kelburn, a suburb in the hills overlooking the city below.
Locals, students and visitors alike make up the nearly one million passengers traveling in the cable car each year.
The five minute journey travels along a quaint, white-fenced railway through dark tunnels illuminated by colorful fairy lights flashing into stunning patterns and imagery.
Emerge at the top for a lookout taking in unsurpassed views of the hill-fringed city.
You’ll also find the Wellington Botanic Gardens, Space Place and the Cable Car Museum at the top. These Wellington-essential attractions are the perfect way to spend an afternoon, ending with a cable car ride back down the hill.
To find the cable car, make your way to Cable Car Lane between Flight Centre and Countdown Supermarket off Lambton Quay.
Stop and Smell the Roses at the Wellington Botanic Garden
Fancy a light freshening up? At the Wellington Botanic Gardens, the rose beds, begonias and the Fragrant Garden perfume the air with wonderful aromas to reawaken your senses.
After riding up on the Wellington Cable Car, wander downhill through the colorful tapestries of blooming hydrangeas, tulips and rhododendrons.
Step through the Exotic Forest, planted in the 1870s, and marvel at some of the oldest pines in New Zealand. Find your zen in Horseshoe Bend, a tranquil garden of Asian woodland plants and trees.
Escape into the dense forest of the Pukatea Bushwalk, where the calls of native birds will make you feel a whole world away from the city.
Let your nose guide you through the arresting aromas of the Herb Garden and the Fragrant Garden, where the flowers are as alluring as their scent.
Pass through a charming waterfall and bubbling streams to reach the Main Garden. You’ll find ducks gliding on a small, glassy pond, letting out eager quacks for bread crumbs.
At the bottom of the hill you’ll reach the Lady Norwood Rose Garden. This haven of over 3,000 roses set around a heritage fountain is romantic simplicity at its finest. Visit between mid-November to December to see the roses in full bloom.
Stay after dark for a chance to see glowworms light up the gardens for a magical light show.
Explore Wellington’s Laneways
Photo: Jerry Aurum
There’s a transformation taking hold right in the heart of the city, but if you blink you might miss it.
Tucked away between high rises and unassuming buildings of the city center you’ll find quirky little spaces home to Wellington’s hidden gems. These laneways are home to some of the best of Wellington’s three C’s: cafes, craft beer and coffee.
Wander down Hannahs Laneway, dubbed “the world’s tastiest laneway,” for an inner city haven of eclectic local bars, good eats and sweet treats.
Find low-key class in the leather bound menus, fur pelt decor and bookshelves lined with classics in Hanging Ditch, a cocktail bar mastering casual elegance with friendly bartenders who know their craft. Try arguably the best pizza in town at Pizza Pomodoro, and top it off with a stop at Wellington Chocolate Factory, a wonderland for all things chocolate.
No trip to Wellington is complete without visiting Cuba Street, a bohemian playground of vintage shops, world class cafes, restaurants and bars. Fidel’s Café, the crowning king of cool on Cuba Street, serves strong single-origin coffee late into the night and revolutionary homestyle dishes.
Don’t let the minimalist sophistication of Loretta fool you – this Cuba Street staple serves superb coffee and crisp dishes with slick service. Even more impressive is its extensive drink menu, featuring classic cocktails, craft beers and an array of wines.
Score a secondhand designer find in the colorful racks of darling dresses and vintage shoes at Ziggurat, Cuba Street’s shopping treasure trove.
Taste Your Way Through Wellington’s Food scene
Photo: Egmont St Eatery
There’s always a slew of new cafes and trendy joints opening their doors.
Step inside the Wellington food scene and you’ll find exciting flavors set in vibrant spaces with an unrelenting passion for all things local.
Wake your senses in the morning to the warm, fresh scents of Husk’s breakfast menu featuring local, free range produce. Tuck into scrambled eggs with kasundi relish, manchego cheese, fresh coriander and toasted polenta bread or a dish of rousing shakshouka topped with baked eggs and sheep’s feta cheese. Be sure to return in the evening to taste some craft beers brewed on site!
Taste modern, local Kiwi cuisine at Shepherd, an informal yet flavorful dining experience with creative dishes set in a restored canteen.
Hidden away in one of Wellington’s laneways is the intimate Egmont St Eatery, a delightful nook with fresh sharing plates, wines and local craft beers reflecting the season – perfect for a romantic night out.
Sip on Craft Beers
In Wellington, passion and creativity extends to all things – even beer.
The craft beer movement currently taking hold across all corners of the world is more than just a scene in Wellington – it’s an institution. Even if you’re not one to touch a drop of the stuff, the experimental brews you’ll find in Wellington are sure to pique your interest, if not at least lift your brows.
Try something new at Garage Project’s taproom, 91 Aro, known for churning out quality beers unafraid of blending wild flavors into the mix. You might taste anything from honey and elderflower to chamomile flowers and smoked chipotle in their beers.
The capital of craft beer in Wellington, Hashigo Zake prides itself on having “no crap on tap,” as per their staff t-shirts. Here you’ll find a careful curation of some of the best craft brews found not only in Wellington but also across New Zealand, Australia, Japan and the US. With something for every taste, let the bartenders know the flavors you enjoy – be it chocolate, coffee or any kind of fruit – and they’ll sort you out.
Don’t miss Golding’s Free Dive Bar, reminiscent of your neighborhood bar, for a colorful and friendly spot showcasing New Zealand’s quality brews. As a “free dive,” Golding’s is free to choose any sort of liquor they wish to serve, so you’re sure to find a selection of champion beers.
Fall in Love with Wellington’s Coffee
There’s no better way to start your day off in Wellington than with a strong cup of locally roasted coffee.
Named as one of the world’s best 8 cities for coffee, the flat whites served here are unparalleled – even in Melbourne.
Get an up close look at the art of coffee brewing at Lamason Brew Bar, a cozy retreat on the corner of Bond and Lombard Street. Specializing in top shelf espresso and single origin coffee, their siphon coffee is undeniably the star of the show, brewed with siphons looking like something out of an alchemist’s arsenal.
Find ethically sourced coffees with a detailed backstory at The Flight Coffee Hangar. Every cup is served with a card reviewing the taste profile of the coffee. With friendly recommendations from the knowledgeable staff, you can’t go wrong with a cup at Hangar. Try the flight of three coffees to sample their impressive blends.
A Wellington icon, L’affare is the considered the grandaddy of the local café scene. With the look and feel of an industrial coffee packaging plant, their wholesome menu and espresso roasts will warm you right up.
Go Museum and Gallery Hopping
Think you don’t have a single artistic bone in your body? Wellington is guaranteed to change that.
Noted as “A powerhouse of the arts in the Southern Hemisphere” by Going Places Magazine, creativity pulses through every corner of Wellington. Throughout the city you’ll find dozens of art galleries, museums, theaters and public art. Not to mention the world famous World of Wearable Art (WOW), an international design competition where artists push the boundaries of fashion.
Enter a world dedicated to New Zealand’s art, history and indigenous culture at Te Papa Tongarewa, the national museum of New Zealand. You’ll find a day isn’t enough to explore the vast collections of modern art, Maori woodworks and artifacts, historical masterpieces and interactive exhibits.
Here you can immerse yourself in the emotion emanating from the Gallipoli: The Scale of Our War exhibition, and relive this World War I campaign through the eyes of eight New Zealanders. Learn about the cultures of the various Pacific Island peoples through clothing, textiles, tattoos and photos.
After discovering the treasure troves of Te Papa, skip on over to City Gallery Wellington. With an ever-rotating array of compelling exhibits by local and international artists, you’re guaranteed to come away with rattling feelings of amusement, anger or amazement.
Travel further up the waterfront to Wellington Museum, often considered Wellington’s best kept secret. This small museum packs in a wealth of history and exhibitions detailing the evolution of Wellington into The Coolest Little Capital. Stop in The Attic at the top floor for a steampunk-styled exhibit displaying curiosities ranging from flying saucers and lions to art installations with captivating cinematic elements.
Experience Movie-Making Magic
As internationally recognized director Guillermo Del Toro puts it, Wellington is “Hollywood the way God intended it.”
Home to world-class movie-making talent, leading international studios and spectacular filming locations, there’s no doubt Wellington is considered New Zealand’s film industry capital.
Indeed, the movie magic found within the hills of windy Wellington has earned it the affectionate name “Wellywood.”
Movie buffs can browse the meticulously crafted props, costumes and collectibles created for films such as the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit franchises on a tour behind the scenes at the Weta Cave.
Visit different filming locations around the city on a guided tour – sometimes led by an extra from one of the films! Walk through Middle Earth as you learn about the specific scenes from Lord of the Rings shot on the ground you’re standing on.
If you’re more about the cinematic experience of sitting back and being transported into a completely different world, Wellington’s world-class cinemas will do the trick. Ever the haven for Lord of the Rings fans, catch a flick at the Embassy Theatre, a classy cinema once host to the world premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
Lovers of all things film will want to stop by Time Cinema, a small spot dedicated to the display of vintage film memorabilia and quarter-monthly film screenings.
Explore the Wellington Waterfront
Escape from the bustle of the city center and stroll along Wellington’s quiet waterfront.
Lined with brightly colored boatsheds, heritage and art trails, local cafes and a stretch of golden beach, the waterfront is the perfect place to unwind by the sea.
Learn the history of Wellington on the Maritime Heritage Trail, stopping at historic buildings showcasing Edwardian industrial architecture.
Discover the subtle yet powerful Writers Walk along the waterfront, dotted with fifteen text sculptures featuring quotes about Wellington from prominent New Zealand writers.
Make your way down to Oriental Bay, an idyllic strip of golden sand and sparkling turquoise water. Roll your towel out and soak in the sun or rent some kayaks or stand up paddleboards and take to the water.
End your afternoon with a scoop of perfectly creamy gelato from Kaffe Eis on Oriental Parade and sit back as you enjoy unbeatable views of the bay.
Get close to New Zealand Wildlife
Surrounded by nature, Wellington is dotted with pockets of green and incredible native New Zealand wildlife experiences.
Nestled in the green belt south of the city center is Wellington Zoo, New Zealand’s first ever zoo. Learn more about the over 500 native and exotic endangered animals that call this zoo home. Get up close to the irresistibly cute Red Pandas, meet Tahi the one-legged kiwi and leave with a sense of wonder and amazement at the careful conservation efforts and spacious green habitats you’ll find here.
Step into a world of untouched New Zealand nature at ZEALANDIA Ecosanctuary, a picturesque reservoir home to New Zealand’s most rare and extraordinary wildlife. Only 10 minutes from the city center, you’ll feel an entire world away as you walk through the ethereal wilderness – as nature intended.
ZEALANDIA’s mission is to restore its native ecosystem to its pre-human state, complete with native wildlife roaming freely. Spot exotic birds on scenic walks or join a guided tour for knowledgeable insights into the sights and sounds of the sanctuary. Visit at night to join a kiwi-spotting tour!
Want More Things to Do in Wellington?
No trip to New Zealand is complete without a visit to the nation’s capital. Nowhere else combines a big city experience with small town charm as well as windy Wellington.
For more ideas on things to do in Wellington, contact our expert Destination Specialists. We’ll help you plan your New Zealand trip to hit all the highlights and must-see destinations, including Wellington.
I Want to Visit Wellington!
Phone us Toll Free on 1-888-359-2877 (CT USA, M-F 8.30am – 5pm)
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Posted on: December 1st, 2017 by MelissaM
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
6. The gardens are in full bloom! Purple lupins, golden Kowhai flowers, Mount Cook buttercups…colors are bursting everywhere!
7. Adorable baby kiwis are hatching! Though they are flightless, that didn’t stop them from becoming the national bird of New Zealand!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
20. Abel Tasman National Park! Perfect for hiking, kayaking, snorkeling or just relaxing at the beach. You can do it all in the spring!
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!
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.
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.
25. Baby yellow-eyed penguins in Dunedin! These babies may grow over 2 feet tall and are the rarest penguins in the world.
26. Golf courses in New Zealand. Enough said.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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Posted on: November 23rd, 2017 by MelissaM
New Zealand is known for its green hills, mountain scenery and picturesque views. It has been the set of a number of movies but the most well-known and, dare I say the most-loved, is J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
The twelve-acre spread in Matamata gave Peter Jackson the perfect backdrop to bring Tolkien’s world to life and now this magical world is a reality for all who visit New Zealand.
While popular landscapes from the movie can be seen across both islands, Hobbiton Movie Set is the only place where the set, including 44 Hobbit holes, has remained in place.
Here are 5 reasons you need to visit the Hobbiton Movie Set!
1. It is one of the most visited attractions in New Zealand!
Though one of the newer attractions in New Zealand, opening after its reconstruction for The Hobbit series in 2011. The Shires Rest & Hobbiton Movie set located on Alexander Farm has quickly risen in the ranks and now hosts more than 350,000 visitors each year!
Photo credit: Hobbiton Movie Set
2. Enjoy Ginger beer at The Green Dragon Inn!
The Green Dragon Inn, featured in the movies as a popular meeting spot for Hobbits in The Shire, is open to the public. Every tour offers a complimentary beverage at The Green Dragon Inn including Ginger Beer, apple cider or ales.
Photo credit: Hobbiton Movie Set
3. The guided tour is full of movie secrets!
The Hobbiton Movie Set is only available by tour but that doesn’t limit you on what you’ll see. The best part about a guided tour is you hear tidbits of information about Peter Jackson, movie making techniques — like how some Hobbit Holes are larger than others depending on the size of the actor — and interesting facts around the set. Did you know The Party Tree in the movie is artificial? The leaves were imported from Taiwan and wired onto the branches!
4. You can now eat dinner like a Hobbit!
One of the newest additions to Hobbiton is theEvening Dinner Tour. You’ll make your way through the twelve acre set as your experienced guide recounts facts and movie magic. At the end of the tour, you’ll settle in at The Green Dragon Inn and enjoy traditional Hobbit Fare in a banquet style feast. To end this magical night, every guest will be given a lantern and will travel back through the glowing enchanting village. The Shire in the moonlight is a breathtaking view that is unforgettable.
Photo credit: Hobbiton Movie Set
5. The photo opportunities are endless!
The stunning scenery and sets of Hobbiton make you feel like you’ve stepped into Tolkien’s world. Throughout the tour you’ll get opportunities to take pictures at iconic stops including Bilbo Baggin’s house, The Green Dragon Inn and the home of Samwise Gamgee. The picturesque charm of Hobbiton will inspire anyone to snap a picture or two.
Photo credit: Hobbiton Movie Set
The best part is that The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit sights don’t stop there! There are a number of locations in New Zealand that you can visit to retrace the steps of beloved Tolkien characters including Christchurch, Wellington & Queenstown.
If you need some help planning your Middle Earth vacation or just want to know more about Tolkien themed day tours, call us Toll Free 888-359-2877 (Mon-Fri 8:30am – 5:00pm Central US).
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Posted on: October 14th, 2015 by MelissaM
Looking for information on New Zealand airports for your future trip?
Check out our quick guide on major New Zealand airports, both international and domestic.
New Zealand International Airports
With five international airports, traveling to different areas in New Zealand has never been easier. Christchurch & Auckland are the largest airports, housing millions of passengers each year! All of the New Zealand airports have facilities and transportation options to make traveling to and from this beautiful country more comfortable.
Auckland International Airport – AKL
Considered the main hub for international travel to New Zealand, Auckland airport recorded over 15 million passengers in 2014. The airport services all major airlines for international flight as well as domestic flights all over the country.
Bus: Bus fares from AKL to Auckland city average $16 per adult with an approximate travel time of 45-60 minutes. The bus operates 24/7 to accommodate all travelers. The bus schedule can vary, so check online for departure times. Tickets can be purchased online ahead of time or at one of the kiosks in the airport.
Shuttle: Costing a little over $30 a person, plan to take an hour from the Airport to the city with a shuttle ride. Shuttles are shared with other passengers and depending on peak traffic time, travel may take longer.
Taxi: Taxi fares from the Auckland airport range from $75-$90 on average and can take 30 minutes from the airport to the city center. All taxi drives carry a value and service guarantee, so travel should be smooth. Traffic can present problems, so it is best to leave early during peak driving hours.
Wifi is available (first 30 minutes free), toilets and showers, pharmacy, Luggage Trolleys, VIP Lounges, Family Facilities, Medical & First Aid, Foreign Exchange & Banking, Telephones & Chapel, playground for children.
More information on: https://www.aucklandairport.co.nz
Christchurch International Airport – CHC
Christchurch Airport recently completed an upgrade in 2013 to accommodate the growing number of passengers coming in and out of this airport. Christchurch has had over 727,000 international passengers this year and is the stop for travelers visiting the South Island. The Christchurch airport services major airlines including Air New Zealand, Jetstar, China Airlines, Emirates, Fiji Airways, China Southern Airlines, Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia.
Taxis: Travel time by taxi to the city center of Christchurch averages 15-20 minutes and costs $45-$65 per fare, though prices may vary.
Buses: Christchurch airport buses operate 7 days a week and offer an inexpensive option to the city center. Expect bus fare around $8 one way. Tickets can be purchased directly with the driver.
Shuttle Shuttle rides average about 30-40 minutes for travel time from CHC to the city center and cost around $25 for one passenger, $30 for two. Shuttle rides can be scheduled ahead of time or at the airport. Make sure to allow plenty of time due to the amount of drop offs on one trip.
Unlimited Free Wifi available to all passengers, Toilets & Shower facilities, Foreign Exchange & Banking (open for all international flights), wide array of food options, 20+ of retail & service stores
More information on: http://www.christchurch-airport.co.nz
Dunedin International Airport – DUD
The Dunedin airport, located 30 kilometers south of the city, services the Lower South Island & international flights to and from Australia. Major airlines include Air New Zealand, Jetstar, Virgin Australia Airlines and Mainland Air.
Shuttle: It takes about 35 minutes from DUD to the city with a far of $30 per person or $40 for two. The DUD shuttle provides an inexpensive way to travel but travelers should allow extra time when using the shuttle for transportation, due to the number of drop-offs.
Taxi: Taxis to Dunedin from the Dunedin airport can cost about $90 fare and take 20-30 minutes. Please allow extra time depending on peak traffic periods.
Car Rental: Car rental services are available at the Dunedin airport with a number of major car rental services. Bookings are recommended to ensure a car is available.
Dining options, Toilets & Shower facilities, exchange facilities for international flights, bars, fast food, parenting room, arcade room, tax-free shopping and souvenirs, wheelchair access, conference facilities
More information on: https://www.dunedinairport.co.nz
Wellington International Airport – WLG
Wellington services destinations in Australia (Brisbane, Sydney, Gold Coast & Melbourne) & domestic flights to Lower North Island. Major airlines include Qantas, Virgin Australia, JetStar, Fiji Airways and Air New Zealand.
Shuttle: Shuttle Rides can be found outside of baggage claim. Discounts apply to travelers in groups of two or more ($20 for one person, $25 for two). Plan for about a 25 minute trip from WLG to Wellington city.
Bus: Bus trips cost no more than $6 per person with a travel time of 30 minutes from WLG to the city. The bus leaves every 20 minutes from the airport till about 9:20PM at night. Check the schedule online to plan ahead.
Taxi: Taxi trips average about 20 minutes from the WLG airport to the city at a rate of $40, though prices vary on peak traffic times. All taxi drivers must possess special license, so they are considered “knowledge experts” in Greater Wellington.
Toilets, Showers; lots of shopping options including tax-free souvenir shops, bookshops, clothing, fine clothing, music and movies, dining options including cafes, restaurants and bars; banking and currency exchange options, wifi, wheelchair access, parenting room, Wildcard programme offers exclusive deals for shopping food & beverage, parking, competitions and giveaways.
More information on: www.wellingtonairport.co.nz
Queenstown International Airport – ZQN
Queenstown is an international hub for travelers and out of all the New Zealand airports, this one has the most scenic landing strip next to a gorgeous mountain range. Air New Zealand, Jet Star, Qantas and Virgin Australia flights are serviced here.
Bus: Bus fare to the city is $8 a person and can take about a half hour from ZQN to the city. The bus travels to all major hotels in the area.
Shuttle: Shuttles from the Queenstown airport cost about $10 a person and travel time takes about 20 minutes. Discounts apply for two or more travelers.
Taxi: Fare costs average $30 and take about 15 minutes to the city center. Please allow more travel time for peak traffic hours.
1st hour free Wifi available to all travelers, toilets, shopping, retail stores including jewelry, souvenirs, clothing, reading material, food and drink options like bars, cafes, lounges available open and pay-for-use, disabled access, parents room with toys, telephone areas
More information on: http://www.queenstownairport.co.nz
New Zealand Domestic Airports
Domestic airports are located throughout the country to accommodate travel inside the North & South Islands. Travel accommodations for each airport depend on location and size.
- Hawke’s Bay Airport – NPE
- New Plymouth Airport – NPL
- Palmerson North Airport – PMR
- Nelson Airport – NSN
- Invercargill Airport – IVC
- Tauranga Airport – TRG
- Blenheim Airport – BHE
- Rotorua Regional Airport – ROT
Ready to book your flight?
If you need assistance planning your flight or trip, our destination experts are ready to help you. Our ARC Accreditation ensures you’ll get the best experience when book your flight to New Zealand with the help of seasoned travel agents. Call us Toll Free 888-359-2877 (Mon-Fri 8:30am – 5:00pm Central US).
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