New Zealand must-do experiences

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When planning your trip to New Zealand, you may not know exactly where to begin. Here’s a list of 12 ‘Must-Dos’ to get you started.

Queenstown
Bungy, Queenstown

By AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand

 1. Get your adventure on in Queenstown

An alpine town hinged at both the foot of a mountain range aptly named The Remarkables and crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is jewelled with epic adventure and relaxation. Enjoy jet boat rides, skiing, river rafting, hiking and biking, or go bungy jumping where it all began. Top off your days with wine tasting in surrounding vineyards, spa treatments, alfresco dining and vibrant nightlife. Learn more.

Where: South Island. Queenstown Airport code ZQN. Or a scenic 6 hour drive southwest of Christchurch (CHC)

Auckland
Waiheke Island, Auckland

By Julian Apse

2. Go wine tasting on Waiheke Island

Just a 35 minute scenic ferry ride from downtown Auckland lands you on beautiful Waiheke Island. Waiheke is home to a magical blend of vineyards and olive groves, native forest, beaches, art studios and funky cafés. Spend a relaxing afternoon sipping and swirling New Zealand’s finest wines while enjoying beach views. Learn more.

Where: North Island. 35 minute ferry from downtown Auckland (airport AKL)

Rotorua
Te Puia, Rotorua

By Adam Bryce

 3. Meet the locals and say Kia Ora!

Soak up Maori culture and hospitality in Rotorua, the cultural heart of New Zealand. Visit an authentic pre-European Maori village, learn carving or weaving from master artists, sample contemporary food cooked using traditional methods, or participate in Maori singing and cultural shows. After a delicious ‘hangi’ feast, the thermal hot pools will be calling. Learn more.

Where:  Rotorua,  North Island, 3 hour drive southeast of Auckland (airport ROT)

Fiordland
Milford Sound, Fiordland

By Adam Bryce

4. Bask in the scale of Milford Sound

Milford Sound’s remarkable natural environment features dramatic fiords, spectacular waterfalls and snow-capped peaks.Depart from Queenstown or Te Anau and enjoy an afternoon cruise or even sleep under the stars for an unforgettable boat ride. Flightseeing and sea kayaking are two other ways to immerse yourself in this "Eighth Wonder of the World." Learn more.

Where: Fiordland, South Island. 2 hour drive from Te Anau or 4 hours from Queenstown (ZQN)

Rotorua
Kerosene Creek, Rotorua

By Vaughan Brookfield

5. Explore geothermal phenomena

Geysers, boiling mud pools & huge volcanic craters are in Rotorua, where nature's forces escape by bubbling, steaming & hissing from the inner earth. Indulge in a thermal pool spa therapy or take a walking tour to discover the sights and wonders of this mysterious city that sits squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire. Learn more.

Where: Rotorua, North Island, 3 hour drive southeast of Auckland (airport ROT)

Hamilton - Waikato
Hobbiton, Hamilton - Waikato

By Sara Orme

6. Search for furry-footed friends in Hobbiton 

Ever since the first The Lord of the Rings movie was released in 2001, New Zealand has been known as the Home of Middle‑earth. The rolling hills of Matamata invite you to take a guided tour of the idyllic Hobbiton Movie Set, set on a land of lush pastures that was chosen to play The Shire. Peek through 44 Hobbit holes on your way. Learn more.

Where: Matamata, North Island. One hour drive north of Rotorua (airport ROT)

West Coast
Franz Josef Glacier, West Coast

By Ngai Tahu Tourism

7. Heli-Hike a glacier

Wild rivers, rainforests, glaciers and rugged beaches invite exploration on the stunning, unspoiled region of the West Coast. Take a helicopter to the top of a glacier for a  guided walk onto the Franz Josef or Fox Glacier. The glaciers extend from New Zealand's highest peaks to valley floors surrounded by temperate rainforests. Learn more.

Where: West Coast, South Island, 3 hour drive south of Greymouth.

Northland & Bay of Islands
Kayaking, Northland & Bay of Islands

By Adventure HQ

8. Kayak through the Bay of Islands

Head 3 1/2 hours north of Auckland to Paihia, a great base to explore this aquatic playground of 144 beautiful islands. Swim with dolphins, take a cruise, relax on golden beaches and visit the historic Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Learn more.

Where: North Island. 30 minutes from the Kerikeri airport (KKE) or a 3 ½ hour drive north of Auckland.

Christchurch - Canterbury
Kaikoura, Christchurch - Canterbury

By Sara Orme

9. Cruise alongside giant whales in Kaikoura

The picturesque coastal town of Kaikoura just two hours north of Christchurch is all about adventure on or near the sea. Go on a whale-watching cruise all year round for an an exciting up-close encounter with the Giant Sperm Whales, watch pods of Dusky dolphins swim by, or go snorkeling with friendly New Zealand Fur Seals. Sit in the sun with views of towering mountains against the sea and feast on a plate of delicious local crayfish. Learn more.

Where: Canterbury, South Island, 2 hours north of Christchurch (airport CHC)

Wanaka
Rippon Vineyard, Wanaka

By Julian Apse

 10. Sip and swirl through the vines

New Zealand is world famous for Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and Central Otago Pinot Noir.  But what’s even better is that New Zealand’s main wine growing areas are also some of the most spectacularly beautiful parts of the country.  Take a road trip down the coast from Hawke’s Bay to Marlborough and meet local winegrowers along the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail. Vineyards stretch throughout every region of the country so there’s always opportunity to wine and dine. Learn more.

Ruapehu
Tongariro Crossing, Ruapehu

By Legend Photography

11. Hike past emerald lakes & ancient lava flows

In the centre of the North Island lies the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, often described as New Zealand's best day walk. The 19km (11.8km) hike traverses ancient volcanic terrain, winding its way past emerald lakes, old lava flows and even an active crater. Views of Lake Taupo and the Ruapehu region are magnificent, and make the hike well worth the effort! The trail can be walked in either direction, but the Mangatepopo Car Park to Ketetahi Car Park direction is the easiest and most common. The trail head for this direction lies 30minutes from Turangi or 20minutes from National Park

Where: National Park, North Island, 1 hour 35 min drive from Taupo (airport TUO) Or a scenic 5 hour drive south of Auckland (AKL)

Coromandel
Cathedral Cove, Coromandel

By Alistair Guthrie

Pack a picnic, follow the coastal trail, and enjoy an idyllic day at one of New Zealand’s picture-perfect beaches.

12. Relax on Cathedral Cove Beaches

Pack a picnic, follow the coastal trail and enjoy an idyllic day at one of our picture-perfect beaches, like Cathedral Cove. Go for a swim, snorkel, kayak or just relax in the sand. It’s arguably one of the most picturesque spots (and there are many) in The Coromandel Peninsula. From beautiful Hahei Beach you can walk to Cathedral Cove, where a naturally formed archway deserves photographic attention. Learn more.

Where: Coromandel, North Island, 3 hour 30min drive southeast of Auckland.

For more "must do" ideas, check out #NZMustDo on Instagram

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