50 Unforgettable Gap Year Adventures For Free

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New Zealand has always been a dream Gap Year experience, boasting the coolest festivals, most adrenalin-tastic experiences and 'silver screen' locations.

There is barely anywhere else in the world can you find such a wide range of experiences on offer from visiting an historic Maori Pa, enjoying a jazz festival in Queenstown, climbing a volcano, digging your own hot water spa pool or seeing the astounding Putangirua Pinnacles in Palliser Bay. Try sand surfing, whale spotting or swimming on the shores of the beautiful Lake Wakatipu, just some of the countless cool travel experiences on offer in New Zealand that don’t cost a penny and  the reasons why NZ is the ultimate Gap Year destination!

Check out our highlights for some breath-taking, free experiences you won’t forget….

Here's the definitive list...

North Island

  • Sand surfing down huge dunes in Northland
  • Spot dolphins from the beach – Northland
  • Cape Reinga Lighthouse– Northland
  • Collect a feast of fresh shellfish, you might even find a famous green lipped mussel – Northland
  • Visit an historic Maori Pa –Northland
  • Meet Tāne Mahuta, NZ’s largest living Kauri tree – Northland
  • Discover unique art at the Hunderwasser Art toilets and museum – Northland
  • Visit Auckland’s newly redeveloped art gallery – Auckland
  • Climb a volcano for stunning view of the Hauraki gulf– Auckland
  • Swim amongst colourful fish at Goat Island Marine Reserve - north of Auckland
  • Discover the story of gardens at Hamilton Gardens  - Waikato
  • Meet the New Zealand Kaka in its natural habitat - Waikato
  • See the world’s only hot soda spring geyser – Mokena Geyser – Waikato
  • Dig your own hot water spa pool – Hot Water Beach – Coromandel
  • Hike The Pinnacles – Coromandel
  • Explore NZ’s Gold Mining History in stunning Karangahake Gorge – Waikato
  • Soak under a hot waterfall at Kerosene Creek – Rotorua
  • See boiling mud pools for free at Kuirau Park – Rotorua
  • View an intricately carved Maori Meeting House and a Tudor-style Church – Rotorua
  • Visit the thundering Huka Falls, where thousands of litres of water is squeezed through a narrow gorge - Lake Taupo
  • Find your inner child and slide down the Rere Rock Slide-  near Gisborne
  • Be the first to see the sunrise: Gisborne is the first city in the world to see the sun rise each day.
  • Climb or drive up Te Mata Peak for 360 degree views of Hawke’s Bay – Hawke's Bay
  • Walk along the beach to Cape Kidnappers to see the largest accessible mainland Gannet Colony – Hawke’s Bay
  • Grab a free brochure from the i-SITE and walk the city of Napier to discover the Art Deco buildings and history – Hawke’s Bay
  • Explore the spooky looking rock formations known as the Putangirua Pinnacles in Palliser Bay – Wairarapa
  • Walk over the spectacular Waiohine Gorge suspension bridge – Wairarapa
  • Visit Te Papa Museum and see the colossal squid –Wellington

South Island

  • See seal pups frolicking in natural pools – Kaikoura
  • Gaze up at the stars at the Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve - Canterbury
  • Check out creativity born from the Earthquake – Christchurch
  • Try counting the steps of the world’s steepest street – Baldwin St in Dunedin
  • Visit the stunning and evocative Tunnel Beach – Dunedin
  • Picnic, swim or sun bath on the shores of beautiful Lake Wakatipu – Queenstown
  • Enjoy one of many free community events such as NYE fireworks, Glenorchy Races, JazzFest – Queenstown
  • Visit Arrowtown Chinese Settlement Village - Arrowtown
  • Taste wine while enjoying amazing views – Rippon Vineyard – Wanaka
  • Share your sandwich and feed trout and eels in Lake Wanaka -Wanaka
  • Gaze into the reflective Mirror Lakes – Fiordland
  • Explore the Chasm, just one of the natural wonders on the The Milford Road – Fiordland
  • Meet Yellow Eyed Penguins and sea lions on a walk at Nugget Point Lighthouse – The Catlins
  • Explore a 160 million year old petrified forest – The Catlins
  • Stand at the southernmost point of New Zealand’s South Island - Bluff
  • Experience the spray at Jack’s Blowhole, Owaka
  • Visit some of the art and craft galleries in Nelson, including Millennium Gallery, Yealands Estate Marlborough Gallery and Riverlore Gallery - Nelson
  • Great Tastes of NZ offers free tastings of its fruit brandies and schnapps, as well as internationally acclaimed Lemon Ice, Southern Star Vodka and Blenheim Bay Gin – Blenheim
  • Pelorus Scenic Reserve has Maori and European history, enjoy the Rai swing bridge while taking in the flora and fauna and native birdlife.
  • Browse Picton’s galleries shops and cafes and take the heritage walk around the Picton Foreshore for views of the Queen Charlotte Sound - Picton
  • Go underground and check out the Clifden Caves, Tuatapere.  These limestone caves are roughly 22 million years old and feature amazing stalactites, stalagmites and glow-worms. Ensure you have safety hat, visibility jacket, waterproofs and you go in pairs – near Invercargill. 
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