Must-do Free Experiences in New Zealand

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From stunning beaches and natural hot springs, to flowing waterfalls and marine reserves, New Zealand has endless free experiences for you to discover.

Watch Oceans Battle at Cape Reinga

There are not many places where you can watch two oceans meet. And at 165 meters above sea level, nowhere offers a more spectacular way to do so than the lookout at Cape Reinga, the northernmost point of New Zealand. Photo by @misi_chan on Instagram

Northland & Bay of Islands
Cape Reinga, Northland & Bay of Islands

Von @misi_chan

Watch oceans collide at New Zealand's most northern tip.

Northland & Bay of Islands

Northland & Bay of Islands

Highlights

  • The Waitangi Treaty Grounds
  • Dune surfing on Ninety Mile Beach
  • Dolphin encounters

Proximity

  • By car: 5hr 40min from Auckland Central
  • By car: 2hr 45min from Paihia, Bay of Islands

Chase the Fish at Goat Island

Actually, it’s not the island itself that’s the attraction – rather the waters that surround it. Okakari Point Marine Reserve (Goat Island) in Auckland was one of New Zealand’s first, situated on a coastline already abundant in sea life. So put your mask and snorkel on and dive in.

Auckland
Snapper at Goat Island, Auckland

Von Enderby

Head to Goat Island Marine Reserve to get up close to masses of colourful fish.

Auckland

Auckland

Highlights

  • New Zealand's oldest marine reserve
  • Matakana markets, cafes and vineyards
  • Tawharanui Regional Park

Proximity

  • By car: 1hr 10mins from Auckland Central

Hot Spring at Kerosene Creek

35 kilometres south of Rotorua is Kerosene Creek, where a hot spring and freshwater stream meet, allowing you to bathe and relax all year round. Photo by @petiteloudy on Instagram.

Rotorua
Naturally Hot Kerosene Creek, Rotorua

Von @petiteloudy

Relaxing in the hot water at Kerosene Creek.

Rotorua

Rotorua

Highlights

  • Whakarewarewa Forest trails
  • The Buried Village of Te Wairoa
  • Scenic flights to White Island

Proximity

  • By car: 2hr 50min from Auckland Central
  • By bus: 4hr 30min from Auckland Central
  • By car: 5hr 40min from Wellington Central

Hot Pools at Hot Water Beach

The water at Hot Water Beach in The Coromandel is like a bath. Literally. Natural thermal springs run under the sand between the high- and low-tide mark and you can dig yourself a hot pool. Photo by @victorgag on Instagram.

Coromandel
Hot Water Beach, Coromandel

Von @victorgag

Dig your own beach-spa while soaking in epic views of the Pacific at Hot Water Beach in The Coromandel.

The Coromandel

The Coromandel

Highlights

  • Cathedral Cove
  • The Pinnacles track
  • Gold-mining history in Waihi

Proximity

  • By car: 2hr 40min from Auckland Central
  • By bus: Approx 4hr from Auckland Central

Enjoy the Rere Rock Slide 

Just outside the iconic surf town of Gisborne, Rere Rock Slide is New Zealand’s first waterslide. Carved over thousands of years it’s become a stunning natural waterpark.

Eastland
Rere Rockslide, Eastland

Von Bare Kiwi

A 60-metre-long natural water slide is off the Wharekopae Road, just out of Gisborne. Rere Rockslide is as much fun as it looks in the photos.

Eastland

Eastland

Highlights

  • Top notch surf beaches
  • Wine trail - Chardonnay is the specialty
  • Maori culture and heritage

Proximity

  • By car: 3hr 30 min from Rotorua
  • By plane: 1hr from Auckland

Hike an Active Volcano

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a challenging and fun one-day hike through Tongariro National Park, a dual World Heritage listed site. You’ll see lava flows, an active crater, steam vents, emerald coloured lakes and magnificent views making this an epic walking journey. If you’re willing to step up to the challenge you’ll be rewarded with some views that are impossible to get any other way. Along with bragging rights, of course. Photo by @semiamateurphotography on Instagram.

Ruapehu
Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Ruapehu

Von @semiamateurphotography

Crossing a stark and spectacular volcanic terrain, Tongariro Alpine Crossing is one of the best day walks in the world.

Ruapehu

Ruapehu

Highlights

  • Emerald lakes
  • Panoramic views
  • Volcanic craters and lava flows

Proximity

  • By car: 10 mins from Turangi
  • By car: 45 min from Ohakune/Taupo
  • By car: 4hr 15min from Wellington Central

Go bush in Waitakere Ranges

With more than 16,000 hectares of native forest, rimmed by spectacular coastline, Waitakere Regional Park is the perfect place for exploring. Discover ancient kauri trees, giant tree ferns and picturesque waterfalls or head down to the coast to check out the breathtaking black sand beaches of Auckland’s West Coast.

Auckland
Waitakere Bay & Bethells Beach, Auckland

Von Kai Lehnberg

Discover the rugged beauty of Auckland's West Coast.

Christchurch - Canterbury

Christchurch - Canterbury

Highlights

  • Whale watching and marine encounters
  • Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway
  • Catch and eat crayfish

Proximity

  • By car: 2hr 25min from Christchurch

Stargaze in Canterbury

Covering much of the Aoraki/Mount Cook Mackenzie region is an International Dark Sky Reserve - the Southern Hemisphere’s sole reserve of its kind and one of only eight in the world. This is a stargazing experience that is second to none. Extensive testing has proven the area has the darkest, and most spectacular night skies in New Zealand with the highest number of clear sky nights! Photo by @david.rexer on Instagram.

Christchurch - Canterbury
A night spent stargazing, Christchurch - Canterbury

Von @david.rexer

Campers take in the beautiful southern stars in the Aoraki/Mount Cook region.

Christchurch - Canterbury

Christchurch - Canterbury

Highlights

  • Climbing and Mountain walks
  • Stargazing
  • Glacier viewing and skiing

Proximity

  • By car: 4hr from Christchurch Central
  • By car: 3hr from Queenstown

Reflect on Wanaka’s Blue Pools

A short walk from the Haast Highway, in Mount Aspiring National Park, are the Blue Pools with some of the bluest water the world has to offer, it’s so clear you can often see New Zealand’s famous brown and rainbow trout migrating. Photo by @ellenprojects on Instagram.

Wanaka
The Blue Pools, Wanaka

Von @ellenprojects

The crystal clear blue water at Wanaka's Blue Pools

Wanaka

Wanaka

Highlights

  • Skiing and snowboarding
  • Sailing, jetboating, and kayaking
  • Flightseeing, skydiving, and canyoning

Proximity

  • By car: 2hr from Queenstown
  • By car: 50min from Wanaka Township
  • By bicycle: 4hr 45min from Wanaka

Chase Fiordland’s Waterfalls

Mountains and waterfalls tumble hundreds of metres into massive fiords here - hence the name Fiordland. The area is renowned for it's spectacular scenery and walks throughout the Milford and Doubtful Sounds. Don't miss out on a sight that’s completely, utterly and unforgettably majestical. Which is officially a word in New Zealand. Almost. Photo by @hannahdanilu on Instagram.

Fiordland
Milford Sound Waterfall, Fiordland

Von @hannahdanilu

A surreal waterfall in Fiordland.

Fiordland

Fiordland

Highlights

  • Milford & Kepler Tracks - Great Walks
  • Kayaking, diving, or scenic flights
  • Glowworm caves

Proximity

  • By car: 2hr from Queenstown
  • By bus: 3hr from Queenstown
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