Ultimate New Zealand bucket list

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A land of beauty and adventure, New Zealand is home to incredible activities worthy of a place on anyone's bucket list.

Hobbiton

Just outside of the Waikato town of Matamata, Sir Peter Jackson discovered the perfect place to create The Shire and village of Hobbiton. To this day, the movie set remains and is a spectacular place to visit, and it's not just for fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies.

White Island

Off the North Island’s Bay of Plenty, White Island appears on the horizon as a thick plume of smoke rising from the Pacific Ocean, the first visible sign of one of New Zealand’s most fascinating natural attractions. From Whakatane, just south of Tauranga, take a boat trip or helicopter out to the island for an otherworldly experience.

Hot Water Beach

At Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula, in the North Island of New Zealand, visitors can create their own natural jacuzzi in the wet sand during low tide. Purchase a spade at the nearby shop or bring your own and build a private hot pool with a stunning ocean view.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

New Zealand’s most famous day walk, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing takes in incredible scenery over a nine-hour trek. The Crossing is a 19.4km one-day hike, past Mt Ngauruhoe and over Mt Tongariro, with panoramic views of active volcanic areas and colourful crater lakes in the UNESCO Dual Heritage area.

Whale watch Kaikoura

Kaikoura is a year-round whale-watching destination and also renowned for its scenic location - a rugged coastline between the Pacific Ocean and the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps, which provides a dramatic background for the marine life that is often seen close to shore.

Dive Poor Knights

Twenty-three kilometres off New Zealand’s Tutukaka Coast, the Poor Knights Islands are an international diving icon. Described by Jacques Cousteau as the best dive spot in subtropical temperate waters, the Poor Knights is part of a marine reserve creating a remarkably varied ecosystem.

Milford Sound

Fiordland National Park’s jewel in the crown, Milford Sound was once described as the eighth wonder of the world by Rudyard Kipling. Towering peaks, hundreds of waterfalls, quirky wildlife and glassy waters combine to create one of the most breath-taking places on the planet. An overnight experience in Milford Sound is the time to embrace an absolute silence after the day's visitors have left.

Bungy jump

New Zealand was the first country in the world to commercialise bungy jumping at the site of the Kawarau Suspension Bridge just outside of Queenstown. Take the plunge  overlooking the stunning Kawarau River or tackle the Nevis - 134 metres over the valley floor.

Southern Lights

While the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis, is a famous and beloved bucket list item for night sky watchers, the lesser known Aurora Australis or Southern Lights is no less spectacular. From Dunedin, the Southern Lights appear just over the southern horizon creating remarkable reflections in the water and delighting photographers.

Waitomo Caves

An ancient subterranean world in the heart of New Zealand’s central North Island, the Waitomo Cave system is a series of fascinating and dramatic natural wonders. The glow-worm grotto is one of the most popular attractions where visitors travel by boat into the spectacular cave guided by the light of thousands of unique New Zealand glow worms.

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Where to next?

11 must-do North Island experiences →

11 must-do South Island experiences →

Must-do Free Experiences in New Zealand →