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 are a few ideas to get you started.

From cruising the magical fiords of Milford Sound to sipping award-winning wines in stunning vineyards, New Zealand has a diverse variety of unforgettable experiences, all in just one amazing country. Here’s a list of 10 ‘Must-Dos’ to check off your list when planning your next trip.

 

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Queenstown
Bungy, Queenstown

By AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand

From adventure activities to wine tasting, Queenstown's alpine and lake setting has it all.

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

Auckland’s Waiheke Island makes a great day trip for vineyard tours and beach-seekers.

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

Soak up Maori cultural experiences throughout the country, especially in Rotorua, south of Auckland

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

No matter what method you chose to get on the water, visiting Milford Sound in Fiordland is a must.

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

Soak in the natural hot springs at Kerosene Creek, Rotorua

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

The rolling hills of Matamata invite you to take a guided tour of the idyllic Hobbiton Movie set.

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

No experience required. A guided glacier walk makes it easy to discover the magic of Franz Josef.

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

Kayak, swim with dolphins, or sail in the Bay of Islands, Northland. Explore a new beach every day.

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.

New Zealand
Rob Roy Glacier, Mt Aspiring Nation, New Zealand

By Julian Apse

Explore the Mount Aspiring National Park

Mt Aspiring National Park, Wanaka

Fom soaring mountains to tranquil river flats, glaciers and turquoise lakes, exploring the Mount Aspiring National Park wilderness is an unforgettable experience. Accessible from Wanaka, it boasts plenty of activities for outdoor enthusiasts; from walking to jet boating and scenic flights. Choosing where to start is the hardest part! Learn more.

Wanaka
Rippon Vineyard, Wanaka

By Julian Apse

Stop by Rippon Vineyard in Wanaka for a wine tasting

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.

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