What to See and Do in New Zealand?
Things to see and do in New Zealand
New Zealand is considered one of the most naturally beautiful countries in the world. Every corner of the islands that make up New Zealand is packed with a variety of stunning landscapes, which is why New Zealanders, expats, and visitors become so passionate about spending time in the great outdoors. However, New Zealand has much more to offer than stunning natural landscapes. It would be almost impossible to list every sight to see, so the list below should be viewed as a starting point. Make your own discoveries about the natural and cultural wonders that New Zealand has to offer.
New Zealand is a bird lover’s paradise. Stewart Island gives visitors the best chance to see Kiwis in the wild. Cape Kidnappers in Hawkes Bay gives you access to the only gannet colony in the world. If you’re near Dunedin, make sure you visit Taiaroa Head to see the colonies of royal albatross, as well as the Otago Peninsula to come face-to-face with yellow-eyed penguins.
Blue Penguin Colony
Oamaru on the South Island is home to a blue penguin colony, and adults and kids alike will marvel as they waddle up the beach towards their nests, which are contained in an old stone quarry on the waterfront. The best time to visit is between November and December when up to 250 penguins call the Oamaru foreshore home.
Cape Reinga sits at the very top of New Zealand and it allows visitors to do all the things that New Zealand is famous for in one place. You can go tramping along the scenic path to the Cape Reinga Lighthouse, sand board down the enormous dunes and walk amongst 2,000-year old trees at Puketi Kauri Forest.
Neo-classical architecture makes Christchurch one of New Zealand’s most beautiful cities. Whilst Christchurch has also been the site of devastating earthquakes, the city has largely recovered and visitors will love the relaxed atmosphere, friendly locals and bustling café culture. Christchurch is also famous for its beautiful gardens and a visit to the city’s botanical gardens is a must. The Giant’s House sculpture sitting on the hills above the Akaroa district give Christchurch its own Parc Guell.
The Coromandel Peninsula is the perfect holiday destination. It is easily accessible from Auckland and features of ancient rainforest, sandy beaches and even warm pools at Hot Water Beach. It also features plenty of world-class point breaks for the keen surfer, and while Americans will need to adjust to the colder water, they’ll love the empty lineups and long left-handers.
Norway may be famous for its fjords, but the sea inlets that dot the coast of the South Island are just as spectacular. Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound offer incredibly sea kayaking opportunities and of natural beauty.
Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers
These two glaciers are found in the Westland National Park and are unique in the way they stretch from the heights of the forest to the coastline. These glaciers are just two of the 140 that dot the national park and seeing them up close is a truly magical experience.
Lord of the Rings fans will love visiting Matamata. The area features the Hobbiton Movie Set, which was used during the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. Visitors can walk amongst hobbit holes on their way through the lush, rolling hills.
The Kaituna River near Rotorua offers expats the chance to raft down the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world. You’ll plunge down the 7m (22 foot) fall for a truly unforgettable experience.
Sitting at the foothill of Mount John on the South Island, this lake is impossibly turquoise. The glacial dust gives it its otherworldly blue and the best place to view this natural wonder from is the observatory point at the top of Mount John, which is also home to the University of Canterbury’s Observatory.
In Wellington, you can visit the Te Papa Tangarewa Museum of New Zealand and the Auckland Museum to gain a fantastic insight into Maori culture, both past and present. Whilst in New Zealand, you should also try to attend a hangi (traditional frat cooked in an earth oven), visit a marae (a Maori meeting hall) and experience the power of a haka.
At 3,754m (12,300 feet) tall, Mount Cook on the South Island is the highest mountain in New Zealand and a destination for mountain climbing enthusiasts from all over the world. If you don’t feel like putting your climbing boots on, you can take the TranzAlpine train trip for a journey through the Southern Alps.
Queenstown is paradise for lovers of adventure sports. There’s basically nothing you can’t do from this town. It’s a gateway to some of New Zealand’s finest skiing and snowboarding slopes, as well as ample opportunities for rafting, bungee jumping, rock climbing and caving. On top of all of that, it sits on the scenic Lake Wakatipu and is full of world-class dining and nightlife, meaning it really is a treat for all the senses.
Rotoruais high on most tourists lists and it is truly a place of natural wonder. It is here that you can see first-hand the geothermal energy that makes up the core of the earth. Witness this geothermal energy bubble to the surface in the many whirlpools, geysers, thermal pools, steam jets, and sulfur pits, as well as the volcanoes at nearby Tongariro.
There’s no better place to see Auckland—New Zealand’s biggest city—than from Sky Tower. You can even abseil down the 100m (330 foot) building if you’re feeling particularly brave. Otherwise, stay safe inside and watch the wonder of glittering Auckland from the sky. As New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland is also a fantastic place to sample the diverse nature of New Zealand’s culture.
You can complete the Tongariro Crossing hike in a day trip. The hike features everything from deep valleys to volcanic lakes and dramatic mountain slopes. It is also the setting for Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings series.
Featuring over 300 limestone caverns, this cave system on the North Island gives visitors the opportunity to abseil into the darkness and explore the underworld. This system is famous for its glow-worm grottos and the underground river system that makes it perfect for black water rafting.
Waitangi Treaty Grounds
If you’re going to move to New Zealand, you need to visit the birthplace of modern New Zealand. You can stand on the space where 40 Maori chiefs signed a treaty with the British Crown, see the house where the treaty was signed and take in the magnificently detailed whare, which features carvings to represent all the Maori tribes of New Zealand.
New Zealand is a premier wine producer. Hawke’s Bay on the North Island features over 70 wineries and is famous for its Pinot Noir. The Marlborough area on the South Island has exploded thanks to its status as the producer of the world’s most popular Sauvignon Blanc and there are plenty of other vineyards scattered around the country to keep even the most ardent wine fan busy. The best part about wine tasting in New Zealand is that the best wineries are often situated in some of New Zealand’s finest scenery and there’s nothing quite like cradling a glass of world-class wine while watching the world go by in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
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