New Zealand is known for its stunning natural beauty and laid-back lifestyle, making it a top pick for travelers year after year. Whether you’re looking for an action-packed adventure or an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, New Zealand has something for everyone. In this article, we’ll show you eight of the essential things to do on a trip to New Zealand.
1. Visit New Zealand’s best wineries
New Zealand is home to some of the world’s best wineries. From Marlborough in the north to Central Otago in the south, there are a variety of wine-tasting experiences on offer. Here are some of the country’s highest-rated wineries:
- Cloudy Bay Vineyards, Marlborough
- Te Muna Road Vineyard, Martinborough
- Gibbston Valley Winery, Central Otago
- Matariki Wines, Hawke’s Bay
Not only will you get to sample some of New Zealand’s finest wines, but you’ll also be able to soak up the picturesque scenery from one of the many vineyard tours available. The best months to visit are late summer and early autumn, when the grapes are at their peak ripeness.
2. Enjoy a scenic helicopter flight
One of the most popular activities in New Zealand is to take a scenic helicopter ride over some of the country’s most stunning landscapes. From snow-capped mountains to lush forests, you’ll be in awe of the views from above.
Helicopter flights leave from several major cities throughout New Zealand, and they’re a great way to get an aerial view of the country’s diverse scenery. Some operators even offer doors-off flights to experience the full 360-degree perspective while flying.
3. Explore the glaciers of New Zealand’s South Island
New Zealand is home to some of the most dramatic glaciers in the world, including the Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier on the country’s South Island. Both glaciers offer unique experiences, from guided hikes to ice-climbing tours.
The glaciers also offer one of the best wildlife holidays in the world. While you’re there, you will see alpine animals like chamois, tahr, yellow-eyed penguins, and Kea birds. Some of these animals don’t live anywhere else in the world.
4. Take in the views from Mount Cook
Mount Cook, New Zealand’s tallest peak, is an iconic destination for travelers looking to experience the grandeur of the Southern Alps. The mountain stands at a towering 3,724 meters high and offers some of the most breathtaking views in the country.
You can hike up to the summit for an unforgettable experience or take a scenic helicopter ride to get up close and personal with the mountain. In either case, make sure you bring your camera as the views from Mount Cook are something out of this world.
5. Sail the Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands is one of New Zealand’s most beautiful coasts and a must-see destination on any trip to the country. Here, you can sail or kayak around some of the 144 islands that make up the bay and take in views of stunning rock formations, white sand beaches, and lush forests.
One of the most popular activities in the Bay of Islands is to spot dolphins, which can often be seen swimming alongside boats. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of whales and seals in the area.
If you plan to live in New Zealand for a part of the year, you can purchase your own boat and explore the Bay of Islands at your own pace. Companies like Far East Sails can help you build and customize your own yacht for the ultimate sailing experience.
6. Take a dip at Hot Water Beach
Hot Water Beach, located on North Island’s Coromandel Peninsula, is one of New Zealand’s most unique attractions. During low tide, visitors can dig holes in the sand and enjoy natural hot springs that are heated by underground volcanic activity.
One of the coolest things about Hot Water Beach is its surrounding landscape. On all sides, you’ll be surrounded by panoramic views of the beach, cliffs, and nearby islands. Make sure to bring your swimsuit and a shovel—you’ll definitely want to take advantage of this one-of-a-kind experience.
7. Go whale watching in Kaikoura
New Zealand’s East Coast is home to some of the best whale watching spots in the world. The coastal town of Kaikoura is one of the best places to go if you want to get up close and personal with some majestic marine mammals.
Kaikoura is home to several species of whales, including sperm whales, blue whales, and humpbacks. You can also spot other marine creatures like dolphins, seals, and sea birds. Many whale watching tours also offer a chance to see albatrosses and other rare sea birds soaring over the ocean.
If you want to get the best possible experience, make sure to book a tour with a company that guarantees sightings—many companies offer money-back guarantees in case you don’t get the chance to spot any whales.
8. Visit the Hobbiton movie set from Lord of the Rings.
New Zealand is home to some of the most iconic filming locations for Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies. One of the most popular locations is Hobbiton, located in Matamata on North Island. Here, you can take a guided tour of the movie set and explore all the nooks and crannies that make up this enchanting world.
Don’t forget to snap some photos at The Green Dragon Inn, which is only accessible as part of a tour or guided experience. Visiting Hobbiton is a must for any Lord of the Rings fan or anyone hoping to experience a bit of movie magic on their trip to New Zealand.
New Zealand is an amazing destination that offers something for everyone. From stunning mountain views to up-close wildlife encounters, exploring the country will be a journey you’ll never forget. Whether you plan on taking a week-long trip or a full year abroad, make sure to get out and explore some of the best things New Zealand has to offer.
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