7 Experiences You Must Try When Travelling to New Zealand

New Zealand is a country full of adventure, beauty and wildlife and attracts millions of tourists year after year.

From beautiful beaches to whale-watching, wine-tasting and epic mountains, there is so much to see and do.

Whether you’re after great food, adrenaline-fuelled adventures, or wildlife encounters you’ll never forget, New Zealand is the place for you. The biggest problem most visitors have is trying to fit it all in one go.

That’s why I’ve rounded up the 7 experiences every traveller must try when visiting New Zealand.

7 Best Things to Do in New Zealand

1 – Discover Milford Sound

The first thing I need to confess is that Milford Sound can get a little bit wet. Fiordland is one of the wettest areas of New Zealand and is notorious for high rainfall.

On average, Milford Sound receives 182 days of rain a year and summer temperatures only reach around 18 C (64 F). Suitable clothing, therefore, is a must.

The good news is that Milford Sound is worth a trip no matter the weather. Rudyard Kipling described it as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ and it’s hard to disagree.

Situated on the west coast of the South Island, hours from the nearest town, Milford Sound is home to sheer cliffs and cascading waterfalls. Sutherland Falls is here too, one of the tallest waterfalls in the world.

Exploring Milford Sound by coach, cruise, kayak, or on foot, and spotting bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and the Fiordland Crested Penguin is one of the greatest things to do in New Zealand. There really is nowhere on earth quite like it.

visiting New Zealand
The breathtaking landscape of Milford Sound.

2 – Visit the Sky Tower, Auckland

Located on the North Island, Auckland is a vibrant city with great shopping, restaurants, nightlife and culture. One of the best ways of seeing Auckland is from the Sky Tower, which at 328 meters high is New Zealand’s tallest building.

The view from the observation deck is stunning, offering Panoramic 360˚ views up to 80 kilometres in every direction. There are restaurants and cafes too, including the Orbit 360˚ Dining revolving restaurant.

The tower is also home to the SkyCity Casino, where you’ll find the world’s most popular casino games and fantastic live entertainment. SkyCity offers over 2,100 gaming machines and 150 table games including Baccarat, Poker, Roulette and Blackjack.

Gambling is on the rise in New Zealand, the figures for 2020 showed an average of $572 spending per adult, this is largely due to the popularity of online casinos and impressive venues like Sky Tower.

Don’t forget, you must be aged 20 years or older to play online or enter a casino in New Zealand.

Auckland's skyline, New Zealand
The Sky Tower dominates Auckland’s skyline

3 – Take a Bungee Jump

New Zealanders are famous for their adrenaline-fuelled past times, from jet boating, zip-lining, rafting, canyoning and climbing. But for most visitors, you haven’t truly experienced New Zealand until you’ve done a bungee jump.

Don’t worry, this is where bungee jumping was invented and with lots of experienced, professional operators offering a selection of locations, you’re in safe hands. The hardest part – apart from actually jumping – is deciding where to take the leap.

The Nevis Bungy is the highest and most terrifying one, with an incredible 134-metre plunge and 8.5 seconds of free fall. Or how about the Auckland Harbour Bridge with the backdrop of the beautiful Waitemata Harbour?

If you’re an adrenaline junkie, when visiting New Zealand you should not miss the opportunity to go bungee jumping. I did it in South Africa for the very first time and loved it.

A man wearing blue clothes bungee jumping
It feels so good…

4 – See the Hobbiton Movie Set

Any movie buff or fan of Lord of the Rings needs no persuading when it comes to visiting Hobbiton, the home of Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.

Yes, the set of director Peter Jackson’s ‘Rings’ trilogy is still there and a must-see for the lovers of the books and films.

There are plenty of things to see here and informative guided tours will take you around as you follow in Gandalf’s footsteps.

While you can’t actually go inside any of the houses – they are just front doors sadly – you can stop at The Green Dragon Inn for a beer.

Visiting Hobbiton, the Love of the Rings movie set, is one of the best things to do  in New Zealand
  • I recommend that you book a guided tour to make your visit much more interesting. If you’re driving, you can book this one, which has a great price and very good reviews. Or you also can book this one from Auckland with lunch and transfer included.

5 – Admire the Glowworms

Glowworms can be found throughout New Zealand and are often discovered in damp, overgrown places such as river banks and forest undergrowth. However, the Waitomo cave system, just a three-hour drive from Auckland, is one of the best glowworm experiences.

An underground boat ride allows visitors the chance to see thousands of glowing blue-green, glow worms, light up the cave roof. Guided nighttime kayaking or hiking trips are another great way to see them.

Not technically worms at all, these glowing gnat larvae are not to be missed when visiting New Zealand.

6 – Go Whale Watching

Whales can be spotted throughout New Zealand, including Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf and Kaikoura.

Hauraki Gulf Marine Park covers an area of 4000 Km² and is home to not just whales, but a whole range of rare and exotic ocean life.

The endangered Bryde’s whale has been spotted here, while over 25 of the 37 southern hemispheres marine mammals have been identified in the area. However, if you want to see sperm whales then Kaikoura is the place to go.

Located on the east coast of the South Island, Kaikoura is one of the few places in the world where sperm whales are easily seen all year round. Orcas can be seen from December to March while humpback whales appear in June and July.

A humpback whale jumping on ocean with some mountains in the background

7 – Explore the Glaciers

New Zealand is home to several stunning glaciers, most of which are located in the Southern Alps on the South Island.

The Fox and Franz Josef glaciers are New Zealand’s most popular and it’s an easy walk to view their impressive terminal faces.

The largest glacier is the Tasman Glacier which sits below the country’s highest mountain, Mount Cook. At 27km long, the Tasman Glacier’s terminal lake has icebergs of every shape and size and is a great boat tour experience.

Alternatively, why not treat yourself to a ‘heli hike’ or a scenic helicopter flight over the Southern Alps?

Whether your choice, you can’t miss the opportunity to explore these glaciers as it’s one of the best things to do in New Zealand.

This is a shortlist of the 7 best things to do in New Zealand, and below you will find useful tips to help you plan your trip.

Safe travels and have fun in the Kiwi land.

Visiting New Zealand – Helpful Information

Where is New Zealand?

New Zealand is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean. It has two main islands, North Island and South Island. Its closest neighbour is Australia, more than 1,600 kilometres to the northwest (see the exact location here).

Best Time to Visit New Zealand

The best time to visit New Zealand is during the summer months of December to March when you can expect long, bright, sunny days and temperatures between 16°C (61°F) and 24°C (75°F).

This is the best time to enjoy the lovely beaches and the many outdoor activities available, such as hiking and mountain biking.

April, with its sunny days, bright blue skies, chilly nights and stunning autumn colours is a good time as well.

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