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Things to do in New Zealand

Things to do in  New Zealand

Welcome to New Zealand

It might have been the popularity of The Lord of the Rings movies that put New Zealand on the map, but it's the enchanting landscapes, rich Maori heritage, and unforgettable natural wonders that keep travelers coming back. The North Island is home to New Zealand's capital, Wellington, and largest city, Auckland, but its real highlights lie outside the urban centers. Stroll the golden beaches of the Bay of Islands, journey to Middle Earth on a tour of the Hobbiton set, or cruise through the glowworm caves of Waitomo. Nearby, Rotorua is as renowned for its bubbling mud pools and lava fields as it is for its Maori culture, while farther south, the rocky peaks of Tongariro National Park form the backdrop to one of New Zealand's most rewarding hikes. A short ferry ride from Wellington lands you on the South Island, where the landscapes get wilder, the weather more temperamental, and the cities even more laid-back. Expect to spend most of your time outdoors, traveling from the sandy spit of Cape Farewell, past the windswept beaches of the West Coast, to the dramatic fjords of Milford Sound and the Fiordland National Park. Christchurch, revamped after the tragedy of the 2011 earthquake, is the main hub of the north, while the southern city of Queenstown is New Zealand's adventure capital, where thrill-seekers congregate to try skydiving, bungee jumping, white-water rafting, and ziplining.

Top 10 attractions in New Zealand

#1
Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier

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One of New Zealand’s most photographed natural wonders and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Franz Josef Glacier serves up a dazzling landscape of snow-smothered peaks, rocky gorges, and icy waterfalls, feeding into the Waiho River that's ripe for exploration.More
#2
Lake Wakatipu

Lake Wakatipu

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Surrounded by mountains and shrouded in legend, Lake Wakatipu and its crystal waters draw visitors as the longest lake on New Zealand's South Island. As a popular spot for adventure activities—from fishing to catamaran cruises—a day on Lake Wakatipu is arguably the highlight of any trip to Queenstown and the Otago region.More
#3
The Chasm

The Chasm

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When visiting New Zealand’s Milford Sound, you’d be forgiven for driving straight through from Te Anau and simply just wanting to get there. After all—Milford Sound is one of the world’s most stunningly scenic areas, and it’s hard to bottle the excitable urge to get there as fast as you can. As it turns out, however, the journey to famous Milford Sound is all a part of the experience, and the Milford Road is lined with hikes, viewpoints, and scenic adventures. One of these stops is known as “The Chasm,” where wooden boardwalks weave through the rain forest amidst a canopy of ferns. After only a couple of minutes on the trail, the sound of waterfalls thundering in the distance gradually begins to get louder, until the Cleddau River is powerfully splashing beneath your feet. From the bridge overlooking The Chasm, you’ll notice a series of massive rocks that are riddled with oversized potholes, which have been naturally formed by water swirling in circles within the canyon. Over the course of thousands of years, the swirling water has created these smooth depressions and holes in the rocks, which only add to the impressive nature of this short, but worthwhile hike.More
#4
Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka

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The town of Wanaka is a lakeside escape that drifts by under the radar—nowhere as busy as neighboring Queenstown, but arguably even more scenic. Rung by the mountains of Mt. Aspiring National Park, Wanaka also cradles Lake Wanaka inside of its river valley, where boating, kayaking, and standup paddling are popular summer activities. Imagine casually paddling a kayak beneath the Southern Alps, or parasailing in a canopy of silence while gazing toward hanging glaciers.Of all the adventures you’ll find on Lake Wanaka, perhaps the quirkiest is a half-day tour to explore Mou Wahou Island. This offshore bird sanctuary is not only known for its wealth and diversity of bird life, but also the fact that it’s small lake, known as Arethusa Pool, is a lake on an island in a lake on an island that’s surrounded by the Pacific. Activities and offshore islands aside, Lake Wanaka is also popular for just swimming, since the shallow areas at the shore of the lake can reach as high as 65°F on the warmest days of summer.More
#5
Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings

Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings

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Measuring more than 33 feet (10 meters) high, these mammoth Maori sculptures were chiseled into the rocks on the edge of Lake Taupo in the late 1970s. Created by master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell, the carvings depict Ngatoroirangi, who is said to have guided the Te Arawa tribes from their Polynesian homeland to New Zealand.More
#6
Marlborough Sounds

Marlborough Sounds

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A series of sunken river valleys at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, the Marlborough Sounds offer a range of sights and adventures—hiking, biking, camping, and wildlife watching, to name but a few. Many travelers pass through Queen Charlotte Sound and the town of Picton on the ferry between the North and South islands.More
#7
Te Mata Peak

Te Mata Peak

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The one notable exception to the vineyards and plains surrounding Hastings, craggy Te Mata Peak rises 1,300 feet (396 meters) above sea level and offers sensational views. Set just south of Napier and Hastings, Te Mata Peak is renowned for its sweeping, 360 degree views, which stretch from the coastline out to the farms that ring the towns of Hawke’s Bay. While it’s easy to drive to the summit, many visitors choose to hike on the network of forested trails, all of which are well maintained and marked with colorful signs.Enjoy the scent of towering Redwoods and fresh mountain air, before emerging onto the windswept peak that’s steeped in Maori legend. Guided cultural tours of the mountain explain a bit of its past, and offer insight on the history, people, and beauty of North Island's Hawke’s Bay.More
#8
Auckland Harbour Bridge

Auckland Harbour Bridge

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The Auckland Harbour Bridge is a landmark site on the city’s skyline. The 8-lane engineering marvel connects downtown Auckland with North Shore suburbs. Visitors can experience the bridge and the stunning views of the Waitemata Harbour from several vantage points: while driving over it, climbing it, or jumping off it.More
#9
Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

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New Zealand took a heavy toll in the fighting of World War I. By most estimates, the young nation lost 5% of its men of military age—a proportion that far outnumbered any of the other nations at war. Despite New Zealand’s heavy losses, the nation still commemorates the event and is proud of its military involvement, and the Omaka Aviation Heritage Center nearly brings the war back to life.Through the use of historic World War I aircraft and the help of Peter Jackson—who created Hollywood-quality exhibits to show the atrocities of war—the center has become one of the world’s foremost exhibits on early aviation. While strolling the exhibit calledKnights of the Sky, admire the impeccable dioramas that detail the tragedy of war—all of them featuring historic aircraft that served in World War I. There are scenes of pilots being shot down and artifacts belonging to The Red Baron, and by the time you finish wandering the halls of the shockingly real exhibits, you might swear you were actually on the Western Front in the summer of 1918. There’s also a museum with general info on World War I aviation, and even if you aren’t an aficionado of military biplanes or aircraft, the special effects and professional lighting combine to create a museum experience that's impressively entertaining.More
#10
Mission Estate Winery

Mission Estate Winery

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New Zealand produces some of the world’s most renowned, award-winning wines, and Mission Estate Winery on the outskirts of Napier is where it all began. Founded in 1851, Mission Estate was started by missionaries who journeyed from France with little more than a dream and a couple of vines. Now, nearly two centuries later, Mission Estate continues to operate as one of New Zealand’s best wineries, and is a staple on any shore excursion or wine tasting tour of Napier.Head down the tree lined driveway toward the old fashioned estate and its fountain, and you'll immediately fall for the history and regal charm of the area. Step outside on the hilltop veranda for a view of the vineyard landscapes leading back to Napier’s downtown or to sip in the sun protected by the shade of one of the winery's big, white outdoor umbrellas.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 3 Days in the Bay of Islands

How to Spend 3 Days in the Bay of Islands

Recent reviews from experiences in New Zealand

star-5
Wonderful Daytrip to Island Sanctuary
Sam_W, Mar 2021
Tiritiri Matangi Island Day Trip from Auckland with Optional Guided Walk
Wonderful to see and hear what early New Zealand might have been.
star-5
Memories to Last a Lifetime
Meredith_P, Jun 2021
Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Glowworm Caves Guided Day Trip from Auckland
He was able to pick us up from the end of the attractions, take pictures of places we didn’t even think to take pictures of, and took us through the country side to really experience/enjoy New Zealand.
star-5
Breathtaking
Kelsey_D, Sep 2020
Milford Sound Nature Cruise
Driving into Milford was so breathtaking, surrounded by mountains, and waterfalls.
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Waitomo caves and Hobbiton
Gabriela, Jul 2020
Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Glowworm Caves Guided Day Trip from Auckland
On top of everything you get to see two of NZ's famous sights!
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Not disappointed
Michael_R, Mar 2020
The Seasider Rail Journey from Dunedin
Great (dry) way to see the sights on a rainy day.
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Great Original NZ Experience
David_V, Mar 2020
Tauranga Shore Excursion: Rotorua Highlights
Being able to walk through a working village with several hot springs boiling away was something everyone should see when visiting NZ.
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Otago Peninsula and wildlife tour
Linda, Mar 2020
Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula Wildlife Tour
He took us to see fur seals, albatross' and pointed out many birds only found in New Zealand.
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Glow worm phenomenon
bk9572, Feb 2020
Off the Beaten Track - Glowworm Caving Adventure Tour in Waitomo
I highly recommend and I would do it again when I come back to Visit!
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Queenstown Bike Ride
Trvanhoy, Feb 2020
Queenstown Guided Ebike Wine Tour
Got to see some wildlife and bungee jumpers over the incredibly turquoise waters of the river.
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Great way to start your stay in Auckland.
rn4sail, Jan 2020
Private Tour: Auckland City and Countryside Tour
Able to see some interesting sites and get a good feel for the city.
star-5
Wonderful
Sammysurf, Jan 2020
Tauranga Shore Excursion: Rotorua Geothermal Geyser Tour and Polynesian Spa
All attractions were good.
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A Unique Tour
kab06wa, Jan 2020
Hobbiton™ Movie Set 2-Hour Walking Tour from Shires Rest
Pictures of Hobbiton are nice, but you truly have to see it to appreciate it.
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Stupendous from start to finish!
Camper65933166983, Jan 2020
Milford Sound Scenic Flight and Nature Cruise
3) Dress warm, even in New Zealand "Summer" 4) Hopefully you get lucky with weather like we did, it was the only day of the week that wasn't rainy (they cancel the flights if the weather is bad) 5) Shoutout to Pilot Tom!!
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Arhtur's Pass and so much more!
Mansi H, Jan 2020
Arthur's Pass Full-Day Tour Includes TranzAlpine Express Train from Christchurch
This tour has a number of things packed in it - A farm tour with morning tea, jet boating, lunch at an iconic restaurant and finally great views and majestic waterfalls of Arthur's pass with TranzAlpine train.
star-5
Unbelievable experience
Andrew L, Dec 2019
Half-Day Milford Sound Flight and Cruise from Queenstown
You get to see varied landscapes and learn about New Zealand history and environment from your talented, courteous pilots.
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Great location and well organised tour
Mansi H, Dec 2019
Milford Sound Cruise with Optional Bus Tour
We were lucky enough to be visiting Milford sounds after rain as a result, there were a number of waterfalls with plenty of water.
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Excellent tour company
Sharonruth2019, Nov 2019
Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves Small Group Tour from Auckland
Would highly recommend both attractions with this tour company.
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the BEST day
kyliebosanac, Oct 2019
Milford Sound Cruise Including Underwater Observatory and Lunch
We are from NZ, so it was incredible to see our country from this perspective and learn more about our own piece of paradise :-) EVERYONE enjoyed themselves
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Visit Tamaki Maori show
rajagopalan4242, Sep 2019
Rotorua Māori Hāngi Dinner and Performance
Glad to see New Zealand Maori culture and the performance was great
star-5
Wonderful Tour
hicynslo, Aug 2019
Half-day Discover Auckland City Sightseeing Tour
Very informative and his suggestions for restaurants, activities and such were spot on.
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