From geothermal wonderlands to glacial landscapes, it's fair to say that New Zealand might just be one of the coolest places on Earth. But if you don’t have a whole lot of time to travel, you're going to want to make sure you get in the essential New Zealand experiences.
Here are the top things you should do in the land of the long white cloud, before you kick the bucket.
Get cosy and sink a beer at the Green Dragon Inn
Image thanks to Pandotrip
Whether you consider yourself an avid Lord of the Rings fan or not, nothing really compares to the beautiful fantasy land of Hobbiton. The flawlessly maintained Hobbit Holes are considered one of the top things to see in New Zealand, with the rolling hills backdrop is both beautiful and immerses you in the Tolkienverse. With local brews that take inspiration from some of Middle-Earth’s finest, grab a beer at the Green Dragon Inn and imagine you’re having a cold one with Frodo and Samwise. Just make sure you don’t get to Legolas!
Skydive from 20,000 ft over Franz Josef Glacier
Image thanks to New Zealand Tourism
If you’re going to throw yourself out of an airplane, there’s no better place to do it than Franz Josef. This adrenaline fueled experience is considered as one of the top things to do in New Zealand. Being the highest jump in New Zealand at 20,000 ft you’ll get more than enough time (85 seconds of freefall) to reconsider your life choices, decide they were correct and then experience the stunning scenery of Franz Josef glacier while falling at 200 k/ph. In the words of Van Halen, “Go ahead and jump’’.
Go beyond the wineries and zipline on Waiheke Island
Image thanks to Klook
If you love your wine but think it lacks a certain kind of ‘kick’ you need to zip on down to Waiheke Island. Fly across stunning vineyards while having the time of your life. Not only will you see some gorgeous Waiheke grapevines, but you’ll also be cruising the waters of the Auckland Harbour with some epic views to get there. This is top thing to do in New Zealand if just drinking wine isn't exciting enough for you!
Pro Tip: Do the winery tour after the zipline. Like they say, don’t drink and fly.
Bungy jump towards the turquoise waters beneath the Kawarau Bridge
Image thanks to Everything New Zealand
If you’re looking for unlimited things to jump off, it seems like New Zealand has you covered. With it jumping off of things being almost a national sport, New Zealand is known as the Bungy capital of the world. For the best of the best check out this bungy hotspot, AJ Hackett’s K-Bridge, just outside of Queenstown. With a 48 meter drop and the chance to touch the beautiful water below the Kawarau Bridge bungy jump is an unmissable experience if you want to scare your mum and impress your mates.
Dig yourself a natural spa bath at Coromandel's famous Hot Water Beach
Image thanks to Read the Spirit
Everything's better when it’s handmade. That’s especially so when it comes to your very own spa at Coromandel’s Hot Water Beach in New Zealand. It might look like your regular old beach, but if you literally scratch the surface you get your hot water on demand, all from an underground geothermal spring. Just bring your shovel, and two hours before low tide and two hours after you can dig up an all-natural spa where you can sit back, relax and enjoy life.
Paddle your kayak to a secluded island amid the South Island's Abel Tasman
Image thanks to NOMADasaurus
New Zealand. Known for its action-packed adventure and harsh beautiful landscapes. But some of the best nature that New Zealand has to offer is the decidedly more tranquil Abel Tasman national park. Being the coastal paradise it is, the best way to see it is by hiring a kayak and going for a paddle. Abel Tasman National Park is filled with clear water, stunning views and unique wildlife which you’d be unlikely to find anywhere else. This is a great way to get in touch with New Zealand’s nature, and if you’re kayaking with a friend, it’s a great team bonding experience.
Traipse from mud pool to mud pool amid steaming active volcanoes in Hells Gate, Rotorua
Image thanks to The Curious Kiwi
Only in Rotorua has getting so dirty meant getting so clean. The nutrient rich water at Hells Gate in Rotorua has soothed the battle scars of Māori warriors for centuries. The mud baths are known to relax the body, while exfoliating the skin.
If mud isn’t your thing, the rest of the park is full of amazing trails through this geothermal wonderland. With some pools clocking over 100°C, it’s like being on another planet. But no matter what you choose, Hells Gate is out of this world.
Hot tip: While the place is relaxing, the smell isn’t and can stick to your clothes. Make sure to wash them as soon as you get home.
Join the Devil Burger vs. FergBurger debate in Queenstown
Image thanks to Nomads World
Ever since the dawn of time has man debated their favourites. Apple vs PC, Star Wars vs Star Trek, should pineapple on pizza be a crime or should we just put up people who are wrong. In Queenstown it’s no different. The everlasting debate. Which is better? Devil Burger or FergBurger? Both of these places have been regarded as many as the world's best burger joints. Why not join the queue and weigh in on the debate?
Tip: You can call ahead at FergBurger and skip the line. The wait is almost as legendary as the burgers.
Tumble down a hill in a giant inflated ball with ZORB
Image thanks to Reid’s Guides
If you don’t want to get your kicks by jumping off of things, why not give zorbing a go? Hop into a giant inflatable ball and speed down a hill for an adrenaline hit that’s a whole load of fun. If you’re looking to cool off, some zorb locations even do water zorbing, so chuck on your bathers, roll on down and have a laugh.
Grip the sides of a raft as you launch down a 7-metre waterfall whilst White Water Rafting in the Kaituna River
Image thanks to BookMe
While Queenstown might be the Adventure Capital of the World, head up north to Kaituna River for an experience that rivals every bungy jump and skydive Queenstown has to offer. Many have claimed that the raging rapids of the Kaituna River are among the gnarliest in the world and this experience is more rampaging rollercoaster then relaxing raft. If you’re looking for an adventure that’s against the norm then hold on tight and head on down to Kaituna.
The Bottom of the Bucket
There’s a whole heap of stuff you can do in New Zealand, and this is only scratching the surface. If you gave us the chance we could go on and on about what to do in the amazing Aotearoa, but unfortunately there’s on so much time in the day. In the end, if you’re looking for some New Zealand adventures to add to your lifetime list, these are definitely worth the consideration.
About The Author:
Ben is a traveller first and a writer second. He first caught the travel bug in his childhood, where once a year his family would travel to a new place so they could get closer together and explore the world. Since then he has dedicated the small budget he has to adventuring to new places. His goal in life is to visit every country there is, or at least as many as he can.