Amazing things to do in New Zealand? There are lots of them! I am limiting my list to 10 so you don’t spend all day and night reading. I have revised my popular post to include whale watching and some gorgeous new images of Kaikoura, Te Kuiti and the dramatic Shotover jet.
Middle-Earth has some pretty cool scenery which you can also check out in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films.
10 Wonderful Things To Do in New Zealand
Best tourist tip for all New Zealand visitors? Each town or city has an iSight Tourist Centre. This is a good first stop for any brochures, maps and directions you need. It will be clearly signposted.
- In my post NI = North Island. SI = South Island.
STOP PRESS: The famous Science Fiction and Fantasy WorldCon event is taking place in New Zealand this July/August. You can find out details on the comprehensive CoNZealand site.
- If you are not sure what WorldCon is – check here. I am volunteering and currently help with the Twitter stream.
Milford Sound (SI)
Situated at the top of the Fiordland National Park, it is one of the most beautiful, (and the wettest), places in New Zealand.
Walk New Zealand (NI and SI)
There are a number of major walking tracks to check out (pdf and details here) and nothing of a beastly nature that will do you serious harm. No snakes, bears, mountain lions, scorpions, or disease-carrying insects on the trails.
Some of the walks have guided options, so if you want to walk in a low-stress way – check out a walk that appeals to you and see if there is an organised tramping tour is available. (Check this out for what must be the Ultimate Milford Sound hike).
Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit (NI & SI)
There are many beautiful locations throughout New Zealand that were used in the iconic movies The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Weta Cave in Wellington (NI)
Don’t forget to visit Weta Cave, Miramar, Wellington. Weta is a magnet for all sic-fi fans as they worked on movies like District 9. I recommend you take one of the official Tours. You can read about my Weta tour experience here.
The shop has been expanded and the ‘behind the scenes tours’ are really worth it! There is something for every Weta fan to enjoy.
Stargaze on Mount Cook (SI)
In 2012 over 4,300 square kilometres (2,671 miles) of New Zealand’s South Island was recognised as an International Dark Sky Reserve – the largest such reserve in the world. With the help of guides and the latest in telescopes, you can see further than you ever dreamed, picking out stars and planets.
Whale Watch in Kaikoura (SI)
Beautiful Kaikoura is the starting point for whale watching tours that take you out close to magnificent sperm whales. This must be amongst the most amazing things to do in New Zealand. There is a list of NZ iSights here.
Fur seals, Dusky Dolphins and the Wandering Albatross could also be on your agenda on these regular tours. Cost approx. $150 per person (subject to change) and tours set off several times a day.
Explore New Zealand’s Maori Heritage (NI)
Visit Rotorua, one of the major centres where you can learn a lot about the Maori people, their culture and their customs. You can see and learn about a living Maori village and its strong culture. Rotorua is also home to geothermal springs where you can bathe!
New Zealand’s Gourmet Food & Wine (NI and SI)
New Zealand cultivates a lot of its own wine and is proud of its gourmet delicacies. Central Otago Pinot Noir cannot be bettered, and there are many fine kinds of cheese, although if you look in supermarkets you see little of the delicacies New Zealand has to offer. Hawkes Bay is proud of its gourmet delights and worth exploring for foodies!
Ride the Shotover River, Queenstown (SI)
For the ultimate in thrills and splashes take the Shotover Jet, as long as you don’t mind getting wet and screaming a lot. There are plenty of activities based around Shotover if you really like scaring yourself.
If you want to see something special, visit Napier. Known as the Art Deco city, it has an annual Art Deco festival showcasing costumes and genuine vintage motor cars (some of which are flown in from the USA); but it is an eye-opening journey into the past any time you care to visit.
You can get all the help you need when visiting Napier at the local iSight.
There are daily tours by volunteer guides and these are worth the money; we went on a walk and learned heaps about the earthquake that levelled much of the town and then how it was rebuilt in such style.
Top Driving Tip for USA Visitors
- You will drive on the other side of the road to us in New Zealand when you arrive from the United States. This is important to remember – people have been hurt, even killed, as they make fatal assumptions about New Zealand and its roads.
- “Always drive on the left-hand side of the road in New Zealand. If you’re used to driving on the right-hand side of the road, this can be a challenge to remember, especially when pulling out into traffic. Remember – if you are driving, you must be seated in the middle of the road – your front seat passenger will be on the edge of the road.“
I hope that this gives our new visitors something to check out before they decide how to plan their itinerary!