18 must-do NZ experiences

Who says you have to travel far for exciting experiences? From the snowy peaks of the Southern Alps, to bubbling volcanoes and delicious gourmet journeys, New Zealand has enough to make you wonder why you would holiday anywhere else!

Check out these 18 experiences that make NZ an iconic holiday destination for both locals and international visitors.

1. Explore and taste wines in Wairarapa Valley

New Zealand wine is world-famous, but Wairarapa is still one of the lesser known wine regions, making it perfect for a chilled-out getaway. ‘Wairarapa’ means ‘Land of the Glistening Waters’, and if you go wine tasting in Martinborough you’ll soon discover why. The crisp and fresh valley air combined with some of the best pinot noirs you’ll ever taste make Wairarapa Valley an exciting foodie destination.

Autumn in Wairarapa

2. Experience a time before humans

Zealandia is an ambitious project attempting to restore part of New Zealand’s wilderness to its pre-human days.

It is best to visit Zealandia after dark, when you can fully immerse yourself in the atmosphere. Heighten your senses and listen to various bird calls in the forest, and lookout for the sparkly magic of glow-worms. This is also when a distinctive brown bird known as the kiwi (you might have heard of it 😉) makes its nocturnal appearance.


3. Face the power of geothermal energy

NZ sits on some very active tectonic plates. They create volcanic power that generate both heat energy and some very soothing hot springs.

Learn all about NZ’s unique volcanic geography in Rotorua, on a Volcanic & Geothermal sightseeing tour. Feel the power of the geysers and the heat of the sulphuric thermal pools, or marvel at the sight of the Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley.

4. Befriend a seal

There is nothing more touching than coming face to face with wildlife. Go for a swim with the seals in Kaikoura to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most curious creatures.

Watch their playful and friendly nature take over as they approach you – an experience rarely found anywhere else in the world.

Hanging out with the locals in Kaikoura

5. Enjoy solitude in the ‘Sound of Silence’

Referred to as the ‘Sound of Silence’, Doubtful Sound is perfect for those seeking some pristine nature and solitude. Explore the extensive wilderness and surrounding waters or cruise the fiord in search of dolphins, seals, penguins, and, occasionally, whales.

6. View an active volcano from the sky

From the haze of the smoke to the boiling lava, there is something very exciting about being close to an active volcano. Take a scenic helicopter flight to Whakaari– New Zealand’s only active marine volcano– for a chance to land right on the rim and visit an old sulphur mine, surrounded by breath taking views of White Island.


7. Experience the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world

Adrenaline junkies beware, this is not standard rafting. Experience the plunge, head-first, down Tutea Falls, the world’s highest commercially rafted waterfall.

The experience is thrilling from the start, and exhilarating to the finish line. Definitely not for the

8. Sail the America’s Cup

For sailing enthusiasts and fans of the America’s Cup, this is possibly the ultimate day out. Sail an actual America’s Cup yacht and learn the same manoeuvres the winning teams use. Feel the speed and excitement of the race against a backdrop of the stunning Auckland skyline.

9. Swim at one of the country’s black beaches

Another perk of NZ’s unique volcanic geography are its black-sand beaches, which make quite magnificent sights. The most iconic is Auckland’s Piha Beach. Alternatively, there are plenty of black beach spots to choose from around the Waikato and Taranaki regions.

Lion Rock, Piha Beach

10. Jump the bungees that made NZ famous

International visitors see New Zealand as the land of adventures, especially bungee jumping. If you have not jumped before, try the original bungee jump at Kawarau Bridge. Or for an even bigger adrenalin rush, check out New Zealand’s highest bungee jump on the Nevis River!

11. See the south’s natural beauty on a historical railway

Dunedin is full of Victorian and Edwardian architecture and gardens, making it a fantastic city to do a bit of reminiscing. From Dunedin Railway Station, board the historic Taieri Gorge Railway to Middle march. During the 6hr return trip, you’ll experience breathtaking landscapes over heritage viaducts. The stunning scenery will make you fall in love with New Zealand over and over again.

Taieri Gorge Railway

12. Cross the Southern Alps by train

Crossing Arthur’s Pass from Christchurch to Greymouth, the TranzAlpine Railway is the most spectacular rail journey this side of the equator. At least, we think so!

Traversing mountain ranges, with sights of snowy peaks and glaciers, over gorges laced with brilliant blue rivers, this unforgettable train journey showcases some of NZ’s most incredible natural features.

13. Escape the city and enjoy a day out on Waiheke Island

Clear your schedule and leave the bustle of Auckland behind to enjoy an adventure on Waiheke Island. Start the day with a zip line experience before settling down for a gourmet meal and some local wine tasting. It’s only a short trip from Auckland, but you’ll feel miles away.

Palm Beach, Waiheke Island

14. Explore the nation’s capital by bike

There is no better way to explore a city than on a bike, and Wellington is the perfect city to cycle. Warm up on the picturesque waterfront before peddling up the hills to the Mount Victoria Lookout, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city, all at your own pace.

15. Learn to be a Weta artist

Okay, it might take you a lot longer than a night to become a Weta Workshop – most famous for their character creations for Lord of the Rings – artist. But you can still visit the Weta Workshop, where a crew member will take you behind the scenes. If you’re lucky, you might see the artists in action!

16. Get airborne at New Zealand’s largest lake

Lake Taupo is a pretty sight, and it’s even more stunning when you see it from the air. Get airborne on a parasail and take in the surrounding view. You won’t want to come back down to Earth anytime soon.

Lake Taupo

17. Kayak by the glacier

Just around the corner from Franz Josef Glacier, Lake Mapourika’s mirror-like water and abundance of bird life makes it feel like another world. Kayaking on Lake Mapourika is like gliding on glass, with every mountain peak and speck of cloud reflected off the surface in high-definition.

18. Relax in one of NZ’s many natural hot springs

A landscape squeezed by tectonic plates can come with some hazards, but also some benefits. NZ’s natural hot springs are perfect for a little R&R.

Choose your own NZ adventure
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