New Zealand is without a doubt one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever been to with stunning landscapes, amazing food, delicious wine and some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. New Zealand holds a very special place in my heart. It’s so exquisite they had to split the island in two! It has the perfect combination of beauty and adventure accompanied by an extremely laid back attitude, making it an ideal travel destination. New Zealand is a bucket list destination for many and with good reason.
1: Visit Queenstown.
Queenstown is the adventure capital of New Zealand. It has so many activities to jump into. Question is, how many can you fit into your time here? It’s home to the worlds first ever commercialised bungy jump and is the place to go for extreme sports and adrenaline inducing adventure! Put your life in the hands of a giant rubber band and work up the courage to jump off a bridge, go skydiving, jet boating, zip lining, horse riding… the options are endless. In winter there’s skiing on the slopes of The Remarkables and Coronet Peak.
Hungry after all that adventuring? Don’t miss Fergburger, Queenstown’s famous burger joint. The queues are worth it. Experience Queenstown’s legendary nightlife. Cosy up next to a soaring fire for some apres ski or gear up and go bar hopping in central Queenstown. Below Zero ice bar, The World bar and restaurant, The Pig and Whistle, Cowboy bar – test your stickability skills on a bucking bull, Pog Mahones, or a favourite of mine Winnie’s – go for pizza, stay for a party! Winnie’s has a reputation as one of Queenstown’s most popular hang outs for locals and tourists alike. Watch as Winnie’s transforms into one of the busiest and best nightclubs with its amazing opening roof.
2:Hike the Tongariro Crossing
New Zealand is a hikers dream! There are countless epic walks with one of the most popular being the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It’s a 12 mile (6-8 hour) day hike that will lead you past a distinctive combination of volcanic landscapes and colourful crater lakes. Red crater is the highest point, believe me, the view is outstanding. The Emerald lake sparkles like a jewel reflecting the sun rays. Tongariro was made famous by its star appearance in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The alpine volcanic scenery is the setting of Mordor, in which stands Mt Doom. For the entire trilogy Frodo and Sam are trying to get to Mt Doom in order to destroy the infamous ring. It is a point to point hike so a little effort is needed to arrange transport to either the start or the finish of the hike.
3: Kaikoura – swim with dolphins.
Immerse yourself in a world below the sea, an unforgettable experience in one of New Zealand’s most breathtaking destinations. The sound of the engine falls away and excitement builds before you dive right in. Joyful, social, dusky pods of dolphins, frolicking in their natural environment, something I’ll never forget, hundreds of dolphins, leaping, flipping and jumping.
4: Franz Josef glacier heli hike.
I’d seen the photos and heard people rave about their experiences. Could it really live up to expectations. I later found out, one thousand times over, yes! Franz Josef heli hike sure is a recipe for excitement! Towering crevasses made of iridescent ice accompanied by glacial views, the scenery on the ice was just as impressive as the ones from the helicopter. While a trip to the glacier isn’t exactly budget friendly, it is a once in a lifetime experience and worth every penny. To see the blue ice up close is just incredible. Almost every shade of blue is reflected in this magnificent glacier. Peeking down moulins, wiggling through tunnels and even sliding into an ice cave or two.
5: White Water Rafting in Rotorua.
White water rafting on the Kaituna river is one of the activities you should not miss when you visit Rotorua. Don’t let the crashing of the rapids or the water splashing scare you away. Grab your helmet, life jacket, paddle, buddies and hope you don’t come a cropper at the Okere Falls, the worlds highest commercially rafted waterfall at a 7 metre drop. It’s not every day you get the chance to raft down a class 5 rapid. After an extensive safety briefing you are set for off. The guide communicates the whole way through, explaining what to do before plunging through each rapid (our guide was very pleasing to the eye, we had no problem keeping a close eye on him and his instructions!). The guides allow you to rotate seats throughout, in order to get the most from the experience. Apart from having a major wedgie (bring shorts, or ask for a wet suit) it was an unbelievable adrenaline rush. Once you start there’s no turning back. We were completely vertical cascading down the waterfall. The raft went under and we were submerged completely. Within seconds we sprang back up to the surface, all turning to make sure we were in the raft. Josh, where’s Josh… yes he had come a cropper. It was scary (even more so for Josh) but the guides got him back in safe and sound.
6: Explore New Zealand by Campervan.
I had the pleasure of spending time with my sister and her partner on the road in their campervan. It is without a doubt the best way to see New Zealand. Open your door to sunrise in the morning, explore hidden gems and have the adventure of a lifetime.
Travelling in New Zealand you will see an abundance of tourists exploring the countryside in campervans. It’s makes for an affordable way to travel offering the freedom to go off the beaten track and take in the sights at your own pace. Driving in New Zealand is effortless with minimal traffic and quiet roads. What’s great about New Zealand is the amount of campsites on offer. The best way to find campgrounds is to download a New Zealand campground app, the most popular being Campermate. It shows all campgrounds, from free camping to holiday parks. They include reviews which is extremely helpful. It even has a feature where you can search the map for the nearest public toilet (this came in handy as I’ve a bladder the size of a pea).
A basic campervan will do perfectly as most campsites have everything you need from communal kitchens to showers, toilets and laundry facilities. Packing for a campervan is quite different than what you’d bring on any other trip. Space is limited, less is more, each square inch counts. Keep it casual, New Zealand is very laid back, no fancy clothes needed here! Pack layers and a rain jacket, you may encounter snow, rain and humid sunshine all in the same day. With epic landscapes, good roads and unspoiled wilderness, New Zealand is the perfect place for a campervan adventure.
7: Glow worms, Waitomo Caves.
The Waitomo caves, known as one of New Zealand’s best natural attractions is home to thousands of Glowworms. It’s by far one of the most popular attractions. The Glowworm is unique to New Zealand, making the Waitomo caves an absolute must do. See thousands of these teeny tiny creatures as they radiate luminescent light into a subterranean world. If you can – splurge on a black water rafting trip through the caves.
8: Go on a Milford Sound Cruise.
The Fiordland National Park is one of the most breathtaking natural attractions of New Zealand. One of the best ways to see it is by boat. It is a fusion of spectacular features with amazing cues around every corner. This World Heritage destination is a world renowned natural wonder with cascading waterfalls, towering peaks and crystal clear water. Keep your eyes peeled as the fiord is home to fur seals, penguins and dolphins.
9: Book a day trip to Hobbiton.
No trip to New Zealand would be complete without a trip to Hobbiton, the movie set where The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy were filmed. Located just outside Matamata in a picturesque private farmland you can visit Hobbiton for your own middle earth adventure. Go inside the hobbit homes and enjoy a pale ale at the Green Dragon Pub.
10: Explore Arrowtown.
Arrowtown, a historic gold mining town between Wanaka and Queenstown . The main thing that struck me about Arrowtown was its quaint nature. The Main Street a mere 200 metres long couldn’t be further from the bustling, over crowded tourist metropolis that Queenstown has become. Most of Arrowtown’s nicest old buildings are located on Buckingham street, the old towns Main Street, which is extremely cute and photogenic. My favourite being St Paul’s Anglican Church on Church street. Arrowtown is renowned for its spectacular Queenstown trail. Hop on a bike and ride past mountains, lakes and rivers. Cross the 80 metre suspension bridge and take in the open farmland and stunning views. Be sure to stick to the tracks and avoid the mortifying ambulance trip back to Queenstown!
Whether you’re swooning over the lakes, zig zagging along Arrow river, white water rafting in Rotorua or searching for Bilbo Baggins at Hobbiton, touring New Zealand will guarantee adventure by the bucketload. I can’t wait to return.