10Best Explores New Zealand

  • A flying leap tethered to a bungy cord is the height of adventure.

    Going down!

    New Zealand's love of adventure inspired the world's first bungee jump off a bridge near Queenstown. Back then, jumpers put their faith in the same elastic used for men's underwear. Today's jumps off the AJ Hackett Bungy near Queenstown are a bit more high-tech.

    Photo courtesy of AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand

  • Hot Water Beach has an never-ending supply for do-it-yourself whirlpools.

    Dig yourself a whirlpool

    Build your own whirlpool bath at Hot Water Beach. An underground river supplies endless hot water.  Sometimes hundreds of little pools line Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand's North island.

    Photo courtesy of Destination Rotarua New Zealand

  • Ancient legends describe the origins of the geothermal field in Rotorua.

    No ordinary landscape

    Geysers throw plumes of water into the air. Steam hisses from cracks in the earth. The Rotorua geothermal field resembles hell on earth. Visitors can tour the area with a Maori guide who relates timeless legends about this eerie place. The Maori are New Zealand's First People. 

    Photo courtesy of Eric Lindberg for Tourism New Zealand

  • The improbable blue of many New Zealand lakes can make you doubt your eyesight.

    No ordinary lake

    New Zealand scenery can make you rub your eyes. A popsicle blue lake?  Many New Zealand lakes glow like neon, including Lake Wakatipu in Glenorchy on the South Island. The surreal blue is caused by glacier-delivered rock particles suspended in the lake, reflecting the light. Rock dust adds the milky look.

    Photo courtesy of Anne Chalfant

  • The Remarkable mountain range in New Zealand is well-suited to its name.

    That's remarkable

    On the drive between Glenorchy and Queenstown, a mountain range called the Remarkables looms in the distance. But the best view requires zooming up the Dart River on a jet boat from Glenorchy. As the jet boat glides to a stop, the craggy peaks atop the snowy mountains just don't quite look real. "Remarkable" is the word that comes to mind. So is the jet boat, another  daredevil New Zealand invention.

    Photo courtesy of Miles Holden for Tourism New Zealand

  • Paddling a kayak in Cathedral Cove is a popular North Island outing.

    Paddle peacefully

    New Zealand is made up of two islands--North Island and South Island. With two long coastlines, water sports are plentiful.  Kayakers love the serenity of Cathedral Cove on North Island's Coromandel Peninsula.

    Photo courtesy of Adam Bryce for Tourism New Zealand

  • Catch a sailboat ride on the Pride of Auckland.

    Catch the wind

    New Zealand's passion for sailing produces some of the world's best sailors, and a dominant force in the America's Cup races. You too can fly like the wind with expert sailors in New Zealand harbor towns. Pride of Auckland will do the honors in Auckland.

    Photo courtesy of Explore New Zealand

  • The  kiwi bird is beloved in New Zealand, so go ahead--call the people "Kiwis" all you want.

    Call me a "kiwi"

    "Kiwi" is the nickname welcomed by the people of New Zealand.  The kiwi is their adorable national bird, and its status is currently endangered. The national effort to save the kiwi is heartening. Visitors can learn more at a conservation site in Rainbow Springs, Rotorua.

    Photo courtesy of Chris McLellan for Tourism New Zealand

  • The Tongariro Alpine Crossing takes in spectacular views, but can be hiked in a single day.

    World-ranking hikes

    An internationally famous system of hiking trails, or "tracks," runs throughout New Zealand. Tracks are designed to pass spectacular sights. Some require several days and provide hikers' huts for overnights. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing takes only a day, and is often termed "one of the world's ten best day treks." 

    Photo courtesy of Paul Abbitt for Tourism New Zealand

  • A guided walk on Auckland Harbour Bridge is one way to see Auckland.

    Auckland the hard way

    The New Zealand urge to walk is indomitable. So why not walk all over Auckland Harbour Bridge? A guide leads harnessed walkers. Like the idea of bungy-jumping instead? You can do that, too.

    Photo courtesy of AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand

  • Hole 7 hazard

    It's tricky on the links in New Zealand. Views such as the Cavelli Islands can distract the game. And it's a real shake-up when a golfer's ball flies over the cliff at hole 7, making that 600-foot drop to crashing waves below.  Golfers seek consolation among the amenities of the Lodge at Kauri Cliffs.

    Photo courtesy of Lodge at Kauri Cliffs

  • New Zealand offers a range of accommodations, including the resort-like Lodge at Kauri Cliffs.

    The edge

    The infinity pool at The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs is a pleasant way to top off a day of golf, or a morning of horseback riding or hiking on the lodge's extensive trails. The North Island resort has a sweeping view of the Pacific Ocean.

    Photo courtesy of Lodge at Kauri Cliffs

  • Cross over two aerial bridges on Hooker Valley Track in New Zealand's Southern Alps.

    Don't look down

    The Southern Alps extend along the west side of New Zealand's South Island. Head to a hike on the Hooker Valley Track for a great view of its highest mountain, Aoraki (its Maori name), also called Mount Cook. Hooker Valley Track is a spectacular day hike that includes two aerial bridges.

    Photo courtesy of Fraser Gunn for Tourism New Zealand

  • Don't venture into an ice tunnel on Franz Josef Glacier without a guide.

    Glacier challenge

    Glaciers in New Zealand's Southern Alps offer yet another New Zealand adventure. Hikers explore by walking on crampons. Icy blue tunnels on Franz Josef Glacier are fun, but dangerous unless a trained guide can assess safety.  Guides also watch for treacherous crevasses in the glacier.

    Photo courtesy of Julian Apse for Tourism New Zealand

  • A group prepares to explore Abel Tasman Glacier with a guide.

    Clamp on the crampons

    Hiking a glacier is rare adventure. Guides lead hikers who are in good shape up Abel Tasman Glacier on New Zealand's South Island. Helicopters also fly over the glacier, landing on top for a sweeping view.

    Photo courtesy of Anne Chalfant

  • A cruise through Milford or Doubtful sounds is a must-do on New Zealand's South Island.

    Misty fjords

    Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound are misty and magical fjords on the South Island. An overnight cruise is the best way to see the fjords. Deep within Doubtful Sound, the captain pilots the ship into a quiet cove at sunset. It's heavenly to paddle around in a kayak provided by the ship.

    Photo courtesy of Camilla Stoddart for Tourism New Zealand

  • Visiting New Zealand, you understand why the Lord of the Rings movies are set within this often surreal country.

    Hobbits come to life

    New Zealand's other-worldly environments make it a natural for the make-believe Hobbits of Middle Earth.  Movie sets from the Lord of the Rings movies are gathered at Hobbiton, a few hours drive from Auckland. Hobbiton boasts 44 Hobbit Holes and the feeling that you've landed in Middle Earth.

    Photo courtesy of Ian Brodie for Tourism New Zealand

  • Mountain bikers get ready to ride Skippers Canyon, a popular mountain biking track near Queenstown.

    Mountain bike heaven

    The Queenstown area of New Zealand's South Island is nicknamed "adventure capital of the world." Jet boating, bungy jumping, river rafting, skiing, kayaking--it's all here. Mountain bikers love mountain biking tracks such as Skippers Canyon.

    Photo courtesy of Anne Chalfant

  • Christchurch's downtown is lively with pop-up coffee houses, stores, bars and restaurants.

    Pop-up town

    Kiwi innovation kicked in following the highly destructive 2011 earthquake in Christchurch. The city's downtown popped back up in six months with 27 stores, restaurants and bars all of which "popped up" in shipping containers. Many of the "pop-ups" still brighten Christchurch's downtown area today.

    Photo courtesy of Anne Chalfant

  • Sauvignon blanc from New Zealand is a standout wine, often called one of the most drinkable.

    The vines have it

    New Zealand's sauvignon blanc has earned many accolades as one of the most drinkable wines. Visit the Marlborou region of the South Island to taste wine at top producers such Brancott Estates, Villa Maria and other wineries.

    Photo courtesy of Anne Chalfant

  • Dusky dolphins love playing and swimming with people.

    Swim with dolphins

    Whales and dolphins are easily spotted off the coast of Kaikoura on the South Island. The dusky dolphin is an especially playful dolphin. When the dusky dolphins come near boats, people jump in and swim with the playful marine mammals. Kaikoura, in the Christchurch-Canterbury region, is a good spot to catch a marine mammal expedition boat.

    Photo courtesy of Rob Suisted for Tourism New Zealand

  • The roads are good and the scenery great from the highways of New Zealand.

    Take to the road

    Getting around New Zealand is easy. Roads are excellent and uncrowded, so you can quickly learn to drive on the left side without encountering traffic hassles. Camper vans are easy to rent, and campgrounds are plentiful.

    Photo courtesy of David Wall for Tourism New Zealand

  • Catch a backpacker shuttle for an inexpensive ride.

    Catch a ride

    Although driving in New Zealand is easy enough, it's not necessary to have a car to get around. Backpacker shuttles operate in areas popular for outdoor activities. Shuttles are an inexpensive ride and drivers are happy to share information about the area.

    Photo courtesy of Paul Abbitt for Tourism New Zealand

  • Pure Journeys sets you up with a self-drive itinerary styled to your interests.

    You-drive-it tour

    A great way to see New Zealand is set off on a self-driving tour that takes in top sights. Pure Journeys, a New Zealand company, offers just that. Perhaps choose "Vineyards, Volcanoes, and Beaches" and  ask for tips on scenic but non-hilly walks. Pure Journeys sets up lodging, maps out your journey, provides the car and tailors the trip for your needs.

    Photo courtesy of Miles Holden for Tourism New Zealand

  • Take the ferry from Auckland to a special dinner at Mudbrick Vineyards.

    Island magic

    Mudbrick Vineyards is a special dining venue. Take a 35-minute ferry ride from Auckland to Waiheke Island.  Sip wine and watch a spectacular sunset followed by the twinkle of Auckland's distant lights. Mudbrick Vineyards also hosts weddings.

    Photo courtesy of Amos Chapple

  • A cookout on the beach is the end to a delightful day.


    Moonrise and a cookout on Kaikoura Beach follow a day of swimming with dusky dolphins --now isn't that the perfect day?  New Zealand beaches often allow cookouts and many have campsites.

    Photo courtesy of Camilla Stoddart for Tourism New Zealand

  • Hiking the Abel Tasman Coastal Trail includes nights of beach camping.

    Take two beach walks, see me in the morning

     A smart doctor might prescribe New Zealand's Abel Tasman Coastal Trail for a stressed-out city dweller. That prescription would include: three days walking beach-to-beach, plus a forest walk lit with a chorus of tropical birds.  At night, just tuck yourself into a beach campsite. That formula will chase away stress for a long while.

    Photo courtesy of Julian Apse for Tourism New Zealand

comments powered by Disqus

Build your own lists that you can easily reference or share stories with your friends.

Login ×

Forgot login/password?
Don't have an account? Create Your Account!

Enter your username or email in the box below and click
"Remind Me".

Remind Me ×
Create Account ×
Create Account ×

Already have an account?

Add to List ×
Save ×

Go to Lists Close Window ×