Places to go and what to do
Top things to see and do in Aotearoa New Zealand are answered from, ‘What’s the best place to go for waterfalls?’ to ‘Where to go jet boating?’
New Zealand has a diverse range of attractions from Cape Reinga, Northland and the Instagram famous lighthouse to the magnificent Southern Alps. Wrap your visit around several days in Auckland, and you have New Zealand on a plate. Rotorua is a must-go experience where the earth’s ring of pacific fire is on full display with Lady Knox geyser and the chance to indulge in a hot mineral pool experience. Perhaps heritage buffs will plan for several days in Dunedin discovering Victorian splendour or mull over the life of 19th century gold prospectors in Arrowtown, Queenstown. Consider the prospect of viewing soaring Royal Northern Albatross or waddling penguins … your bucket list just got bigger.
New Zealand is a land of lush deep green wilderness, pristine forests, and waterways where unique flora and fauna have flourished for a millennium isolated from contact with people and human occupation. The birds lost the ability to fly and forage on forest floors and flora did not suffer from predation from large browsing mammals.
Aotearoa New Zealand’s national emblem, the kiwi is a bird who thinks flying is overrated.
- LUSH DEEP EMERALD WILDERNESS – NEW ZEALAND NATIONAL PARKS
- TONGARIRO NATIONAL PARK, walks from the Tongariro Crossing to Tawhai waterfalls short walk and a day hike to Taranaki waterfalls. Ski in winter on the Ruapehu ski field and spend the summer walking and hiking in the alpine landscape.
- ABEL TASMAN NATIONAL PARK split apple rock of instagram fame, Farewell spit with its prolific birdlife and wildlife. Find a beach where the impossibly clear azure water lazily laps on fine gold sand in Summer at the beach is a rite of passage for New Zealanders with Nelson a hot favourite. Then there is Ohope beach in the Bay of Plenty and the sub-tropical North.
- FIORDLAND NATIONAL PARK where sunken glacier valleys, considerable consistent rainfall create a misty magical world of dense forests, high mountain peaks and waterfalls to gladden the heart of any falls buff.
- MT TARANAKI walks through fantasy. Gnarly twisted trees invoke stories of fairies and goblins. The solitary beauty of Mt Taranaki is a thousand photo shots and in every frame.
- ARTHUR’S PASS NATIONAL PARK where a world class train journey stops for passengers to explore the park and meet the cheeky mountain parrot the kea.
- WILDLIFE & ISLAND SANCTUARIES
- Walk in predator free zones where visitors observe life before human occupation impacted on the unique flora and fauna of Aotearoa New Zealand. From Bay of Islands, Urupukapuka Island, Hauraki Gulf Tititi Matangi and Rotoroa Island to the national treasure, Hauraki Stewart Island.
- Observe the elegant gleam of blue feathers on the rare Takahe and the cheeky weka.
- Marine sanctuaries, POOR KNIGHTS ISLAND (Tutukaka) where diving and snorkelling among the reef immerses the visitor in ocean life in one of the world’s top dive spots.
- LAKES, RIVERS AND WATERFALLS
- DEEP BLUE LAKE TAUPO and the Central Plateau string of lakes where water sports abound. Kayak, jet ski, para-ski, SUP or swim in cool clear lakes and rivers.
- Lakes and rivers offer the thrill of ADVENTURE. Jet boats or rafts on rivers where surging water, river boulders challenge the senses.
- Marvel at the breathtaking power of the HUKA FALLS.
- WHANGANUI RIVER is officially a river with a soul. Kayak along one of New Zealand’s great waterways.
- VOLCANIC MAGIC
- Be captivated by ROTORUA. Rotorua is geothermal boiling hot energy, geysers, super-hot bubbling mud and a land streaked in vivid mineralised colour.
- Rotorua indulges the senses. Luxurious hot mineral pools soak away your cares.
- MAORI CULTURE
- ROTORUA, visit Te Puia to experience geothermal energy sparkling under a night sky with the locals showing you the way round
- Waitangi with its ancestral stories, the meeting of two people, European settlers and the local inhabitants, the Maori.
- From Northland Mana, Footsteps of Kupe to Kaikoura where Maori operators explain the relationship between themselves and the ocean going whales.
- UNDERGROUND WORLDS
- WAITOMO CAVES where underground rivers flow, glowworms light the way and boats silently glide past stalactites and stalagmites.
- COASTAL SEA CAVES, ROCK SCULPTURES
- IMPOSING SOUTHERN ALPS
- Aoraki Mt Cook and Southern Alps are a phenomenal backdrop to the Hooker Valley walk
- Explore GLACIER country, Franz Josef and Fox glaciers.
- INDULGE in a helicopter ride over ice ridges, snow filled valleys and above the permanent snow line.
- Catch the TRANZALPINE train and travel from the rolling farmland of Canterbury into the alpine splendour of Arthur’s Pass National Park and Greymouth, West Coast.
- Lush wet subtropical rainforest of the Kahurangi National Park contrast to UNESCO heritage Te Wahipounamu, and the Subantarctic Islands.
- WALK, CYCLE / BIKE YOUR WAY AROUND NEW ZEALAND
- CULTURE & HERITAGE
- European settlers imposing Auckland PAH homestead, now a light filled gallery to Marlborough’s cob cottage offer heritage buffs a wealth of attractions to visit.
- Visit the Kerikeri Basin,where Māori and Pakeha first met and lived, worked and traded together. Kororipo Heritage Park,Rewa Village, Te Ahurea where visitors are invited to immerse themselves in the daily life of a pre-European Maori fishing village.
- FOOD, WINE & FEAST EXPERIENCES
- WINE TRAILS
- Food trails from NELSON MOUTERE to the pantry of the Hawke’s Bay 3 days of food, markets and bit of everything road trip.
- Weekend markets in Matakana, Auckland or Geraldine, Canterbury tempt visitors to linger.
BEST BITS TRAVEL GUIDE