Welcome, young and adventurous travellers, to the land of boundless excitement and natural wonders—New Zealand! If you’re seeking an adrenaline-fueled escape or a thrilling exploration of untouched landscapes, you’ve come to the right place.

From the geothermal wonders of Rotorua to the breathtaking fjords of Milford Sound, and the heart-pounding adventures of Queenstown, New Zealand beckons you to embark on an extraordinary journey.

This list of the 50 best things to do in New Zealand is tailor-made for those who crave adventure, seek adrenaline rushes, and yearn to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature.

Get ready to unleash your inner explorer as we guide you through an unforgettable odyssey in the stunning landscapes of Aotearoa. Brace yourself for an epic adventure like no other!

The Best Time to Visit New Zealand

New Zealand’s diverse climate and stunning landscapes offer unique experiences throughout the year. Here’s a brief guide to help you determine the best time to visit based on your preferences:

1. Summer (December to February): This is the peak tourist season in New Zealand, thanks to warm temperatures and longer daylight hours. It’s an ideal time for outdoor activities like hiking, beach visits, and water sports. However, popular attractions can be crowded, and accommodation prices may be higher. Be sure to book in advance.

2. Autumn (March to May): Autumn brings mild temperatures and beautiful foliage, making it a fantastic time to explore New Zealand’s landscapes. The crowds begin to thin, and prices become more affordable. It’s a great season for hiking, wine tasting, and enjoying cultural events like harvest festivals.

3. Winter (June to August): Winter offers a unique experience in New Zealand, especially for snow enthusiasts. The ski fields in the Southern Alps come alive, attracting skiers and snowboarders. Queenstown and Wanaka become winter wonderlands. If you’re not into winter sports, you can still enjoy hot pools, stunning winter landscapes, and cozy evenings by the fire.

4. Spring (September to November): As spring arrives, New Zealand bursts with vibrant colors and new life. The weather begins to warm up, and the crowds are still relatively low. It’s an excellent time for hiking, wildlife encounters, and exploring gardens and parks. Keep in mind that weather conditions can be changeable during spring, so pack layers.

5. Things to Consider: It’s important to note that New Zealand’s weather can vary significantly between regions. The North Island tends to be warmer and more humid, while the South Island experiences cooler temperatures and snow-capped mountains. Regardless of the season, always pack a waterproof layer and be prepared for sudden weather changes.

Ultimately, the best time to visit New Zealand depends on your interests and the activities you wish to pursue. Each season offers its own unique charm, whether you seek adventure, relaxation, or a blend of both.

Plan ahead, consider your preferences, and get ready for an unforgettable journey through this picturesque country.

Red Woods, Rotorua, New Zealand
Red Woods, Rotorua | @heyitsberrin

The Best Way to Get Around New Zealand

New Zealand offers several convenient and efficient transportation options for travelers to explore the country. Here are the best ways to get around New Zealand:

1. Renting a Car: Renting a car gives you the freedom to explore New Zealand at your own pace. The road network is well-maintained, and driving allows you to access remote areas and scenic routes. You can choose from a range of rental companies, and it’s advisable to book in advance, especially during peak seasons.

2. Campervan or Motorhome: New Zealand is popular for campervan travel, providing both transportation and accommodation in one. This option allows you to enjoy the flexibility of creating your itinerary, and there are numerous campsites and holiday parks across the country with facilities for campervans.

3. Public Transportation: New Zealand has an extensive public transportation network, particularly in major cities like Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch. Buses and trains operate on regular schedules, making them convenient for city exploration. Intercity buses are also available for travel between cities and towns.

4. Domestic Flights: If you’re looking to cover long distances quickly, domestic flights are a convenient option. Air New Zealand and other airlines offer frequent flights between major cities and regional hubs. It’s worth noting that booking in advance can often result in better deals.

5. Ferries: If you’re traveling between the North and South Islands, taking a ferry across the Cook Strait is a scenic and enjoyable way to go. The Interislander and Bluebridge ferries operate multiple sailings daily, carrying both passengers and vehicles.

6. Cycling: New Zealand offers stunning cycling routes, particularly in regions like Central Otago and Hawke’s Bay. You can bring your own bike or rent one from various providers. Keep in mind that some routes may be challenging due to hilly terrain.

7. Guided Tours: If you prefer a hassle-free experience, joining a guided tour is a great option. Whether it’s a day tour or an extended trip, guided tours offer transportation, accommodation, and expert local guides who can enhance your experience.

It’s important to plan your transportation based on your itinerary, preferences, and the areas you intend to visit. Consider the duration of your trip, the level of independence you desire, and your budget. Regardless of the mode of transportation you choose, New Zealand’s stunning landscapes and welcoming atmosphere will make your journey memorable.

Roadside scenery in New Zealand
Breathtaking roadside scenery in New Zealand | @bensavage

The Best Things to do in New Zealand

Without further ado, here’s our list of 50 incredible activities that will get your heart racing and ignite your sense of adventure:

1. Rotorua Geothermal Wonders

Explore the bubbling mud pools, steaming geysers, and natural hot springs in Rotorua. It’s a unique opportunity to witness the Earth’s raw power up close.

2. Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Strap on your hiking boots and embark on this challenging trek, renowned for its awe-inspiring volcanic landscapes, including emerald lakes and ancient lava formations.

3. Milford Sound Cruise

Immerse yourself in the dramatic beauty of Milford Sound as you cruise through towering fjords, cascading waterfalls, and encounter playful seals and dolphins.

Roy's Peak, Wanaka
Hiking Roy’s Peak, Wanaka | @destinationlesstravel

4. Queenstown Bungee Jumping

Feel the adrenaline surge as you take a leap of faith from one of Queenstown’s iconic bungee jumping spots. It’s an exhilarating experience you won’t soon forget.

5. Franz Josef Glacier Helicopter Ride

Soar above the pristine icy landscapes of Franz Josef Glacier on a thrilling helicopter ride. Marvel at the vastness of the glacier and enjoy a unique perspective of the surrounding mountains.

6. Te Papa Maori Culture

Delve into New Zealand’s rich Maori culture and history at Te Papa museum in Wellington. Engage with traditional artifacts, artworks, and immersive exhibits that offer insights into Maori traditions and way of life.

7. Dunedin and Otago Peninsula

Discover the charming city of Dunedin and its stunning surroundings. Visit the Otago Peninsula, home to abundant wildlife, including penguins, seals, and albatrosses.

Aurora Australis, seen from Dunedin, New Zealand
Aurora Australis, seen from Dunedin, New Zealand | @jamalsteel

8. Akaroa Hector’s Dolphins

Hop on a boat tour in Akaroa and witness the rare and playful Hector’s dolphins in their natural habitat. It’s a chance to get up close and personal with these friendly marine creatures.

9. Hobbiton Movie Set

Step into the enchanting world of Middle-earth as you explore the Hobbiton Movie Set from “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” films. Walk in the footsteps of hobbits and immerse yourself in the magical landscapes.

10. Abel Tasman National Park

Enjoy the sun-soaked beaches, turquoise waters, and coastal trails of Abel Tasman National Park. Go kayaking, hiking, or simply relax in this pristine paradise.

Aotearoa, New Zealand
Aotearoa, New Zealand | @meghanmaloneyphotography

11. Great Coast Road

Embark on a scenic drive along the Great Coast Road near Punakaiki. Marvel at the rugged coastline, limestone formations, and blowholes that create a captivating natural spectacle.

12. Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Venture deep into the underground wonderland of Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Glide in a boat as thousands of glowworms illuminate the darkness, creating a mesmerizing starry scene.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Waitomo Glowworm Caves | @tomarcherphoto

13. Routeburn Track

Challenge yourself with a multi-day hike on the spectacular Routeburn Track. Traverse majestic mountains, crystal-clear rivers, and alpine meadows, all while being surrounded by breathtaking vistas.

14. Kaikoura Whale Watching

Set off on a thrilling whale-watching adventure in Kaikoura. Witness these magnificent giants of the sea as they gracefully breach and dive, creating unforgettable memories.

15. Napier Art Deco and Wine

Stroll through the streets of Napier and admire its unique Art Deco architecture, a result of the city’s rebuilding after a devastating earthquake. Don’t forget to sample the renowned wines of the Hawke’s Bay region.

16. The Catlins

Explore the rugged and untamed beauty of The Catlins. Discover hidden waterfalls, walk along stunning coastlines, and keep an eye out for sea lions and penguins.

17. Shotover Canyon Jet Boat

Hold on tight as you take a thrilling jet boat ride through the narrow canyons of the Shotover River. Brace yourself for high-speed spins and adrenaline-pumping maneuvers.

18. Vibrant Auckland

Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. Climb the iconic Sky Tower for panoramic views, explore its trendy neighborhoods, and indulge in its lively nightlife.

19. Bay of Islands Dolphin Watching

Cruise through the picturesque Bay of Islands and spot playful dolphins frolicking in the crystal-clear waters. Snorkel, kayak, or simply bask in the beauty of this coastal paradise.

The best things to do in New Zealand
Roy’s Peak | @beanwandering

20. Kepler Track

Embark on a multi-day adventure on the Kepler Track in Fiordland National Park. Traverse ancient forests, cross swing bridges, and marvel at the breathtaking alpine landscapes.

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