New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world with dozens of outdoor and sporting activities to get your heart pumping and adrenaline rushing. The island country is on nearly everyone’s bucket list due to its idyllic landscapes, bustling cities, and some of the friendliest people in the world. There are so many different activities that tourists to New Zealand should try it is difficult to know where to start. If you are creating your New Zealand dream vacation bucket list, make sure you include the activities on this list of things to do in New Zealand!
1. Moeraki Boulders
As one of the top things to do in New Zealand, the Moeraki Boulders are shrouded in mystery and legend. The large, boulders are found in clusters or isolated and are protected as part of a nature preserve and were discovered by W.B.D. Mantell in 1848. While science explains the boulders found on the Koekohe beach as a natural phenomenon formed millions of years ago by sediment along the coast, the Maori people have a much different explanation. The Maori believe that the boulders are the remains of the Arai-te-uru wreckage. This legend also is used to explain the origin of Shag Point’s rocky shoals.
2. Tamaki Maori Village, Rotorua
The Tamaki Maori Village was originally settled by Polynesians who settled the island in the 13th century. When visitors arrive at the village, they are welcomed by a performance of war dances and song. Tourists to the village are able to get firsthand experience of traditional Maori culture and food including a traditional Hangi feast which is cooked underground.
3. Zorbing in Rotorura
Have you ever wanted to roll down a hill in a hamster wheel? Now you can by Zorbing! A coach will pick up tourists at Rotorua or Waitomo hotels where they will be transported by deluxe motor coach to Waitomo caves where they can enjoy a guided tour to see thousands of glowworms before heading to the hillside where they will get inside of a large, clear ball and roll down a hill. The Zorbing outing also includes a stop at The Te Puia Maori Arts and Culture Institute and a cultural performance.
The geothermal pools of Wai-O-Tapu are marked by distinct trails that visitors must stay on for their own safety. The volcanic lakes are acidic and the ground bubbles with mud and steams. Many have described Wai-O-Tapu as one of the most surreal places on earth.
5. Swim with Dolphins
One of the most sought-after things to do in New Zealand is swimming with dolphins. Visitors to The Bay of Islands can enjoy a swim with bottlenose dolphins. The waters are so warm that visitors can swim comfortably without a wetsuit.
6. Bungy Jumping
There are dozens of places around New Zealand that offer bungy jumping, but tourists should make a stop in Queenstown where bungy jumping was invented. Bungy Jumping is the most popular extreme sport in New Zealand and in Queenstown, there are plenty of designated platforms to enjoy a jump from including the Nevis Bungy which plunges jumpers 134 meters into a gorge.
7. Cruise the Milford Sound
Author Rudyard Kipling declared the Milford Sound to be the 8th Wonder of the World and has earned many awards for being a top travel destination. The Sound is the most famous tourist destination in New Zealand and a cruise through the waters offers idyllic views of the fiords and sea cliffs. The sound gets rain 200 days out of the year with an annual rainfall of 7 meters and visitors can experience cascading waterfalls falling from the rocky cliffs into the sound.
8. Tongariro Crossing
Backpackers, trekkers, and hikers should make a point to traverse the Tongariro Crossing. This hike is often named one of the world’s best with views of the valleys and journey up the slopes to witness volcanic lakes where the Mount Doom was filmed for Lord of the Rings movies.
9. White Water Rafting
If you really want to get your adrenaline pumping you must try white water rafting in the class 5 rapids two hours from Christchurch. New Zealand is one of the only places in the world that allows rafting in these big white waters. Because the water is so dangerous groups are required to take safety courses and practice drills before setting loose on the water.
10. Kaikoura Whale Watching
Whale watching can be a risk anywhere else but in Kaikoura where they are so confident that you will see a whale, if you don’t they will refund 80% of your ticket price. Humpback whales and orcas are frequently seen off the coast of Kaikoura.
If you have ever wanted to try sailing, New Zealand is the place to do it. Many chartered sailboats and cruise boats are available for tours and island hopping is a favorite activity of celebrity travelers on Yachts. Abel Tasman National Park allows visitors to charter their own boat to explore the beaches and unique rock formations found along the coast.
12. Waitomo Caves
Waitomo Caves are full of bioluminescent worms called glow worms. They can be found in many caves throughout New Zealand, but Waitomo Caves offers some of the best-guided tours by boat or tubing. The caves are over 30 million years old and were created by limestone and are an extremely popular tourist destination all year round.
13. Sky Diving
If bungy jumping isn’t enough of a thrill, try one of the more extreme things to do in New Zealand – sky diving at Abel Tasman National Park where you can jump from up to 16,500 feet. No where else in New Zealand can you dive from such heights. While there are many other places to skydive through the islands, Abel Tasman National Park is unique in that you can see both main Islands of New Zealand from the jump point.
14. Trekking the Fox Glacier
Most people think of sandy beaches and tropical forests when they plan their New Zealand vacation, but visitors can trek the cold and ice of Fox Glacier as well. This glacier walk is the easiest you can hope for on earth and the tour guides offer rain jackets and waterproof pants for participants. Walking a glacier is risky as the ice is unstable and deep crevasses can send you plunging below hundreds of feet of ice. Helicopter landings to access the glacier are possible along with tour buses that drive to the edge, however, most visitors choose the full day walking tour.
The Hobbiton Movie Set is where the Shire scenes were filmed for The Lord of The Rings Movies. Private and group tours are available of the set built as an actual hobbit’s community. There are banquet tours available, an annual Beer Festival and opportunities for farm stays, and private and public functions. Hobbiton is a must see for fantasy and movie lovers.
No matter where you go in New Zealand or what you decide to do, you are guaranteed to have the time of your life. While the country may seem small, there is a lot of culture, adventure, and exciting things to do in New Zealand that is hard to see in just one vacation!