10 best things to do in New Zealand
New Zealand is the most beautiful, diverse and laid-back country on our planet. Both islands are packed with stunning landscapes, offering dozens of activities for outdoor lovers. I put together my top 10 places and activities I’d recommend to anyone when traveling New Zealand.
N O R T H I S L A N D
1. Find paradise at Cathedral Cove
It is only a 2 hours drive from Auckland to Coromandel, where you will find paradise as you may imagine it. The bay is situated a little remotely, accessible via a 20 min walk from the parking slot through grassland and down a little cliff. You can either spend the day in the bay, swimming and relaxing on the beach or make a short stop-over before heading further for example to the close by famous hot water beach.
2. Do a skydive
New Zealand is famous for its extreme and adrenaline filled outdoor sports. If someone would have told me before that I will do a skydive I would have only laughed out loud. But well, there is no way that you will get around one in New Zealand. Queenstown is probably the number one place, but I can also recommend Blueskies Skydiving close to Auckland. We went for the 13.000 ft tandem dive for 170 EUR.
3. Have fancy dinner in Auckland’s skytower
The view is great, the staff is friendly, the food is awesome, the price is reasonable, the atmosphere just great. When you are looking for a nice dinner in Auckland don’t miss out on the Skytower. Make sure to get a reservation in advance.
4. Swim with dolphins on Bay of Island
To reach the Bay of Islands you best go to Paihia, which is a 3 hours drive from Auckland. From there sailings boats take you out into the bay. You can go snorkeling or if you are a very fast swimmer you can swim with the dolphins. Not in the touristy kind of style but meeting the dolphins in real nature. The boats bring you the most remote islands, where you can hike and wander around. The scenery reminds of a Pirate of the Caribbean set. An especially nice spot is also the little town Russel, where the sun sets just behind the small harbor.
5. Smell the scent of Rotorua
Rotorua is well-known for its hot springs, geysers and most of all the ubiquitous smell of sulfur. I would like to tell you that you will get used to it, but well.. to be honest I never really did. But still, it is definitely worth a visit and seeing all the hot springs and geysers in action is just too cool.
6. Go black water rafting in the Waitomo caves
The Waitomo caves are in the heart of New Zealand’s North Island, 2,5 hours away from Auckland. The black water rafting was not only great fun but an especially beautiful and unique experience. It is about floating in an underground river in a cave, equipped with a wet suit, headlight and floating tire. It is a 3 hours guided tour and includes adventurous jumping and sliding down waterfalls as well as relaxing floating while looking in complete darkness up the caves ceiling, which is filled with thousands of glow worms.
S O U T H I S L A N D
7. Eat a giant Burger @Fergburger in Queenstown
Queenstown is THE junction of the South Island with lots of bars, shops and dancing clubs and the country’s greatest offer of adrenaline sports. It is the most famous spot for bungee jumping, sky diving, canyon swings and many more. What you cannot overlook on the main street is Ferburger. People line up for the most popular burger in town. The restaurant has a rather fast food atmosphere but the meat is of high quality and the burgers are simply huuuuge.
3. Take a cruise at Milford Sounds
It was the most scariest car drive to reach a remote hostel in the middle of nowhere in the Milford Sounds area. It was pouring rain, in the middle of the night, the streets were curvy and tight and surrounded by trees, steep cliffs and huge rocks. Seeing the scenery of Milford sounds at daylight was unbelievable. It was a mythical vibe and going on a cruise within the fjords made me feel like a character of the Lord of Rings.
9. Watch the whales in Kaikoura
Not for the faint stomachs! Speed boats take you out off the coast of Kaikora to meet giant whales in real life. You should bring some patience as the whales are obviously not waiting for the staring tourists. But as soon as you see this giant thing of an animal reaching the oceans’ surface just a couple of meters away from you it is plain overwhelming
10. Hike Abel Tasman national park
The Abel Tasman national park can be reached from the nice town Nelson. Hiking treks along the coast provide great views and let your mind relax and wander off.
Accomodation reco in Nelson: Paradiso! A laid-back hostel with a familiar atmosphere, spacious kitchen area and a fancy pool area.