The range of New Zealand activities is enormous, and no matter whether you want a
relaxing holiday, an exhilarating adventure holiday, or a little of
both, you will find something to suit you in New Zealand.
Come and enjoy the amazing scenery, food, wine and activities that make this such a special holiday treasure.
We are local experts
New Zealand is our business, and through our extensive local knowledge, and key working partnerships, we can help you to find those special activities that will make your New Zealand holiday one to truly remember.
Our help begins here
There's a lot of information about New Zealand activities on this page, and we know it can be confusing to find what you need.
So to help you we've included some quick links below:
An Important Note:
Unfortunately some activities and tours may not be available due to the effects of the Covid pandemic. But we're confident that you will find an alternative using our search tools.
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Some of the best on the North Island
South Island - Please click image to view
Nelson Abel Tasman
Franz Josef & Fox
North Island - Please click image to view
Special Interest - Please click image to view
Jet Boat Rides
Multi Day Tours
Here are a few of our all time favorite New Zealand activities
We know it's difficult to choose what to see and do, so to help you we've chosen a few of our faves.
These are activities that we personally love. But, they have also proven extremely popular with our readers, and as you can see from the reviews, are at the top of the "to do" lists in New Zealand.
We've selected some for each island:
The South Island's Best New Zealand activities
1. Visit magical, mystical Milford Sound - the Most Popular Of All New Zealand Activities
Described by author Rudyard Kipling as the "Eighth Wonder of the World", Milford Sound is New Zealand's number one attraction.
This mystical place is simply unbelievable, and it's difficult to find the words to describe Milford Sound.
"Amazing", "awe inspiring",
"spectacular", "stunning". They all apply.
Sheer cliffs plunge several thousand feet into the deep dark waters of the sound. On rainy days waterfalls cascade seemingly from the clouds.
And the underwater observatory provides a great view of life below the surface.
The drive to Milford is an amazing experience in itself. The only access road takes you through the beautiful lake side village of Te Anau, and on past towering peaks, rugged rivers and waterfalls, to the Homer Tunnel. Carved through the mountain side, you emerge from the tunnel into what looks like something out of Jurassic Park!
If you do only one thing in New Zealand, visit Milford Sound. You won't be disappointed. In our opinion, it's the best of all New Zealand activities.
If you are staying in Queenstown, the trip to and from Milford Sound takes around 3-4 hours each way, making for a big day. The last thing you need is a long evening drive back to Queenstown. For that reason, we always choose to take one of the guided coach tours from Queenstown. Better to sit back and relax and take in the many sights along the way.
Flights are available but are very weather dependent.
Another option is to break your trip with an overnight stay in Te Anau, which is around one and a half hours drive each way from Milford Sound. Organized tours also run from Te Anau to Milford Sound.
Find out more about Milford Sound tours
There's quite a range of Milford Sound tours available. To learn more about the various tours, to read customer reviews, and to see our recommendations, just follow the link to our dedicated page about
Milford Sound tours.
2. Walk on a glacier
There are dozens of glaciers in New Zealand, and probably the most famous are the twins, Fox and Franz Josef.
Located on the wild West Coast, Fox and Franz Josef are easily accessible, and can be seen for free from a distance, just by taking a walk along the well maintained tracks that lead you to several viewing platforms.
But if you want to get "up close and personal" then a glacier hike or a flight and snow landing are highly recommended.
Imagine the thrill of hiking between huge sheets of ice, and peering through ice caves at the ever changing colors.
Or taking a thrilling helicopter ride to the top of the glacier, and stepping out on to a huge snow field, where the air is so crisp and clear you can almost taste it.
You can read about our preferred New Zealand glacier tours, and find out how to see the glaciers for free, on our dedicated page, right here.
3. See the Whales and dolphins
New Zealand is famous for it's diverse range of marine life.
Whales and dolphins are common around the country and there are a wide range of tours available that can take you to see these inquisitive, beautiful marine mammals.
remember the excitement as we watched huge whales surface close
to our boat off the Kaikoura coast on New Zealand's South Island.
Perhaps the premier whale watching spot in New Zealand is Kaikoura.
Tours run year round, and in addition to the giant Sperm Whales, you may
encounter New Zealand Fur Seals, Dusky Dolphins, Orca, and penguins.
Other whale species can also be seen at different times of the year.
We highly recommend a Whale Watch Kaikoura tour. These tours are very well run, and are aimed at all ages. Your tour guides involve you in the "whale spotting" and it's a real thrill racing to see them after a sighting is made.
Another well known adventure are the "swim with the dolphins" tours that are available in several spots around the North and South Islands.
One of the best spots to do this is at Akaroa on the Bank's Peninsula near Christchurch.
The dolphins are just as interested in us as we are in them, or so it seems, as they dart around you and frolic inquisitively around you.
Here's one of the more popular tours (be sure to read the reviews) - click here.
4. Jump off something! Yes, you CAN do it.
Years ago we went to Queenstown for a holiday. One day we drove out to the original bungy site at Kawarau Gorge, and watched and cheered as a range of people threw themselves (attached by a bungy cord) off the old bridge.
We made a promise to come back and just do it. So the next day we did.
New Zealand is the home of the bungy.
And the creator of bungy is a guy named AJ Hackett. From the original
bungy site at the historic Kawarau Bridge near Queenstown, bungy has expanded
to many areas of New Zealand, and around the world.
Our jump was the most adrenalin charged experience of our lives!
It's a real personal
challenge, and for us it was a spur of the moment decision to jump.
Probably just as well because if you think about it for too long, self
doubt creeps in, and before you know it, you have decided not to do it.
We highly recommend it. And if you do bungy, pay the extra and have your jump recorded. Your friends and relatives may not believe you otherwise.
These days you can bungy at several locations around New Zealand, and Queenstown alone has three or four different sites.
Want to find out more? Of course you do - just click here to read reviews and learn more about your New Zealand bungy options.
5. Jetboating, a kiwi icon
Jetboat adventures are available in many centers around New Zealand, and are an awesome experience.
Jetboats were developed in New Zealand as a way to traverse the many shallow streams and rivers that criss-cross the country.
You will be
amazed as you rush through narrow streams sometimes in as little as 6-12
inches of water! Highly manouverable, some jetboat operators also
operate in narrow gorges, such as on the Shotover River near Queenstown.
What a thrill.
I can tell you from personal experience, that a jetboat ride is one of the best ways to spend an hour or so during your New Zealand trip. Another one of those wonderful, iconic, New Zealand activities!
Some of the North Island's best New Zealand activities
1. Learn about the culture of the traditional Maori people
New Zealand is the World's youngest country, having been settled less than 1000 years ago. The descendants of today's Maori people arrived in canoes and began a culture that is very much a part of modern New Zealand.
The New Zealand Maori are a proud people and many New Zealand activities focus on giving visitors an insight of the traditional Maori ways.
A cultural tour is the perfect way to learn about the Maori heritage, customs, and art.
Rotorua is one of the major locations for these tours and it's fascinating learning about the proud Maori people.
Have you seen (and heard) the New Zealand Haka ?
2. See the North's thermal wonders
New Zealand's amazing North Island is a thermal wonderland.
Bubbling mud pools, steaming vents, and gushing geysers are all on display around Rotorua and Taupo.
In Rotorua, the smell of sulphur wafts through the air, and you quickly realize that this is a very unique place.
The popular Te Puia attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year and is home to the well known Pohutu geyser, erupting to over thirty metres at times. Te Puia also hosts an entertaining and informative Maori cultural center, with weaving, music, dance and carving all on display.
Also worth visiting is Wai-o-Tapu. If you want to see bubbling mud pools, and steaming colored lakes and springs, this is the place. The Champagne Pools are spectacular.
You can learn lots more about Rotorua's attractions here.
3. Hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Recognized as one of the World's best day walks, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a must do if you want to see some of New Zealand's most breathtaking scenery.
Stretching over a distance of around 19 kilometers, your hike will take you a full 7 to 8 hours.
On your journey you will see some amazing sights as this unique thermal alpine wonderland unfolds before you.
Crater lakes, ancient lava flows, alpine forests and breathtaking views can all be expected as part of the Tongariro "magic".
Please be aware that parking is restricted during the warmer months from October to April. At these times it's best to use one of the various shuttle services available to get you to and from the crossing.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) website has lots of useful information and you can access it here.
4. See the "stars" twinkle at the famous Waitomo Glowworm Caves
The Waitomo Caves are one of New Zealand's most popular attractions, and with very good reason.
This amazing natural wonder has attracted visitors for decades, and in addition to the mesmerizing gloworms, also provides some outstanding natural formations in a real subterranean wonderland.
As you wander through the caves, feature lighting highlights some of the more notable formations, and the calm boat ride along the underground stream is not to be missed. Thousands of glowworms twinkling overhead is a sight you will long remember.
And for those feeling a little more adventurous, blackwater rafting provides a real adrenalin rush.
There are several caves in the complex and various tours are available.
Located around two and a half hours drive from Auckland and around two hours from Rotorua, the Waitomo Caves are a must see if you are visiting the North Island.
You can read reviews and check out the range of tours here.
A Special Note About Queenstown
Queenstown is known as the "Adventure Capital" of New Zealand and has an almost endless supply of things to do.
It is a truly amazing
destination, and one of our New Zealand favorites.
Not only is it a visually stunning location, but there is so much to see and do in the region, that you can easily spend a week or two here and never get bored.
If you are heading to New Zealand, do yourself a favor, and allow at least a few days to sample the delights of Queenstown.
Click on the following link for our personal thoughts and recommendations on
We hope our page has given you all of the information that you need about the huge range of New Zealand activities available.
If you can't find what you are looking for, please ask us, and we will do all we can to help.