How did we select a New Zealand Top 5 Things to Do in 2018?
There is so much to see and do in this amazing country, that it's almost impossible to pick a New Zealand Top 5.
We said almost!
So we've looked at what's "hot" and "what's not", listened to our visitor's reviews, and based on their recommendations (and our own personal experiences), we've arrived at the:
New Zealand Top 5 things to do in 2018
1. Enjoy a traditional Maori hangi and exciting cultural performance, at Tamaki Maori Village, Rotorua.
2. Walk on the glacier on the Franz Josef Glacier small group ice walk.
3. Visit the Lord of the Rings Hobbiton movie set.
4. See the "Eighth Wonder of the World", Milford Sound, on a day tour and cruise from Queenstown.
5. Experience pristine wilderness on the Doubtful Sound wilderness cruise from Te Anau.
1) Maori hangi dinner and cultural performance
The Maori people were the first to settle in Aotearoa (the Land of the Long White Cloud), and their story is a fascinating one.
This amazing tour takes you just out of Rotorua to Tamaki Maori Village, a recreation of an ancient Maori settlement, set deep in native forest.
This tour gives you a feel for what it was like for the indigenous owners of the land, and through a combination of song and dance, architecture, story, and food, you gain an appreciation for Maori society.
The powhiri (ceremony of welcome) ushers you into the village, from where you can immerse yourself in the way of life experienced many years ago.
Learn about Maori culture, watch a unique Maori performance, see Maori arts, then dine on the traditional Maori feast (hangi), slow cooked in the earth.
The Maori haka is something you will never forget. This tribal chant is seen as a challenge, a warning, but in some ways also as a welcome. I know that it's something that always makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck!
The Maori influence on New Zealand is huge, and to really appreciate the heritage and culture of the country, these tours are essential.
This is a unique New Zealand event not to be missed.
Some comments from our happy customers include "one of the best tours I've been on" (Fiona, Oct 2016), "enjoyed every minute" (Kay Oct 2016), and "An absolute must do..." (RC Oct 2016).
2) Franz Josef Glacier small group guided walk
Franz Josef Glacier sits proudly wedged between the Southern Alps and the Pacific Ocean.
Over thousands of years the glacier has carved it's way towards the coast, creating massive ice formations and caves, and can rightly lay claim to being one of New Zealand's premier natural attractions.
It's one of our favorites, as is the whole West Coast region.
Awesome scenery and clear, crisp air make this a special part of New Zealand.
Franz Josef can be viewed by making the 40 minute walk from the car park to the terminal face of the glacier.
We've done that a few times, but if you really want to get up close and personal, this small group guided walk is definitely the way to go, because it actually puts you on the glacier!
After meeting at tour base in the village, you are transported by helicopter (what a thrill that is) to your start point, high on the glacier, where the pure alpine air greets you. As you fly over the glacier you will be amazed at the colors of the ice. The cool blue tones are unbelievable.
Your three hour guided walk will take you through huge crevices and ice caves, and your experienced guide will reveal many incredible facts about the glacier. Learn about the forces at work, about the history of the glacier, and of the environmental factors impacting on it.
After your hike, your helicopter will transport you back to the village, where your tour cost includes entry to the Glacier Hot Pools. The hot thermal pools are the perfect spot to laze around and recount the day's adventure (and to ease any aches and pains). The pools are located in Cron Street, in the village, so are only a short walk from most of the motels.
Your tour cost also includes all clothing and equipment needed for your glacier adventure.
We highly recommend the tour, and as visitor d.m (oct 2016) said, "This was absolutely amazing."
Don't delay - book now.
3) Lord of the Rings Hobbiton movie set tour
Travel by air conditioned coach through the rich farmland of the Waikato region, before arriving at "the Shire".
Your experienced local guide is on hand to answer all those LOTR questions, and to reveal some special "secrets" that you may not have known.
See first hand where it was all filmed.
It's all there....hobbit holes, the party tree, Bilbo Baggins home, and even the Green Dragon Inn.
After the tour enjoy a drink at the Green Dragon, together with lunch at The Shire's Rest Cafe (lunch is included in your tour cost).
If you are a LOTR fan, don't miss this one!
4) Milford Sound day trip and cruise
Any New Zealand Top 5 would not be complete without Milford Sound.
There's a reason why Milford Sound was described by noted English author Rudyard Kipling, as "The eighth Wonder of the World".
Towering peaks that disappear into the clouds, huge waterfalls, and the deep, dark waters of the Sound make this a very special place.
Widely regarded as New Zealand's number one attraction, Milford Sound is an essential part of any trip to the South Island.
Departing from Queenstown, your tour includes transport in an air conditioned coach, an experienced guide, lunch, and a cruise on magnificent Milford Sound.
The sheer beauty of Milford is difficult to describe, but it's not just Milford Sound that makes this tour special.
The trip there covers some of the best scenery in New Zealand, including the Cleddau Valley, Homer Tunnel, Lake Wakatipu, and so much more. We will never forget the feeling of driving into the Homer tunnel, and emerging at the end into a scene that we described as "like Jurassic Park"!
It really is as good as the brochures say, and we can't wait until our next visit.
Do yourself a favor, and visit Milford Sound.
You will not be disappointed.
5) Wilderness Cruise on Doubtful Sound from Te Anau
Rounding out our New Zealand Top 5 things to do in 2018 is Doubtful Sound.
Doubtful Sound is quickly gaining a reputation as a wonderful alternative to it's more famous "cousin", Milford Sound.
Your tour begins from Te Anau, then it's a short trip across the still waters of Lake Manapouri.
From there, your coach takes you high up, through dense native forest, to the 670 meter peak of Wilmot Pass for stunning views of Doubtful Sound. Perfect for some amazing holiday snaps.
Along the way you'll also view the unusual alpine moss gardens, before descending to Deep Cove, where your modern catamaran awaits.
Your three hour cruise reveals the true beauty of Doubtful Sound, with expert commentary from your captain. Towering cliffs and cascading waterfalls are part of the experience, and keep your eyes peeled for the local wildlife. The Sound is home to dolphins and fur seals, and sometimes penguins can be seen.
This is New Zealand wilderness at its best.
Don't delay, enquire now about this awesome tour.
We hope our "New Zealand Top 5 Things to Do in 2018" has inspired you to come and experience New Zealand for yourself.