10 bucket list experiences to do in New Zealand

If you’re looking to tick off some serious bucket-list items on your next holiday then New Zealand is where you want to be. 

A land where beauty meets adventure, New Zealand is home to some incredible activities that will have you exploring the island country’s marine life one day, to hiking through spectacular national parks the next.

Spanning from the North Island to the South Island, here’s the top 10 experiences you should add to your New Zealand itinerary.

1. Hobbiton

Hobbiton, New Zealand, The Hobbit, Lord of the rings

Just outside of the Waikato town of Matamata, Sir Peter Jackson found the perfect place for the village of Hobbiton, featured in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies.

Today, the movie set remains one of New Zealand’s must-visit attractions – even if you aren’t a fan of the movies – thanks to its stunning scenery and spell-binding tales. 

Tourists can embark on tours around The Shire daily, where they’ll have the chance to explore the multiple hobbit holes, the Party Tree, and the Green Dragon Inn where you can end with a pint of Southfarthing ale.

Check out what we thought of Hobbiton here.

2. Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach, Coromandel, New Zealand

Create your own natural Jacuzzi in the wet sand at Hot Water Beach on the North Island’s Coromandel Peninsula. The beach has become a popular attraction for tourists due to an underground river of hot water that flows from the interior of the earth to surface in the Pacific Ocean causing bubbles of hot water bubbles to rise through the golden sand. 

To experience the natural phenomenon, time your visit within two hours either side of low tide and come with a spade in hand (or buy one from the local shops) to dig your own private hot pool in the sand with stunning ocean views.

The beach also boasts some great surf, casual cafés and galleries and only a five minute drive to the walk into Cathedral Cove – another Coromandel ‘must do’.

3. Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is classed as one of New Zealand’s most famous walks due to the incredible scenery. The Crossing – located in Tongariro National Park, New Zealand’s oldest national park –  is a 19.4km one-day hike that will take you about nine hours to complete. Along the way, you’ll pass Mt Ngauruhoe and over Mt Tongariro, with panoramic views of active volcanic areas and colourful crater lakes in the UNESCO Dual Heritage area.

4. Whale Watch Kaikoura

Whale watching, Kaikoura, New Zealand

Spotting whales – the ocean’s majestic giants – will never cease to amaze no matter where you are. However’ while you’re in New Zealand, you can’t go past Kaikoura, a year-round whale-watching destination featuring a rugged coastline between the Pacific Ocean and snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps. This stunning background makes the marine life usually spotted close to shore even more special.

5. Dive Poor Knights Islands 

Diving, The Poor Knights Islands, New Zealand

The Poor Knights Islands are an international diving icon 23km off New Zealand’s Tutukaka Coast. Described by Jacques Cousteau – a renowned French naval officer and explorer – as the best dive spot in subtropical temperate waters, the Poor Knights is part of a marine reserve creating a remarkably varied ecosystem.

6.  Milford Sound

Milford Sound, Fiordland’s National Park, New Zealand

Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park was once described as the eighth wonder of the world by English journalist Rudyard Kipling. Towering peaks, stunning waterfalls and beautiful rainforests which are home to fur seals, penguins and dolphins make this place breathtaking. An overnight experience in Milford Sound is the best time to experience the tranquillity, once most people have left.

7. Bungy jump

Bungy jumping, Kawarau Bridge New Zealand

New Zealand was the first country to commercialise bungy jumping at the site of the Kawarau Suspension Bridge just outside of Queenstown. There is no better place to take the plunge than overlooking the stunning Kawarau River from 43 metres above. For thrill seekers, bungy jump off Nevis which is 134 metres over the valley floor.

8. Southern Lights

Southern Lights, Aurora Australis, New Zealand

While the Northern Lights are popular for night sky watchers, the lesser known Southern Lights known as Aurora Australis are equally as spectacular. The Southern Lights appear just over the southern horizon at Dunedin, forming remarkable reflections in the water. They are best viewed in New Zealand’s winter months, from March to September, when the Milky Way is prominent and the Aurora Australis appears low in the sky.

9. Glow Worms

Glowworms, Waitomo, New Zealand

Located on the central North Island, the Waitomo Caves are one of New Zealand’s most fascinating wonders and a visit to their glow-worm grotto comes highly recommended. A boat ride takes visitors into a spectacular cave guided by the light of thousands of New Zealand glow worms on the roof of the cave.

10. Glacier tours 

West Coast Cool: New Zealand Glacier

Explore New Zealand’s spectacular West Coast glaciers on a heli-hike tour. Begin with a thrilling hike over rugged terrain and land on either Franz Josef or Fox Glacier where your begin a two hour guided hike through the imposing ice formations and breathtaking glacier scenery.  

Check out what we thought of the experience here.

Images: Supplied/Tourism New Zealand.

Find out more: newzealand.com

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