If you’re in New Zealand, we’re guessing you didn’t fly all the way out here to just drink the wine and eat the lamb. This country is famed for extreme sports, unbeatable scenery and – well, that’s enough to tickle any traveller’s taste buds, isn’t it? Here’s our list of unmissable places, and unmissable activities!
To find out how to save money, read all about out Budget Hacks on Travelicious.com HERE!
TOP TIP: The South Island has better scenery and activities, so don’t split your time equally between the two islands!
- BAY OF ISLANDS: Aside from the amazing beaches, the most northern part of New Zealand is where the Maori heritage centre is. The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are a fascinating day trip, where you learn all about the history of the Maoris, and get a taste of their culture. Pay your respects to the original natives here, with a day pass that’s only $40NZD
COROMANDEL: Spend a few days (only a few!) on the Coromandel Peninsula, to recreate the iconic Cathedral Cove shot and to explore Hot Water Beach – where the volcanic activity allows you to dig your own hot pool when the tide is down! The beaches here are also worth visiting!
- WAITOMO CAVES: A really fun tubing experience, plus you get to see the magical glowworm caves! Honestly, if you’re going to spend the money you might as well throw in the tubing. However, it’s a $179NZD experience and there are other glowworm caves all around NZ, so learn from our tourist mistake and shop around!
- ROTORUA: Famed for smelling of rotten eggs (sadly, that’s not a joke), this town is the base for day trips to Matamata – aka Hobbiton! Tours of the movie set are a little on the pricey side at $79NZD per person, but so worth it! You can read all about our trip there by clicking here! Free activities in Rotorua include: Redwood Forest, with huge trees on a short drive away; Kerosene Creek, a natural hot spring and freshwater river crossing, with an unfair reputation for car robberies (we were fine!), and Kuirau Pa
rk, a free geothermal park!
- TAUPO: Driving into town from Rotorua, stop off at Huka Falls for an awesome waterfall photoshoot! Then, Lake Taupo itself is an awesome day trip. The lake is bigger than Singapore, so you could explore for days! We recommend a boat trip (only $35NZD), however, as it takes you to see amazing Maori carvings – boat-only accessible! Check out our Instagram for the picture!
- TONGARIRO: Again, featured in our last blogpost, Tongariro was our favourite trip! A full day hike taking you through a mountain range and the national park – you can’t miss this trip! It’s a real photographer’s paradise – cameras ready!
- WELLINGTON: As well as being the capital city, and the port for the Interislander Ferry, there’s Mount Victoria for spectacular views and Weta Caves for a LOTR workshop (priced at $25NZD).
KAIKOURA: If you want an unforgettable experience, go swimming with wild dolphins in Kaikoura! At the crack of dawn, you squeeze into a wetsuit and head out on a boat to the best dolphin spots, to brace the ice-cold water…worth it! Seriously, these dolphins choose to come and play with you; they’re completely untrained! Absolutely incredible! TOP TIP: They love it when you make noises and dive down! Yes, it’s $170NZD, but it’s a unique and astounding experience. Must do!
- CHRISTCHURCH: Honestly, you don’t need long here. The city itself is still in repair from the earthquake, so isn’t too touristy. It’s the scenery slightly out of town, in the Canterbury region, that’s the real hit. LOTR get ready, photographers get ready…breathtaking views ahead!
- DUNEDIN: We didn’t plan on staying here long, but since we totalled our car we had no choice. The nightlife here is reasonably good since it’s a student town, and if you have a means of transport you can go searching for penguins! Sadly for us, our hostel owner said it would be a 4 hour walk, so we decided to skip out!
- TE ANAU: And by that we mean MILFORD SOUND aka the most picturesque place in New Zealand!
Brace yourselves for the cold, and the waterfall that your boat will bring you close to for a free shower! The photographing opportunities here were amazing, and we loved to take advantage of the free tea and coffee on board. The cheapest tours were $45NZD, but we hear kayaking is way cooler (and more expensive: cheapest at $99NZD). Worth it though, as you can go right up to the wildlife – even penguins! But, we missed out again…what is it with the illusive penguins? Whatever you choose, don’t miss out on the Fiordland!
- QUEENSTOWN: Party town of NZ, but watch out for extra-high prices here from food to activities. Incidentally, it’s also the adrenaline-junkie centre so there are bungee jumps and skydives left, right and centre here! Personally, we recommend going to Fergburger for a treat meal – the beef is to die for! TOP TIP: activities are more expensive here, so shop around!
- WANAKA: In winter, there are spectacular ski slopes; in summer, there are outstanding hikes! Mount Cardrona summit has views of ‘Middle Earth’, which naturally means they’ll be breathtaking! The lake is popular for water sports such as SUP (Stand-Up Paddleboarding) from just $12! TOP TIP: Check out the Waterbar for a fun night out!
- FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER: Our heli-hike got cancelled due to bad weather, but we’ve heard nothing but amazing things about this place! If any of you do go, be sure to let us know!
ABEL TASMAN: Stunning beaches are found here, and great kayaking opportunities for reasonable prices (rentals starting at $65NZD)! We didn’t have time for that, however, because we went SKYDIVING! If you want to do something a little crazy and very unforgettable, go skydiving somewhere in NZ! Abel Tasman is one of the cheapest locations, starting only at $249. “Only?!” Yes, only! You’re jumping out a plane!! Watch out, though, as photographs and videos cost more!
- Have a flexible route to avoid missing out due to weather (like we missed Franz Josef Glacier, and the penguins!)
- Look out in hostels for ads about car sharing to day trips – could save you money!
- Utilise the information centres for free, helpful advice on day trips!
We jam-packed as much as we could in our trip, to make it as memorable as possible – hopefully our advice can help you!