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Things to do in New Zealand

Things to do in  New Zealand

Welcome to New Zealand

It might have been the popularity of The Lord of the Rings movies that put New Zealand on the map, but it's the enchanting landscapes, rich Maori heritage, and unforgettable natural wonders that keep travelers coming back. The North Island is home to New Zealand's capital, Wellington, and largest city, Auckland, but its real highlights lie outside the urban centers. Stroll the golden beaches of the Bay of Islands, journey to Middle Earth on a tour of the Hobbiton set, or cruise through the glowworm caves of Waitomo. Nearby, Rotorua is as renowned for its bubbling mud pools and lava fields as it is for its Maori culture, while farther south, the rocky peaks of Tongariro National Park form the backdrop to one of New Zealand's most rewarding hikes. A short ferry ride from Wellington lands you on the South Island, where the landscapes get wilder, the weather more temperamental, and the cities even more laid-back. Expect to spend most of your time outdoors, traveling from the sandy spit of Cape Farewell, past the windswept beaches of the West Coast, to the dramatic fjords of Milford Sound and the Fiordland National Park. Christchurch, revamped after the tragedy of the 2011 earthquake, is the main hub of the north, while the southern city of Queenstown is New Zealand's adventure capital, where thrill-seekers congregate to try skydiving, bungee jumping, white-water rafting, and ziplining.

Top 15 attractions in New Zealand

Lake Wakatipu

Surrounded by mountains and shrouded in legend, Lake Wakatipu and its crystal waters draw visitors as the longest lake on New Zealand's South Island. As a popular spot for adventure activities—from fishing to catamaran cruises—a day on Lake Wakatipu is arguably the highlight of any trip to Queenstown and the Otago region.More

Auckland Harbour Bridge

The Auckland Harbour Bridge is a landmark site on the city’s skyline. The 8-lane engineering marvel connects downtown Auckland with North Shore suburbs. Visitors can experience the bridge and the stunning views of the Waitemata Harbour from several vantage points: while driving over it, climbing it, or jumping off it.More

Franz Josef Glacier

One of New Zealand’s most photographed natural wonders and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Franz Josef Glacier serves up a dazzling landscape of snow-smothered peaks, rocky gorges, and icy waterfalls, feeding into the Waiho River that's ripe for exploration.More

Auckland Domain

Enjoy the peace and tranquility of forests, gullies, and green spaces in Auckland Domain, a 185-acre (75-hectare) escape from the frantic Queen Street crowds. Get lost on a nature walk, admire the tropical plants at the Wintergarden, and marvel at the history on display at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.More

Te Puia

Te Puia, located in the Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley at the edge of Rotorua features Pohutu Geyser and is home to the impressive New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. Visitors can tour the bubbling mud pools with a local Maori guide and choose from among myriad activities.More

Marlborough Sounds

A series of sunken river valleys at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, the Marlborough Sounds offer a range of sights and adventures—hiking, biking, camping, and wildlife watching, to name but a few. Many travelers pass through Queen Charlotte Sound and the town of Picton on the ferry between the North and South islands.More

Milford Sound

With its soaring cliffs, dramatic glacial valleys, and thundering waterfalls, it’s easy to see why Milford Sound is one of New Zealand’s most visited sights. This natural wonder is the star attraction of Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and wildlife haven for dolphins, seals, and penguins.More

Mission Estate Winery

New Zealand produces some of the world’s most renowned, award-winning wines, and Mission Estate Winery on the outskirts of Napier is where it all began. Founded in 1851, Mission Estate was started by missionaries who journeyed from France with little more than a dream and a couple of vines. Now, nearly two centuries later, Mission Estate continues to operate as one of New Zealand’s best wineries, and is a staple on any shore excursion or wine tasting tour of Napier.Head down the tree lined driveway toward the old fashioned estate and its fountain, and you'll immediately fall for the history and regal charm of the area. Step outside on the hilltop veranda for a view of the vineyard landscapes leading back to Napier’s downtown or to sip in the sun protected by the shade of one of the winery's big, white outdoor umbrellas.More

Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings

Measuring more than 33 feet (10 meters) high, these mammoth Maori sculptures were chiseled into the rocks on the edge of Lake Taupo in the late 1970s. Created by master carver Matahi Whakataka-Brightwell, the carvings depict Ngatoroirangi, who is said to have guided the Te Arawa tribes from their Polynesian homeland to New Zealand.More

TranzAlpine Train

The TranzAlpine Train is New Zealand’s most spectacular train journey, one which winds its way through the dramatic gorges and alpine forests of the Southern Alps, over staggering viaducts and dizzying mountain passes. From Christchurch on the East Coast to Greymouth on the West Coast, this almost 5-hour trip serves up endless photo opportunities as it runs through the heart of the South Island.More

Piha Beach

A short drive west of Auckland is Piha Beach, one of the West Coast’s most popular getaways. A small coastal village sandwiched between the Waitakere Ranges and the Tasman Sea, Piha Beach is much loved by surfers and fisherfolk alike, but it’s also a great place for everyone to explore nature, both on the coast and in the hills.More

Lake Tekapo

A glacial lake on New Zealand’s South Island, Lake Tekapo is an adventurer’s playground by day—and a stargazer’s heaven at night. On a clear night, southern hemisphere constellations, plus the Milky Way and the southern lights, shine spectacularly in the UNESCO-listed Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve.More

Wellington Cable Car

Operating since 1902, the Wellington Cable Car is one of the city’s most famous sights. The ride, from the central business district to the city’s tranquil botanic garden, offers a stunning light show inside the tunnels as well as gorgeous vistas of Mount Victoria and Wellington Harbour as you reach the top.More

Lake Rotorua

The Rotorua area boasts dozens of lakes, but Lake Rotorua is larger, deeper, and older than its neighbors. Geologists believe that Rotorua, the second-largest lake on the North Island, dates back more than 200,000 years, while most of the region’s other waterways were created by the Tarawera eruption of 1886.More

Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka is one of New Zealand’s largest lakes, surrounded by the mountains of the Mt. Aspiring National Park. The town of Wanaka on its southern shore is a relaxed spot that offers easy access to lake-based activities. In summer, paddleboarding, kayaking, boating, and swimming are popular, while in winter, skiing is available nearby. More

Trip ideas

Around the World in 15 Desserts

Around the World in 15 Desserts

New Zealand’s 10 Great Walks

New Zealand’s 10 Great Walks

Top activities in New Zealand

Cruise Milford NZ Small Boutique Cruise Experience
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Mitai Maori Village Cultural Experience in Rotorua
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Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves Small Group Tour from Auckland
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TSS Earnslaw & BBQ Buffet Lunch
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TSS Earnslaw & BBQ Buffet Lunch

Small Group, Award Winning, Full Day Milford Sound Experience from Queenstown
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Hobbiton™ Movie Set 2-Hour Walking Tour from Shires Rest
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Half-Day Milford Sound Flight and Cruise from Queenstown
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TranzAlpine Train, Arthur's Pass & Castle Hill Day Trip from Christchurch
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Premium Milford Sound Small Group Tour, Cruise & Picnic Lunch from Queenstown
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Milford Sound Nature Cruise

Milford Sound Nature Cruise

Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Glowworm Caves Guided Day Trip from Auckland
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Whale Watching in Kaikoura by Boat
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Whale Watching in Kaikoura by Boat

Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in New Zealand

You gotta do this!
Brett_H, Jan. 2023
Milford Sound Scenic Flight and Nature Cruise
You have to see Milford sound with Air Milford - there is nothing else in the world like it!!
It was one of the best...
IRIS_T, Jan. 2023
Akaroa Harbour Nature Cruise
I highly recommend this tour to anyone who wants to visit NZ.
Day in New Zealand
Lisa_W, Jan. 2023
Hobbiton, Rotorua and Waitomo Caves Day Trip in Luxury Minibus from Auckland
A great way to see the country side of New Zealand.
Great experience at the Museum.
Wilfredo_H, Jan. 2023
Auckland Explorer: Hop-on Hop-off Tour
Much to see and learn from NZ present and history, both ancient and modern.
Essential Evening
Matthew_G, Jan. 2023
Mitai Maori Village Cultural Experience in Rotorua
The spring is beautiful - great to see in daylight and then also with glow worms at night.
Spectacular tour
eunicebriffa, Jan. 2023
Kaikoura Whale Watch Day Tour from Christchurch
I was lucky to see a sperm whale, a school of dolphins and seals.
Must-Do in Auckland
Rommel_R, Jan. 2023
The Classic: our most popular electric bike tour of Auckland's Highlights
You don’t only get to see the city but also learn a bit of history and people’s way of life.
Booked this trip as a...
Jacky_S, Jan. 2023
Daily Scenic Maori Rock Carving Cruise Taupo
Booked this trip as a Christmas present for my adult daughter, who has been wanting to see the carvings for several years.
Great tour guides that...
Geoffrey_S, Dec. 2022
Afternoon Piha Beach and Rainforest Tour from Auckland
Good chance to see the west coast of NZ in half a day
Best day on the water!
Caroline_U, Dec. 2022
Marlborough Sounds Ultimate Cruise
We got to see every kind of wildlife that lives in the area!!!!
Nice, but there are other options
Sky_D, Dec. 2022
Hobbiton & Waitomo Caves Small Group Tour from Auckland
However, the tour guides at the main attractions were the more essential part of the trip.
Picton coastal beauty
Tindaro_S, Nov. 2022
Water and Wilderness Scenic Tour
We got to see the beauty and ruggedness of that part of the New Zealand coastline.
Caroline_S, Nov. 2022
Milford Sound Tours (Options to depart Milford Sound, Te Anau or Queenstown)
Got really lucky in terms of weather and wildlife spotting; saw a rare penguin, a pod of bottle nose dolphins, some fur seals and a LOT of waterfalls.
The best tour I did during my 2 week trip
Marina_R, Nov. 2022
Milford Sound Small Group Tour from Queenstown with Scenic Flight
A great communicator - we always knew what to do and what to expect.
Bike riding in beautiful...
Daniel_F, Nov. 2022
Guided Wellington Sightseeing Tour by Electric Bike
Bike riding in beautiful parts of the world is one of our favorite things to do while traveling.
Memorable day
Julie_W, Nov. 2022
Dunedin Shore Excursion: Small-Group Tour of Dunedin and the Otago Peninsula
We got to see the most wonderful scenery and see the rare NZ sea lions in the wild on the beach.
Martin was super!!...
Neil_R, Nov. 2022
Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Glowworm Caves Guided Day Trip from Auckland
He is very knowledgeable about the history of NZ and the attractions A wonderful day
CarolAnn_P, Oct. 2022
Hobbiton Movie Set and Waitomo Glowworm Caves Guided Day Trip from Auckland
Hobbiton is one of those places that you need to see whenever you are in New Zealand.
Katrina_B, Sep. 2022
Nocturnal adventure Glow-worm tour
A venture into the New Zealand bush included wallaby and hedgehog sightings, hearing a Morepork owl, seeing a spectacular glowworm display and feeling splash from a hidden waterfall.
John gets 5 star rating
Phyllis_L, Jan. 2023
Piha and Karekare Rainforest Wine Tour from Auckland
Worth the trek to the waterfall in Karekare.
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