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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 10 attractions in New Zealand

#1
Marlborough Sounds

Marlborough Sounds

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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
#2
Lake Wanaka

Lake Wanaka

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The town of Wanaka is a lakeside escape that drifts by under the radar—nowhere as busy as neighboring Queenstown, but arguably even more scenic. Rung by the mountains of Mt. Aspiring National Park, Wanaka also cradles Lake Wanaka inside of its river valley, where boating, kayaking, and standup paddling are popular summer activities. Imagine casually paddling a kayak beneath the Southern Alps, or parasailing in a canopy of silence while gazing toward hanging glaciers.Of all the adventures you’ll find on Lake Wanaka, perhaps the quirkiest is a half-day tour to explore Mou Wahou Island. This offshore bird sanctuary is not only known for its wealth and diversity of bird life, but also the fact that it’s small lake, known as Arethusa Pool, is a lake on an island in a lake on an island that’s surrounded by the Pacific. Activities and offshore islands aside, Lake Wanaka is also popular for just swimming, since the shallow areas at the shore of the lake can reach as high as 65°F on the warmest days of summer.More
#3
Mission Estate Winery

Mission Estate Winery

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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
#4
Lake Wakatipu

Lake Wakatipu

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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
#5
Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre

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New Zealand took a heavy toll in the fighting of World War I. By most estimates, the young nation lost 5% of its men of military age—a proportion that far outnumbered any of the other nations at war. Despite New Zealand’s heavy losses, the nation still commemorates the event and is proud of its military involvement, and the Omaka Aviation Heritage Center nearly brings the war back to life.Through the use of historic World War I aircraft and the help of Peter Jackson—who created Hollywood-quality exhibits to show the atrocities of war—the center has become one of the world’s foremost exhibits on early aviation. While strolling the exhibit calledKnights of the Sky, admire the impeccable dioramas that detail the tragedy of war—all of them featuring historic aircraft that served in World War I. There are scenes of pilots being shot down and artifacts belonging to The Red Baron, and by the time you finish wandering the halls of the shockingly real exhibits, you might swear you were actually on the Western Front in the summer of 1918. There’s also a museum with general info on World War I aviation, and even if you aren’t an aficionado of military biplanes or aircraft, the special effects and professional lighting combine to create a museum experience that's impressively entertaining.More
#6
Te Mata Peak

Te Mata Peak

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The one notable exception to the vineyards and plains surrounding Hastings, craggy Te Mata Peak rises 1,300 feet (396 meters) above sea level and offers sensational views. Set just south of Napier and Hastings, Te Mata Peak is renowned for its sweeping, 360 degree views, which stretch from the coastline out to the farms that ring the towns of Hawke’s Bay. While it’s easy to drive to the summit, many visitors choose to hike on the network of forested trails, all of which are well maintained and marked with colorful signs.Enjoy the scent of towering Redwoods and fresh mountain air, before emerging onto the windswept peak that’s steeped in Maori legend. Guided cultural tours of the mountain explain a bit of its past, and offer insight on the history, people, and beauty of North Island's Hawke’s Bay.More
#7
Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings

Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings

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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
#8
Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier

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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
#9
Auckland Harbour Bridge

Auckland Harbour Bridge

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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
#10
Hobbiton Movie Set

Hobbiton Movie Set

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Fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films won’t want to miss a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set—the real-life recreation of The Shire, one of the primary settings in those films. Set amid the lush hills of Matamata on New Zealand’s North Island, the purpose-built set features the original hobbit holes, sets, and props from the movies.More

Trip ideas

World's Best Travel Experiences, 2020

World's Best Travel Experiences, 2020

World's Best Wine-Tasting & Vineyard Experiences, 2020

World's Best Wine-Tasting & Vineyard Experiences, 2020

World's Best Beer Experiences, 2020

World's Best Beer Experiences, 2020

World's Best Foodie Experiences, 2020

World's Best Foodie Experiences, 2020

Top activities in New Zealand

TSS Earnslaw & BBQ Buffet Lunch
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TSS Earnslaw & BBQ Buffet Lunch

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Franz Josef Heli Hiking Guided Tour

Franz Josef Heli Hiking Guided Tour

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US$346.14
Milford Sound Experience Full Day from Queenstown
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Luxury Milford Sound Coach and Scenic Cruise
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Queenstown 60-minute Jet Boat Ride on the Shotover & Kawarau Rivers
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The Original Onsen Queenstown

The Original Onsen Queenstown

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Daily Scenic Maori Rock Carving Cruise Taupo
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Frequently Asked Questions