New Zealand, the country that is famous for its unique wildlife, nature, Maori culture and of course for the well-known movies such as Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogy. This country should definitely be on your Travel Bucket List. You need at least 4 weeks to see both islands as there is so much to see that you can easily spend a couple of months or even years in this beautiful country. Here is a Bucket List with (according to me) all the highlights that you should see or do in New Zealand.
It is the smaller island but 75% of the population of New Zealand lives on this Island. Especially around Auckland. It is known for its rich Maori culture, impressive vulcanoes and incredible untouched beaches and lakes.
1. Bay of Islands
Discover this tropical region, also called the ‘winterless north’ of New Zealand. Go for a coastal walk that will bring you from one island to another.
New Zealand’s biggest city and for most people the starting point of their trip in New Zealand. In the city you can go to the Auckland Domain (central park), the Auckland Museum or if you want more adventure: try bungeejumping from the sky tower. Or if you want to have a look outside the city you can catch a ferry to Devonport, Rangitato Island or Waiheke Island.
3. Waiheke Island
Take the ferry from Auckland and go to this island which is ranked by the Lonely Planet as the 5th best destination in the world. It has beautiful vineyards that offer delicious wine tastings.
Raglan is known as the best surfspot in New Zealand and is a very relaxed surfy seaside town. It is known for its natural breaking waves which are perfect for surfers. You can enjoy a day at the beach here, go surfing, walk to the Bridal Veil Falls, spot glowworms in the bush or enjoy a yoga sunset at Inspiration Point.
5. Get in touch with Maori communities
Learn about the Maori traditions and history in Mourea.
6. Waitomo Caves
These caves are the perfect location for seeing some glowworms and experiencing amazing caving activities.
If you are a true Lord of the Rings fan, this is one of those places you just have to see. Be a hobbit for one day at this place and feel the Lord of the Rings magic.
8. Lake Aniwhenua
Enjoy a traditional ground cooked hangi feast at the Kohatapu Lake Lodge while being surrounded by breathtaking nature. What do you want more?!
9. Blue Duck Station
The perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. One of my favourite places on the North Island where you can hike, kayak, go for a horse trek and much more.
10. Tongariro National Park
If you are a fanatic hiker and/or a Lord of the Rings fan, this is the place to be for you! Why? Because of the Tongariro Alphine Crossing. A hike of 19,4 km which will lead you to the amazing volcanic plateau and where you will walk to Mt Doom (in real life Mt Ngauruhoe).
It’s the capital of New Zealand and the gateway to the south island. So no reason to skip this beautiful city.
The big brother of the North Island. It is an island that can be described with words such as breathtaking, epic and jaw dropping. But to be honest, as soon as you see it, this island will be one of the most beautiful places in de world that you have ever seen. Words almost fall short of describing it.
12. Marlborough Region
This area is for the quality of the wines that are produced and sold here. Especially its Sauvignon Blancs. If you are a wine lover, make sure to stop here and enjoy a wine tasting.
13. Abel Tasman National Park
Known for its beautiful beaches and it has the most hours of sunshine in the country. The coastline hike is one of the 9 Great Walks of New Zealand.
14. Franz Josef Glacier
Take a short helicopter ride and enjoy a very special hike on the glacier.
15. Lake Wanaka
The third largest of the Southern Lakes and again a very scenic and beautiful view.
Wanaka is like a little sister city to Queenstown. It is a summer holiday town which transforms into a skiing town during winter. Perfect place to chill out for a couple of days.
17. Going Skiing/Snowboarding
Close to Wanaka are Mount Aspiring National Park and the Cardrona and Treblecone skiing fields. Queenstown and surroundings are also known for its amazing skiing/snowboarding options.
The adventure capital of New Zealand (and maybe even of the world). The perfect place to stop for a couple of days as there are many things to do: local walks, adventure activities, lord of the rings scenery tours, skiing and so much more.
19. Get an Adrenaline Rush
Queenstown is known as the adventure capital. Here you can go Bungeejumping, Sky Diving, Bungeeswinging, go on Jet Boat Rides and do many more adrenaline activities you could never imagine. There are several locations in New Zealand where you can go Sky Diving.
20. Fiordland National Park
New Zealand’s largest national park with mountain valleys carved by glaciers and breathtaking photo opportunities.
21. Milford Sound
New Zealand’s most famous destination. Go for a scenic cruise and get a look at this stunning fiord. If you are lucky you see a group of dolphins playing in the water and see seals relaxing on rocks.
22. Stewart Island / See a real Kiwi bird
The perfect place to spot very rare Kiwi Birds. The national symbol of New Zealand. This island is a perfect ‘getaway’ and it will feel like a vacation in your vacation.
23. Mt Cook
The highest mountain (3724m) of the 23 mountains that New Zealand has. Go for a nice hike to the Hooker Glacial Lake where you can see the mountain reflected in the lake.
24. Lake Tekapo
The highest lake (yes lake) of New Zealand. It was also named the world’s largest International Dark Sky Reserve in 2012. So a perfect place to stargaze.
Lord of the Rings fans will recognise this area as Edoras in The Two Towers and The Return of the King.
Do not skip this place! You would absolutely regret it. It is the place to swim with Dusky Dolphins or go whale watching.
27. Over to you! What are your favourite places in New Zealand?