New Zealand is well known for its breathtaking scenery, wonderful beaches and exciting adventure destinations. There are a lot of things to do in New Zealand and it can be hard to know where to start. As well as some suggestions for top things to do in New Zealand we’ve also got a few tips so you don’t miss a single opportunity to explore our beautiful country!
Must do New Zealand activities
There are so many incredible New Zealand must dos, from adventure to relaxation and everything in between. Our first tip is to create your own Ultimate New Zealand bucket list that’s perfect for you and fill it with all the activities and sites you’ve always wanted to see and do.
We're spoiled for choice when it comes to epic New Zealand adventures you can't miss. But a great list of things to do in New Zealand just wouldn’t be complete without some heart racing best New Zealand adventure activities. Here are just a few of our favourites at add to your own list of things to do in New Zealand.
New Zealand is home to the worlds first commercial bungy jump in Queenstown so this exhilarating rite of passage is a must for any kiwi bucket list. There are bungy jumps all over New Zealand -choose to freefall off the sky tower, the Auckland harbour bridge, over stunning Lake Taupo or where it all began in Queenstown.
Photo: Byungy jumping in New Zealand's well known Queenstown
Canyoning in the Coromandel is an unforgettable adventure. Experience abseiling, jumps, waterfalls and water slides as you descend 300m down Sleeping God Canyon. You’ll get the adrenaline pumping and be blown away by the incredible views.
If you love getting out onto the water in a kayak there are a lot of awesome adventures that will take you to some pretty unique spots. Our top pick is kayaking around the Abel Tasman National Park through some of the clearest waters alongside lush native bush. There are a lot of great kayaking spots through out our beautiful country, kayak across Lake Taupo or visit the stunning Cathedral Cove which is only accessible by foot or by the sea.
Finding activities that are perfect for the whole family to add to your list of things to do in New Zealand isn’t easy but with these top North Island family activities ideas we know everyone will have a blast. Here a just a few activities the whole family will love.
Rotorua Canopy Tours
This is an adventure everyone can get excited about, from the little ones to the adults and even the grandparents! You’ll experience New Zealand like never before as your professional kiwi guides take you on this award-winning nature adventure. Choose from two incredible tours and travel through ancient native forest via a network of ziplines, swing bridges, tree top platforms and other features that will blow you away. We guarantee this will be one adventure your family will talk about for years to come.
Photo: Have fun soaring through the trees and become a part of the conservation story with Rotorua Canopy Tours.
See our beautiful native species and learn at thing or two at Zelandia. It’s the world’s first fully fenced urban ecosanctuary and is located just out of Wellington. They are doing some wonderful conservation work and they have the aim to restore the area to the way it was before humans arrived.
Tongariro River Rafting
See stunning New Zealand back country with your family on the top rafting experience in the North Island. Tongariro River Rafting is a great family bonding activity and with a minimum age of three it’s an adventure the whole family can get in to.
Photo: Do some family bonding and raft down the Tongariro River with the whole family from ages 3 and up
Plan a road trip
Travelling around in a car, van or camper is definitely the best way to see most of this beautiful country. Not only are you free to take your time and set your own pace as you tick off your list of things to do in New Zealand, but you can choose your own route and get off the beaten track on your New Zealand road trip.
The North Island is home to active volcanoes, beautiful beaches and is rich in history and maori culture. Check out our highlights to create your own must do North Island bucket list experiences. Tick off the main highlights like hiking the Tongariro Crossing and seeing glow worm caves, as well as some of the hidden gems like climbing the Paekakariki Escarpment Track and staying at some unique glamping spots. Make you sure you take plenty of selfies at the best New Zealand selfie spots along the way to capture these incredible moments.
One of the most striking things about the South Island is that while it accounts for over 56% of the total land area of New Zealand, it only houses 23% of the population. There is so much open space to see and explore, including amazing national parks, stunning sounds, breathtaking mountain ranges and glaciers, beautiful beaches and charming towns.
Our South Island Itinerary will take you from Christchurch to Queenstown and back again. Along the way you’ll visit some of the most beautiful spots in the South Island including some spots a little off the beaten track.
Photo: Exploring the beautiful scenery of the South Island is a must for any list of the best things to do in New Zealand
Take a dip in New Zealand waters
In New Zealand you’re never more than a few hours from our beautiful beaches and we also have lots of lakes and natural hot springs dotted all over the place. Getting into the water is a must for any list of things to do in New Zealand. We're surrounded by so much natural beauty, you may even find a bit of inspiration if you’re looking for unique proposal ideas in New Zealand.
New Zealand Hot Springs
New Zealand’s volcanic activity is responsible for the dramatic landscapes of the country, including the stunning Southern Alps, as well as our impressive volcanoes. One of the best things about this is the hot springs you can find all over the country - with plenty being in Rotorua, one of New Zealand’s geothermal ‘hot spots’.
Some of these naturally heated springs have been harnessed, and used to fill pools with constant fresh hot water. Others are still wild and untamed and are fringed by rainforest and dotted with boulders.
There is nothing better after a long day of ticking off amazing things to do in New Zealand than sinking into naturally hot mineral water and relaxing. Our list of the best New Zealand hot springs will give you inspiration to find these hidden pieces of paradise.
Photo: Natural hot springs located on the outskirts of Rotorua
New Zealand Beaches
The incredibly varied and ever-changing coastline of New Zealand means that you can find spectacular beaches right around the country (we are an island nation, after all). Different regions and coasts have their own unique elements, from the wild black-sand surf beaches on the western coast off the Auckland region, to the calm, glittering, golden-sand bays of Abel Tasman National Park in the South Island. Plenty of our beaches are also located in wildlife and marine reserves, meaning that you will be sharing them with plenty of our local critters. Look out for penguins, fur seals, weka, piwakawaka and others, to name just a few!
If you are looking to get a taste of surfing, then there are plenty of breaks for all levels of experience. Raglan in the Waikato is New Zealand’s most famous surfing town, with plenty of beaches and breaks to choose from; although Ahipara in the far north would be a close second. In the South Island, St Clair and Kahutara (near Dunedin) are great spots - but make sure to bring your wetsuit, she’s pretty chilly!
To help take some of the guess-work out of planning, here are our favourite best beaches in New Zealand. Covering the country from Cape Reinga at the northern tip, to Purakaunui in the far south, chances are you’ll find a couple that work in to your itinerary.
Try something uniquely kiwi
There are many things that make New Zealand unique. When you’re exploring the country and adding to your list of things to do in New Zealand you’ve got to add some uniquely kiwi things – we guarantee it will make your experience that much more memorable.
Top Kiwi Inventions
Us kiwis are seen as innovative and creative, something handed down from those who settled the land so far from their homes (and something we like to think we embody here at Canopy Tours!). It is no surprise then that a large number of kiwi inventions have caught the imagination of the world.
Some of these inventions you are likely to see on your stay in New Zealand, as they have transformed international tourism. If you decide to take the plunge and try a bungy jump or zoom up a river on a jet boat tour you will be experiencing these awesome inventions first-hand.
Given the passions and culture of New Zealand it is not surprising where some of these other inventions pop up. From farming, to rugby, as well as enjoying the great outdoors, the 10 top kiwi inventions play a large part of life in New Zealand - and you should definitely look out for them on your New Zealand trip and include a few on your list of things to do in New Zealand.
Photo: The OGO inflatable balls is a kiwi invention
Foods to try
New Zealand is not short on world-class chefs and restaurants. Names like Josh Emett, Peter Gordon and Simon Gault are instantly recognisable, and their restaurants are on the must-hit list for many foodies. However, there is a very different list of best kiwi foods - these are our ‘kiwi essentials’; and any born and bred New Zealander is likely to get nostalgic eating them!
Kiwi favourites include chocolate from Whittaker's (voted New Zealand’s Most Iconic Brand), traditional Māori Hangi, and the ever popular savoury pie. Sourced from supermarkets, bakeries, or the kitchens of locals, this is the real taste of New Zealand.