New Zealand is the land of beauty and adventure, and its home to an array of incredible experiences and activities. It’s definitely a destination worthy to be on top of your bucket list. For many travelers, it’s a dream destination and only a few have gotten the chance to visit this once-in-a-lifetime place. Although it’s considered a small island, it has the ability to pack a huge range of stunning scenery, cosmopolitan cities, and extreme adventure activities for adrenaline junkies. 

What’s great about visiting the land of the Kiwi is that it caters to any kind of traveler and their needs. If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand soon, we’ve created this ultimate guide on how to make the most of your trip to this beautiful island. 

Understanding New Zealand’s Geography 

New Zealand is such a great country to explore because it’s geologically diverse. Divided into the North Island and the South Island, each one boasts an array of different activities, climate, and experiences. When getting around both islands, you can hop on one of their ferry services easily. 

The north is more famous for exploring the cosmopolitan city life at chic cities like Wellington and Auckland. It’s where you’ll indulge in fine dining, art, and rich culture. It’s also where you’ll experience a bunch of beach activities like surfing, fishing, sailing, or just soaking up the warm sun. The climate in the north tends to be a little warmer than the south, which is perfect in finding the tropical and island life you so desire. 

On the other hand, the South is where you’ll find all the adrenaline-pumping activities. Since the weather is noticeably cooler, you’ll be able to ski or snowboard on gorgeous mountains. It’s where the adventure and gorgeous Queenstown lies and you’ll find iconic views at Milford Sound. From fjords to mountain tops, the south boasts stunning landscapes and a great opportunity for adventure. 

Must-Try Experiences

There are many things you should know about visiting New Zealand like when’s the best time to go and other travel tips. But let’s start with the fun stuff first. New Zealand has a wide range of activities and experiences that should appeal to any kind of traveler. Read on below to find out what this enchanted land has to offer. 

Extreme Adventure Sports 

Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of New Zealand with an array of thrilling activities for any adrenaline junkie. First things first, you can bungee-jump at AJ Hackett Bridge, the world’s first commercial bungee jumping site. Or head over to Shotover Canyon to launch yourself from a 109m high platform, into a 200m swing, and with a 60m vertical fall. You can also go paragliding over the Queenstown skyline or to the top of the mountain for a 15-minute thrilling experience. Whitewater rafting is also popular a little outside of Queenstown with stunning views and a rafting experience that will keep your blood pumping. Need more adventure? Then definitely be sure to go skydiving to see a view of New Zealand like you haven’t before.

Get Pampered in Hot Springs  

Queenstown is also famous for luxury experiences where you can treat yourself to a myriad of spa treatments. This is just as right if you’re spending your time in Queenstown doing extreme sports, you might as well relax at the end of the day. In the South, there are many hot springs and spa pools Queenstown has to offer that will truly unwind you and put your mind at ease. Many spas offer one-of-a-kind massage treatments as well as time in hot springs that will rejuvenate your body. Not to mention that you’ll be relaxing with stunning views. Meanwhile, in the North, you can visit Hot Water Beach and make your own natural Jacuzzi. During low tide, dig up your own hot bath with a view of the ocean. Just remember to bring your shovel!  

Cruise Milford Sound

Once named the eighth wonder of the world by Rudyard Kipling, the landscape surrounding Milford Sound still bears evidence of the glaciers that were formed during the ice age. It’s home to interesting wildlife, clear waters, and many waterfalls. There are many ways you can witness the rising cliffs from fjords with a mountain backdrop. Taking a cruise is the most popular one, but you can also kayak or take an overnight boat ride. You can also take a 4-day trek to witness firsthand its stunning scenery. 

Catch the Southern Lights 

Everyone has heard of the Northern lights, aurora borealis, but have you heard of southern lights? Equally stunning and fascinating, aurora australis lights up the sky in hues of pink and green across the atmosphere. It’s best seen from March through September at a remote location in the south. Ideally, it can be at Dunedin, Stewart Island, or Lake Tekapo. Lake Tekapo is also famous for an amazing stargazing experience. 

Spot Marine Life 

New Zealand is famous for witnessing marine life in their natural habitat. You can go whale watching in the picturesque Kaikoura. All year long, you can take a cruise to witness a number of species like humpback whales on the coastline. You can also swim with dolphins or snorkel with sea lions. There’s no other place in the world where you’ll get up close and personal with marine life like you would in New Zealand. 

Visit Middle Earth 

Since the release of The Lord of the Rings in 2001, New Zealand was given the name ‘Home of Middle Earth.” Around 150 locations were used in the movie; however, Hobbiton remains open to the public for guided tours where you’ll see what inspired Peter Jackson’s The Shire. Visiting where the Hobbits lived will surely awaken your inner geek! 

Catch a Glimpse of Glowworms 

The Waitomo Caves are famous for their mystical and fascinating underground world. The naturally illuminated glowworm grotto on the subterranean limestone walls attracts millions of people and it’s one of the most unique natural wonders in New Zealand. You can either take an underground leisurely tour to witness this natural marvel or you can take a rafting expedition or boat cruise through the caves.

Hit The Beach 

The North is more famous for its beach activities with its clear waters and family-friendly fun! The Bay of Islands, which is three hours away from Auckland, houses an array of water activities and a chance to soak up the sun. You can go diving in Poor Knights Islands, which is one of the best diving spots for its varied ecosystem and subtropical temperature waters. You can also fish, sail, or even go sandboarding. 

Explore a Geothermal Phenomena 

The minute you visit Rotorua, you’ll be greeted with the smell of sulphur. That’s because it’s home to geysers, boiling mud pools, and volcanic craters in Te Puia. Many visits to witness this phenomenon and how it shoots up hot water 30m skyward. It can happen around 20 times a day! So be sure to catch it. 

Travel to the Past 

The Maori people take up 34% of the population, and New Zealand’s All Blacks Rugby team wouldn’t have been champions without Maori players. When in Rotorua, you’ll also be greeted by the very welcoming Maori people. There, you can attend a welcome ceremony of song and dance, and you’ll see them perform the traditional Haka. You’ll also feast on a delicious Hangi banquet and learn about the Maori culture, traditions, and heritage. It will definitely make you appreciate ancient traditions and the past more.  

Soak Up Some Culture 

Visiting Auckland should definitely be on your bucket list if you’re looking to experience some arts and culture. You can visit a myriad of museums and art galleries displaying thousands of historic, modern, and contemporary works of art. Visit a ton of farmer's markets on Saturdays or wine and dine at one of the many multicultural bars or restaurants offering a variety of cuisines. Climb up the Sky Tower for stunning views of the Hauraki Gulf as you feast on delicious delicacies. 

Travel Tips Before You Go 

Since we mentioned some of the iconic places and thrilling experiences you can try yourself in New Zealand, there are a few things you need to take care of before travelling. Below are a few travel tips that will surely come in handy: 

Best Time to Visit

Although you can visit New Zealand all-year-round, it’s better to know that it has quite the unpredictable weather. Summer in New Zealand is from December to February, which means that this time is a high season. The weather will be warmer, the oceans will be a delight, but some rain might fall here and there. Ideally, you can book starting the end of February because this is when the crowd winds down, the schools start, and so does autumn. You’ll find cheaper accommodations, lower flight rates, and good weather. Spring also means lesser crowds as it’s a low travelling season from September to November. Winter is the perfect time for cold-weather sports junkies from June to August.  

General Facts

The currency there is a New Zealand dollar and 1 US dollar is around 1.56 New Zealand dollars. There are many ATMs and you can easily use your credit card. Electricity there is 230 V with a type 1 plug, so be sure to take a universal adapter with you. Tipping outside of hospitality isn’t very common, and you only tip waiters if you received exceptional service. However, don’t even try to haggle prices at markets or whenever you’re buying something. Every city or town has an i-Site which offers you travel information, brochures, maps, or any essential details. 


Generally, New Zealand is a very safe country. Pickpockets and merchant scams exist but are very few. The roads are very safe and always maintained. You won’t face dangerous wildlife either unless it’s the endangered katipo poisonous spider. This doesn’t mean that you don’t take your necessary safety precautions; it’s always wise to take care of your belongings. Mainly, this is a nation where you can truly relax and unwind. 

Airport Information 

The primary airport you can travel to is Auckland Airport (AKL); however, there are other ones too that you could consider depending on if you’re going to the North or South. There’s Wellington (WLG), Christchurch (CHC), Queenstown (ZQN), and Dunedin (DUD). There are also some regional airports when you’re flying between the north and south. Bear in mind, though, that New Zealand’s airports have a very strict biosecurity system and security checks can be quite a hassle. Be sure you check all their guidelines before you travel. 

Transportation and Getting Around 

Generally, their infrastructure is organized really well and getting around will be a breeze. However, some areas are very rural and you would need a car to get around. You can either rent a car yourself or go with the campervan option. Renting a camper van is very popular among tourists because they’re cheaper and are a better option for long road trips. The InterCity busses is another great option and you can get the Flexipass to save on price tickets with a hop-on-hop-off pass. 

Where to Stay 

Accommodation in New Zealand is very diverse and ranges from the luxurious to the most comfortable and budget-friendly. You can find 5-star lodges and hotels or shack up in guesthouses, Airbnb, or bed and breakfast inns. Other people choose camping as well which is another great option if you’re always on the road. 

New Zealand is a destination of extremes. It boasts extreme beauty, extreme sports, extreme adventure, as well as rich culture and stunning landscapes. No matter what kind of traveler you are, you’re bound to find something that will pique your interest. New Zealand is truly a sight for sore eyes, and whether you’re living it up in the north or pumping that adrenalin in the south, you’ll definitely feel that you’ve stumbled upon paradise on earth. Embrace the adventure of a lifetime when visiting New Zealand and be sure you make the most out of your trip.

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