The country of New Zealand lies in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. It consists of two main islands, namely North Island, and South Island. There are a number of smaller islands such as Stewart Island. The two main islands are divided by the Cook Strait which is a 22 km stretch of water. Both the islands are formed of volcanoes and glaciers, with dramatic coastlines and rugged outcrops.
It is no surprise that New Zealand is often thought to be the most picturesque and photogenic countries in the world.
1. Milford Sound
You may have heard of this amazing place as the eighth wonder of the world – that’s the way Rudyard Kipling described it, and it certainly is breath-taking in its beauty. The sound was carved in the ice ages by glaciers, leaving cliffs which rise up out of the water, and mountain peaks with cascading waterfalls as high as 1000 metres.
The best way to see the Sound is to take a boat cruise. These leave many times a day from Queenstown and Te Anau. Some of them offer diving and kayaking as part of the trips.
There is an underwater observatory at Harrison Cove where you can see some of the amazing water creatures.
Some boat trips will take you to the Milford Track where you may enjoy a good hike through amazing terrain.
You should plan to spend a full day in the area, or even longer if you have the time.
2. Aoraki/Mount Cook
This is the highest mountain in the country, listed as 12,218 feet. This is a very popular destination for tourists who enjoy hiking, walking or just admiring the spectacular scenery.
You will notice that there are three summits, which are Low peak, Middle Peak, and High Peak.
There are many places in the vicinity where you can stay in accommodation for a few nights while you explore the area.
Be aware that weather conditions may change, so make sure you are prepared for adverse conditions.
3. Museum of New Zealand
This is the national gallery and is found in Wellington. You may also hear it called ‘Te Papa’.
The museum is divided into two parts, namely the past and the future. The History section include textiles and clothing dating back to the 16th century.
Fossils and archaeology collection number over 250,000 specimens of birds, reptiles, mammals, and amphibians.
Plan to spend a full day here, there is a café where you can get lunch or a snack.
4. Fox Glacier
You will find this glacier on the South Island, and is well known as one of the most accessible glaciers in the world.
You can reach the face by walking from the Fox Glacier Village. About 1000 people climb it daily in the tourist season.
Make sure you pay attention to weather conditions and stay in the designated areas. This may not be suitable for people who are unfit, or for children.
5. Cable Beach
This magnificent beach is 6 km west of Broome, and is a 22 km stretch of beautiful white sands.
The waves are very gentle during the season from May to October. After that, there is an influx of jellyfish, so swimming is not advisable.
Take a camel ride along the beach at sunset and sunrise, and look out for the ‘clothing optional’ area, if this appeals to you.
If you head for the southern part of Cable Beach you will find Gantheaume Point where you may be lucky to see whales and dolphins as they migrate.
6. Waitangi Treaty Grounds
This is significant because it is the place where the Maori Chiefs signed their accord with the British Crown. There is now a museum on the spot, and a magnificent Carved Meeting House. The views of the Bay of Islands is well worth waiting for!
It is a short walk up to the Treaty House through delightful gardens.
Plan to spend a half day here, although you may stay longer if you are an avid photographer as this is a very well photographed spot.
7. Waitomo Glow-worm Caves
The caves are found 12 km northwest of Te Kuiti, on the North Island.
This spot is famous for the population of glow-worms only known to exist here. At the entrance you will be able to take an organised tour which includes a boat ride under the glow-worms.
Note the 16m vertical shaft of limestone which links the chambers.
The third level will take you down to the Cathedral, with the demonstration platform and the jetty. On occasions there are shows held here as the acoustics are superb. If you plan to attend one of them, you must book in advance.
Allow yourself a full day here, you can buy lunch at the visitor’s centre.
8. Bay of Islands
You will find this area about a three-hour drive north of Auckland. It is also possible to fly there, which takes less time, just 35 minutes. The whole area is made up of 144 islands, some of which are scarcely populated, while others are full of small, unique shops.
You will find tour operators running trips Between islands, either by sea or air, and there is also a ferry car link between Opua and Russell.
Once you are on an island, you will be amazed at the terrain, which may range from subtropical rainforest to river and seaside beaches.
Look out for dolphins and penguins, and if you are very lucky, you will see marlin and whales.
Most of the islands have good walking trails, while some of them have campsites where you can stay a few days.
9. Westland Tai Poutini National Park
This is found on the South Island, on the western coast. In the park you will find glaciers and temperate rainforests, as well as scenic lakes.
Look out for the remains of the old gold mining towns along the coast.
If you enjoy wildlife, look out for red deer and chamois. There is a very popular trail which runs from the Karangurua Bridge.
This is a great place to take an RV and spend a few days exploring the area.
10. Shotover River
You will find this in the Otago area of the South Island. The river is fast-flowing with many rapids, so is great for white water rafting trips and jet boating. You will be able to arrange this or hire equipment in Queenstown, which is close-by.
There are three jet boat operators who have the rights to use the river, as well as two rafting companies.
This is a great place to spend a few days, and perfect for taking an RV.
11. Doubtful Sound
This is a natural fjord in the far south west of the country. It is the second most popular tourist destination.
Doubtful Sound is 26 miles long and up to 1,300 feet deep in places. The only way to reach the Sound is to take a boat, and there are many cruises available. You can find tour operators in the town of Manapouri. The trips normally last a full day, although some of them offer overnight options.
Join an all-day day cruise or an overnight 16-hour cruise for an experience on the fiord.
12. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing
This is possibly one of the most popular areas for day hikes in the country. The path will take you over the volcanic terrain of the active volcano Mount Tongariro. If you want to go further, then you can branch off along the eastern side of Mount Ngaurunhoe, and climb the side.
You will notice that the lakes and pools are deeply coloured by the volcanic minerals, and there are some springs which give off near boiling spurts of water.
Make sure you wear appropriate shoes as the area has sharp pieces of volcanic rock in some places.
13. The Great War Exhibition
You will find this in Wellington. It is the most amazing collection of scenes from the war, depicted year-by-year.
Look out for the enormous 10-tonne tank, and the 11-tonne gun. Perhaps most thought provoking are the hundreds of photographs from the war years.
This is a truly amazing collection, which honours the brave people who lived and fought at that time, and it is well worth a visit.
Plan to spend a full day here, it is certainly worth it.
14. Te Mata Peak
This peak is south of Hastings in the Hawke’s Bay area. You will easily spot it as it rises up about 400 metres. There is a road which leads to the summit, as well as different trails for hikers and mountain bikers.
When you get to the summit, be sure to look for Heretaunga Plains, and Hawke’s Bay. On a very clear day you may see as far as Mahia Peninsula.
Allow yourself a full day to get up and down, and be sure to take provisions with you.
15. Christchurch Botanical Gardens
You will find the gardens in the centre of Christchurch. They were founded in 1863 after an English Oak was planted to celebrate the marriage of Prince Albert and Princess Alexandra.
There is an amazing collection of exotic and local plants. Be sure to check out the Curator’s House, and the Herb garden.
If you love roses, then look for the Central Rose Garden with over 250 varieties of roses.
There is a café and a gift shop, so you may want to spend a full day here.
16. The Otago Peninsula
This is an area, rather than a single thing. It is a section of land that forms the eastern part of the town of Dunedin. The peninsula is east of the Harbour. There are several things of interest in the area such as the Otago Peninsula Museum, the Historical Society Museum, Glenfalloch Woodland Gardens, and the Royal Albatross Colony – which is the only mainland colony of Albatrosses in the world.
This is a great place to spend a few days, either in a hotel or in an RV, and explore the area.
17. The Hooker Valley Track
This short walking trail is found within the Mount Cook National park. The walk is only 3.1 miles, going up to 330 feet, but the track is well formed and suits people of most fitness levels.
The walk has great views of Hooker Lake which typically has icebergs in it.
Aim for the lookout at the end of the trail as this is where you will have the best views of Mount Cook.
Look out for Hooker Glacier in the valley below you.
Plan to spend a full day here, and make sure you take enough water and food with you.
18. Fiordland National Park
This park is found in the southwest corner of the South Island, and is one of the largest national parks in the country.
Boat trips and kayaking are very popular here, and you will find several boat operators offering trips.
If you enjoy camping, then perhaps stop here for a few days, as there are several campsites.
The closest town is Te Anau where you can stock up on all provisions.
19. The Toitu Otago Settlers Museum
This museum is in the centre of Dunedin very close to the railway station. The museum covers the old Otago Province and is the country’s most extensive and the oldest museum.
Look out for the research centre and the memorial to Otago’s War Veterans. You will also find 20th century artefacts here, along with a transport hall with historic vehicles, one of them being a trolley bus.
There is a section which houses some of the first computer equipment in the city, including an ICT 1301 mainframe – one of four in the entire world!
Allow yourself a half day here.
20. Abel Tasman National Park
You will find this wilderness reserve at the northern end of the South Island. This is most well-known for the Abel Tasman Coast Track. If you are a hiker, then make sure you see this.
The trail winds over beaches, then goes across ridges between Marahau and Wainui.
Watch out for the colonies of seals and the little blue penguins, as well as the bottlenose dolphins who live in the area.
Plan to spend a full day enjoying the area, and be sure to take a camera.
21. Franz Josef Glacier
You will find this on the west coast of the South Island. It is 12 km long and located in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park.
This glacier is a main tourist attraction with up to 2,800 tourists arriving each day in the season. Both guided and unguided walks are permitted as well as helicopter flights past the somewhat unstable face of the volcano.
Be aware that glacier walks need special equipment such as crampons and ice boots. If you join a tour group they will provide these, but if you go alone, you will need to bring your own equipment.
22. Sky Tower
You will find the telecommunications tower in the centre of Auckland. It stands over 1,000 feet high from ground to the top level, making it the tallest freestanding structure in the southern hemisphere. This also means it is the 23rd tallest building in the world.
Tourists can go to some of the upper levels, where the views are fantastic. Because this gets very busy, prepare to spend at least half a day here, although you may stay longer and explore the area.
23. The Southern Alps
These mountains run along the length of the South Island and the name generally refers to the entire range, so this is an area rather than a single place.
If you enjoy hiking, walking, or rambling then this should be on your list. The mountains are rich in flora of all species, and wildlife such as rock wrens and kea (large parrots) are common here.
Look out for the great spotted kiwi and the South Island Kaka, both of which can be found near the beech forests.
This is a great area to take an RV and spend a few days while you look around.
24. Hamilton Gardens
This park is in the centre of Hamilton on the banks of the Waikato River. You can spend time looking at the enclosed garden, the lake, nursery, and open lawn area.
There is also a convention centre here as well as the Hamilton East Cemetery.
The gardens have 21 different areas representing different features of life such as the art, beliefs, and lifestyles of civilisations over the ages. Look out for the Fantasy collection.
The lake walk is simply delightful, as is the waterfall lookout.
Pack a picnic lunch and spend some time in the amazing gardensfor an afternoon you will remember.
25. Explore Auckland
One of the best ways to discover the city of Auckland is to take a guided tour. There are many of these that leave right from your hotel. This is a great way to learn and see the city.
Most tours will take you around the Harbour and the Bridge, through the historic area, along the beaches, and through the Victorian suburbs. Some offer a shopping trip.
You will be able to stop for lunch along the way, and be brought back to your hotel at the end of the tour.
As there is normally a good amount of walking, it is important that you wear sturdy shoes.
26. Museum of Transport and Technology
This museum is in Auckland Central, and is the largest museum of its kind in the country. It offers an interactive and educational programme, making it a fun day out for both adults and kids.
Make sure you visit the original pumphouse, and ride the tram to the Aviation Display Hall. Here you will find one of the largest collections of aviation history in the southern hemisphere.
There is a café on site where you can get lunch, so plan to spend a full day here, especially if you are taking children!
27. Cape Reinga
This is the north-west tip of the North Island. It is about 100 km north of Kaitaia, which is the nearest town. It is also a very popular place with tourists, attracting 120,000 visitors each year.
Maori belief is that the cape is where spirits of the dead enter the underworld.
Be sure to look at the lighthouse which was built in 1941. Up till 1987 the lighthouse was manned, although after then it was fully automated, and the keepers withdrawn.
Plan to spend most of the day here, as travel will take some time.
28. Mount Aspiring National Park
You will find this in the Southern Alps on the South Island. If you are an avid hiker, then you should see this park.
This is a very popular area for both hikers and trampers, with several trails suited to all levels of fitness.
Look out for the Gillespie Pass Circuit, the Routeburn Track, and the Rees-Dart Circuit. The Matukituki Valley Trail is also very well used.
Plan to spend at least a full day here, although you many want to take an RV and stay longer while you hike the trails.
29. Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
This is in the centre of Omaka and is an excellent collection of aviation history. It is a mix of replicas and originals, some of which are still flyable.
Look out for the personal items of Manfred von Richtofen, who you may know as the Red Baron. Also look for the collection of artefacts belonging to Eddie Rickenbacker.
Most definitely you should see The Knights of the Sky Exhibition as this is an amazing display.
Allow yourself a full day here, there is a shop where you can get snacks and lunches.
30. The Moeraki Boulders
You will find these along the beach between Moeraki and Hampden. They are large, spherical boulders which lie on the beach, either in groups or isolated, and are protected in the reserve.
Legend says they are the ell baskets washed ashore from the wreck Arai-te-uru, which was a large sailing canoe.
Whatever you think, what makes them unusual is the unusually large size and shaping, unlike any others in the area.
It will not take more than an hour or two to see the boulders but the area is great for walking along the beach.
31. Eat on the Tramway, Christchurch
This is a 2 ½ hour dinner tour of Christchurch which starts at Cathedral Junction, where you board the tram. Note the beautiful restoration work which has been carried out.
Tables are for 2 or 4 people with a maximum of 36 guests.
After a welcome drink, you will be served a wonderful 4 course meal as you travel through the city, and see the sights.
This is a wonderful way to see the city at night. Your host will point out significant places along the way.
This is not suitable for children.
32. Larnach Castle
This is locally referred to as a ‘mock’ castle, and you will find it in the city of Dunedin. What makes this a worthwhile visit is the garden. This has been rated as a ‘Garden of Significance’ by the NZ Gardens Trust.
You can either take a guided tour, or walk around the castle by yourself. The castle is open every day of the year and also offers accommodation.
Why not treat yourself to a night at the Castle Stables, the Castle Lodge, or the Camp Estate. Wherever you choose to stay, you will be able to dine inside the Castle.
33. The Lost Spring
These natural hot springs are to be found in Coromandel Peninsula, Whitianga.
There is a day spa here, which offers fine dining as well as a pamper session. Massages are carried out in the room which overlooks the beautiful gardens and is very relaxing.
Plan to spend a full day here and be pampered!
If you are not afraid of heights, and want a great adrenalin rush, then do this! You will find it in Auckland.
Once you arrive, you will be checked in and kitted up with suits and climbing gear. Then off you go – you can walk around the tallest building in the country! You will be attached by safety lines so even if you venture near the edge, you will be safe. You can walk around the 360-degree rim of the skyscraper, with a guide pointing out all the famous landmarks in the city.
There is an option to go for dinner afterwards, and if you choose to do this you will be served a magnificent dinner cooked by Famous Chef Peter Gordon, using the finest NZ products.
This is a wonderful way to see the city – provided you are not scared of heights!
35. Mount Cook National Park
This national park in on the South Island close to the town of Twizel. It is the country’s highest mountain, with Cook Village at the base.
Although most of the area is alpine, it is very easy to access. However, the only road to the park starts at Twizel and goes directly to Mount Cook Village.
If you plan to stay in the village, be aware that there is only one hotel and some motels, as well as accommodation for staff who work in the park. If you plan to camp or take an RV be sure to take enough provisions.
Make sure you check the weather before you plan a trip.
36. The Te Ana-au caves
You will find these on the western shore of Lake Te Anau, which is southwest part of the country. The caves were discovered in 1948 and have since become a major attraction.
Notice that there is only one stalactite. This is because the caves are relatively young, being a mere 12,000 years old!
Access is restricted so you must take a tour to see them. Guided tours are taken by punt through the caverns, and run daily. You must book in advance to see the caves.
37. Lake Taupo
You will find this on the North Island. It is the second largest freshwater lake in the country.
If you enjoy fishing, then you should be sure to check this out. It is well-known for trout fishing, with brown and rainbow trout being introduced frequently.
Allow yourself a day or two to relax and fish to your heart’s content in the beautiful surroundings.
38. Explore Dart River
The best way to see and explore the river is to take either the canoe tour or the jet boat tour. Both tours leave from Queenstown. The ‘funyak’ is an inflatable canoe.
The tours generally last a full day and no previous experience is needed. There is a safety briefing before you receive your equipment – wetsuit, booties, fleece, lifejacket, and dry bag.
You will be provided with a buffet lunch before going on to see further parts.
Look out for the lush forests and towering peaks which were featured in The Lord of the Rings.
Most tours will take you back to your hotel at the end.
39. Christchurch Air Force Museum
Here you will be able to learn about the men and women who played important parts in the military aviation journey of the country.
There is a free guided tour which will take you behind the scenes. Be sure to look for the historic aircraft on display. If you have kids, make sure they take part in the museum hunt.
For the ‘big boys’ there is Mosquito Mission Flight Simulator – which is also free, making this a great day out for the family.
40. The Original Kawarau Bridge Bungy Jump
This is where bungy jumping all began! If you are an adrenalin junkie then you will want to visit here. You will receive a safety briefing at the visitor’s centre before making your jump.
You will be suited up in a special harness, and be supported by staff who have your safety in mind at all times.
The drop is 141 feet and lasts for 5 seconds, you can jump off forwards, backwards, topple off or do a somersault. Whatever you want!
After you have made your bungy jump you will receive a free t-shirt, with pictures to purchase if you want to.
41. Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
You will find the museum on the Omaka Air Field, just 3 miles from Blenheim. If you enjoy looking at aviation memorabilia, then be sure to have this on your list to do.
There is a great mix of flying planes and static displays.
If you happen to be there at Easter, then make sure you head for the Warbirds over Wanaka Show, which focuses on Classic Fighters.
Allow yourself a full day here, there is a café where you can get snacks or lunch.
42. Lake Wanaka
You will find this lake in the Otago region of the country. It is at an altitude of 300 metres, and is the 4th largest lake in the country.
The town of Wanaka is on the lake, and there is a very popular resort there, which is well used for fishing, swimming, and boating.
There are fast flowing rivers in the vicinity where you will find jetboating and skiing. You can rent equipment for days or longer.
A point of interest here is that author and cook Annabel Langbein lives on a small estate at the side of the lake, and this is where the series ‘The Free-Range Cook’ and Simple Pleasures’ were filmed.
43. Wilderness Gallery
This gallery is in Hokitika, on the west coast. You will find it full of the work done by Juergen Schacke, which is wildlife and landscape photography.
Additionally, you will be able to see work done by NZ artists, there is a huge collection of woodware, pottery, and sculptures, all of which are 100% made in NZ.
Look out for work by Chris Weaver (pottery), Jay Lloyd (bronze artists), and Aden Hogland (jade carvings), to name a few.
Allow yourself a half day here, although this may take longer if there are visiting exhibitions.
44. Ninety Mile Beach
This beach is on the west coast of the North Island. The beach is in fact 55 miles long. Years ago many ships were wrecked along this coast.
Bodyboarding is very popular along the dunes, so pay attention if you are walking near them.
This is a great place to take the kids to spend a day playing on the white sands. Perhaps take a picnic and enjoy the outdoors.
A notable point here is that in 2013 the television show ‘Top Gear’ was partly filmed here when Jeremy Clarkson drove the length of the beach in a Toyota Corolla.
45. The Southern Scenic Route
This is a highway which links Queenstown to Dunedin, and goes through many other towns along the way.
The route runs in a ‘u’ shape and passes many mountains and fjords along the way. You will also go through the Otago Coast Forest and along the coast at Taieri Mouth.
You will see terrain of all types such as rugged mountains, waterfalls, beaches, and forests.
This is the perfect opportunity to take an RV and follow the route, stopping along the way at the many interesting towns and villages.
46. The Huka Falls
You will find the falls on the Waikato River at Lake Taupo. There are some smaller falls at the top, with the final falls being over a 6-metre drop.
The falls are very popular with tourists, as the area is stunningly beautiful.
Pack a picnic lunch and head out for an afternoon of exploring the falls and the lake.
47. Take an ATV Quad Bike Tour
These tours leave from Franz Josef, and are different from regular tours, so if you fancy a change from normal sightseeing, then you may want to try this.
You will be kitted out in regulation gear and receive a short brief, before heading for your quad bike.
The tour will take you through dense forest, grassland, and riverbeds. You will be able to stop along the way to take any pictures you like.
The tours operate in any weather so even if it is raining, you can carry on.
This is a great way to see the Franz Josef Glacier although this is not suitable for children.
48. Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
This is one of the country’s most amazing places. It is a natural volcanic area, which has been literally thousands of years in the making.
Take your time walking around, try the unique Champagne Pool, and look at the Sinter Terrace Formations.
Not to be missed are the Bubbling Mud and the steaming ground. Be sure you are there for when the Lady Knox Geyser erupts daily at 10.15am.
There is an excellent visitors’ centre where you can buy snacks or lunch, and spend the day in this interesting place.
49. Queenstown Winery Tour
This half day tour is available in Queenstown, and it is a great idea to take advantage of it. You will get to see three different wineries, as well as take a tour of an underground wine cave.
The tours normally start in the afternoon, and for an extra fee you can visit a craft beer tasting centre.
Each vineyard will select some wines to sample along with snacks, so you will not go hungry!
The guides are normally very knowledgeable about the wines you taste, having a passion for wine themselves, so you will be well cared for.
These tours are not suitable for children.
50. The TranzAlpine
This passenger train runs from the South Island, and is regarded as one of the world’s great train journeys. This is due to the beautiful scenery you will see along the way.
The journey lasts about 5 hours as it covers 223 km, and it is one-way. You will go through 16 tunnels and over 4 viaducts. Look out for the Staircase Viaduct which is 75 metres high.
You will need to book in advance for this as it gets very popular.
51. Tamaki Maori Village
You will find this village in Rotorua. If you want to learn about the culture of the country, then this is a great place to start.
The evening comprises of a ceremonial ritual, a performance, and a storytelling session. You will share the ancient ceremony Powhiri before you enter the village.
Here you will be able to see the ancient crafts of haka, poi, tattooing, carving, and warrior training.
You will see how the ancient ovens are made and watch as the pits are opened to reveal your delicious supper!
This is truly an evening that you will enjoy!
52. Rangitoto Island
This volcanic island is in the Hauraki Gulf close to Auckland. This is a popular destination for walkers and hikers.
The widely visible landmark is easily seen as it rises 850 feet over the gulf.
There are regular ferries which will take you to the island. These leave from Auckland.
It will take you about an hour to reach the summit if you go by the most direct route which is 1.5 miles in distance.
Be aware that the terrain is very sharp in places so wear sturdy shoes, and also make sure you take enough water and food as there is nothing on the island itself.
53. The Coastal Walkway
If you enjoy walking, then you may want to do this walk. It is 12.7 km long and is found on the coast of New Plymouth.
You will find the route going over several bridges, one of them being the well-known Te Rewa Rewa Bridge.
Originally the walkway was constructed to encourage people to make use of other means of transport than motor cars, although now it is a very popular route for walking enthusiasts.
Allow yourself most of the day for this.
You may want to stop along the way and enjoy the scenery.
54. Skydive Queenstown
No trip to New Zealand would be complete without at least one high adrenalin adventure! You will find this about 20 minutes from Queenstown, right at the base of the Remarkables Mountain Range. There simply is no better place for you to do this!
After a short safety briefing, you will be kitted up and head out to the plane with your instructor.
You will receive a certificate after you have made your jump, and you will be able to order the pictures and video to show your friends and family.
55. Whakarewarewa Forest
Here you will be able to see the most amazing Redwood trees in the country! This is found at Rotorua, and is thought to be one of the most spectacular natural areas in the country.
The trees are in fact California Coastal redwoods, which tower up into the sky.
This is a wonderful area for cycling or walking and there are many trails that you can follow.
Even better – the entrance to the forest is free, as is entrance to the gift shop and visitors’ centre.
This is a great place to take an RV for a few days, and enjoy the forest area.
56. World of WearableArt & Classic Cars Museum
You will find this interesting place in Nelson. It is an iconic attraction which has proven to be very popular. The collection of wearable art is the biggest private collection, and the Classic car display is also one of the largest in the country.
You may want to plan on spending the full day here, as there is a really good café which serves healthy, tasty treats, and a retail store where you can stock up on gifts for friends and family.
57. Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve
This reserve is on the Coromandel Peninsula and covers over 2,100 acres. There is an excellent walking track which starts at the north end of Hahei Beach.
Both boating and kayaking are very popular here. Be sure to look out for the Sphinx Rock and Te Holo Rock in Cathedral Cove, both of which are natural rock stacks.
If you enjoy snorkelling, then head to Stingray Bay or Gemstone Bay.
58. Te Paki Sand Dunes
The saying here is ‘Seriously steep, seriously fun’. You will need a sandboard for this. The dunes are seriously steep and high!
You can rent your equipment at the dunes although it is a good idea to book this in advance as the area gets very busy in the season. Make sure you bring your ID with you as you will need to show that you are over 18 years of age.
This is not for the fainthearted, but it is certainly a great adrenalin rush!
59. Auckland Zoo
This zoo, in Auckland is home to over 850 animals, which makes it the largest collection in the country.
The zoo is within easy reach of the city centre, and houses lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras and well as the renowned Kiwi.
There are daily shows for the kids, and animal encounters which will delight them. The zoo is arranged by continent, so you know what animal comes from which country.
You may want to buy your tickets in advance, as the zoo is very popular, and this way you will avoid the queues, particularly in the school holidays.
60. Cardrona High Country Pub
Taking a tour like this is a great way to get to this remote country pub. After you have been paired with a horse to suit you, you will receive a short lesson on how to get on and off, and make your horse walk. After that you will head out up the mountain, passing working sheep and cattle, and a deer farm.
You will even have to navigate your horse across a river, in order to reach the pub. Finally, you will see the pub and arrive there to be welcomes with a much-needed glass of beer, wine or soft drink.
You get to have a look around the most remote pub in the area and then head back on your horse.
Allow yourself a full day for this, and enjoy the beautiful scenery along the way.
61. Auckland Museum
Many of the exhibits here are rare and unusual, although they are all well-preserved. The museum showcases the trials and tribulations of the Maori people in the Pacific Island area.
Your ticket entitles you to a guided tour, although you can also walk around on your own. Occasionally the complex holds live performance shows, which are well worth attending.
Plan to spend at least a half day here, although longer if you want to see a show. Make sure you book in advance for any show.
62. Tane Mahuta
You will find this giant in Waipoua Forest, it is the oldest living tree in the country, and certainly has the size to match!
The youngest estimate of the tree puts it at 1200 years old, although scientists believe that it is far older at around 2,500 years!
To give you an idea of the tree dimensions, the girth is 13.77 metres, the trunk height is 17.68 metres, and the total height is a staggering 51.5 metres! Well worth taking your camera with you for this!
63. The Marlborough Sounds
You will find this at the south end of the South Island. They are very popular for sailing, but care must be taken as the currents are fierce, and the waters can be very rough.
There are many boat tour operators which will take you out into the Sounds, and up the narrow channels.
A notable shipwreck in the Sound is the MS Mikhail Lermontov, which sank in 1986 after crashing into the rocks, and killing – amazingly – only one crew member. The ship is a very popular dive site.
64. Food and Wine tasting on Waiheke Island
This is a great way to taste the local cuisine and no better way than to head out to this island and do it!
You can start one of the tours in Auckland, which will start with a ferry ride to the island. You will have a guided tour of Batch Vineyard for a tasting, and another tour around a second vineyard, namely Casita Miro to taste the olive oil.
Lunch will be served at one of the stops, and you will be able to explore the island leisurely in the afternoon, when you will take the ferry back to the mainland.
Allow a full day to sample these great wines and perhaps buy a bottle or two
This is not be suitable for children.
65. The New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute
You will find this in Rotorua. It is an arts and crafts school which was opened in 1967 to preserve the traditions of the Maori culture.
Try to see the carving school which has the crafts of the Master Carver Tohunga Whakairo.
There is also an excellent exhibition of weaving. Both crafts are significant to the Maori traditions, and the school is well worth visiting.
Allow yourself a half day to see the school.
66. Cave Tubing at Waitomo Caves
You will need to register at the tour office first, where you will be fitted out with gear such as helmet, bootees, and wetsuit.
There is a shuttle which will take you to the caves, and after a short safety briefing, you will be able to head down into the caves.
You will find it fascinating to glide down the underground river and see the glow-worms on the walls. You may even like to have a go at the waterslide.
Allow about 2 hours for this experience, and remember that it is suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels.
67. Waiheke Island Exploration and Zipline Day Out
You will find this in tour starts in Auckland, where you will need to catch the ferry and cross to the island. Once you reach the island you will need to make your way to the visitor’s centre.
To do the zipline, you must first be briefed by a safety instructor, who will attach your harness to the cable.
There are three 200-meter ziplines, with the first one being a gentle one above a vineyard, valley, and forest. After that you will progress to a higher gradient.
Be aware that you will have to walk the 1.6 km back to the visitor centre, where you can catch the ferry back to the mainland.
68. Visit Whakarewarewa
This living Maori village is found in Rotorua, and the best way to visit it is to take the tour. You will first be able to watch a traditional performance of song and dance, followed by local stories and a craft display.
As you walk through the geysers, you will no doubt smell the wonderful meal which has been prepared for you.
Make sure you look around the communal garden, the ancestral meeting house, and the artisan workshops.
The meal in included in the tour price and you will not go hungry, with a selection of chicken, beef, potato, sweet potato, bread stuffing and many other delicacies. After the meal you are free to explore the village.
69. Visit the Hobbiton Movie Set
You will find this interesting place about 10 km south of Matamata. It is where ‘The Lord of the Rings’, and ‘The Hobbit’ were filmed.
Guided tours will show you around the movie site, where you can spot things such as the Party tree, Bagshot Row, and some 44 hobbit holes.
You can buy snacks and drinks at the ‘Shires Rest Café’ and visit the gift shop where you will find plenty of souvenirs.
Make sure you book in advance to avoid disappointment.
70. Otago Central Rail Trail
If you enjoy walking, cycling, or horse riding, then you may want to do this. It is a 150-km trail on the South Island.
This is a very popular tourist attraction, with many small towns springing up along the way to cater for tourists.
Be aware that once you are out of the towns, there is little or no water along the way, so be sure to take enough provisions.
If you plan to stay overnight along the way, you must book in advance as it gets very busy in the season.
71. Waiheke Island Wine Tasting Tour
This area produces some of New Zealand’s most celebrated wines. There are many vineyards, beaches, and lavender fields here, as well as family run farms and forests.
You need to take the Auckland ferry across to the island. This takes about 40 minutes.
You will first stop at Mudbrick Vineyard for a wine tasting, and then head for Cable Bay for a tasting and some snacks. The third place you will visit is Te Whau Vineyard.
If you want to explore the island on your own, you can do this afterwards, and catch the later ferry back to Auckland.
This is not suitable for children.
This area covers 18 square kilometres and is just north of Reporoa, in the volcanic zone of the country.
There are many hot springs and boiling mud pools which you can carefully walk through. There is a visitors’ centre and a gift shop here, where you can learn more about the Maori traditions and culture.
Allow yourself a half day to look around the area.
73. Coronet Peak Tandem Hang Gliding
You can reach this from Queenstown, although when you book your flight, you will be taken up to the ski field. You will be introduced to your instructor, who will give you a short brief and kit you up.
You will fly at a height of about 700 metres and travel about 4 km.
You will be picked up by the courtesy van and taken back to the site, where you will be able to buy some lunch and drinks after your experience.
74. Olveston Historic Home
This historic house is to be found in Dunedin. It was built between 1904 and 1907. The owner of the house made his money by importing pianos and then selling them in New Zealand.
The family collected ceramics, art, and furniture which have been lovingly preserved.
The gardens are well worth looking at, and so you may want to allow yourself a full day to see the house and the gardens.
75. Milford Sound
The best way to see this Sound is to take either a flight, jet boat or a cruise, all of which you will find on offer in Queenstown.
The flights last 40 minutes, while the cruises will last about 2 hours. Look out for penguins, dolphins, fur seals and many other forms of wildlife.
Be aware that flights are dependent on the weather, so you must check on the day to make sure it is still going ahead.
There are also overnight cruises for an unforgettable experience.
76. Try some New Zealand lamb
It is no secret that New Zealand lamb is tender and succulent, but you really should try some yourself. The lamb is normally roasted with garlic and rosemary.
Look out for lamb burgers, lamb steaks, and rack of lamb. Even McDonalds offers a lamb burger on the menu!
So, spend a morning walking along the beach and then stop for lunch and taste lamb!
77. Banks Peninsula
You will find this area on the east side of the South Island. It is of volcanic origin and covers about 440 square miles. There are two harbours and many smaller coves and interesting bays.
The city of Christchurch is immediately north, so you can base yourself there and explore the area.
Try to visit the Hinewai reserve, which is private and has native forests areas which are being regenerated.
There is a marine Mammal Sanctuary close by where you can see some of the smallest of the dolphin species.
This is also a great area for walkers as there are many trails and parks. Allow yourself a full day here. Better still, bring an RV and stay a few days.
78. See Rotorua
A good way to see this area is to take a shore excursion, which will start in the port and head to Roturua, along a walking track originally used by Maoris.
Make sure you have a camera with you as the scenery is superb. You will stop to look at Mount Tarawera, which erupted, causing the Buried Village.
In Rororua you will be able to have lunch at one of the many small cafes, and then you will head to the Government Gardens to watch some local activities. You’ll even learn about the origin of kiwi fruit and how it got that name!
79. Whale watch by helicopter
One of the best ways to whale watch is to take a helicopter tour. This is the best way to spot them and then to follow them.
Tours leave from Kaikoura Whale Sanctuary, which is near the Peninsula. You will receive a brief safety lecture before heading out.
Taking a helicopter gives you the maximum time looking at the whales, and is the least disruptive to the whales.
After you have seen the whales, you will fly along the magnificent coastline where you may see dolphins and fur seals.
Allow yourself a full day for this as there is plenty to do in the area after the tour.
80. Pukekura Park
You will find this delightful park near New Plymouth. If you are interested in fauna of the country, as well as exotic plants, then you should visit here.
There are several easy walking trails, some of which will take you around the lake and past the waterfall.
You can hire boats to row out on the lake for a few hours, making this a great place for a picnic and a pleasant day for a family. Perhaps check out the Tea House, which is on the lake.
You may have heard of this before, as it is also known as guavasteen, which is a cross between a pineapple and a guava.
This egg-shaped fruit is native to New Zealand, and has a juicy flesh part, with aromatic flavours. Often, they are eaten raw, simply cut across and eaten, but you can also see them added to a stew or casserole.
A very popular way is to add them to smoothies, and this is one of the best ways to try the fruit. So, head for one of the many cafes, where you are staying and try one of these delicious drinks!
82. Skyline Gondola and Luge, Queenstown
For those who seek adventure, then this is a great way to see Queenstown. The Skyline Gondola is followed by a luge ride. You will have the opportunity to see the rugged scenery in the area.
You will need to make for the Skyline Base, which is about a ten-minute walk from Queenstown. The gondola will take you up to the summit which is at 450 metres. This is thought to be the steepest cable car ride in the southern hemisphere.
At the top, you can choose from either the scenic track or the advanced track. Both rides will give you an enormous thrill!
Make sure you book in advance as these are very popular.
Once the ride is over, the gondola will take you back down. Allow yourself a full day for this, and be sure to book in advance.
83. Walter Peak High Country
To get to the farm you need to join a cruise which leaves from Queenstown. This is a vintage steamship, SS Earnslaw. This is a working farm, so you will be able to watch the sheepdogs in action, and see sheep shearing demonstrations.
The kids will enjoy looking at all the other animals, they have deer, goats, and cattle on the farm.
Watch the ancient art of wool spinning, and enjoy a hearty traditional morning or afternoon tea.
You are sure to enjoy the trip there as well as the farm because on the cruise you will be entertained by a pianist singing many favourite songs.
Allow a full day for this, as there is plenty to see and do.
84. Auckland Seaplane Tour
This is a great way to see Auckland and the magnificent Hauraki gulf.
The trip starts in Auckland and lasts about 40 minutes. Very exciting -so be prepared for this – is that you will take off from the water.
You will fly over the freshwater crater at Lake Pupuke, and be able to look down into the youngest volcano at Rangitoto Island.
The pilot will point out many fascinating things as you fly over the city before finally coming back into land.
85. Taste Hangi
This is a unique method of cooking which is often used by the Maori people. They say there is nothing quite so delicious, so it bears tasting. You will find many restaurants who advertise this, so do stop and try.
Basically, the food is wrapped in leaves, placed in baskets, and then laid on top of hot stones in a deep hole.
The whole process takes several hours to cook, but I think you will agree that it is well worth the wait!
86. Take the Routeburn Track
If bush tramping appeals to you, then be sure to have this on your list to do. This track is found on the South Island, and normally starts at Queensland, finishing at Te Anau.
There are four huts along the way, if you need to stop, and an emergency shelter at Harris Saddle.
You will pass two national parks, as well as the highest point, which is at Harris Saddle.
You are permitted to camp along the way, but you must book this in advance especially in the peak season.
There are also several trails for day hikers, and these are very popular in the season.
87. Wellington Museum
You will find this in the city of Wellington. It was built in 1892, and is set over four floors. The exhibitions tell the story of the city and the surrounding area.
The Attic is a ‘must’ to visit as you will learn some decidedly quirky tales from the past here. Be prepared to encounter lions, steam engines, UFO sightings, and many other interesting things.
This will take most of the day to see all the floors.
88. Do the Hot Air Balloon Festival
There is a very popular tour which will pick you up and take you to the balloon site, this leaves from Auckland city, or the airport.
When you buy your ticket, you will see that included is a visit to the Hobbiton Movie Set, Waitomo Glow-worm Caves, and Te Puia Thermal Valley, making this excellent value for money.
If possible, try to be there about Match 25th as that is the annual hot air balloon festival.
If you plan to stay in the area at this time of year, then you must book accommodation in advance.
This is one eventwhich is free to go and see.
This is a great place to explore, and is often overlooked in favour of bigger cities. However, the hiking is magnificent – look out for the beautiful Mt Fyffe.
Head out to the sea to swim with the dolphins! This is very popular, and you will see them in their natural habitat.
Visit the town and taste some local cuisine, and enjoy walking along the beaches.
This is a great place to take an RV and spend a few days.
90. Tongariro National Park
This park is based very near to Mount Ruapehu, which is about halfway between Auckland and Wellington.
There is some excellent hiking here, as well as bird watching. The view is unique as it is here that you will be able to see all three magnificent mountains together. Look for Mount Tingariro, Mount Ngauruhoe, and Mount Ruapehu.
A point of interest here is that Mt Ngauruhoe was filmed in the Lord of the Rigs and called Mount Doom.
91. Speight’s Brewery
No trip to New Zealand will be complete without a trip to a brewery! You will find this brewery in Dunedin. It is famous for producing and then branding a ‘real man’s beer’.
You will also notice that there are many Speight’s Ale Houses across the country where you can sample their beers.
Tours of the brewery are available through the week, although you should book in advance for them.
This is not suitable for children.
92. Lord of the Rings Location Tour
You can do this in Wellington. Most of the tours will collect you at your hotel, and take you to the set. Along the way you will be told many interesting things about the making of the movie.
The tour will take you to Weta Studios where you will see the ‘Window into the Workshop’ exhibition.
Take your time looking around the cave museum, and the gift shop. Stop for lunch at the ‘Scorch-O-Rama café, and in the afternoon, visit the Hutt Valley and the Gardens of Isengard where the orcs and the trees were filmed.
Your tour will finish with a visit to Helm’s Deep, before you are dropped off back at your hotel.
This is great for anyone who is a Lord of the Rings fan.
93. Hot Water Beach
This is to be found about 12 km east of Whitianga. The name describes it all as it truly is an underground hot spring.
The water filters up through the sand between the tides. You will find this is a very popular tourist attraction.
Try to be there within two hours either side of low tide for the best effects, when you can dig into the sand to allow the warm water to escape. Be careful aa the temperature can reach as hot as 64 degrees.
94. Valley and Glacier Helicopter Trip
This is the best way to see this area. You should make your way to Aoraki, to the Mount Cook Airport where you can book and join a tour.
After a short safety briefing, you will head out in the A355 Twin Engine Helicopter. You have your own head-set, so you can hear and talk to the pilot.
You will fly over the southern Alps and Mount Cook, before heading to Hochsetter Icefall, and the Tasman Glacier.
The trip will last about 35 minutes, and is dependent on the weather, so be sure to confirm beforehand.
95. Hokitika Gorge Walk
You will find this wonderful walk in the Hokitika Gorge Reserve, which is on the west coast.
The views here are truly stunning, and the trails are well marked. Several of them are suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
There is a large parking area which gets crowded, so it is better to head for the overflow park on the weekends.
This is a great place to head out in an RV, stay a few days, and enjoy the area.
96. Explore Queenstown
This is sometimes known as the adventure capital of the country. In fact, it is one of those places that is so beautiful, you cannot believe that it is real.
Queenstown is a resort town, and it is filled with bars, restaurants, cafes, and accommodation.
Many backpackers make this their base for longer hikes, while the night life is amazing.
It is here that you will find all sorts of adrenalin adventures can be booked. You can ski in the winter months, and lie on the beach in the summer.
If you plan to stay a few days then be sure to check accommodation in advance.
97. Try Marmite
Australia has Vegemite, New Zealand has Marmite. Both are made from yeast extract mixed with herbs and spices, but every New Zealander knows that Marmite is the best!
Traditionally eaten with bread or crackers, it is also perfect dissolves in a cup of hot water in the winter months. Why not treat yourself to a jar and see if you like it?
An interesting point here is that in 2012, there was an earthquake which hit the city of Christchurch and damaged the country’s only Marmite factory. There was a nationwide panic when a shortage of the black stuff was declared!
This incredibly interesting and unusual area is found in Matakana, Auckland. You will find hundreds of works on display which either amuse you or inspire you. The Gardens and Galleries are filled with exotic birds and art collections which make for an interesting pre-lunch wander.
Once you have seen all you want to see, head for a lunch at one of the restaurants in the vicinity. If possible try the South Island Venison, which will be cooked to perfection, however you like it. Equally, the line caught snapper is truly delicious!
Allow yourself a day to explore this interesting area.
99. Paradise Valley Springs Wildlife Park
You will find this just 10 minutes from Rotorua. You can buy an all-day ticket, which the kids will love!
You will be able to get very close to some animals and be able to feed them. Get a close-up of the African Lions, and look out for the colourful birds, especially the alpine parrots.
There is a cafe where you can buy lunch or snacks, so you can spend the full day here!
100. Kelly Tarlton’s Aquarium
You will find this in Auckland. It is a huge aquarium with over 30 exhibits in nine themed areas. There are over 80 species including the world’s largest stingray.
Kids can touch and hold the crabs and starfish in the ‘hands-on’ pool.
The arctic section will show you just how cold it is where the penguins live! Watch the sharks overhead in the Shark Tunnel, and – if you are brave enough – sign up for a shark diving experience! You will be in a cage, although you will still come face-to-face with one or two of these monsters!
Allow a full day here, you can buy lunch or snacks through the day.
New Zealand truly is a country of extremes. One day you may be sitting on the beach, while the next you could be skiing! Whatever you enjoy doing on your holiday, this magnificent country will make sure you are never bored!
Jill Miller is the founder of Your RV Lifestyle. Trading corporate America for the open road, Jill, along with her partner Jose, began their RV journey, making an unconventional start by wintering in New Jersey. A natural adventurer, she was motivated by a desire to explore the USA and beyond, embracing the varied landscapes, communities, and cultures across the country.
For Jill, the allure of RV living was not about material accumulation, but rather the pursuit of an adventurous, fulfilling lifestyle. A lover of golf, bicycling, hiking, and line dancing, she has carried her passions across the country, engaging with them in diverse settings. Jill’s commitment to the RV lifestyle came after years of careful research, numerous consultations with RV owners, and personal trials, including living in a rental RV.