Almost anyone familiar with the geographic diversity of New Zealand already knows it is a place with plenty of things to see and do. It is culturally diverse and home to the Maori people who have shared many kinds of stories and folk tales about the land. The scenery and landscape is the stuff of dreams and is why it was chosen for both The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings film trilogies. It is a place with glaciers and hot springs, caves and plains, coastal areas, and charming towns and cities. If you are planning a visit soon, it is a good idea to lock down on a few of the things you will do. Otherwise, it can be quite overwhelming upon arrival, when you discover there are so many options open to you!
To facilitate the decision-making, we’ve listed three unforgettable activities to do during a visit to New Zealand, with suggestions for places to visit or resources to put to use.
Hiking in New Zealand is nothing like hiking elsewhere because you will have options for beaches, mountains, and many other settings. Experts say that you will want to prepare by investing in good boots, rain protection, and considering a guide for the more complex or longer hikes. Some top trails and locations include:
– Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Tongariro National Park, North Island – Interested in heading to Mordor? This no-mans-land area in the Lord of the Rings films is actually quite beautiful in person and features volcanic rock and amazing views extending 12 miles or farther. It is a good day hike into the Summit Crater, taking an experienced trekker less than two hours. The Emerald Lakes are a must-see part of the experience.
– Abel Tasman Coast Track, Abel Tasman National Park, South Island – This is a beach hike option with around 30 miles of sand to enjoy. Flanked by granite cliffs and swaying palms, it is a spot where you may see seals frolicking in the waters nearby. A two-day trek is a good option and lets you stay overnight in the huts tucked into the landscape by the government’s conservation agency
– Buck Taylor Track Loop, Karekare, North Island – Not far from Auckland, this subtropical trail takes travelers to the Tasman Sea and through beautiful settings and scenery that includes manuka, fern trees, and black sand dunes
– Victoria Trails, Wellington, North Island – Stuck in the city? If so, this remarkable trail lets visitors get a birds-eye view of Wellington and see boats bobbing in and out of the harbor
– Milford Track, Fiordland National Park, South Island – This is a multi-day trek but takes visitors through some of the most recognizable and stunning landscapes, including Lake Te Anau.
There are scores of other options to consider, but these choices give single day and multi-day options that can suit almost any traveler’s goals.
Lake Wanaka is a spectacular lake with pristine waters and amazing mountain scenery. One of the smartest things to do is book a Sunset Cruise through one of the many boat charters available. There are daily cruises that allow travelers to see Ruby Island, Stevensons Island, enjoy nature walks or photo tours, pay a visit to Mou Waho Island, or savor a happy hour experience at sunset. This last option may be the wisest because it enables travelers to see the amazing changes that occur in the sky and scenery as the sun sets over the lake.
Kayaking on the lake is also another popular way to see it at a more appealing pace. Take one of the many guided tours that include a rental on all of the gear and an experienced guide who ensures you see the sights you intended to see and enjoyed the activities that you had hoped to experience. Typically, no experience is required and day trips begin with instruction and then everyone sets sail across the flawless waters of Lake Wanaka.
Stop and Smell the Flowers
If a day spent paddling the enormous expanse of Lake Wanaka is not appealing to you, an unforgettable experience can be found at the Wanaka Lavender Farm nearby. This is a ten-acre lavender farm in sight of the mountains. It is open for visitors to tour and experience and then all are welcome to take tea that includes lavender products and honey ice cream.
Why is this a must-see destination? As one travel expert wrote of her visit, “The view to the right was a riot of purple against a pale blue sky, with dark green trees and summer-dried mountains between. As we got closer to the lavender, the hum of bees began to fill the air… the lavender fields against the backdrop of the mountains surrounding Wanaka are simply stunning.”
It is a family-friendly option, too, as it has an array of farm animals that greet guests and also the shop and tea room to complete the day. The season for blooming is late October through the middle of December, and the surrounding gardens are also worthy of a visit.
So, seeing a lavender farm, hiking unforgettable trails along the sea and in the mountains, and hitting the waters of Lake Wanaka…these are but a few of the things a traveler can do in New Zealand. There is also the endless number of restaurants and cafes awaiting your exploration, and there are organized tours that can help you experience everything you’ve hoped. Lord of the Rings tours are popular, Auckland City tours are always appealing, diving with dolphins in the Bay of Islands is an option, a trip to Waiheke Island may be a good plan, seeing the glow worms in the limestone caves of Waitomo is quite amazing…there is so much to see and do that you’ll need to make plans well ahead of time.
If you are a savvy traveler who has booked a villa or other luxury rental, just ask your concierge about the best things to do in the general area and then enjoy many unforgettable experiences available only in New Zealand.