My go to to New Zealand a number of months in the past marked my second time within the nation. A lot had modified within the half decade since I had been there. The nation was extra crowded and costly with the sleepy cities I keep in mind now bursting with vacationers. But, in so some ways, New Zealand was nonetheless the gorgeous pearl I remembered from years in the past. Christchurch was recovering from its earthquakes and now a hip place to be; Wanaka was nonetheless an unbelievable place to go mountaineering; the glaciers have been simply as mind-blowing as ever; the forests nonetheless dwelling to fantastic walks; and Kiwis simply as enjoyable and pleasant as ever.
This second go to allowed me to hit up many new locations – in addition to go to a few of my previous favorites. So, for whenever you go (I say “when” not “if,” as a result of this nation is so unbelievable that’s ought to 100% be in your record and, if it’s not, I’m gonna come discover you and drag you there!), listed here are my favourite locations to go to and issues to do in New Zealand that you just shouldn’t miss:
Discover Abel Tasman Nationwide Park
Getting into Abel Tasman is in some methods like moving into Thailand. The attractive seashores and azure water really feel like they belong within the tropics, not New Zealand. The mountaineering is gorgeous, with large ferns, enormous, lush timber, and a temperate local weather. There are a number of one- to three-day hikes right here. And, should you actually wish to see this park, kayak round. This allows you to discover the tiny coves and seashores that make the realm so particular. The park is greatest as an in a single day or multi-day journey because it’s too removed from Nelson to essentially do it justice in a day journey.
Glacier trekking on Fox and Franz Josef
Mountain climbing these two glaciers lives lives as much as the hype. As a result of the glaciers have receded and are melting rapidly, the glacier caves and walks have been shut down. The one approach to trek on the glaciers now’s by way of heli-hike (a half-day helicopter/mountaineering expertise). They’re costly ($400 NZD, or $290 USD) however the helicopter journey, trekking, and entire expertise are definitely worth the value in my view. Moreover, you’ll be able to simply go on a helicopter tour (they final about twenty or minutes) or simply hike to the glacier face and take photos. It doesn’t matter what choice you select, cross by this space when you make your method down the South Island.
Do an Excessive Sport
New Zealand is the journey capital of the world, the place most individuals blow their funds on a variety of thrilling actions, from bungy leaping to skydiving to white-water rafting. There are one million actions to select from: you’ll be able to skydive mainly wherever; Queenstown is dwelling to Shotover jets (rocket like boats that zip on shallow rivers), ziplines, and bungy jumps; and there’s caving, zorbing, transalpine mountaineering, paragliding, and a lot extra. If it may be finished outdoor, it may be finished in New Zealand.
Hike the Tongariro Crossing
Thought-about the very best day hike in all of New Zealand, the observe takes you to the place they filmed Mordor in The Lord of the Rings. The 19.four km stroll is simple in elements (the start and finish) and steep in others (particularly the portion after “Mount Doom”) so that you’ll get an excellent mixture of problem ranges. Nevertheless, even should you aren’t a robust hiker (and I’m not), the Tongariro Crossing is well accomplished in a day. Trekking by this otherworldly, red-colored surroundings of volcanoes and sulfur was the spotlight of my entire time in New Zealand.
Study Maori tradition
Maoris have been the unique inhabitants of New Zealand and I’ve liked studying about their historical past and tradition (particularly after seeing the film Whale Rider. It’s unbelievable. Watch it!) They’re a pleasant and proud individuals, and there wasn’t one Maori particular person I met who I didn’t love. Rotorua is often the very best metropolis to see Maori cultural reveals, although there are different noteworthy websites across the nation, together with the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Tane Mahuta, and the Te Papa museum in Wellington.
Don’t miss Wellington
Wellington has character. Everybody talks about Auckland (which, opposite to fashionable perception, is just not the capital), however the actual magic takes place in Wellington (which is the capital). The structure and eclectic vibe give this metropolis a cool persona. Town has a popping nightlife, tons of artwork galleries and cafés, an exquisite harbor (that’s greatest seen from Mount Victoria, which overlooks the whole metropolis), and is well walkable. You’ll want to hit a number of the museums just like the Museum of Wellington, Te Papa, and the Nice Battle Exhibition.
Try the glow worms
Positively one of many coolest issues I did whereas in New Zealand, the Waitomo glow worm cave is hyped and touristy however nonetheless superb. You stroll or abseil down into darkness and float down the (very chilly) river whereas staring up at caverns lined in “lights.” It’s like trying on the stars —however (spoiler) they’re really fungus gnats that glow as a consequence of a chemical response as they entice meals. Nonetheless, beautiful although. Completely beautiful and funky. I discovered the three-hour journey lengthy sufficient, however should you wish to abseil, you must think about the five-hour model. This expertise is one in every of my most lasting reminiscences from my journey.
Hand around in Queenstown
Everybody hypes Queenstown. Everybody. However Queenstown is every little thing they are saying it’s—and extra. It has such a feisty and outdoorsy power to it. Although it has turn into vastly fashionable and crammed with individuals, I can not specific my love of Queenstown sufficient. It’s surrounded by lovely peaks, has slim streets and pedestrian lanes crammed with retailers and eating places, a spectacular, crystal like lake, tons of trails and parks, with Queenstown Hill watching over it like a benevolent overlord. This is among the greatest spots within the nation to do an excessive sport (bungy, skydive, shotover jet, and many others), take a wine tour, or simply sit back on a close-by seaside.
Go to Hobbiton
Should you’re a The Lord of the Rings junkie, New Zealand is ideal for you. That is the place they did all of the filming, and all through the nation, you’ll be able to take Lord of the Rings excursions and go to Fangorn Forest, Gondor, and the place Frodo destroys the one ring. A lot of the units have been taken down, however a little bit of the Shire and a number of the hobbit homes nonetheless stay on the North Island.
Positioned within the southwesternmost a part of New Zealand (and likewise dwelling to quite a few Lord of the Rings movie areas), the area is taken into account one of many nation’s most scenic and distant. Stuffed with gigantic mountains, deep lakes, swelling rivers, untamed forests, and resplendent fjords, most of it has by no means been set upon by man. Save a number of locations the place boats and planes can go, the federal government has made the land off-limits, guaranteeing that that would be the case for a very long time to return. This area is dwelling to the majestic Milford and Uncertain Sounds, the Milford and Keppler Tracks, and many tenting and mountaineering alternatives. If you wish to expertise New Zealand’s nature away from the crowds, come right here.
Uncover Stewart Island
Tiny, out-of-the-way Stewart Island lies off the South Island on the very, very backside of New Zealand. It’s a spot the place Kiwis have their summer time houses and go to flee the hustle and bustle of, effectively, I assume Auckland. (There’s not an excessive amount of hustle and bustle in New Zealand.) The city has possibly a dozen buildings; the shoreline dotted with personal houses and boats. Come right here to see dolphins and do some single-day or multiday treks. Should you aren’t into mountaineering, you don’t want greater than a day or two right here, except you really need some peace and quiet, then keep endlessly.
Sit back in Christchurch
Although severely broken by earthquakes in the previous few years, it’s changing into a brand-new metropolis. The previous Christchurch felt actually stale to me however this new one is actually on the up. Whereas there’s nonetheless a number of open house from demolished buildings, you’ll additionally discover a number of new building, a way of hope and vibrancy, funky bars, extra markets, new eating places, retailers, and displays. Locals are actually utilizing this opportunity to make a greater Christchurch. I liked my go to. Should you’ll be there for a number of days, remember to try Canterbury Museum and Quake Metropolis, and remember to journey the gondola, as effectively!
Drink copious quantities of wine
New Zealand is legendary for wine, producing a number of the greatest whites the world has to supply. Should you like wine, remember to take a tour in Otago (identified for its pinot), Hawkes Bay, or Marlborough (identified for sauvignon blancs). There are many biking trails right here, so you’ll be able to drink and bike round (higher than consuming and driving!) should you don’t wish to pay for an costly tour. The Gibbston Valley bike path runs from Queenstown to Cromwell and crosses by quite a lot of vineyards. You’ll want to cease at Moist Jacket, a transformed sheep shed-cum-winery with a cheese room.
Go go to. It awaits!
Picture credit score: eight, 12
For extra data on touring this nation, prices, and issues to do, go to my information to New Zealand journey.