When I think about New Zealand it brings up memories of snow capped mountains and breathtaking scenery, waterfalls surrounded by lush green forests, picture perfect beaches and simply driving for hours experiencing the feeling of complete isolation.
Mine and Shaun’s time in New Zealand was a month long road trip, across both islands with a group of friends: Rowan, Ryan and Avril. We managed to squeeze a lot in to that month, here’s a list of my favourite memories and the 12 fun things I recommend not to miss in New Zealand…
The North Island:
Have dinner at the Auckland Orbit Sky Tower Restaurant
This was the perfect ending to our time in Auckland, the food was delicious and you get to experience a rotating view of the city… So a continuous stream of perfect views! Book a table for just before sunset, so you can see the city views in both daylight and at night, as well as experience an amazing sunset. By eating dinner in the restaurant, you also receive complimentary admission to the Sky Tower.
Visit the Waitakere Ranges
Just a short drive from Auckland, the Waitakere Ranges Regional park offers more great views and the chance for a nice walk to explore the native rain forest and scenic coastline. Two really good spots to check out are the Karekare waterfalls located in the middle of a lush forest and also the nearby Karekare beach.
Top Tip: If you’re wanting to check out another beach in the area too, the Piha Beach is only a short drive from here
See the glow worms shine in the Waitomo caves
This was an amazing experience, we were sat on a rubber boat that went deep into a huge cave that was filled with bright glow worms. Just bring a pretty decent camera if you want to get some good photos of the glow worms! For further info on this experience, you can check out their website.
Visit the Orakei Korako Geothermal Park
If you’re interested in geothermal activity (like the Geography nerd that I am) then it’s safe to say that you will find the Taupo Volcanic Zone (located between Taupo and Rotorua) a really fascinating place.There are a few different geothermal parks in the area to choose from, my favourite was the Orakei Korako Geothermal Park which has many active geysers (up to 23 in fact) as well as hot springs and bubbling mud pools. This park actually states that it ‘boasts the most active geysers of any geothermal park in New Zealand’ – Pretty cool?!
Go surfing in Raglan
Raglan is a popular place for surfing of all levels and has many options for those seeking surf lessons. So if you want to give it a try, we thought that Raglan was a perfect place to give it a go, despite us both being pretty terrible surfers!
Top Tip: If you’re looking for somewhere to sleep in Raglan, I seriously recommend to stay on the mountainside of Mt Karioi at the ‘Solscape Eco Retreat‘ to really unwind and reconnect with yourself and the nature around you (yes, I dragged Shaun into this). There are many accommodation types to suit all budgets, from recycled railway cabooses as dorm rooms, to Tipi tents set in the native forest. We stayed in our own Tipi tent, it was amazing apart from the amount of mosquitoes, but that’s all just part of the experience! Embracing all nature and wildlife you know. There are also outdoor showering and cooking facilities and it was only a short walk from the popular ‘Manu Bay’.
Go hiking in the Tongariro National Park
For those seeking mountains, trekking and views of snow capped mountains this place is a must. I thought this national park was one of the most amazing places in New Zealand, but you do need to make sure the weather is right before you embark on one of the bigger treks. The most famous is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing which tracks over the volcanic massif of Mt Tongariro.
Take the overnight ferry to the south island
Although it wasn’t the most comfortable night sleep, crawling out from your seat onto the ferry deck at sunrise makes it all worth it for the view
The South Island:
Hike the Fox glacier
I’ve always found glaciers fascinating and being able to walk up one was pretty cool to say the least. You can choose between hiking the Fox or Franz Josef glacier, to experience walking on the ice of either of these, you have to be on a guided tour.
Go kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park
We spent one full day kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park. This was one of my favourite days in New Zealand and the area was stunning, particularly kayaking over to isolated islands. However, be prepared that a full day kayaking against the current of the ocean is pretty physically demanding!
Visit Queenstown and ride the Skyline Gondola for incredible views
Queestown is sat in the most picturesque way on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and to me, the best thing about Queenstown is the scenery and dramatic landscape surrounding it. Although the town itself is quite cool, make sure you do check out the surrounding scenery or you’ll be missing out. One way to do this is to take a gondola/ cable car up the mountain side for some seriously incredible views once you’re up there.
Get your adrenaline pumping in some adventure sports
Queenstown is known as the ‘adventure capital of the world’ so this is a good spot to base yourself for adventure sports and activities such as white water rafting and sky diving. White water rafting was especially fun but I must admit that skydiving wasn’t for me, so call me a wimp but I sat out and watched!
Visit the seaside town of Kaikoura
I’ve always had a fascination with the ocean and I love marine life, so I really liked the cute coastal town of Kaikoura. Located on the east coast of the South Island, it’s a nice place to spend a few days learning more about sustainable marine life, go whale watching, eat fish and chips oh and see lots of seals!
So those are my 12 favourite memories from New Zealand! Have you been to New Zealand? What are your favourite things to do there? Please let me know in the comments below!