12 Fun Things to do in New Zealand



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… 

Team photo at the Waitakere Ranges National Park

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.

The view from the Sky Tower restaurant (Image by Ryan Parkin)

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

Shaun, Rowan and me at the Karakere waterfalls

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.

The boat ride through the cave

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?!

Me at the Orakei Korako Geothermal Park

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.

The Tongario National Park (Image by Ryan Parkin)

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 amazing view at sunrise (Image by Ryan Parkin)

The South Island:

Hike the Fox or Franz Josef 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.

Shaun and I hiking the Fox Glacier

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!

Ryan kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park (Image by Avril Sullivan)

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.

The view of Queenstown from the Skyline Gondola


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!

Skydiving near Queenstown

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!

Seal watching in Kaikora

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!


12 fun things to do in New Zealand
Pin it for later!



Posted by

Hi, I'm Zoe. Welcome to Zo Around The World! I have an obsession for travel and exploring new cultures. Myself and my husband Shaun have travelled to over 50 countries in 6 continents around the world, including long term budget backpacking trips around many amazing places in South America, Asia, The Caucasus, Australasia and more. In this blog you can read all about our travels, including detailed itineraries and how we managed to travel so cheaply! Travel is my passion, let me help it become yours too

42 thoughts on “12 Fun Things to do in New Zealand

  1. really interesting and informative Zoe, good text and great pictures.you will need to visit some more places to continue this work


  2. I really need to visit NZ! Looks like my kind of place. I love adventure, nature and hiking.
    I lived 6 months in Perth and really wanted to find the time to pop over to NZ, but unfortunately couldn’t. Now it seems like a long way from Europel, but I’ll go one day for sure..! 🙂


    1. If you like adventure, nature and hiking I definitely recommend going, it’s honestly worth the long flight! Hope you get chance to go one day 🙂


  3. Awesome photos, it looks like you had an amazing time! I’d love to visit New Zealand; there’s so many fun outdoor activities to do there! I’m putting kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park on my list!


  4. Kaikoura is one of my favourite places in the world. It was my very first solo travel experience many years ago and though stuff has really changed I am very pleased to see it still has that same eco-travel mindset. I also loved Rotorua a little smelly but fascinating place.


    1. I love Kaikoura so much too, particularly it’s eco-travel mindset 🙂 I can imagine it was a nice place for your first solo travel experience!


  5. I like the photos. Funny thing about New Zealand is the names some of them sound very African more so Kenyan. Check out a waterfall called Ngare Ndare in Kenya. Looks like Karakere waterfall! Nice post as always.


  6. Looks like I missed a few things out when I was there! I loved the fox glacier hike though and I got to swim with dolphins in kaikoura which was amazing! I’ll just have to go back now to finish the rest of your list! 😀


  7. I’m also a bit of a geography nerd haha so I’m so excited to visit New Zealand next year. Not so much for the adventure sports either but you never know …when in Rome and all that! Great post 😀


  8. Love New Zealand! It is no doubt a traveler’s dream – I bet it’s on anyone’s travel bucket list. The best thing about New Zealand is that you can enjoy a variety of things to do – from extreme adventure to natural sight seeing and exploring the city!


  9. Great post Zo! NZ is definitely an amazing place to explore and I can’t wait to go there and see and so all these amazing things you listed here one day 🙂


Leave a Reply to Zoe Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s