New Zealand is the ultimate bucket list destination. With its breathtaking landscapes and countless adrenaline-pumping activities, this country is a haven for adventurers. Whether you want to visit the mystical land of Hobbiton, marvel at glowworms or skydive over the Southern Alps, you’ll find adventures for all tastes, ages, and budgets in NZ. To help you make the most of your travels, I have put together this ultimate New Zealand adventure bucket list that will ensure you have an epic time in Kiwiland.
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Hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Tongariro Alpine crossing is one of the most incredible day hikes in New Zealand. With its stunning volcanoes and emerald green lakes, this fabulous walk is guaranteed to make you fall in love with New Zealand’s incredible landscapes. This 19.4km hike (12 miles) takes 5 to 8 hours to complete. Note that if you want to do the walk in winter, it’s better to take a guided tour as the track becomes very snowy and icy.
Take a nature cruise in Milford Sound
Milford Sound is simply amazing and the best way to enjoy the fjords is to take a cruise. Whether you want to take a day or overnight cruise, you’ll enjoy seeing the sheer cliffs and frosty alpine peaks that make this incredible place. You’ll cruise past the iconic Mitre Peak and the Stirling falls. You can also admire wildlife at the Seal Rock.
Marvel at glowworms in Waitomo
There is nothing more spectacular than seeing glowworms. Explore the world famous Waitomo caves and marvel at the thousands of glowworms as you glide through the caves by boat. Your guide will tell you about the history of the cave and you also get to see stalactites and stalagmites.
Try bungy jumping in Taupo
Bungy jumping was invented by a New Zealander, so there’s no better place on earth to try it than New Zealand. In fact, New Zealand’s highest water touch bungy jump is in Taupo and promises an unforgettable experience. Take in 360-degree views of New Zealand’s stunning landscapes with this 47-meter bungy jump. If you’re scared to do the jump, try the cliffhanger!
Go whale watching in Kaikoura
Kaikoura is the best place in New Zealand to go whale watching. You can see whales all year long in Kaikoura, simply because sperm whales live there! It’s an incredible opportunity to watch whales in their natural environment. This is also a chance for you to spot many dolphins, but also seals and albatross. Whale watching is the ultimate experience for nature and wildlife lovers.
Take a 4WD Lord of the Rings tour in Glenorchy
This adventure bucket list wouldn’t be complete without a Lord of the Rings tour. Discover the spectacular filming locations from the Lord of the Rings movies during an exciting 4WD adventure to Glenorchy. Your expert guide will take you to the most incredible filming sites where you can admire breathtaking viewpoints and natural scenery. On top of that, you’ll get to dress up as movie characters and have some fun.
Fly over majestic Mount Cook
Mount Cook is NZ’s highest peak and there’s no better way to admire it than to go on an epic scenic flight. From up there, you’ll get to experience spectacular views of the Mount Cook national park, enjoy stunning views of the Tasman valley and finish with an alpine land surrounded by majestic snow-capped mountains. If you can afford it, this flight should be at the top on your New Zealand adventure bucket list.
Go river rafting in Kaituna
Kaituna River rafting is probably one of the best experiences on this New Zealand adventure bucket list. Paddle through white water rapids in the Okere Falls scenic reserve and the trip includes a fantastic 21 foot (7 meters) drop down Tutea Falls, the worlds highest commercially rafted waterfall. Whether you’re a beginner adventurer or a more advanced thrill seeker, you’ll love this experience.
Experience the magic of the shire at the most famous Lord of the Rings movie set. Located on a picturesque sheep farm, Hobbiton offers daily guided tours. Go on an adventure to Middle earth and explore the hobbit holes, get a drink at the green dragon inn, visit the Mill and the party tree.
Taste the best wine of Waiheke Island
Waiheke Island is a little paradise with beautiful vineyards, olive groves, and stunning beaches. A 40-minute ferry ride from Auckland will take you to this gorgeous island where you can enjoy an epic wine tasting tour. Taste some of the best wines of the island at the most popular vineyards, including the iconic Stonyridge.
Visit a traditional Maori village
Visiting a living Maori village in New Zealand is a must-do. Discover the cultural heritage, customs and traditions of the Maoris with a local guide. You’ll also get to learn about Maori history and watch a performance of traditional dance and songs. Don’t forget to try the traditional hangi meal cooked in boiling hot pools and steam vents.
Go up the Sky Tower in Auckland
Auckland’s sky tower is the tallest tower in the Southern hemisphere, and one of the most popular attractions in Auckland. The tower has several observation levels, from which you’ll enjoy a stunning view of the city. You’ll get to see Auckland’s key landmarks including the Harbor bridge, Mount Eden and even Waiheke Island.
Appreciate Rotorua geothermal wonders
Rotorua is a geothermal wonderland and exploring its stunning hot springs, geysers, mud pools, and volcanoes is a definitely a must-do on the North Island. Enjoy everything Rotorua has to offer with a stunning tour of Wai-O-Tapu and Waimangu volcanic valley. You’ll get to see the famous Lady Knox Geyser and experience these stunning sites with a knowledgeable guide.
Try parasailing over the Bay of Islands
Parasailing is one of those activities where you can just sit back, relax and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. Book a solo or tandem flight and enjoy an exhilarating flight with incredible views over the Bay of Islands. This epic adventure is suitable for people of all ages and abilities, which makes it a perfect family experience.
Have you eve rolled downhill inside an inflatable ball? If not, take a wild ride in Rotorua and enjoy this fun activity. You can choose to ride in a wet or dry orb, and enjoy breathtaking views of Lake Rotorua in the distance while having fun! On top of that, you’ll get to soak in the on-site hot tubes between rides. Rotorua is the only place in NZ where you can enjoy this bizarre experience, so don’t miss it!
Ride the Skyline Gondola in Queenstown
Ride the Queenstown gondola to the top of Bob’s peak and enjoy a delicious meal at the Stratosfare restaurant. This epic New Zealand adventure offers panoramic views over Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables. At the restaurant, you can enjoy a fantastic buffet featuring seafood, sushi and soup, salad and more.
Experience Rotorua Velocity Valley
Velocity is New Zealand’s ultimate adrenaline park. With 5 heart-thumping rides on offer such as the swoop of freefall extreme, Velocity valley is the best place on earth for thrill seekers. This experience is definitely not for the faint-hearted, so if you feel brave enough, enjoy an unforgettable day at Velocity valley.
Skydive over the Southern Alps
Skydiving is the ultimate adrenaline adventure! Enjoy a skydiving experience over the spectacular Southern Alps on the South Island of New Zealand. You’ll jump from 15,000 feet (4,572 meters) and freefall at 200km/hr. Have fun and take in the stunning scenery of Mount Aspiring and Fiordland national parks.
Get wild on the Waikato River
Jet boating is a very popular thrilling water activity in New Zealand. Experience a scenic jet boat ride on New Zealand’s longest river. You’ll have the time of your life with this adrenaline pumping experience. You’ll get to enjoy spectacular views of the river, but also the wildlife that lives there. In addition, your professional driver and guide will share interesting facts and insights on the area.
New Zealand is one of the best countries in the world for exciting experiences. From parasailing to river rafting or 4WD tours, there is an adventure for everyone in the land of the long white cloud. I hope you enjoyed this ultimate New Zealand adventure bucket list. What’s the most exciting experience you’ve had in NZ? Let me know in the comments below!
Are you going to New Zealand? Don’t forget your travel insurance!
Travel insurance is the only thing I don’t go anywhere without. Your travel insurance covers you against travel risks such as lost or stolen luggage, trip cancellation, and most importantly, unexpected medical costs abroad. I like WorldNomads because they are backed by reputable insurers, have 24h assistance providers, and are affordable. Get a quote and read the policy details to ensure that it’s right for you. For more information, read my travel insurance page.
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