The Best Activities, Attractions, Sights and Tours in New Zealand
This is it; the ultimate list of the 101 best things to do in New Zealand. With two main islands to explore, extremely diverse landscapes, adventure activities, cultural experiences, wildlife encounters, lively cities and quirky small towns, saying there is an overwhelming number of things to do in New Zealand would be an understatement. Nevertheless, we’ve whittled down the activities, attractions, sights and tours to a humble 101, making your travel itinerary building a little easier. Let’s begin!
The Best Things to Do in New Zealand: Watch the Video
Robin from NZ Pocket Guide goes over all his 101 favourite things to do in New Zealand in the video below. So if you don’t feel like going through a long read, give it a watch while you cook, do the laundry or simply lounge on the couch. Enjoy!
1. Do a Heli-Hike on the Tasman Glacier in Mt Cook
Land on New Zealand’s largest glacier in a helicopter and explore its ice caves with views of the country’s largest peak, Aoraki Mt Cook (more info on Viator and KKday). Glacier heli-hiking is also available in Franz Josef and Fox Glacier.
Location: Mt Cook, South Island. Learn more in 7 Ways to Take on New Zealand’s Glaciers.
2. Have a Close Encounter with Kiwi Birds
See New Zealand’s iconic native flightless bird, the kiwi, at one of the many conservation centres around the country, including the National Kiwi Hatchery in Rotorua (more info on Viator and Klook) and the Kiwi Birdlife Park in Queenstown.
Location: Check out all of the locations in Where to See Kiwi Birds in New Zealand.
3. Wander or Fly Through the Forest Canopy on the West Coast Zipline & Tree Top Walk
The unique elevated walk of the West Coast Zipline & Tree Top Walk is just the beginning. Climb to the top of Tower Zipline not only for breathtaking views of the surrounding coast and lake but to swoosh through the forest on a 425 m (1,394 ft) double zipline! For more information, head to treetopsnz.com/zipline.
Location: Hokitika, South Island. Plan more of your visit in the 10 Best Things to Do in Hokitika.
4. Venture Far North to Cape Reinga
The lighthouse at (almost) the northern point of the North Island is an iconic photo spot. Either drive up there yourself or join a tour, such as with Fullers GreatSights, to combine the visit with sandboarding on Ninety Mile Beach.
Location: Cape Reinga, North Island. Learn more about things to do in our Cape Reinga Guide.
5. Experience a Maori Village Evening with Traditional Food
Immerse yourself in New Zealand’s original culture, Maori, with an evening village tour. Te Pa Tu (formerly Tamaki Maori Village) and Mitai Maori Village both offer interactive experiences with performances, games and a traditional meal called a “hangi”.
6. Hike to the Pouakai Tarns of Taranaki
One of many hikes you can do in New Zealand to revel in its stunning scenery, the Pouakai Tarns Track (Mangorei Track) journeys through the vibrant forest of the Egmont National Park to a mirror lake reflecting Mt Taranaki.
Location: Egmont National Park, North Island. See more walks in our 6 Best Hikes in Egmont National Park.
7. Sample Some Wine in Marlborough
Marlborough is New Zealand’s largest wine region, famous for its sauvignon blanc. Either visit wineries independently for tastings, hire some bikes with Explore Marlborough or be chauffeured around on a driving tour with the Marlborough Tour Company (on Viator or Klook).
8. Witness an East Cape Sunrise
Due to its position on the International Date Line, New Zealand is one of the first countries to see the sunrise of a new day. An iconic place to watch the sunrise is from the East Cape Lighthouse; the easternmost shores of the mainland.
9. Skydive and Land on the Beach in the Bay of Islands
Skydiving is huge in New Zealand; not only because of the country’s adventurous spirit but because of the stunning views from the sky. One of the most unique drop zones is with Skydive Bay of Islands where you can land on the beach. For a South Island drop zone with similar sandy views, check out Skydive Abel Tasman.
10. See Vividly Clear Water at Te Waikoropupū Springs
Te Waikoropupū Springs is the largest freshwater spring in New Zealand, releasing unbelievably clear water. The North Island equivalent is the Blue Spring of Te Waihou Walkway in Putāruru.
11. Enjoy a Whale Watching Cruise
Watch sperm whales throw their giant flukes in the air before diving under the ocean’s surface from a whale watching cruise in Kaikoura (more info on Viator and Klook). Whale watching is also available from Auckland (on Viator and Klook).
Location: Kaikoura, South Island. See more locations for whale watching in the 5 Best Places to Spot Whales in New Zealand.
12. See Geysers, Hot Springs, Terraces and More at a Geothermal Park
13. Head to Huka Falls
This section of the Waikato River, which squeezes into a narrow canyon is the most-visited natural attraction in New Zealand and for good reason! The mighty rapids of Huka Falls are something that will stick with you for a long time. Plus, it’s absolutely free!
14. Take a Cruise at Milford Sound
If you know anything about New Zealand, it’s probably something to do with Milford Sound. This majestic fiord has been dubbed the “Eighth Wonder of the World”, most commonly seen on cruises listed in the 6 Best Cruises in Milford Sound. If you have more time, however, consider the less-visited Doubtful Sound (more info on Viator, Klook and KKday).
15. Hike Over a Volcano on the Tongariro Crossing
Enjoy a day hike crossing the volcanic terrain of Mt Tongariro and Mt Ngauruhoe with rich red craters, vibrant green lakes and steaming vents. Prepare for the day hike using The Guide to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
Location: Tongariro National Park, North Island. See more ways to experience these volcanos in the 10 Tongariro National Park Must-Dos.
16. Check Out the Seal Colonies
Seeing these adorable marine mammals is a common occurrence in New Zealand, especially when travelling the South Island. See seal colonies from the Cape Foulwind Walkway in Westport, the Red Rock Walk in Wellington or simply take up parking spots in Kaikoura.
Location: See locations all over New Zealand in the 14 Best Places to See Seals in New Zealand.
17. Kayak in Abel Tasman National Park
With more than 15,000 km (9,320 mi) of coastline, New Zealand is an awesome country for kayaking. A hotspot for the watersport is the bush-clad and golden-sand shores of the Abel Tasman National Park with Abel Tasman Kayaks. On the North Island, try kayaking with Cathedral Cove Kayaks.
18. Scuba Dive at the Poor Knights Islands
To add to New Zealand’s adventure list, scuba diving is also worth doing, especially in the marine reserve of the Poor Knights Islands. An awesome South Island alternative is Milford Sound to see black coral.
19. Journey Through Arthur’s Pass on the TranzAlpine Train
Ride one of the world’s most scenic rail journeys on the TranzAlpine train (more info on Viator and Klook). A road goes through the mountainous Arthur’s Pass too if you prefer one of New Zealand’s most scenic drives.
20. Dig Your Own Hot Pool at Hot Water Beach
The best things in life are free, like digging yourself a soothing hot pool at a beach in New Zealand. Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula has a hot spring seeping through the sand, ideal for making a hot pool when mixed with seawater.
Location: Hahei, North Island. See more beaches to visit in the 22 Stunning Beaches in New Zealand.
21. Experience Downhill Fun on The Luge
One of the more surprising activities in New Zealand, The Luge is made up of downhill tracks for go-karts powered by gravity. It’s heaps of fun for all ages! Check out Luge tracks atop the Skyline gondolas in Rotorua and Queenstown.
Location: Rotorua, North Island and Queenstown, South Island. See more wacky activities like this in the 9 Newest & Weirdest Extreme Activities in New Zealand.
22. Carve Your Own Greenstone Pendant in Hokitika
Greenstone, also known as jade or pounamu, is a precious stone to the Maori people. The shores of Hokitika and the West Coast have a particular abundance of the stuff, making it a worthy town to try carving your own Maori greenstone pendant. Alternatively, greenstone carving is available on Stewart Island!
Location: Hokitika, South Island. See more Hokitika attractions in the 10 Best Things to Do in Hokitika.
23. See Penguins, Sea Lions, Albatross and More on the Otago Peninsula
Accessible from Dunedin, the Otago Peninsula is a mecca for some of the world’s rarest species of penguins and sea lions, as well as the largest seabird, the royal albatross. There are various conservation centres on the peninsula, as well as guided tours, such as Elm Wildlife Tours, to almost guarantee good viewings.
Location: Dunedin, South Island. See more Dunedin highlights in the 10 Best Things to Do in Dunedin.
24. Explore Caves and Giant Arches in the Oparara Basin
A real hidden gem, the Oparara Basin in the Kahurangi National Park has short walks to multiple caves, fairytale-like forest, and a 200 m (656 ft)-long arch! Plan your visit using the 7 Amazing Oparara Basin Walks.
Location: Karamea, South Island. For more activities nearby, see the 7 Best Things to Do in Karamea.
25. Do a Bungy Jump in Queenstown
Do this iconic adrenaline activity in the place where it was invented, Queenstown. There’s the original bungy jump from the Kawarau Bridge, the highest jump from the Nevis Bungy, and one that allows you to do a freestyle jump, The Ledge. If you’re not going to Queenstown, you can also jump in Taupo, Hanmer Springs and elsewhere, as mentioned in the 7 Best Places to Bungy Jump in New Zealand.
26. Step Back in Time on Ulva Island
Experience what New Zealand used to be like before human migration on Ulva Island (more info on Viator and Klook). Native parrots cackling in the trees and kiwi birds running across your path are not uncommon. There are other island sanctuaries similar to this from the North Island, such as Kapiti Island and Tiritiri Matangi Island.
27. Soak in the Hot Pools at the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools
Thanks to New Zealand’s many natural mineral hot springs, it’s not too difficult to find a hot pool complex. One of the most famous of which is the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools, the largest in the country. Don’t worry, there are plenty on the North Island too, such as Taupo DeBrett’s.
28. Do a “Great Walk”
Backpacking/tramping/multi-day hiking is a classic way to connect with nature and see New Zealand’s breathtaking scenery. While there are over 250 multi-day hikes in New Zealand, the ones with the best facilities are known as the New Zealand Great Walks. Add one to your itinerary for a real adventure.
Location: See the locations of all of the Great Walks in The 10 Great Walks of New Zealand. For cheaper options, see the 12 Awesome Alternatives to the New Zealand Great Walks.
29. Ski Down an Active Volcano
That’s right, New Zealand’s largest active volcano has three ski fields on it! Although Mt Ruapehu might be a unique place to ski on the North Island, there are actually a lot more ski fields to choose from on the South Island. Compare them all in the Top 24 Ski Fields in New Zealand.
Location: Tongariro National Park, North Island. Prepare for the ski season using our guide, Ski Season in New Zealand: North Island or South Island?
30. Soak Up the Scenery on a Scenic Flight
You don’t have to hike for days to bask in the scenery of New Zealand’s remote nooks and crannies. Scenic flights are abundant across the country, from taking a chopper across the little-known Dusky and Doubtful Sounds with Southern Lakes Helicopters to cruising over the Canterbury Plains in a hot air balloon with Adventure Balloons NZ.
31. Experience Middle-earth in Hobbiton
Fans of The Lord of the Rings cannot miss this attraction! The Hobbiton Movie Set is the Hobbit village exactly as you saw in the movies, where a guided tour is available to learn more (more info on Viator and Klook).
Location: Matamata, North Island. For more Middle-earth locations, see the 23 Best Lord of the Rings Locations in New Zealand.
32. Ride a Jet Boat in the White Water Rapids…
Another adrenaline-inducing New Zealand invention is the jet boat, capable of blasting over shallow water and doing 360° spins. There are many jet boat tours in New Zealand, but a pretty epic one is Rapids Jet in Taupo taking you over tumultuous white water.
33. … Or Do White Water Rafting in the Rapids
Speaking of rapids, of course, you can also do white water rafting down New Zealand’s rugged river gorges. One of the highlights is the grade 4 and 5 rapids of the Rangitikei River. Alternatively, rafting in Queenstown takes you through old mining tunnels (on Klook and KKday).
Location: Taihape, North Island. For more rafting locations, check out the 7 Best Places to Go White Water Rafting in New Zealand.
34. See the Vibrant Blue Pools of Hokitika Gorge
You’ll rarely see water as naturally milky blue as in Hokitika Gorge, except, well, Lake Pukaki, also on the South Island. Nevertheless, a short walk brings you to this beautiful river gorge on the West Coast, which you can learn more about in the 23 Best Walks in Hokitika.
35. See Glowworms in Waitomo
As vivid as the stars in the sky are the glowworms in the caves of Waitomo. While caving and underground tubing are fun ways to see these shiny maggots, the classic experience is a walking and boat tour with Waitomo Glowworm Caves. Don’t forget, there is a similar experience on the South Island too, at the Te Anau Glowworm Caves (more info on Viator and Klook).
Location: Waitomo, North Island. Check out more locations with glowworms in the 7 Best Places to See the Famous Glowworms in New Zealand.
36. Check Out McLean Falls in The Catlins
A road trip in New Zealand is typically full of waterfalls. Arguably, some of the most beautiful can be found in The Catlins. McLean Falls is a rewarding waterfall to visit with climbable terraces, but also add Purakaunui Falls to the list.
Location: The Catlins, South Island. For more waterfalls to visit, check out the 12 Most Wonderful Waterfalls in New Zealand.
37. Try Out Surfing in Raglan
Surfing is extremely popular in New Zealand and Kiwis aren’t afraid to throw on their wetsuit and hit the waves, even at the depths of the South Island. The most famous surf town, however, is Raglan on the North Island where there are plenty of lessons and gear hire available (more info on Viator or Klook).
Location: Raglan, North Island. For more surfing locations, see The Best Surf Regions in New Zealand.
38. Take a Photo of a “Big Thing”
New Zealand might be a small country but it has a lot of “big things”. We’re talking about sculptures erected in various towns to mark their claims to fame, such as the “Brown Trout Fishing Capital” of Gore or the “Kiwiana Capital” of Otorohanga.
Location: Check out many of New Zealand’s sculpture locations in the 21 BIG Things in New Zealand.
39. Meet the Giants in a Kauri Forest
By “giants”, we, of course, mean giant trees and kauri are the largest types in New Zealand. The biggest of which is Tane Mahuta, the God of the Forest, found in the Waipoua Forest. See it via a walking track or visit as part of an evening Maori tour with Footprints Waipoua.
40. Explore the Shores of Farewell Spit and Wharariki Beach
Get well and truly off the beaten track to the sandy shores of Golden Bay where two ruggedly beautiful coastal sights await. Farewell Spit is New Zealand’s longest sandspit and one of the most protected places in the country. Nearby, Wharariki Beach looks out to the photo-worthy Archway Islands. Find out how to visit them in the 7 Best Walks at Farewell Spit.
41. Stargaze in an International Dark Sky Reserve
New Zealand is not only home to a Dark Sky Reserve in Mt Cook and Lake Tekapo but a Dark Sky Sanctuary on Stewart Island. This basically means that these South Island locations are among some of the best places to stargaze in the world. Learn how to make the most of them in our Dark Sky Guide.
Location: Aoraki Mt Cook/Lake Tekapo – Stewart Island, South Island. See more locations in the 5 Best Stargazing Sites in New Zealand.
42. Do Horse Trekking in the Cardrona Valley
Gallop across the plains or beaches, climb the hills and navigate the forests on a horse trekking tour in New Zealand. An excellent choice is The Cardrona between Wanaka and Queenstown. Alternatively, try Ahipara Horse Treks for trekking on Ninety Mile Beach on the North Island.
Location: Cardrona Valley, South Island. More locations can be found in the 10 Best Horse Treks in New Zealand.
43. Visit the Te Papa Museum in Wellington
Te Papa is the national museum of New Zealand, located in the nation’s capital. There’s so much to explore here between the volcano displays, settlers’ stories and endless exhibitions inside and out. What’s more, it’s free!
44. Visit the High Country Farm, Walter Peak
Farming has been a way of life in New Zealand for more than a century and tours like those at Walter Peak on the South Island give visitors a fun insight into sheep shearing, cattle rearing and more (more info on Viator, Klook and KKday). Alternatively, on the North Island, try the Agrodome farm tour in Rotorua.
45. Feed Stingrays in Gisborne
When the tide is low, Dive Tatapouri invites visitors to meet their resident eagle rays and short-tail stingrays to feed them and learn more about these reef-dwellers. You can also feed stingrays on the South Island at Lochmara Lodge in the Marlborough Sounds.
46. Take the Ferry to Rangitoto Island
From the heart of Auckland city, escape to the 600-year-old Rangitoto Island and Auckland’s youngest volcano. After a ferry journey, hike through lava fields and explore lava caves on your way to the crater summit. Rangitoto is just one of many islands to visit from Auckland.
47. Admire the Reflections at Lake Matheson
It doesn’t get more postcard-perfect than Lake Matheson. The loop walk around the lake takes you to various viewpoints with reflections of New Zealand’s tallest mountains reflected in the inky black lake water.
48. Go on a Jet Boat Excursion in Haast
Jet boating comes in two forms: a thrill ride or an excursion. Waiatoto River Safari offers the latter, taking you on a scenic journey from the Pacific Ocean to the valleys of the Mt Aspiring National Park and UNESCO Te Waihipounamu World Heritage Area.
49. Visit Cathedral Cove
Location: Coromandel, North Island. For more attractions in the area, see the 10 Best Things to Do in the Coromandel.
50. Go Off-Roading in Greymouth
Location: Greymouth, South Island. For more off-roading locations, check out the 10 Best Places for Quad Biking in New Zealand.
51. Learn About New Zealand History at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Go to the site where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed; the document that made New Zealand a nation. The Waitangi Treaty Grounds offers a museum, carving studios, bushwalks, a historic homestead and Maori culture performances (more info on Viator and Klook).
52. Zipline Through the Forest in Rotorua
Soar through the forest like a native tui on one of New Zealand’s zipline tours, such as that with Rotorua Canopy Tours (more info on Viator, Klook and KKday). Or on the South Island, try Ziptrek Eco Tours in Queenstown (on Viator, Klook and KKday).
53. Hit the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail
Just like the multi-day tramping trails, New Zealand is also home to some breathtaking cycle journeys. Cycle from Aoraki Mt Cook to the Pacific Ocean on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail on the South Island or from the volcanic slopes of Mt Ruapehu to the Tasman Sea on the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail in the north.
54. Walk to Devil’s Punchbowl Falls
Nestled in the Southern Alps in the Arthur’s Pass National Park, Devil’s Punchbowl Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the country. It’s also one of the must-do short walks on the South Island.
55. Discover Mining Tunnels, Historical Equipment and More at Karangahake Gorge
Mining for gold was a huge part of New Zealand’s pioneering days. Remnants of these early settlers’ determination can be seen along the rugged terrain of Karangahake Gorge on the North Island or on the Charming Creek Walkway in the south.
Location: Paeroa, North Island. See more to do in the town in the 5 Best Things to Do in Paeroa.
56. Swim with Dolphins in Tauranga
During the summer months, various cruises from Tauranga take you out into the Bay of Plenty to swim alongside its resident pods of dolphins, including Dolphin Seafaris. Of course, it’s no surprise that you can also swim with dolphins in Kaikoura.
Location: Tauranga, North Island. Check out the 5 Best Places to Swim with Dolphins in New Zealand for more locations around the country.
57. Cruise the Bay of Islands to See the Hole in the Rock
With 144 islands scattered across the Bay of Islands, there’s plenty to see on a cruise here. As well as dolphin and seal sightings, cruises will also take you through a giant archway island known as the Hole in the Rock (more info on Viator and Klook).
Location: Bay of Islands, North Island. For more awesome places to cruise, check out the 11 Best Cruises in New Zealand.
58. See Rare Birds at Zealandia
Even in New Zealand’s capital city, you can easily find wilderness areas where birds thrive thanks to state-of-the-art predator-proof fences. Zealandia is such an eco-sanctuary with walkways lined with bird-feeding stations making it easy to see native parrots, tui, robins and the colourful flightless takahe.
59. Take a Tour to Cape Kidnappers
Not only is Cape Kidnappers an excellent example of tectonic plates, fault lines and ancient fossils but it’s also home to New Zealand’s largest mainland gannet colony. Either walk the trail or take a tour with Gannet Safaris Overland. Alternatively, see the gannet colony at Muriwai in Auckland.
60. Experience New Zealand Fishing
New Zealand is blessed with thriving fish populations kept in control by strict regulations. Many of New Zealand’s rivers are lined with fly-fisherfolk catching rainbow and brown trout, while fishing charters take visitors out to catch the likes of blue cod and snapper. Learn more about fishing in our guide, What You Need to Know About Fishing in New Zealand.
Location: See fishing locations in our fishing guide.
61. Hike the Hooker Valley Track
More stellar scenery can be admired on the Hooker Valley Track of the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park. Walk from suspension bridge to suspension bridge under the gaze of towering mountains until you reach a glacier lookout.
Location: Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, South Island. For more unmissable walks, check out the 10 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Mt Cook.
62. Check Out the Boulders of Castle Hill
More spectacular natural formations await at Kura Tawhiti, also known as Castle Hill. Wander through the majestic limestone formations on the access track. Similar formations can also be found in the Waitaki Valley.
Location: Castle Hill, South Island. See more sights nearby in the 10 Underrated Places to Visit in Canterbury.
63. Explore the Christchurch Botanic Gardens
A New Zealand city wouldn’t be a New Zealand city without a public garden to be proud of, and nowhere offers a better example of this than the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. However, we also like the Wellington Botanic Garden on the North Island.
64. Tour the Shamarra Alpaca Farm in Akaroa
Location: Akaroa, South Island. Plan more of your trip to Akaroa using the 10 Akaroa Must-Dos.
65. Try Out Stand-Up Paddleboarding
A favourite pastime for coasties in New Zealand, stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) is well worth trying for a relaxing yet healthy way to explore the country’s lakes, rivers and coast. Some of our favourite paddle destinations are on the North Island, such as Donut Island from Whangamata and even into glowworm tunnels with Paddle Board Rotorua.
Location: Whangamata and Rotorua, North Island. See more paddleboarding opportunities in the 10 Best Places to SUP in New Zealand.
66. Try a Kiwi Pie
A staple of every gas station and bakery, New Zealand’s small savoury pies are a must-try. Our favourite pie shops are the Fairlie Bakery on the South Island and the Richoux Patisserie on the North Island.
67. Do the Mt Manaia Walk
Get glorious coastal views of the Whangarei Heads from this stunning viewpoint in Northland. The Mt Manaia Walk is one of the North Island’s top short walks, incorporating kauri forest, rocky outcrops and views for miles.
68. Do Via Ferrata Climbing with Wildwire Wanaka
You don’t need to be a pro climber to experience the sensation of scouring cliff faces and waterfalls. Wildwire Wanaka has set up a fun via ferrata climbing course with steel ladders and bridges.
69. Do the Monteith’s Brewery Tour
Location: Greymouth, South Island. More brewery tour locations can be found in the 10 Best New Zealand Beer Tours.
70. Check Out the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes
If you’re roading tripping on the West Coast, don’t miss the 20-minute walk to see the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks. See oddly-shaped rocks stacked like pancakes and powerful blowhole displays at high tide.
Location: Punakaiki, South Island. There’s more stuff to do here, which you can find out more about in the 9 Best Things to Do in Punakaiki.
71. Kayak or Cruise to the Maori Rock Carvings at Lake Taupo
The fact that Lake Taupo is the crater of a supervolcano is impressive in itself, but glimpsing at the shore’s towering Maori carvings is another reason to cruise (more info on Viator and Klook) or kayak on the lake.
72. Head to the Top of the Sky Tower
Who wouldn’t be curious to see the view from the top of the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest building? Take the elevator to the observation deck of the Sky Tower to see the urban jungle of Auckland along with the islands of the Hauraki Gulf (more info on Viator and Klook). For a dose of adrenaline, try the SkyWalk or the Sky Jump.
Location: Auckland, North Island. Plan more of your trip with the 10 Best Things to Do in Auckland.
73. Experience Canyoning in Queenstown
Location: Queenstown, South Island. Find more locations on both the North and South islands in the 7 Best Places for Canyoning in New Zealand.
74. Catch a Rugby Game
It’s one of the most popular sports in New Zealand, so experience the electric atmosphere when a rugby game is on at a local sports bar or, better yet, in a stadium like the Sky Stadium in Wellington.
Location: Wellington, North Island. Check out more stadiums in The Best Places to Watch Rugby in New Zealand.
75. Climb to the Lighthouse, See the Seals and Find a Lord of the Rings Location at Cape Palliser
Isolated at the bottom of the North Island, Cape Palliser offers plenty of reasons to make the day trip from Wellington. Get a scenic photo of the lighthouse (after climbing 250 steps), stop by the Putangirua Pinnacles from The Lord of the Rings, and say hello to the seals sleeping on the shore.
Location: Wairarapa, North Island. See more attractions in the area in the 10 Best Things to Do in Wairarapa.
76. Play a Round of Golf
New Zealand’s highest participation sport is golf, so teeing off at one of the country’s golf courses is highly recommended. Take a swing in stellar scenery, such as the Cape Kidnappers Golf Course on the North Island or at Millbrook on the South Island.
Location: Find more golf courses in the 21 Best Golf Courses in New Zealand.
77. Climb The Mount of Mt Maunganui
This cool little beach suburb of Tauranga not only offers an array of eateries, shops and beach sports but you can see it all from the top of The Mount! It’s a steep climb to the top but totally worth it.
Location: Tauranga, North Island. For more stuff to do here, see the 15 Best Things to Do in Tauranga.
78. Tour the Weta Workshop
Forget Hollywood; the New Zealand film industry mostly functions out of “Wellywood”, including the Weta Workshop which creates props and special effects for The Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Marvel movies and more (more info on Viator and Klook). Alternatively, check out Weta Unleashed in Auckland.
79. Enter an Alternative Reality at Steampunk HQ
One of the quirkier attractions in New Zealand, Steampunk HQ is a steampunk museum and art gallery with all sorts of wacky inventions. Who says there’s nothing to do in New Zealand on a rainy day?!
80. Visit New Zealand’s Only Castle
Considering New Zealand is one of the last large landmasses to be colonised, it’s no surprise that there are no castles except for one dominating a hilltop on the Otago Peninsula. Larnach Castle is open for high tea, tours and accommodation.
Location: Dunedin, South Island. Check out The Complete Travel Guide to Dunedin to plan your trip.
81. See Vivid Displays at the Omaka Aviation Heritage Centre
Location: Blenheim, South Island. Explore more of Blenheim using the 10 Best Things to Do in Blenheim.
82. Check Out Whangarei Falls
Another free natural attraction to admire is the mighty Whangarei Falls. The short waterfall walk offers various viewpoints for picture-perfect photos.
83. Get a Photo of the Moeraki Boulders
Visit these perfectly spherical boulders on the beach at low tide for more wacky photo-ops. Plan your visit using The Ultimate Guide to Visiting the Moeraki Boulders. There are also similar boulders on the North Island, the Koutu Boulders in the Hokianga Harbour.
Location: Hampden, South Island.
84. Stand on the World’s Steepest Street
That’s right, Baldwin Street in Dunedin holds the Guinness World Record for the steepest street! For more world records, visit the world’s longest place name, Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu, on the North Island.
Location: Dunedin, South Island. Add a visit to Baldwin Street to your 20 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Dunedin.
85. Visit the Bridge to Nowhere
Nestled in the dense forest of the Whanganui National Park, the stone structure of the Bridge to Nowhere is one of the rare remnants of a time when pioneers attempted to use the area for farming. Visit the bridge via multi-day hiking and cycling trails or on a jet boat tour.
Location: Whanganui National Park, North Island. See more attractions here in the 10 Best Things to Do in the Whanganui National Park.
86. Do an Art Deco Tour of Napier
After a devastating earthquake in 1931, the city of Napier was rebuilt with characterful art deco architecture. Learn about the city’s history and most noteworthy buildings on a walking art deco tour.
Location: Napier, North Island. This activity is one of the 15 Best Things to Do in Napier.
87. Discover the Hidden Gem of Washpen Falls
You wouldn’t think there’s much to see among the Canterbury Plains, but that’s what makes Washpen Falls such a hidden gem. More than just a waterfall walk, Washpen Falls features volcanic remnants, Maori archaeological sites, viewpoints and a lagoon with a rowing boat.
Location: Methven, South Island. Plan more items for the itinerary in the 10 Best Things to Do in Methven.
88. Experience a Railbiking Journey with Forgotten World Adventures
One of the more unique modes of transport, railbiking is electric and peddle-powered rail karts running on disused railway lines in New Zealand’s remote places. Railbike with Forgotten World Adventures, Gisborne Railbike Adventures or Awakeri Rail Adventures.
Location: Taumarunui, North Island.
89. Slide Down the Rere Rockslide
Forget waterparks, Gisborne has its own natural waterpark at the Rere Rockslide. Get a bodyboard or an inflatable mattress and have the time of your life! A short walk away is also the Rere Waterfall.
Location: Gisborne, North Island. Plan your visit with The Complete Travel Guide to Gisborne.
90. Land on a Glacier in a Ski Plane
Some 90 points ago, we mentioned heli-hiking on the Tasman Glacier. Well, you can experience this glacier in a pretty unique way too, with the Tasman Glacier being one of only a couple of glaciers in the world that you can land on in a ski plane (more info on Viator and Klook)!
Location: Mt Cook, South Island. Add this activity to the itinerary along with the 20 Best Things to Do in Mt Cook.
91. See the Underwater World From a Clear Kayak
Admittedly, New Zealand’s waters are a little too cool for snorkelling. That’s where clear kayaking comes in, allowing you to observe the thriving fish and kelp forests through your kayak! Hire a Clearyak at the Goat Island Marine Reserve.
Location: Leigh, North Island. See more stuff to do in the 10 Best Things to Do in Leigh.
92. Walk on the Crater of Mt Tarawera
You don’t have to do a full-day hike to walk on the crater of a volcano, like the Tongariro Crossing. Mt Tarawera rivals those views! The mountain can be accessed via a 4WD and walking tour with Kaitiaki Adventures or a helicopter with Volcanic Air.
93. Ride in a Supercar or Race a Go-Kart at Highlands Motorsport Park
If you have the need for speed then get yourself down to Cromwell where the Highland Motorsport Park is located. Book in for a supercar lap or race your family and friends at their outdoor go-karting track).
Location: Cromwell, South Island. You can do all of these 10 Best Things to Do in Cromwell too.
94. Try Manuka Honey, L&P, Whittaker’s Chocolate and More
More local delicacies await in pretty much any supermarket in New Zealand. Don’t miss the opportunity to try the local soft drink, L&P, the local chocolate bar, Whittaker’s, and internationally renowned manuka honey! Honey tours are available at the Arataki Honey Visitor Centre in Havelock North and the Huka Honey Hive in Taupo.
Location: Havelock North, North Island. See more food to try in New Zealand here.
95. Wander the Otherworldly Landscape of the Clay Cliffs
Location: Omarama, South Island. Find more activities in the 5 Best Things to Do in Omarama.
96. Roll Down a Hill in a Giant Hamster Ball with Zorb
Another, quite frankly, ridiculously fun thing to do in New Zealand is Zorb. Jump into a hollow inflatable ball with some shallow water and let gravity do the rest as you roll down your choice of track.
Location: Rotorua, North Island. While you’re here, do these 10 Best Things to Do in Rotorua.
97. Parasail in the Bay of Islands
It doesn’t matter if you’re five or 95, almost anyone can enjoy this extremely accessible adventure sport. Soar over the Bay of Islands with Bay of Islands Parasail or Lake Taupo with Big Sky Parasail.
Location: Bay of Islands, North Island. See more locations in the 5 Incredible Places to Do Parasailing in New Zealand.
98. Tour New Zealand’s Only Tea Plantation
Outside of Hamilton is New Zealand’s only tea plantation, Zealong. Take a tour of the plantation, do a specialised tea tasting and/or join them for high tea.
Location: Hamilton, North Island. Make sure you do some of the 10 Best Things to Do in Hamilton while you’re here.
99. Visit the Republic of Whangamomona
Did you know there is an independent republic in the middle of New Zealand? The village of Whangamomona has its own president (who hasn’t always been human) and you can get your passport stamped here.
Location: Whangamomona, North Island. See more attractions nearby in the 15 Places You Can’t Miss on the Forgotten World Highway.
100. Cycle the Timber Trail
There’s no real reason that we’ve left the day mountain biking trails until point #100; there’s just too much to do in New Zealand! Regardless, an awesome day trail is the Timber Trail in the midst of the Pureora Forest Park. Alternatively, try the Roxburgh Gorge Trail on the South Island.
101. See the Southern Lights
Finally, we end this mammoth list of 101 things to do in New Zealand with an activity that we can’t guarantee you’ll get to experience. Nevertheless, it’s always worth trying to look out for Aurora Australis, also known as the Southern Lights, when exploring the South Island in winter. Get tips on how to see them in The Best Times and Locations to See the Southern Lights in New Zealand.
Location: South Island. See locations in the 5 Best Places to See the Southern Lights in New Zealand.
More Things to Do in New Zealand
That’s it for our mega list of things to do in New Zealand. Now you might like to start planning what you’re going to do on the North Island or South Island, or how about planning your entire trip in general? For those, check out these guides:
- 51 Best Things to Do on the North Island
- 51 Best Things to Do on the South Island
- The Complete Travel Guide to New Zealand
Finally, if there’s anything we’ve missed, you’re likely to find it in New Zealand Travel Advice: How to Plan a Trip to New Zealand.