There are so many things to do in New Zealand. Did you know it is known as the adventure capital of the world? New Zealand is a dream destination packing a huge punch into a small space with astounding scenery, cosmopolitan cities, adrenaline pumping adventures, and a jaw dropping coastline.
Unique Things to do in New Zealand
It can be overwhelming deciding on what things to do in New Zealand, especially if you have limited time. We've rounded up the more unique and exciting things to do in New Zealand beyond the usual bungy jumps and skydives. (Although they make the list too, because you can't not give them a go!)
Getting Around New Zealand - Know Before You Go
New Zealand is compact and easy to get around by renting your own campervan, flying between towns or joining a full hop on hop off multi-day bus tour.
We travelled through New Zealand with the Flying Kiwi, they're an excellent hop on hop off bus tour that offers camping and food. You can then choose to stay in a town for a number of days until the next bus comes, or you can travel along through New Zealand with the same group. It's up to you. Flying Kiwi hits all the major sites. Read our review here: Touring New Zealand with the Flying Kiwi
We also rented a campervan to get around. We used AllWays Rentals but they are no longer around. We saw a lot of people driving in Wicked and JUCY Campervans - they looked like budget campervan companies and there are luxury campervans to rent as well. See what it's like to Explore New Zealand by Campervan
Get Your guide also offers Tour options with a 7 Day South Island Tour in just one week. It's fast, affordable and perfect for people with limited time. Or you can choose the
24 Day New Zealand Tour with a guided tour of every location, an evening of entertainment, and visits to the likes of Franz Josef glacier, Abel Tasman National Park, and 2 nights in Queenstown. Check out Get Your Guide for more details.
1 - Fly Your Own Stunt Plane Abel Tasman
The most original and exciting adventure you will ever do in your life is to fly your own stunt plane at Ufly Extreme. (sadly, you can no longer fly your own stunt plane in New Zealand, but it was so cool I had to leave it in!) Imagine taking full control of the plane you flip upside down and all around in mid air as pilot Vincent talks you through the flight from the cockpit behind. It's definitely not for the faint of heart, but is definitely the most unique thing we did in New Zealand or anywhere for that matter.
2 - Bungy Jump in Queenstown
Bungy jumping was invented by AJ Hackett in Queenstown, and if you are visiting here, you must make sure you jump off a platform at one of the sites. A bungy jump is the number 1 activity of things to do in New Zealand for many people, if you don't do it, you'll be sorry! There are many to choose from, from the original bridge jump to the terrifying Nevis Bungy located 134 metre over the middle of a gorge!
See why you should: Visit New Zealand
Suggested New Zealand Tours from Auckland
Bay of Islands: This is a beautiful destination located on the North Island. Check out Tall Ship Sailling excursion from Auckland through Get Your Guide where you can help the crew hoist the sails.
Black River Rafting - Not only will you get to see glow worms, you'll have an adventure climbing, abseiling and caving into the black river.
Glowworm Caves Package: This is a unique experience to New Zealand and a must to see! A good option from Aukland is to book a 2 day tour that combines Wai-O-Tapu, Maori culture, and glowworm caves.
Hobbiton Movie set: Are you a huge Lord of the Rings fan? Visit Middle Earth and the actual shire set from the movies!
Hop on Hop off Bus - Explore Auckland easily with a hop on hop off bus tour of the city.
3 - SkyDive Abel Tasman
When skydiving in Abel Tasman you have the option to jump from 16,500 feet. Skydive Abel Tasman is the only place in New Zealand that you can jump from so high. There are many places to jump in New Zealand, but Abel Tasman is special as you can see both the North and South Island when you jump.
4 - Trek the Fox Glacier
Who doesn't want to walk on a glacier? The Fox Glacier is probably one of the easiest and quickest glacier walks you'll ever be able to do. We were suited up with thick woolly socks and boots suitable for crampons. They gave us a rain jacket and waterproof pants all we had to do was show up. Located at a low elevation, it's suitable for anyone that's relatively fit.
Must Sees in New Zealand
Milford Sound: This is probably one of the most famous excursions in New Zealand and Get Your Guide offers day tours cruise through Milford Sound
Abel Tasman: It's no secret that we love Abel Tasman. We went skydiving, kayaking, sailing and we flew a stunt plane there. If you want to a good view take a cruise and hiking day trip in Abel Tasman National Park.
Dolphin Watching: Dolphin watching is a must in New Zealand and you can book this Get Your Guide dolphin and whale watching eco tour.
5 - Swim with Dolphins, The Bay of Islands
Swimming with dolphins is one of the most magical moments you will ever have in your life. In The Bay of Islands, we had the opportunity to swim with bottlenose dolphins. The waters are warmer on the North Island so you don't have to wear a wetsuit here!
Recommended Travel Gear for New Zealand
6 - Cruise Milford Sound
In 2008 it was named the World’s Top Travel Destination and Rudyard Kipling called it the 8th Wonder of the World. Milford Sound is the country's most famous tourist destination. A cruise through Milford Sound is a must when visiting the country. Its breathtaking fiords showcase some of the highest sea cliffs in the world.
7 - Hike the Tongariro Crossing
The Tongariro Crossing is considered one of the best day hikes in the entire world. It's an absolutely beautiful trek taking you through huge valleys, up mountain slopes and to incredible volcanic lakes. Peter Jackson chose this location to be the dreaded Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings.
8 - Whitewater Raft Class 5 Rapid
We've done a lot of whitewater rafting around the world, but the class five rapids just two hours from Christchurch were the thrill of a lifetime. After facing the massive water, you can jump into some smaller rapids yourself from 3 - 5 meter high ledges. That really gets your blood pumping.
New Zealand Tours from Queenstown
Lord of the Rings Full Day - Visit the many locations where Lord of the Rings was filmed and take in the spectacular landscape of the South Island.
Jet Boat Underwater Observatory - New Zealand is the adventure capital of the world and this Jet Boat Ride will get your heart pounding.
Scenic Helicopter Tour - Fly over the peaks of Mt. Aspiring National Park where you'll see stunning mountains and ice falls before landing in the Forbes Mountains.
More Fun Things to do in New Zealand
9 - Go Whale Watching Kaikoura
When whale watching in Kaikoura, the chances of spotting whales are so that if you don't see any, they will refund 80% of your money. We not only saw humpback whales, we saw killer whales too!
10 - Go Sailing
One cannot appreciate the beauty of a coastline until you see it from afar. Taking a sailing trip is a fun and relaxing way to spend the day. We sailed along the coast of Abel Tasman National Park exploring secluded beaches and witnessing unique rock formations. But most importantly, we had the opportunity to captain the boat!
11 - See the Glow Worms
Glowworms are small insects that emit bioluminescent. They can be found in many caves in New Zealand and you must go to see them when you are there. Glowworms never leave the cave and they spend their lives feeding on insects that make their way into the deep caverns. One glowworm hangs hundreds of threads to catch their prey using their lights attract the bugs where they are trapped in their gooey string to wait for a slow death.
Unique Tours to do in New Zealand
Gowworm Caves: this is one of hte most fascinating tours we've taken. To see millions of Glowworms shining like stars. Check out this tour of the Waitomo Caves that includes tubing through the caves.
Zorbing: It's completely unique to New Zealand and you must try zorbing when you are there. The place to do it is Rotorua or Waitomo
Maori Luxury Tour - Learn about the Maori culture as you explore the wild west coast with a local Maori guide.
12 - Moeraki Boulders
The Moeraki Boulders are a natural phenomenon that lay along a stretch of the Koekohe Beach on the Otago coast of New Zealand. I didn't even know they existed, but seriously, they are one of the best things to do in New Zealand. They are located between Moeraki and Hampden on the South Island. Scientists claim that the Moeraki boulders were formed millions of years ago due to muddy sediments slowly forming the boulders through erosion, wave action and landslide. They are a fascinating site to see.
13 - Tamaki Maori Village in Rotorua
The Polynesians settled here in the 13th century and an excellent way to learn about their history is to visit the Tamaki Maori Village in Rotorua where you will be welcomed by the Powhiri, a formal welcoming ceremony followed by a performance of warrior dances and songs.
We named New Zealand as one of the top spots for the Best Road Trips in the world, see where else made the cut!
14 - Go Zorbing in Roturura
New Zealand is known for their zany adventures and when there you must try zorbing in Rotorua. Rotorua is an excellent stop for hot springs as well, so after a day of adventures, you can warm up in the warm volcanic sulfur waters.
15 - Wai-O-Tapu
Wai-O-Tapu is a Thermal Wonderland. Walk along safe and defined tracks through this incredible geothermal pools and volcanic and acidic lakes. Witness bubbling mud, steaming ground and volcanic craters at this natural attraction that has bee called One of the 20 Most Surreal Places in the World.
Movies shot in New Zealand
There are so many things to do in New Zealand, you could spend a month exploring the two islands and still not see it all. We know! We spent 6 weeks there. Part of it as a Road Trip, and the other with The Flying Kiwi. But with local flights to 25 cities getting you quickly to your destination, and now that you are armed with these 15 ideas of the greatest adventures in New Zealand, you'll be able to easily create your own custom itinerary.