Known for its dramatic landscapes, lush forests full of endemic species, world-class hikes, isolated beaches and a clean, green reputation, New Zealand is a traveller’s paradise, with a relaxed atmosphere for exploring and adventuring. Compiling a list of things to do in New Zealand actually proved difficult because there are so many amazing things to do! That being said, here are a few of the standouts to consider.
In and Around Auckland
A black sand beach known for its rugged beauty, Piha offers a chance to get away from the bustle of Auckland without having to travel very far. The town itself is quite small – there is only a restaurant or two and a café that doubles as a post office, but otherwise it’s just you and the beach. Swim between the flags or hike around the rocks at low tide for a relaxing day trip.
Tāwharanui Regional Park
Located on a peninsula in a remote area 1.5 hours from Auckland, Tāwharanui Regional Park is New Zealand’s first open threatened wildlife sanctuary which incorporates white sand beaches, rolling pastures, coastal forest and wetlands. Bird and animal watching is plentiful, along with boating, hiking, camping, kayaking, biking, surfing and swimming and diving.
A wine lover’s delight, Waiheke is a quick hop over from Auckland on a ferry. The island’s population is an interest mix of millionaires and retired hippies, and you can find an equally diverse offering of beaches, restaurants, vineyards and hikes. Rentable bicycles or taking the basic bus system makes the island reasonably accessible.
Poor Knights Island
A short boat ride from Auckland, the Poor Knights Islands are a marine reserve and nature reserve with incredible sights for divers and snorkelers alike. Ancient volcanic activity has left a dramatic landscape of cliffs, caves and arches – including the world’s largest sea cave. Divers can observe incredibly varied plant and animal life, including tropic fish which visit during summer months as warm currents sweep over the area.
New Zealand has 14,000 kilometers (8,7000 miles) of coastline, making it the tenth longest in the world – it’s no wonder why the ocean plays such an integral part in the New Zealand lifestyle! Much of this coastline offers a fantastic range of surfing breaks for all skill levels, kayaking, fishing, diving or boating. Raglan, Gisborne and Taranaki offer great surf breaks, divers should check out the Coromandel Peninsula and Abel Tasman National Park, and awe-inspiring boating tours can be done through Marlborough Sounds, Milford Sound or whale watching in Kaikoura.
Auckland itself has plenty to keep the foodies occupied for a long time, as it caters to New Zealand’s most condensed population, which also happens to be culturally diverse. However, kiwis love a good food-and-beverage festival, and you can’t blame them wanting to show off their tasty wines, beers, seafood, produce and sweet treats. Throughout New Zealand, niche food festivals are held every month of the year. Great ones to start with are the Kaikoura Seafest (October), Hokitika Wildfoods Festival (March), Kawhia Moana (February) and Marlborough Wine and Food Festival.
Kiwis and hikers alike will tell you the best way to see New Zealand is on foot. With world-famous Great Walks, pristine national parks and a very accessible hiking and park lodging system, New Zealand has endless options for taking in its iconic natural beauty, whether it be on a 10-day hike or a half day trip. Notable hikes to consider include the Tongariro Crossing, Abel Tasman National Park, the Milford Track, Franz Joseph Glacier, Stewart Island and Mount Cook (New Zealand’s tallest mountain).
Extreme Sports and Adrenaline Seekers
New Zealand is a fantastic location for those who want to cram in as many thrills as they can in a short period of time. Bungee jumping (a kiwi invention), white water rafting, skydiving, jetboating, zip lining, off-roading, caving, surfing, skiing and snowboarding are all possible in various places in New Zealand.
If you would like more details on any of these locations or activities, our local team in New Zealand can assist you once you are registered onto the IVHQ New Zealand program.
To apply for the program or explore the volunteering opportunities available in New Zealand, visit our Volunteer in New Zealand page.