Kia ora readers! Planning a trip to Aotearoa New Zealand? What are you waiting for?
Half a world away is New Zealand, a hidden gem of nature walks, indigenous culture and really, really great wine. It’s an absolute natural wonderland for any adventurous jet setter who’s keen on long hikes, surfing beaches, and raging rapids. For first-timers, it can be hard to even know where to start! So, here’s 10 incredible activities you can do on your first trip to New Zealand.
1. Visit Hobbiton
The first stop on your trip to New Zealand, satisfy your inner geek and visit the Hobbiton movie set in Matamata, used in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and then refurbished for the Hobbit movies. One of the most popular attractions on the North Island, everything Lord of the Rings remains a unique aspect of tourism here with lots of different attractions scattered around the country dedicated to showcasing film sets.
Make sure you sample some of director Peter Jackson’s very own brand of dark stout, SobeRing Thought. It’s a 1 percent beer that was personally brewed for the Lord of the Rings cast so they could still drink real beer on set, and not get drunk!
2. Go Wine Tasting
Speaking of Alcohol, you would not believe the number of vineyards this tiny country has to offer. A trip to New Zealand wouldn’t be complete without a good wine tasting! Where you go for wine completely depends on your own tastes, but there’s always a little something for everyone no matter where you end up.
Whether you go to Marlborough, the countries largest wine-producing region, or Waiheke for its award selection of reds and whites, you won’t be disappointed.
3. Brave the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
The Tongariro National Park in Wanganui is home to yet another Lord of the Rings tourist attraction. The park’s famous alpine trek is the famous setting for many of the scenes in Mordor, including Mt Ngauruhoe, or should I call it Mt Doom, itself.
On your trip to New Zealand, you can really immerse yourself in the eeriness of home of the orcs on this eight-hour trek, an incredible 19.4km in length! Your legs might be dead the next day, but your geeky heart will thank you for it!
4. Explore Maori Culture
Maori culture is an interwoven aspect of life in New Zealand, from language to history. While on your trip why not learn a thing or two about Maori culture!
There are plenty of methods to choose from. Wellington’s Te Papa museum has a plethora of exhibits on Maori culture for your viewing pleasure, or you could explore the indigenous carvings in Taupo’s Mine Bay, or even immerse yourself by visiting a Maori village for a true Maori experience.
5. Rafting on Kaituna River
Just outside of Rotorua is Kaituna River and one of the most intense rapid experiences you’ll ever face. White water rafting is something that you can do all over New Zealand, but Kaituna is special for one singular reason. It is home to the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world.
These water rapids are a place for the most daring of adventurers. So, if you’re looking to add some intensity to your trip to New Zealand, why not go ahead and tick this one off your bucket list?
6. Waitomo Caves
Waitomo is home to one of the world’s most condensed colonies of glow worms, making these caves a very special site for a keen tourist. Blackwater rafting (rafting through the caves), is also a very recommended option you can do on the tours at Waitomo Caves.
Lying on your back as you float through the caves, just staring up at the luminescent show above you, it’ll be something you remember for the rest of your life!
7. Stargaze at Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park
The entirety of New Zealand’s South Island is recognised as dark sky reserve (kind of like a wildlife reserve but or stars instead of plants and animals). It’s actually the largest dark sky reserve in the world, making it a very special place to visit on your trip to New Zealand. Visit the observatory, or go on dark sky tours to reach all the best destinations for the greatest view of the stars. Don’t forget to wear plenty of layers, night in Aoraki can get very cold
8. Ninety Mile Beach
On your trip to New Zealand why not stop off at the Ninety (actually only about fifty-five, but ninety is more catchy) Mile Beach. Soft white sand that just stretched out into the horizon with sand boarders dotted all around. Technically, it’s still considered a highway, so don’t be surprised if you see a few cars roaming up and down!
9. Tour Weta Workshop
The final must-see destination on your geek tour of New Zealand is the special effects ad prop company Weta Workshop. And yes, they did do Lord of the Rings, in case you were wondering.
Named after the native New Zealand cricket, Weta Workshop is just a quick trip outside of the capital city of Wellington. People swarm to Weta Workshop for their incredible tour of the studios where they still keep props on open display for eager tourists. These props include a life-size cave troll, Gollum and much more.
10. Go Glacier Hiking
Yes, you read that right. New Zealand’s South Island is the home of many different glaciers that you can visit. The largest and most impressive out of these is the Fox Glacier, named after 1972 Prime Minister William Fox, and the Franz Joseph Glacier.
While some keen travellers will pay their weight in gold to, with a guide, hike on the ice, savvy travellers will know that the best viewing spots for a glacier are never on the ice itself. So, make sure you bring your camera on this leg of your New Zealand trip!