How do we choose the Top 10 kiwi attractions?! Wow. Our crew at Backpacker Campervans love nothing more than getting out and checking out new places, and this list seems to be constantly changing as we discover (or rediscover) amazing locations!
We’ve come up with our fave 10 GREAT New Zealand Things to see & do…
1. Tongariro Crossing: Spectacular North Island Mountain hike, “Mt Doom” to the Lord of the Rings lovers, and the first world heritage site. If the weather’s right make sure you don’t miss it! The Tongariro Alpine Crossing trek takes you from alpine meadows to mountain summit with stunning volcanic features along the way. On the Tongariro Alpine Crossing you will walk across a lunar landscape of craters, scattered pumice, active volcanoes, mountain springs, lava flows, emerald lakes, piles of scoria and statue-like mounds of volcanic desert.
2. Cathedral Cove and Hotwater Beach: Voted many times New Zealand’s best beach and New Zealand’s most unique beach respectively – get to Hot Water beach at low tide, dig yourself a hole, and allow to hot water to envelop you! An underground river of hot water flows from the interior of the earth to surface in the Pacific Ocean at Hot Water Beach – a long beautiful white beach located between Tairua and Whitianga on the North Island.
Cathedral Cove is also a stunning must see. Many kiwis will be familiar with the spectacular coastal walk into Cathedral Cove, but perhaps the best way to explore the breathtaking coastline of the reserve is by kayak. The picturesque limestone cliffs, superb volcanic coastline, clear water and abundant marine life of Hahei’s marine reserve blend to create one of New Zealand’s best kayaking trips.
3. Bay of Islands: 144 islands - a fisherman’s, boat owners, and beach lover’s paradise. Located about of 230kms north of Auckland, wherever you are in the Bay of Islands, there are plenty of recreational activities in the blue-green world of island and beach: charter a yacht or launch, dive or snorkel, paddle a sea kayak in and out of the islands' nooks and crannies or swim with the dolphins. Island paradise!
4. Black Water Rafting in Waitomo: a labyrinth of dark caves, underwater rivers, and millions of glow worms! You can abseil, weave, jump, and float through a glow worm-studded subterranean wonderland below Waitomo in the North Island.
5. Te Puia: in the heart of Rotorua’s geothermal zone and home to New Zealand’s largest geyser! Follow your nose to discover many Geysers, mud pools and thermal springs.
6. Milford Sound: imposing cliffs, towering peaks, cascading waterfalls and calm tranquil waters. Recently voted the worlds #1 must see place – make it a must see when you’re in the South Island.
7. Queenstown: the Adventure adrenalin capital of the world, southside! – Why not get your fix with bungy jumping, canyon swinging, jet boating or white-water rafting and river surfing! Phew, you’ll probably need a drink in one of Queenstown’s sweet as bars to calm down!
8. Kaikoura: Surf in the morning, ski in the afternoon. When are you going to get time to fit in dolphin swimming and whale watching as well? This region is renowned for its marine life – viewable by boats, flights, land – you can even join dolphins & seals in their ocean environment. A South Island delight!
9. Franz Josef Glacier: the magnificent Franz Josef Glacier is widely regarded as the gem of New Zealand’s West Coast Glaciers. Take a helitour to the top of the glacier, do some ice climbing, experience the most spectacular glacier environment available to the general public anywhere in the world. Ask one of our Backpacker crew Sally how she got up close and personal with the glacier, after mistaking a floating block of ice as an ice step!
10. Kayaking in Abel Tasman National Park: Another amazing natural beauty - home to hundreds of gorgeous bays and golden beaches perfect for kayaking, located at the tip of the South Island. You can thank Tonga Island Marine Reserve for providing a predator-free space for seal colonies to call home. The seals are known to invite themselves along for the ride as you paddle around the coastline! Dolphins and penguins are also regular spectators and if you're planning on trekking the 51 kilometre coastal track, then chances are you'll also meet a few tui and bellbirds, and the occasional pukeko around the estuaries and wetlands!