New Zealand is a small country packed with natural beauty. The North Island has the best beaches, islands, wineries, and geothermal activity. Whereas the South Island has snowy mountains, fjords, glaciers, and stunning lakes. Here are the unmissable experiences for the best trip to New Zealand!

Wine Tour Waiheke Island

Waiheke is a paradise island of wineries, beaches, luxury lodges, and cute restaurants. Only a short ferry from Auckland, it’s a must-visit for wine lovers and foodies. It’s very scenic, with lovely beaches and coastal trails. Most of the wineries have restaurants with views, Tantalus was our favorite.

Waiheke is on the North Island, a 20-minute drive, then a 40-minute ferry and from Auckland.

Embrace adventure in Queenstown

Queenstown is an adventure seekers dream. Go skiing, whitewater rafting, hiking, biking, bridge, or bungee jumping. The picturesque town is built on a lake that sits in the shadow of snow-capped mountains. If you’re not an adventure enthusiast try a spa day or wine tasting instead. There are also some great hikes in the area and some excellent restaurants.

Queenstown is on the southern end of the South Island and has its own airport.

Cruise Milford Sound

Watch dolphins navigate the seas beneath snowy peaks as you spend a day on the ocean. Milford sound is reminiscent of the Norweigan Fjords, without the hefty price tag of a trip to Scandinavia. Doubtful Sound is a wonderful alternative for a similar experience.

Milford Sound is on the west coast of the South Island, 4-hours west of Queenstown.

Feast like hobbits in the shire

Hobbiton is a must for lovers of Lord of the Rings. The film set lies within the rolling green hills of Matamata. Stay in a countryside B&B and indulge in the banquet experience at Hobbiton. Not only do you tour the shire but you will also have a feast at the Green Dragon Inn. Get your bookings in early as the banquet sells out months in advance.

Hobbiton is 2-hours south of Auckland on the North Island.

Beach days on the Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands is made up of 140 islands with white sand beaches and crystal clear water. It’s an ocean paradise with boating, fishing, diving, snorkeling, and sightseeing for days. Get a car and tour the area. Some of the best beaches include Paihia, Te Tii Bay, Long Beach, and Opito Bay.

Paihia is 3 hrs north of Auckland on the North Island.

Climb Franz Josef or Fox glacier

The legendary glaciers of Franz Josef and Fox are only 25-minutes apart, on the West Coast of the South Island. There are over 3000 glaciers in the Southern Alps with lots of experiences on offer, including heli-hiking, ice-climbing, and scenic flyovers.

The glaciers are 5-hrs southwest from Christchurch or 5-hrs northwest of Queenstown on the South Island.

Search for glowworms in Waitomo Caves

Waitomo Caves can be experienced on a walking tour, boat trip, or black water rafting for the adventure seekers. Seeing the caves lit up by thousands of glowworms is a unique and spellbinding experience. The town is cute too!

Waitomo is 2.5 hours south of Auckland on the North Island.

Kayak to Cathedral Cove in Coromandel

Cathedral Cove is one of the most photographed spots in New Zealand and the most rewarding way to get there is by sea kayak! The Coromandel Peninsula is full of cute towns, rainforest, and stunning beaches. It’s a great area to explore for a few days and it’s within a couple hours drive from Auckland.

The Coromandel Peninsula is 2-3 hours from Auckland on the North Island.

Explore Rotorua’s Geothermal wonderland

The town of Rotorua sits on the ring of fire amidst geysers, mud pools, hot springs, and volcanic craters. Visit Hell’s Gate; 50 acres of geothermal landscapes and home to the Southern Hemisphere’s largest hot-water waterfall. Wai-O-Tapu thermal wonderland is also close to Rotorua. It’s an otherworldly area that is likely only comparable to parts of Iceland.

Rotorua is 3-hrs south of Auckland on the North Island.

Hike Mount Cook

Mt Cook is the tallest mountain in New Zealand, located in the Southern Alps. There are countless hiking trails to explore for varying levels of experience, and they’re all breathtaking.

Mt Cook Village is 3.5-hrs from Queenstown on the South Island.

New Zealand is truly a natural wonder. This list is just the tip of the iceberg!

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