Uncrowded and relatively unspoiled, New Zealand ranks as one of the most beautiful places in the world. With breathtaking scenery around every corner, unique and exciting cultures that are more than welcoming to visitors, and no end of outdoor adventures waiting to be had, this spectacular country is not to be missed.
Situated to the south east of Australia, it may seem like a long way to travel. However, we personally promise that it will be one of the most unforgettable trips of your life, and here are just 10 reasons why:
1. Indulge in the Welcome Flat Hot Pools nestled among the rainforest
Hidden away in a remote valley on the west coast of the South Island, lies a cluster of natural thermal pools in the midst of the rainforest surrounded by sheer snow capped peeks. Access to the pools is by hike only and the track is challenging, but it is well worth the effort as nothing quite compares to soaking in steamy spring water while avalanches cascade around you.
2. Jetboating through the dramatic Shotover Canyon
For all the adrenaline junkies out there, a jetboat through the treacherous Shotover Canyon is sure to get your heart racing. Passing just inches away from the cliff walls, you'll spin 360 degrees at dizzying speeds through deep and shallow water, and on river rapids. Trips start from Queenstown, either directly by jetboat or by taking a bus to the river of choice.
3. Star gazing at the world's largest international Dark Sky Reserve
The Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve is the first to be rewarded with a top gold level status for almost light-pollution-free skies, making it among the best places of Earth to witness the wonders of the night sky. Boasting the clearest, darkest and most spectacular night sky in New Zealand, prepare to be blown away as you explore the stunning depth of the solar system.
4. Discover the 8th wonder of the world at Milford Sound
If awe inspiring views, cascading waterfalls, majestic fjords, and dramatic landscapes appeal to you then Milford Sound should certainly be added to your bucket list. Named by locals as the eighth wonder of the world, visitors cannot help but fall in love with this romantic and rugged terrain. With boat trips, hiking routes, and plenty of beauty spots to admire, there’s never a shortage of natural wonders to enjoy here.
5. Have a whale of a time on the South Island
With a 95% chance of spotting whales in the waters near Kaikoura all year round, it's no surprise that whale watching boat tours are one of the most sought after activities in New Zealand. Grab your camera and get ready to snap some of the most incredible images you could ever imagine as you sail through the calm waters of the Serengeti of the South Pacific.
6. Join the indigenous Maori culture for a tribal gathering
New Zealand's North Island is home to a thriving indigenous culture, and one that you are more than welcome to immerse yourself in. The easiest way to learn more about the fascinating Maori people and their traditions is to attend one of their cultural performances and hangi, where a huge impressive feast is steam cooked in a oven dug in the ground giving the food a delicious smoky flavor.
7. Walk on Mars at Tongariro Crossing
Tongariro Crossing is arguably one of the finest day hikes in the world, taking you on a phenomenal journey through mind blowing volcanic landscapes. With vivid blue lakes dotting the perimeter of this Mars like complex, you'll feel as though you are traversing a new world. The climbs are steep and the weather is unpredictable, but with the uncertainty of the elements aside, a hike through the Tongariro Crossing is worth it in every aspect.
8. Cruise through the Waitomo Caves lit by glow worms
For a truly magical and surreal experience, nothing compares to a guided boat trip through New Zealand’s famous glow worm caves. The cave ceiling is illuminated by thousands of the fascinating arachnocampa luminosa, who are unique to this part of the world, resembling the telescopic view of a distant galaxy. All your senses will be tantalized as you wind your way through the dark and mysterious caves, into the world-renowned acoustic cathedral, and beyond.
9. Experience a thrill of a lifetime in the adventure capital of the world
New Zealand is famed as being a mecca for thrill seekers, and Queenstown is the center of all the action. If your want to know what it feels like to live life on the edge, stop off in the city and book yourself in for some serious adventure. You’ll find bungee jumping, sky diving, skiing, canyon swinging, white water rafting and a whole lot more. After pushing yourself to the limits, you can balance your zen once more by taking in the natural beauty of the region, relaxing in the water, and soaking in the local culture.
10. Find your zen at Aro Hā
Located amidst the Southern Alps of New Zealand, Aro Hā is a wellness center that balances zen inspired luxury with eco friendliness while guiding guests through a life transforming wellness program. Sitting in one of the world's most scenic places, Aro Hā is framed by breathtaking mountain peaks and forest, and overlooks the famous Lake Wakatipu. From therapeutic massages and gourmet vegetarian cuisine, to oversized organic robes and panoramic bedroom views, leave your credit card at home as you escape and unplug at this five star all-inclusive retreat.
Are you planning a trip to New Zealand? Which of our top ten things to do will you be adding to your itinerary?