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Things to Do in New Zealand

New Zealand is jam-packed with things to do. The hardest part of planning your holiday will be deciding which to do first!
Exploring New Zealand’s magnificent landscape and coastline tops the list for many. If adventure is your game, there’s a long list of thrilling activities to get your blood racing. Or if it’s a relaxing holiday you’re after, hot pools, vineyards and cultural attractions will keep you entertained.

That’s just a few of the things to do in New Zealand. Better start making that list.

Skiing

New Zealand has developed a deserved reputation as an international skiing destination. The season runs from June to October, the landscapes and scenery are out of this world and gear is easy to hire. New Zealand ski fields are uncrowded with plenty of wide-open bowls and gentle slopes for first-time skiers and off-piste skiing and heli-skiing for the more adventurous.

Long before you arrive see the mountains rise above the Canterbury plains.

  • The Christchurch – Canterbury region stretches from ocean to Alps, contrasting sweeping plains and mountain peaks. Just 1 ½ hours from Christchurch and 30 minutes from Methven, Mt Hutt is a giant amongst giants that boasts the longest ski season in New Zealand. Nearby Porters is a haven for skiiers of all abilities.
  • Mt Cook soars high above you, the boutique ski fields of Roundhill, Mt Dobson and Ohau spread out before you. Enjoy the supreme ski conditions of Mount Cook Mackenzie, a region of sprawling countryside providing a variety of delectable groomed trails, backcountry skiing and freestyle parks. Experience diverse runs at Mt Dobson, Roundhill and Ohau ski fields.
  • Queenstown and Wanaka to experience world-class ski resorts, exciting off-mountain activities and scenery that will blow you away. Surrounded by dramatic high Alps, this stunning winter wonderland features row after row of snowcapped mountains dotted with sparkling, pristine lakes. Queenstown – Wanaka offers skiing for every level, including Nordic ski, night ski experiences and the largest heli ski terrain outside North America. Queenstown – Wanaka boasts four world-class ski resorts.

Food and Wine

Indulging in local food and wine is a must-do for many travellers. If gastronomy and the odd tipple are high on your agenda, New Zealand won’t disappoint. New Zealand is a food and wine lover’s paradise. Vineyards stretch throughout every region, chefs put playful local twists on fine cuisine. New Zealand food and wine festivals serve up taste sensations with a side of local music.

Coming to visit this winter?
If you’re planning a ski holiday in the South Island this winter, you’ve got some great wine regions within easy reach. Visitors to Mt Hutt and Porters ski areas in the Christchurch – Canterbury region should make the short drive north to Waipara. And if you’re heading to Queenstown this winter, be sure to enjoy the wineries of Queenstown and Central Otago when you’re not on the slopes.

World class wine
The Hawkes Bay, Martinborough and Marlborough and Central Otago are signature New Zealand wine regions; explore your pick of 120 vineyards by driving the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail. If you’re after a really thorough wine tour, add West Auckland, Gisborne, Canterbury to your itinerary.

Most wineries are open for tasting, and many have fine restaurants onsite. There are plenty of bicycle and chauffeur-driven wine tours too – a great way to take in the full spectrum of local flavours. Our internationally acclaimed varieties include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and the Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blends), so get ready to sample!

Pacific Rim cuisine
New Zealand food goes way beyond fish and chips and barbeques – our chefs have developed a distinct Pacific Rim cuisine. Expect to indulge in plenty of seafood (like greenlipped mussels, crayfish (lobster), Bluff oysters and fresh fish), award winning cheeses and of course our famous lamb. You should also expect a laidback, friendly atmosphere wherever you eat; we Kiwis love to keep things casual.

Adventure

If adventure sports press all your buttons, get ready for the trip of a lifetime. Bungy, skydiving, caving, canyoning … New Zealand has every adventure activity and extreme sport you can think of – and some you’ve never even heard of! All set to a backdrop of mind-blowing landscapes.

  • Bungy – For many visitors, bungy jumping in New Zealand has almost become a rite of passage, that they take that heart-stopping leap of faith while they’re here. In the 1980’s, a couple of young kiwis, AJ Hackett and Henry van Asch, set up New Zealand’s first commercial bungy operation, with a jump from the historic Kawarau Bridge near Queenstown. Since then, New Zealand has become the home of bungy. Around the country you can leap from bridges, climbs, rail viaducts, specially made platforms perched on the edge of cliffs, and stadium roofs. The Nevis bungy is the highest and involves an incredible 134-metre plunge. You can also take a leap off the Auckland Harbour Bridge against the backdrop of the beautiful Waitemata Harbour. Every day of the week locals and tourists alike enjoy the experience of a bungy among stunning landscapes. Bungy jumping remains one of New Zealand’s most popular and renowned leisure activities.
  • Caving – Waitomo is often top of mind when thinking of caving in New Zealand, however there are many awesome caving sites throughout the country for you to explore. Spelunkers (cavers) say that New Zealand has some of the most challenging and spectacular caving systems in the world, but even first-time cavers can enjoy our underground scenery. Caving experiences range from a dreamy drift through a glow-worm grotto to a rip-roaring, rope-dangling, action-packed subterranean adventure. In the North Island the best known caving area is Waitomo Caves in the Waikato region. There are caves that you can simply walk through; there are caves you can float through (this is called black water rafting); and there are caves that require abseiling, climbing and squeezing. Experienced operators here know how to turn you into a caver in a single day. The South Island has several caving areas – you’ll find guided underground adventures in Nelson, Fiordland and on the West Coast. Harwood’s Hole, just off the main Motueka-Takaka road in the Nelson region, is the deepest sinkhole in the southern hemisphere. You can look into it, but be careful you don’t fall in – it’s 180 metres straight down.
  • Rafting – From a quiet drift through forest wilderness to a white-knuckled, wide-eyed journey down turbulent rapids, rafting covers the full adventure spectrum. The mountains of New Zealand’s interior feed a myriad of fast flowing rivers that run through the forests to the sea. Grade 1 rivers offer relatively tranquil waters, while grade 5 is regarded as an extreme sport. Trips ranging from a couple of hours to five days are led by qualified rafting guides who comply with established safety codes. All gear and special clothing is provided. Rafting rivers in the North Island are mostly found in the central east coast areas of the Bay of Plenty and Hawke’s Bay. In the South Island, you’ll get the chance to try rafting around the resort town of Queenstown, Christchurch and on the West Coast. Some experiences include a combined helicopter and rafting experience. You can also try black water rafting through underground caves.

Nature walks and Wildlife

Natural spectacles and unique wildlife encounters are two of New Zealand’s biggest draw-cards.
There are few places in the world where, within the space of one day, you can experience mountain vistas, ancient forests, volcanic landscapes and stunning coastline – all whilst spotting New Zealand wildlife found nowhere else on earth.

Whale watching

You can spot whales in the North Island, but it’s Kaikoura in the South that is the main centre for whale watching in New Zealand. Kaikoura, on the east coast of the South Island, is one of the only places in the world where you can easily see sperm whales. Sperm whales, the largest of the toothed whales, grow to over 15 metres in length. They dive deep into the ocean to feed. The resident population of sperm whales at Kaikoura can be seen all year round. Orca (killer whales) may be seen from December to March, and humpback whales in June and July. Several dolphin species are seen almost daily in the area. Whales thrive close to Kaikoura because of its unusual submarine landscape. The continental shelf drops quickly into a number of extremely deep underwater canyons. In addition, a warm current from the north meets a colder one from the south. This causes nutrients from deep within the ocean to be carried upward, a phenomenon that helps to support all types of marine life from plankton and krill to dolphins and whales.