Get to Know New Zealand’s Adventurous Side

Rugged, beautiful, inspiring—New Zealand has carved out a special place in the hearts of travelers worldwide. The country’s North and South islands offer the chance to explore a mix of cosmopolitan cities, craggy mountain peaks, verdant vineyards, rushing waterfalls, quiet beaches and serene glacial sounds in just one visit. Adventures are easy to find here, and each one includes unforgettable encounters with some of the nicest, and quirkiest, locals you’ll ever meet. To give you a taste, here are five must-see, must-do and must-taste experiences when visiting New Zealand.

Explore Auckland

Straddling the northern peninsula of the North Island and flanked by two sparkling harbors, Auckland is punctuated with volcanic cones and fertile farmland. Although its skyline boasts the gleaming skyscrapers of a big city, the vibe is still laid back—thanks to its seaside location, nearby beaches and abundant parks. A city pass will grant you access to the main attractions like the Fullers Ferry to Rangitoto Island, the Sky Tower’s 360-degree city views, the art gallery and the famous zoo. But for those craving some adventure, climb the city’s 200-foot-tall Auckland Harbour Bridge and revel in the picturesque views of the Waitemata Harbour and a panorama of the city.

Winetasting on Waiheke

Dubbed New Zealand’s “Wine Island,” Waiheke’s 20 vineyards and wineries create an oenophile’s paradise. Just a quick 35-minute ferry from Auckland, a trip to Waiheke is the perfect holiday escape. To sip as many varietals as you can, opt for a wine tour, which will take you to multiple vineyards around the island, including favorites like Peacock Sky, Mudbrick and Cable Bay.

Visit the Glowworms in Waitomo Caves

Trust us—you haven’t seen anything like Waitomo Caves, though there’s a chance you’ve at least seen a photo of its mossy backdrop. Often called the “glowworm caves,” inside, thousands of dazzling luminescent creatures sparkle through the dark waters as you raft or hike through. There are plenty of ways to see them, from black water rafting, rappelling off the craggy mountain cliff or leisurely kayaking below them as they twinkle against the dark cave walls.

new zealand

Hike Past the Emerald Lakes of New Zealand

There’s a reason the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is voted as New Zealand’s greatest day walk – with over 10,000 eager hikers tackling this adventure every year. A venture through this stunning landscape will take you past volcanic craters, staggering rock formations and moonscape basins. On a clear day, the views are monumental, especially those of the ethereal Emerald Lakes.

Experience Milford Sound from High and Low

Arguably one of New Zealand’s most prized natural attraction, the Milford Sound on the South Island is home to the Milford Track, which is known as the “finest walk in the world.” Along the way, this 33.5-mile hike features jaw-dropping views, from lush rainforests and gushing river gorges to snowy, carved glacial peaks. Many adventurers choose another view, preferring to kayak in the crystal clear waters around Harrison Cover, where you can truly feel the Sound’s incredible size.