New Zealand’s diverse natural landscapes offer endless choices for adventure and rejuvenation on the North Island and South Island. Hike rainforests, kayak past waterfalls and witness amazing wildlife. Relax on miles of pristine beaches and in healing hot springs. Dine on delectable cuisine, paired with award-winning wines or local craft beers, be enriched by Māori cultural experiences and warmed by welcoming local Kiwis.
Here are some stunning destinations you won’t want to miss on your New Zealand journey.
On the North Island, the Bay of Plenty delights visitors seeking action-packed adventures year-round. Here you can witness New Zealand’s only active marine volcano spurt molten hot lava that changes colors almost daily. Take a surf lesson in the waves at the base of Mount Maunganui, then relax on the lovely white-sand beach. Board a charter boat for deep water fishing or swim with friendly dolphins. You can also navigate heart-pounding, Class-V rapids on a raft or take in epic views on several mountain bike and hiking trails. Art galleries abound here, lending insights into both historical and modern local art. A must-do is a stroll along the historic walkway — Nga Tapuwae o Toi — with sweeping vistas of steep sea cliffs, ancient sites, bird colonies, remote bays and lush forest.
The city of Rotorua, also on the North Island, is most well-known for its geothermal springs, perfect for a relaxing soak, but there are also ample opportunities for fun. Kayak or raft on the Kaituna River and brave the Tutea Falls — the world’s highest commercially rafted waterfall. Get a bird’s-eye view on a skydive or try the popular Zorb — where you are strapped into a clear plastic ball and rolled downhill like a huge hamster! To unwind afterward, head to Hot Water Beach to soothe your sore muscles in warm, natural hot springs. You can also soak up Māori culture and hospitality with a visit to a traditional village.
Head to the north side of the South Island to Nelson and Abel Tasman National Park. This region’s magnificent coasts offer outdoor splendors, art and beer, among other highlights. This area is particularly popular with backpackers. Try an exhilarating jet boat tour or a low-key catamaran sailing. You can even swim with seals and see New Zealand’s little blue penguins, found nowhere else in the world. If you prefer to explore by land, choose from several biking, hiking, horseback riding or four-wheel drive tours. In town, meander through artists’ galleries and be sure to visit Jens Hansen Gold & Silversmith, the shop owned by the creators of the ring for The Lord of the Rings movies. Sip and swirl some of this region’s many wineries’ varietals in cafes, fine restaurants or on a vineyard tour. Neudorf Vineyards is a good place to start. If wine’s not your taste, you’ll be delighted at Nelson’s choice of craft breweries, including a certified organic brewery that only uses fresh local ingredients to make their thirst-quenching beers.
Kaikoura is whale-watching central. Here, you can get up close to Orcas, Giant Sperm Whales, Pilot Whales and Humpbacks. You can choose to cruise near the whales by boat or enjoy aerial views on a scenic helicopter flight. Have your breath taken away as you watch these magnificent marine creatures breach. After the day’s whale-spotting adventures, refuel with fresh seafood, a specialty of the area, at many restaurants serving up world-class cuisine. The Māori word “Kaikoura” means “to eat crayfish” and the famous delicacy can be tasted in many restaurants or it can be purchased from one of many seaside stands to be savored overlooking the sparkling sea.
Every day a journey to the North Island and South Island of New Zealand brings countless ways to enjoy pure beauty, excitement and rejuvenation. New Zealand’s stunning landscapes, endless adventures and friendly locals are just an overnight flight away. Year-round, you’ll find plenty of ways to experience adventure, natural wonders, culture and relaxation in this beautiful one-of-a-kind country.
Are you ready to experience an unforgettable North Island and South Island getaway? Talk to one of our specialized travel agents today to begin planning a personalized itinerary for your New Zealand vacation.