Unusual and Unique New Zealand

A Guide for the Adventurous

Sponsored by New Zealand Tourism Board

New Zealand may not be a very big country, but it certainly makes up for its size with some of the most gorgeous landscapes in the world.

Boasting rugged snow-covered mountains, gorgeous waterfalls, beautiful blue seas and white sand beaches. Its lush green landscapes are so magical and otherworldly they’re often been used as settings for fantasy films such as the Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong (2005). New Zealand — especially Queenstown — has also earned a reputation for being the best place in the world for adrenaline junkies.

Its lush green landscapes are so magical and otherworldly they’re often been used as settings for fantasy films.

Enjoy Thrills and Chills in Queenstown

How did Queenstown become the adrenaline capital of the world? By offering a mind-boggling number of activities for thrillseekers, including familiar ones such as:

  • Bungee jumping
  • Hang gliding
  • Jet boating
  • Paragliding
  • Skydiving

But Queenstown also offers activities that you may not have heard of. For example, you can go whitewater sledging or riverboarding down the wild Kawarau River.

What on Earth, you may be wondering, is sledging? Well, it’s similar to whitewater rafting, only without a raft. Instead you’ll be tackling the rapids up close and personal on a small bodyboard.

Then there is canyon swinging, which is like bungee jumping, except that you end up swinging back and forth like a crazy pendulum at the end.

Maori Culture in Rotorua

One of the best places in New Zealand to learn about the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, is Rotorua. Located on New Zealand’s North Island, Rotorua is home to the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute.

Here you’ll find cultural shows, the indigenous flightless Kiwi bird, and a opportunities to try the local fare, perhaps even a traditional hangi feast.

Rotorua is also famous for its geothermal features. Its Pohutu Geyser is the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere. Pohutu means constant splashing and, fortunately for visitors, this geyser lives up to its name, by erupting once or twice every hour.

Visit New Zealand’s Glaciers 

New Zealand boasts numerous glaciers, especially in the Southern Alps region of the South Island. The largest is the Tasman Glacier, which covers about 39 square miles and sits below New Zealand’s highest mountain, Mount Cook.

Beyond the glaciers, you’ll also find the stunning Fiordland National Park, including Milford, Dusky and Doubtful Sounds. Explore the area by kayak to see the miles of stunning waterfalls or enjoy one of their famous hikes through this ancient rainforest, surrounded by mountains and water.

Walk on the Wild Side

You’ve probably heard of Africa’s Big Five–the leopard, lion, elephant, Cape buffalo and rhinoceros. These are the creatures we all hope to see on a safari.

But you’ve probably never heard of New Zealand’s “Small Five.” This list includes some very unusual creatures that can be found in New Zealand.

  • Tuatara: a strange, lizard-like reptile
  • Hector’s dolphin: the smallest marine dolphin in the world
  • Kea: a parrot that will on occasion attack sheep
  • Yellow-eyed penguin: which may be the most ancient penguins in the world
  • Kiwi: that amazing hairy, flightless bird

Can’t find the yellow-eyed penguins? No worries. Go to Oamaru, which is home to a colony of blue penguins, the smallest penguins in the world. And while you’re out searching for wild critters, don’t forget to look for New Zealand’s famous glowworms. The most popular place to see them is in the Waitomo Caves on the North Island.

Visit the Vineyards

Do you love wine, sunshine and gorgeous countryside? Then you’ll want to hit the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, which will take you on a journey through three of this country’s top wine regions — Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa and Martinborough.

There are more than 230 wineries and vineyards along this trail, as well as many great restaurants. To get the most out of your time along the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail, consider visiting the area on a guided tour. Or — even better — rent a bike and cycle your way from one great winery to another.

These are just a few of the many ways to spend your time outside the city.