What are your favourite things to do in New Zealand?

What are your favourite things to do in New Zealand?

New Zealand has always been a dream Gap Year experience, boasting the coolest festivals, most adrenalin-tastic experiences and awesome 'silver screen' locations as well as stunning natural beauty and wildlife.

There is barely anywhere else in the world you can find such a wide range of experiences on offer from visiting an historic Maori Pa, enjoying a jazz festival in Queenstown, climbing a volcano, digging your own hot water spa pool or seeing the astounding Putangirua Pinnacles in Palliser Bay.

Try sand surfing, whale spotting or swimming on the shores of the beautiful Lake Wakatipu, just some of the countless cool travel experiences on offer in New Zealand that don’t cost a penny and the reasons why NZ is the ultimate Gap Year destination.

Check out our New Zealand Tourism’s highlights for some breath-taking, free experiences that you won’t forget.


Visit Te Mata Peak for amazing nature walks and 360 degree views of Hawke’s Bay or find your inner child and enjoy a slippery thrill at Rere Rock, Gisborne's very own natural rock slide. Why not climb an active volcano in Auckland and then relax on black sand beaches or go underground at the Clifden Caves at Tuatapere to immerse yourself in an underworld of glow - worms and ancient stalactites.

Natural Beauty

Be sure to take your camera when walking over the spectacular Waiohine Gorge suspension bridge, which forms a dramatic gateway to Tararua Forest Park or drive along the Southern Scenic Route with its jaw dropping scenery and you’ll find Jack's Blowhole. Watch as the waves compress through the tunnel and explode out of the blowhole. With sweeping coastline views and chances of seeing marine wildlife such as penguins and dolphins this is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. 

Be the first to see the sunrise: Gisborne is the first city in the world to see the sun rise each day, and beautiful Wainui Beach provides a perfect spot from which to watch the sky slowly change as the sun bursts from the sea.

Unique Experiences

Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel provides hours of free fun. Keep an eye out for the hot water bubbling to the surface, once you find your spot start digging to create your very own natural hot water spa right there in the sand.

Or bathe under a stunning hot waterfall at Kerosene Creek surrounded by native bush.

In Canterbury you can gaze up at the stars at the International Dark Sky Reserve (Mackenzie Basin) or get active on Mount Cook and Port Hills walking trails. Don’t forget to visit the new bars, cafes and shops in Christchurch’s city centre, bouncing back from the earthquake in 2011, the city is a hotbed of creative architecture, quirky hangouts, pop up stores and community spirit.

Feed the Mind

There’s always plenty to do at Te Papa Museum in Wellington. It has been said there is approximately 60,000 hours of reading to be had within the museum. Pop in and have a look around, you’re bound to find something new every time you’re there. Don't forget to visit the Colossal Squid.

Mix wine and culture with Nelson’s Art & Craft Trail and visit galleries in stunning locations among the vines or take a guided walk of Napier to discover its Art Deco buildings and history.

See our definitive list of 50 free things to do in New Zealand below:

North Island

1. Sand Surfing –Northland

2. Spot dolphins from the beach – Northland

3. Cape Reinga Lighthouse– Northland

4. Collect a feast of fresh shellfish, you might even find a famous green lipped mussel – Northland

5. Visit an historic Maori Pa –Northland

6. Meet Tāne Mahuta, NZ’s largest living Kauri tree – Northland

7. Discover unique art at the Hunderwasser Art toilets and museum – Northland

8. Visit Auckland’s newly redeveloped art gallery – Auckland

9. Climb a volcano for stunning view of the Hauraki gulf– Auckland

10. Swim amongst colourful fish at Goat Island Marine Reserve - north of Auckland

11. Watch the sails on the harbour – Auckland Harbour

12. Discover the story of gardens at Hamilton Gardens  - Waikato

13. Meet the New Zealand Kaka in its natural habitat - Waikato

14. See the world’s only hot soda spring geyser – Mokena Geyser – Waikato

15. Dig your own hot water spa pool – Hot Water Beach – Coromandel

16. Hike The Pinnacles – Coromandel

17. Explore NZ’s Gold Mining History in stunning Karangahake Gorge - Hamilton

18. Soak under a hot waterfall at Kerosene Creek – Rotorua

19. See boiling mud pools for free at Kuirau Park – Rotorua

20. View an intricately carved Maori Meeting House and a Tudor-style Church – Rotorua

21. Find your inner child and slide down the Rere Rock Slide-  near Gisborne

22. Be the first to see the sunrise: Gisborne is the first city in the world to see the sun rise each day

23. Climb or drive up Te Mata Peak for 360 degree views of Hawke’s Bay – Hawkes Bay

24. Walk along the beach to Cape Kidnappers to see the largest accessible mainland Gannet Colony – Hawke’s Bay

25. Grab a free brochure from the i-SITE and walk the city of Napier to discover the Art Deco buildings and history – Hawke’s Bay

26. Explore the spooky looking rock formations known as the Putangirua Pinnacles in Palliser Bay – Wairarapa

27. Walk over the spectacular Waiohine Gorge suspension bridge – Wairarapa

28. Visit Te Papa Museum and see the colossal squid –Wellington

29. Visit the Weta Cave to discover why Wellington is the now Wellywood - Wellington

South Island

30. See seal pups frolicking in natural pools – Kaikoura

31. Gaze up at the stars at the Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve - Canterbury

32. Check out creativity born from the Earthquake – Christchurch

33. Try counting the steps of the world’s steepest street – Baldwin St in Dunedin

34. Visit the stunning and evocative Tunnel Beach –Dunedin

35. Picnic, swim or sun bath on the shores of beautiful Lake Wakatipu – Queenstown

36. Enjoy one of many free community events such as NYE fireworks, Glenorchy Races, JazzFest – Queenstown

37. Visit Arrowtown Chinese Settlement Village - Arrowtown

38. Taste wine while enjoying amazing views – Rippon Vineyard – Wanaka

39. Share your sandwich and feed trout and eels in Lake Wanaka -Wanaka

40. Gaze into the reflective Mirror Lakes – Fiordland

41. Explore the Chasm, just one of the natural wonders on the The Milford Road – Fiordland

42. Meet Yellow Eyed Penguins and sea lions on a walk at Nugget Point Lighthouse – The Catlins

43. Explore a 160 million year old petrified forest – The Catlins

44. Stand at the southernmost point of New Zealand’s South Island - Bluff

45. Experience the spray at Jack’s Blowhole, Owaka

46. Visit some of the art and craft galleries in Nelson, including Millennium Gallery, Yealands Estate Marlborough Gallery and Riverlore Gallery - Nelson

47. Great Tastes of NZ offers free tastings of its fruit brandies and schnapps, as well as internationally acclaimed Lemon Ice, Southern Star Vodka and Blenheim Bay Gin – Blenheim

48. Pelorus Scenic Reserve has Maori and European history, enjoy the Rai swing bridge while taking in the flora and fauna and native birdlife

49. Browse Picton’s galleries shops and cafes and take the heritage walk around the Picton Foreshore for views of the Queen Charlotte Sound

50. Go underground and check out the Clifden Caves, Tuatapere. These limestone caves are roughly 22 million years old and feature amazing stalactites, stalagmites and glow-worms. Ensure you have safety hat, visibility jacket, waterproofs and you go in pairs – Near Invercargill.

For information about New Zealand’s extensive vacation options, log onto the 100% Pure New Zealand website at www.NewZealand.com

What are your favourite things to do in New Zealand? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @FemaleFirst_UK


Shabana Adam

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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