New Zealand - the home of the Maori culture, smelly mud pools, beautiful nature and adventure experiences!
New Zealand is home to so many beautiful nature spots and is the perfect place for nature-lovers. Or those seeking a cultural experience, as it’s also where the Maori culture originates from.
Allow a decent amount of time to explore all of the natural wonders of New Zealand. I would recommend 4 weeks (at least 3!) to explore both the North and the South Island. Yes, New Zealand is kinda divided into 2; The North Island and the South Island. I recommend visiting both islands, as they are pretty amazing!
In New Zealand, they use the dollar, but the New Zealand Dollar. However, a credit card gets accepted in most places.
New Zealand is most famous for serving beef and lamb - and Fish’n’Chips, yum! But wait, they are also pretty famous for their Hangi meals. Hangi is part of the Maori culture, and it’s a unique cooking method, where they use heated rocks, cover the food, and bury it down. It’s delicious! Another outstanding food is the Hokey Pokey ice cream flavor.
Many countries are a part of the Visa Waiver program, which means that you won’t need a Visa. However, you need an NZeTA (travel authority) that shows you’re allowed to get into New Zealand. You can check if your country is part of the program on the link below.
The climate in New Zealand is temperate and mild. Summer is in December, January, and February, while winter is in June, July, and August. However, it never gets too hot nor too cold, so choosing the perfect time to go can be tricky. It all depends on how you would like the climate - you can check out the link below for more information.
New Zealand is big, but luckily it’s easy to get around. The easiest way - and most liberating - would be to rent a car. This way, you can choose your own path. You can also opt for a tour bus like the Stray bus or the Kiwi experience, which takes you to the best places in NZ. Or take the local buses.
Let’s get you started on this itinerary of New Zealand. First things first, the North Island! Most people land on North Island, due to Auckland airport, which is the biggest airport. The North Island is actually referred to as the “cultural” one, as this is the best place to experience some of the Maori traditions (And yes, you should definitely experience them too!)
Most travelers arrive in Auckland, so we’ll start this itinerary here. But fear not, it works the other way around as well.
Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, and most populous by far. You can definitely feel that this is an urban city with its big buildings and skyscrapers. Like most other metropolitan cities, there’s a lot to see here as well and especially in the surrounding area, but a day or two should be enough time.
You can visit the SkyTower for a great view, or take a hike up to Mount Eden (for a great view as well).
Even though Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, you can still easily get around on your own two feet - at least in Downtown Auckland. If you wish to visit the Zoo, a bus might be a good option.
After you’ve experienced what Auckland has to offer, then head to Waitomo.
Did you notice the introduction where I mention adventure? If not, New Zealand is home to many adventure activities, and we’ll get to the first one right now.
Waitomo is a small village and known for its underground cave system. The Waitomo Caves have been made into a fun experience, where you can endure the glowworms. But you can also choose a more thrilling (and challenging!) experience where you can try out some bad-ass adventure. This includes rappelling down waterfalls, rock-climbing, and tubing in underground rivers.
This experience takes most of the day - your body is wrecked, so you’ll wanna rest afterward. When you’re done resting and feel like moving on, your next destination Rotorua is waiting for you. But remember to stop by Hobbiton, the movie set featured in The Lord of the Rings - it’s on the way to Rotorua.
Prepare to hold your breath - unless you like the smell of rotten eggs. Yes, Rotorua smells so bad, but this is due to the geothermal activity and the smell of sulfur. However, once you get used to the smell of rotten eggs, you’ll find that Rotorua actually has a lot to offer like hot springs and the red pine forest. Rotorua is also the best place to experience the Maori Culture and the Hangi feast - you’re in for a real treat here.
Head down to Lake Taupo and see the beautiful scenery of the lake. It’s the largest lake in New Zealand and a great spot for a day-trip! And also an excellent place to enjoy hot springs too.
Go a bit further down, and you’ll find yourself in Tongariro, where you can experience the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It’s one of the most famous day hikes in New Zealand, and it offers impressive views of New Zealand.
Alright, now it’s time for Wellington, the capital of New Zealand. Though this urban city is only the third-largest in the country! This means that it’s very walkable. Wellington is a cool capital, and you should spend a couple of days here to explore the vibe.
In Wellington, you can experience Te Papa. This place is a museum where you can really get to know the Maori culture. And it’s free!
Make sure to wander the cozy streets of Cuba street and Hannahs Laneway - and stop for a cup of coffee and some pastry. Or bring it along for your hike up Mount Victoria, where you can enjoy a magnificent view of Wellington.
Wellington is also known for its Craft Beer Bars. In the evening, be sure to visit one of those.
The South Island is bigger than the North, and it’s famous for its natural beauty. There are many mountains, lakes, national parks... Well, yes, it’s just the perfect place to explore nature and its many sights.
… And after spending a couple of days in the capital, you’ll want to rest up in the peaceful Abel Tasman National Park.
Abel Tasman is actually the smallest national park in New Zealand. However, it such a beautiful place and a perfect spot for enjoying nature. In this national park, you can go on hikes, enjoy the picturesque beach, or Kayaking. Kayaking is a popular sport here, and you can either go on a guided tour or simply rent your own kayak.
On your way down to your next destination, remember to stop by Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes!
Franz Josef is a cool small town - when I say small, I mean very, very small - and it’s mostly known for its glacier. The Franz Josef Glacier is also the reason why it’s on this itinerary.
Have you ever wanted to fly in a helicopter, land on an actual glacier, and then explore it? Well, now is your chance! This is a one of a kind experience, and it’s worth every penny. After landing on the glacier, you’ll have to get proper gear on, and then spend the next couple of hours exploring the icy glacier. Trust me, this is an experience you’ll never forget.
Not far away Franz Josef is Lake Matheson. Lake Matheson is also known as Reflection Lake. Can you guess why? If not, take a look at the picture in the introduction. It’s a quick stop, but it’s such a beautiful place to go for a short walk and snap some photos of this fantastic lake.
On the way to Wanaka you'll also find “The Neck” - a viewpoint of Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea, and a beauiful place to have your lunch.
Wanaka is a popular ski- and resort town close to Queenstown. So if you’re in the mood for some skiing, then this is the perfect place to rent some gear and try out some slopes.
Wanaka also offers beautiful scenery, so be sure to head to the scenic spot #thatwanakatree, and Roy’s peak, which offers a magnificent view. The hike to Roys Peak is between 5-7 hours, so reserve a full day to do this hike.
In Wanaka, you can also visit Puzzling World, Wanaka's Wonderful World of Weirdness, where you can challenge yourself with all of the fun illusionists and the maze!
Queenstown is my favorite town - mainly because of all the adventures you can endure here, but also because of the chilled atmosphere and vibe! Queenstown is the capital of adventure!
There are so many thrilling adventures that await you, and the Nevis Bungy jump is definitely one of them. With 134M, you will be guaranteed a drop that will make your hat fall off - so remember to wear tight shoes and clothes. If the Nevis jump is too high, then check out the other jump that they can offer.
Besides Bungy Jump, there are also many other adventure activities. You can try out skydiving, paragliding, river rafting, jetboating - and the list goes on! If you need something less wild and expensive, then check out Queenstown Gardens Disc Golf.
Spend some time exploring the wonderful vibe that Queenstown has by visiting some of the bars, the park, or just strolling around the town.
Queenstown is also a bit of a foodie-paradise. Most people traveling to Queenstown need to taste the famous Fergburger. However, I would recommend heading to Devils Burger instead. They are so delicious - and there’s no queue to get it! Also, be sure to try out the cookie time, so you can finally taste that unique Hokey Pokey flavor.
Spend a day exploring Milford Sound, and go on a full-day trip to this magnificent place. Milford Sound is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you’ll see stunning views of waterfalls and Mitre Peak.
When it's time to leave Queenstown, and head up to Christchurch make sure you stop by Lake Tekapo. You'll have an amazing view over the lake and Mount Cook, the tallest mountain in New Zealand, in the background
Christchurch is the second-largest city in New Zealand and the largest city of the South Island. Most people probably know Christchurch as the “Earthquake city” in New Zealand. In 2011 it got hit by a big earthquake that caused severe damage to the city and killed 185 people. Today, you can still see and feel the damage that the quake did to Christchurch when you wander the streets.
Nonetheless, Christchurch is also a cool place to visit with its new street art, trendy bars, and green gardens. Be sure to pay the Botanic Gardens and Avon river a visit. And afterward, head to New Regent Street for a bit of last-minute shopping. New Regent Street is also a heritage site with Spanish architecture.
When you’re ready for a good night’s sleep, head to the Jailhouse. Don’t worry, I am not suggesting you get arrested! But this place is actually a former jail, now turned into a hostel. How cool is that?