We spent a solid month exploring New Zealand and didn’t even scratch the surface of all the amazing things to do in this breathtaking country. But are we sad about it? Heck no, it just means that we have to come back! Here are the adventures at the top of our list for our inevitable return to the Land of the Long White Cloud.
Bay of Islands
At the northernmost tip of New Zealand, these 144 islands offer stunning scenery, marine life and the seat of Kiwi culture. For a dose of history we’d start at Waitangi, where the Maori and British settlers founded the nation, then hike the dramatic Cape Brett, sand board Te Paki dunes, scuba Poor Knights Island Marine Reserve, and boat to Tapeka Point to watch the whales, penguins, and dolphins play.
Queenstown is such a fun summer getaway but with the Remarkable Mountains and 50+ bars, you know it has to be a rocking ski town. The lovely Cornet Peak is a stone’s throw from downtown and for a little extra challenge, Treble Cone near Wanaka is where the locals shred the gnar.
Bike The West Coast Wilderness Trail
We would bike all of New Zealand if we had our druthers, but if we had to choose one section to cycle it would be this stunning 160km swath of the Southern Alps. Follow in the path of New Zealand’s early miners along their old logging tramways, through dense rainforest, past glacial rivers and lakes with views to both the Tasman Sea and the snow-capped mountains in one wild ride–be it for a few hours or days.
Waitomo Gloworms Caves
We were completely dazzled when we saw a handful of these bio-luminescent algae twinkling in a forest and can only imagine what 1000s would be like at Waitomo Caves. In this North Island town, boats navigate the network of limestone tunnels and grottoes by boat, culminating at the Cathedral cave with its galaxy of glowworms.
Hike The Routeburn Track
This Great Walk of New Zealand winds through two of country’s greatest national parks, Fjiordland and Mt. Aspiring, climbing from the valley floor to beech to alpine forest and cresting above Milford Sound. This 3-day and 32-kilometer hike offers ever-changing scenery, including pristine lakes, dramatic waterfalls and awe-inspiring peaks.
Everyone knows about Milford Sound but this lesser known fjord has the dramatic mountain scenery and rich wildlife without the crowds…it’s actually famous for its utter peace and quiet. We’d hop the overnight cruise for sunset and wake up to kayak the coves and search for Fjordland penguins.
There is so much to do in New Zealand that it may be time to call in the professionals to pull it off. Our friends and partners, Active Adventures, are an awesome Kiwi-owned outfitter that heads to all of the locations above and virtually all the destinations we HoneyTrekked in New Zealand. They run 8 to 14 day trips that hit the best of the North and South Island with a local savvy and adventurous spirit. New Zealand is all about rugged, natural beauty and getting after it…with trekking, kayaking, skiing, heli-hiking, scuba diving, and true exploration. It’s hard to pack it all into a couple weeks…but to make the most out of your time in New Zealand, reach out to Active Adventures!