How To See New Zealand: Top Activities For The True Kiwi Experience

by Melanie Sherman

New Zealand is a country of vast landscape, Middle Earth, rugby, and volcanoes. With a country made up of a North and South Island, it could take years to see everything the New Zealanders have to offer. Also called Kiwis, named after their national bird, their country is ripe with things to do. Below is a list of the top seven attractions you must see when visiting the land of the Kiwis.

The beautiful New Zealand countryside.
The beautiful New Zealand countryside. Photo by Melanie Sherman

1. Take In A Rugby Game (and Their Dance)

Rugby may not be a big deal in the states, but in New Zealand, it is one of the most important sports. The country’s team, the All Blacks, show the world why the country is famous for the sport. They hosted the Rugby World Cup in 2011 and currently hold the Cup itself, it would be an absolute shame to ignore what is such an integral sport in the Kiwi culture. Before every international match, the All Blacks perform the Haka – a traditional Maori war dance, which is an amazing site to see. Whether you take in a local team or the national team, a rugby match is a sports match that cannot be missed.

2. Milford Sound

Located in the southwest of New Zealand’s South Island, Milford Sound. It is the best known of all fiords in New Zealand, and certainly, one of the most pristine. Although it is named Milford Sound, it is most commonly recognized as one of New Zealand’s fiords. A part of Fiordland National Park, there are plenty of ways to see this amazing wonder. You can take a day trip in a glass roofed coach, with a 2.25 hour cruise through the beautiful scenery. You can also take a day cruise, go kayaking, or visit Milford Discovery Centre, New Zealand’s only floating underwater observatory. There, you can take in the varying marine life that inhabits Milford Sound and see it from every angle.

3. Whale and Dolphin Safari

There are whales and dolphins everywhere. However, being able to find them on a boat safari is not so easy. In Auckland, you can board a boat for a journey through the ocean, where you can see whales and dolphins jumping and frolicking in the water. You may even be able to watch dolphins play at the back of the boat, jumping up and down in the waves from the engine. Whales and/or dolphins are seen on most trips! Located in Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, see these gorgeous creatures on this 4.5 hour long journey into ocean life.

4. Driving Tour

There is a lot to see in New Zealand, probably more than anyone realizes. When you have two islands to take in, one of the easiest ways to see a lot of the country in a short amount of time is by taking a driving tour. In Auckland, the driver can take you to some of the most wonderful sights – including Auckland Harbour Bridge, Devonport, the craters of Mt. Eden, Mission Bay, and more. You will see gorgeous views of Auckland and out at sea, where you can see Rangitoto Island. Drivers will educate you on all things Kiwi — places to go, expensive property, different beaches, and other things you can only imagine. A driving tour allows you to see Auckland as a local, to see spots you would never be able to find on your own, but special places, hidden places that the New Zealanders truly cherish.

5. Wine Tasting

New Zealand is world renowned for its wine, specifically for its Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Villa Maria is a notable and most awarded winery, though there are many wineries throughout New Zealand. Make sure to take a tour of a winery, and see the huge facilities and vineyards that allow for some of the tastiest wine. After the tour, you can take your time and sample different wines, tasting the special Sauvignon Blanc, as well as other reds and whites. Try a sampling of food if you can, it will pair perfectly with the wine!

6. Waitomo Caves

Found on New Zealand’s North Island, the Waitomo Caves are something that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. An experience like no other, take the trek to Otorohanga and see the glowworms unique to the caves. At the beautiful Waitomo Caves, learn all about the history of the caves as you make your way underground to a place that looks like something out of a mystical picture book. Finally, take a boat tour in complete darkness to see the bright blue glowworms. What looks like millions of them cover the ceiling, and create a breathtaking experience – something you will never see again.

7. Middle-Earth

For many people, the first names to pop into their heads when they think of New Zealand are Frodo, Gollum, and the precious ring. The famously successful movie trilogy Lord of the Rings was filmed in New Zealand. The films have brought high regard for the lush green of the beautiful island country. While you may not find hobbits there, you will find the beautiful landscape that only New Zealand could deliver. You can tour set locations, look at the green lands, or even try to find the ring yourself! Tours depart from  Queenstown, and with so much to see, you will certainly keep busy.

No matter what you choose to see while in New Zealand – whether you travel through Milford Sound or visit dolphins in the marine park, there is no doubt there is lots to do in this beautiful island nation.