Snowy peaks, primaeval forests, a desert, volcanoes, white sand beaches and glaciers and all of that in a country smaller than Italy. The beautiful islands of New Zealand offer you a wonderful experience with the rich culture of Maori and a variety of adventure sports to spark off that adrenaline rush inside you. One of the most interesting countries to travel, New Zealand is also the filming location for the famed Hollywood movie, The Lord of the Rings!
To help you get an idea of what to do and what you shouldn´t miss, we provide you with the top 5 things to do. But don´t forget, it´s a varied country with many things to do, so be prepared for the journey of your lifetime.
1. Hike to the Tongariro Crossing
We start with the best day-hike in New Zealand and one of the most spectacular ones in the world – The Tongariro Alpine Crossing. Not one of the easiest activities, this hike involves at least 8 hours of walking for a stretch of 19.6 km. Be prepared for muscle soreness. As they say “The best view comes after the hardest climb”, it is very evident when you complete this exhaustive hike. At the end of this adventurous trek, you will be rewarded with breathtaking landscapes, including emerald lakes, the blue lake, the red crater, soda springs and of course stunning mountains like Mount Ngaharura, better known as Mount Doom. Another addition to the normal hike is the 3 hours long way to Mount Tongariro and back. The best time to hike is during the summer months between December and February. Like in all of New Zealand, the weather is quite unpredictable, so wait for a few days before your trek.
2. Experience the Maori Culture
Maori people are the indigenous people of New Zealand who moved here 1000 years ago. In the rugby world, All Blacks, the national rugby team of New Zealand is credited to bring the famous War dance, ‘The Haka’ from the Maori culture to the world. What better way than to witness it live! And where could you better experience the Maori Culture than in one of the villages across the Islands? Here you can see the traditional dance as well as the Maori meeting groups called Marae. The best places to experience Maori culture are the Bay of Plenty, Auckland, Waikato, and the Northland regions. Apart from understanding and experiencing the Maori culture, the Bay of Plenty also lets you witness a lot of geothermal activities. To experience the geothermal activity, visit the Wai-O-Tapu thermal wonderland located near Rotorua. Also worth visiting is the Hell’s Gate Geothermal Park.
3. Get up-close with an Active Volcano at White Island Volcano
One more of a unique experience in New Zealand is the visit to an active volcano, White Island. But why is it a must-see and on our list of top 5 things to do in New Zealand? It is because no other active volcano on earth allows you to come this close! It is something truly special to see the earth seeth, rumble and smoke like this. You will even get a helmet and a breathing mask! The island itself is a stunning, surreal landscape with mud pools and an omnipresent smell of sulphur. Historically, the island, or better the smoke of the volcano, was used by the Maori as a navigation point. It is situated 50 km before the coast of the Eastern Bay of Plenty. There is just one tour operator so you might have to book in advance. It takes around an hour and a half to reach the volcano. On the way you may also be lucky and get to see dolphins, jumping out of the surrounding waters!
4. Visit a glacier surrounded by rainforests at Franz Josef Glacier
This point shows how New Zealand is an amalgamation of different geographical variations of nature and how all of these exist in unique conditions! Where else can you see a glacier, surrounded by rainforests? If you are lucky enough to visit New Zealand, you should take a look at this place, you won´t regret it. Considered as one of its kind, it´s beauty is based on the rugged gradient it follows as well as on the high rainfall in this area. In the glacier catchment area, it snows and creates a magical atmosphere. Be prepared to witness all different kinds of weather, which might affect your activities there. With blue-tinged caves and crevasses, it is indeed a true adventure. You can also enjoy trails like the Glacier Valley walk as well as swimming in the hot pools. Try outdoor activities like quad biking or clay target shooting to make this trip even better.
5. Visit the Goat Island Marine Reserve
A 574-hectare aquatic area was established in 1975 as the country’s first marine reserve, around 3km away from Leigh. The Goat Island is the local name for Cape Rodney/Okakari Point Marine Reserve. In less than 10 years, it has become a rich ecological area, teeming with fish and other sea life. You can enjoy observing the marine life or indulge in adventure water sports like snorkelling, clear kayaking, and scuba diving. You can also stretch your legs a bit and walk around at the Goat Island Walkway.
It´s difficult to find a wider variety of landscapes for adventures in such a small area, and that´s what makes New Zealand a unique experience and an unforgettable place to travel! Experience the planet in its most perfect form and live in the earth’s embrace of its true bounty. The cradle of adventure, wildlife, nature and sheer excitement, awaits you here in the Land of Kiwis.
“Everywhere you turn in New Zealand, there’s something exciting to do. It’s the gem of the world. It’s so far away from the madness, and so you get that element. It was just stunning.”