New Zealand is a country packed with so much adventure and so many things to do that you’ll never be able to “do it all” in just one visit. But if you’re anything like us, you’ll want to pack in as much as you can! From must-try New Zealand foods to heart-thumping adventures, to wildlife encounters, there is something for everyone in this country. We’ve put together a list of the best things to do in New Zealand on your first visit so you can start creating a bucket list for your very own Kiwi adventure.
Top 7 Things To Do In New Zealand
1. Boogie Board Down Sand Dunes at 90-Mile Beach
For the young and young at heart, Ninety Mile Beach is just waiting for an adventure. Miles (deceivingly only 55 of them) of pure white sand await at the northern tip of New Zealand’s north island.
Popular activities include surfing the left-hand breaks or bodyboarding down the giant sand dunes. Either one will get your heart pumping and your soul singing! Just a word of warning – you’ll need to keep an eye out for unexpected traffic on the sand… This beach is actually an official highway!
2. Set Sail in the Bay of Islands
One of the greatest things about New Zealand is its accessibility. The best sights aren’t reserved for the rich and resourceful, anyone can enjoy the spectacular nature of this wild land.
This rings true no more so than in the lush surrounds of the Bay of Islands. What feels like a wealthy sanctuary of perfect beaches, deserted islands and secluded inlets, is accessible to everyone. And this region of New Zealand’s North Island is concealing some of the countries most interesting and important historical sites.
3. Spend a night in a Mountain Hut
There is a vast network of mountain huts all around New Zealand that make it possible to do multi-day treks. Spending the night in one of the 1,000+ huts across the country is worthy of a spot on any adventure seeker’s bucket list.
The huts vary from super remote and basic to easily accessible and comfortable. Do your research because they also vary in price and popularity. Some book out weeks in advance, while others are hardly ever full.
4. Walk up Auckland’s Highest Volcanic Cone
A surprisingly short walk will have you at the top of Auckland’s highest volcanic cone, Mount Eden. Catch your breath (it’s a fairly steep walk) as you take in the expansive views of Auckland City and its busy harbour.
The 50m deep crater is unlike anything you’re likely to have experienced before. It’s a sacred place, so be sure to admire it from above rather than walking through it. View the relics of an ancient Māori village, and on the way back down, check out the Eden Gardens, a tranquil oasis in a bustling city.
5. Swim with Dolphins
If you grew up obsessed with “Flipper” and all things dolphin-related, this experience will be a dream come true.
Just off the coast of the small South Island town of Kaikoura is home to the Dusky Dolphin. This species is known for being small (maximum of 2 meters long) and very playful. They are quite the acrobats, and can often be seen doing flips out of the water!
6. Dig Your Own Spa at Hot Water Beach
Grabbing a spade and digging your very own hot water pool in the sand is somewhat of a Kiwi institution. Located in the Coromandel, not far from Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach has become one of the most popular things to do in New Zealand. For locals as well as visitors!
The beach is a spectacular place to visit any time, but 2 hours before and after high tide you’ll find families, couples and friends brandishing gardening tools as they head towards the beach. Soak in the warm water and relax as you enjoy the stunning scenery that surrounds you.
7. Hang Out at the Hamilton Gardens
Hamilton isn’t normally at the top of visitor’s wish lists when planning a trip to New Zealand, but there’s one very good reason you should be adding this underrated North Island town to your itinerary. The Hamilton Gardens are an award-winning attraction, world-renowned by garden enthusiasts, but little known to everyone else. The thing that really makes them stand apart is the elaborate themes they’re designed around. Walking through the gardens is like taking a tour around the world – while being much more achievable!