New Zealand, NZ, Middle Earth. Whatever you call this breath taking land, it is definitely one of those “places you should visit before you die”. Famously known for being the place where The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were shot, tourism in New Zealand is booming. With its stunning landscape, great weather, and wide range of extreme activities that one can engage in, how can it not attract attention?
Here are 10 things to do in New Zealand for your bucket list!
Become a Hobbit at Hobbiton
Located near Matamata in the north island, the Hobbiton Movie Set Farm Tour is the first must do. For all The Lord of the Rings fans, this is really a dream come true. I did a LOTR movie marathon prior to my trip to get excited for this tour and it definitely did not disappoint. We got to visit The Shire and see all the little hobbit holes, including Bilbo’s! There are even life sized hobbit holes that you can go inside to get a photo. We also learned a lot about how the movie set was created and many fascinating facts about the movie.
Read more about visiting Hobbiton movie set on Clare’s blog, ilive4travel.
Go blackwater rafting in the Waitomo Caves
This was a magical experience that I still dream about. You will feel your adrenaline pumping as you descend into the dark waters of the underground cave, and be amazed when you look up to find thousands of glowworms, twinkling like stars above your head. The black water rafting company we went with was really great. The guides were informative, funny and took good care of us. Check them out here. (Be warned, this activity is not for the claustrophobic as you will be in dark and really enclosed spaces)
For more options for seeing glowworms in New Zealand, check out this post by Samantha from Have Seat, Will Travel.
Jump out of a plane!
Definitely the craziest thing that I’ve ever done since I am afraid of heights. There are many places to do sky diving in New Zealand. The two places that I can recommend are Lake Taupo and Franz Joseph. I did my 15,000 ft jump in Lake Taupo and the view was incredible. The experience of freefalling was insanely scary but liberating at the same time. Franz Joseph is also a great location for taking the leap because you will get to see the amazing glaciers down below.
Zorbing is an activity where you are stuffed in a giant ball with water and pushed down a hill. Sounds crazy? My friend and I did this in Rotorua in the north island. (we were in the same ball may I add) It was a short experience but so much fun! We could not stop laughing like maniacs as we sloshed around in the ball while it zig zag rolled down the hill. It felt like we were in a giant laundry machine. Don’t worry, you won’t get dizzy and you won’t drown.
Challenge the Tongariro Crossing Hike/Climb Mount Doom
The most epic hike you will do in middle earth. This world-renowned trek has everything: volcano, green emerald lake, giant craters…Every moment of this hike I was wowed. Mount Ngauruhoe is an active volcano in the Tongariro National Park. It is the setting for Mount Doom in The Lord of The Rings and many people take on the challenge of climbing it. My friend and I did the same and it was as difficult as Frodo and Sam made it seem. There were no paths and we were literally climbing on our hands and feet. This hike definitely requires some level of physical fitness, and be prepared to be covered in dust. However, the views, the memories, the photos, and the bragging rights will guarantee to last a lifetime.
Relax in beautiful Kaikoura
Kaikoura is a small town on the east coast of the south island. It is famous for whale watching. Kaikoura is a beautiful tranquil place with mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. It is a place great for relaxation and appreciating nature.
Hike the Franz Joseph/Fox Glacier
Being from Canada, I would say I see enough ice and snow in my life. Usually trips that involve being in the cold do not entice me. However, I would highly recommend doing the Franz Joseph/Fox Glacier hike. It was very cool (punny?) to walk on a giant ice mountain in our special equipment. It felt like we were on a different planet. Plus, it was very interesting learning about how glaciers were formed. Science rocks!
Learn about the Māori Culture
The Māori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. Their rich heritage can be seen everywhere in New Zealand. Check out their artworks, food and definitely watch a kapa haka performance
Go Luging in Queenstown
Luging is an activity where you ride a one man toboggan down a track. The Skyline Luge in Queenstown is very popular so you probably want to buy your tickets before hand. Grab a friend and have a race! It’s a lot of fun.
Eat at the Skyline Restaurant
This amazing restaurant is located in Queenstown. On top of a big hill, the Skyline restaurant offers a gorgeous panoramic view of the town. The best time to go is around sunset. The buffet is absolutely delicious. With fresh seafood, salad, roast meats, and desserts, it’s hard to resist the urge to try everything.
For more tips, check out the article by A Traveller’s Footsteps on planning a trip to New Zealand. Bon Voyage!
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