- Lord of the Rings Horseback Riding Tour in Glenorchy
- Drive the Road to Milford Sound
- Queenstown Skyline Gondola & Luge
- Hike the Hooker Valley Track & Tongariro Alpine Crossing
- Swim with wild Dusky dolphins in Kaikoura
- Visit the Te Papa Museum
- Explore Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Park
- Mitai Maori Village Hangi Feast & Cultural Experience
- Black Water Rafting in Waitomo
- Cathedral Cove Sea Kayak Tour
- Eat: Tip Top Goody Goody gum drops ice cream, Afghan’s, Chocolate Fish, Hokey Pokey Ice Cream, Cookie Time cookie, Pavlova meringue dessert, Pineapple lumps, Lamingtons, Golden kiwifruit, minced meat pies, sausage sizzles with Wattie’s tomato sauce, Rewena potato bread, Manuka honey, Kumara
- New Zealand is great to visit all year round, but I thought visiting in December was perfect. It’s the start of their Summer season, but it’s not crowded with tourists yet. The South Island is warm but can get chilly at night, but the North Island is beautiful beach weather. Also, you’ll see colorful lupins blooming along the lakefronts, which makes for postcard-worthy photos.
- Rent a car: I recommend Go Rentals for great customer service and competitive prices
- I mostly stayed in hostels while I was there. They are not to be compared with hostels in Europe, which can be overcrowded, unsafe, or dingy. Most hostels in New Zealand are upscale, comfortable, safe, and a great place to meet other travelers and save some money.
- Check out my 2-week Itinerary post for specific names of hostels where I stayed
New Zealand is a country that I thought was completely out of my reach and too far away, but it had always been my dream destination. I was so happy to be able to visit for two weeks at the end of 2015. For the first part of my trip, I rented a car with a friend and traveled independently around the South Island for the first few days. It was great to be able to set our own pace and stop on the side of the road whenever we wanted to take pictures.
For the second half of the trip, we met up with a group from Haka Tours to tour the North Island. Our tour guide was amazing and we made great friends with the group members. The tour was very organized, with lots of things to do and see, and we were still allowed plenty of free time.
There’s something for everyone in New Zealand: beautiful scenery, outdoor activities, cultural experiences, thrilling adventures, and plenty of opportunities to relax. The people are very friendly and have cool accents. I’m definitely looking forward to my next visit some day!