Interactive Travel Guide – What to do in New Zealand

Photograph by Fraser Gunn
Photograph by Fraser Gunn

One of the regular features on LandLopers is the Interactive Travel Guide. The idea is to highlight one city or country every week and then get the best recommendations from you all. By the end of the week, we hopefully will have created the best tips not from guide books, but from real people.

Today I want to do something a little different, I want to highlight the entire country of New Zealand.

Blog4NZ logoThis week I am supporting a remarkable effort, the #Blog4NZ Project. The goal of the initiative is simple: To help New Zealand recover from its devastating earthquake and encourage tourists to return to this magnificent country.

The Interactive Travel Guide series isn’t just for people who have traveled to the highlighted destinations. I have always welcomed comments about the experiences people want to do most, even if they haven’t been there. Today, I fall into that category as I have never been fortunate enough to travel to the land of the Kiwis, even though I intend to visit as soon as I can.

In fact, putting together these New Zealand pieces has actually made me want to visit New Zealand all that much more. Researching and reading about the unique landscapes and fabulous activities has been fantastic travel porn. I’m not sure when or how, but I will visit New Zealand in the not too distant future.

One of the activities I want to do most in New Zealand is glacier lake kayaking.

As I’ve written many times, I love anything to do with the water. Put me on a boat, and I’m a happy camper. I enjoy kayaking, in spite of some past missteps, and my heart began to race as I read about a phenomenal water activity in New Zealand, glacier lake kayaking.

Photograph by Fraser Gunn
Photograph by Fraser Gunn

Located in one of New Zealand’s most spectacular national parks, the Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park, are the pristine waters of two glacier lakes, the Mueller and the Tasman. Regardless of which one you choose, the experience looks amazing. Throughout the half-day adventure, paddlers bear witness to icebergs, calving glaciers and the unmistakable sounds of nature in constant flux. If this weren’t enough, views of the highest peak in New Zealand, Aoraki/Mt. Cook, are constant and always guaranteed to thrill.

In a country blessed with tremendous natural beauty, the glacier kayak adventure in the Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park appears to be one of the most amazing experiences anyone can enjoy.

Now it’s your turn! Please, even if you haven’t been to New Zealand before, tell us all what you think are the best travel experiences in New Zealand!

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

6 thoughts on “Interactive Travel Guide – What to do in New Zealand”

  1. I am a kiwi, and have never been glacier lake kayaking…it looks amazing so might have to put that on the to do list. There are so many wonderful places to see, its hard to know where to start. Don’t just visit the cities (Even tho they are great) while visiting, some of the small towns are just as great.

    National park in the North Island has some amazing skiing at Mt Ruapehu at the Turoa and Whakapapa ski fields, but its an awesome place in the summer to with some great tramping round the volcanic plateau.

    The catlin’s in the South Island are a stunning place, just as long as you don’t mind not getting cell phone reception. Curio Bay is a fantastic place to stay if you want some piece and quiet and want to watch the hector’s dolphins playing in the bay outside your window from your beach side pad.

    The otago rail trail is a great way to see some of central otago’s scenary, and thanks to our prime minister we are getting more national cycle ways that will be worth exploring. They are made for the beginner cycler right up to the more advanced, with trips of any length.

    I love Queenstown and Wanaka, and have spent quite a few holidays there. The last one we did the cycle track round lake Wanaka which was great, even though it was flooded due to a high lake level!

    Rotorua is a must do place. The thermal parks are one of a kind anywhere. And while there you must go Zorbing! In short, you roll down a hill in a giant plastic ball…

    There is so many amazing places here, its hard to put them all into one comment. I have lived here my whole life and I have yet to see everything!

  2. Having just returned from NZ a few weeks ago (and STILL trying to finish off the last of the Kiwi blog posts) our memory is fresh!

    Something that is so unique about NZ is its location on the edge of the Pacific/ Indo-Aus plate – which whilst unfortunately being the reason for the devastating earthquake, is also responsible for the breath taking scenery that is found there. The Southern Alps are the most dramatic example of this and are a must see in the South Island – we loved Franz Josef Glacier and it’s such a privilege to be able to get that close to something that has been around for hundreds of years.

    Mount Cook Nat Park again, is spectacular – especially the ‘stocking’ glacier overlooking Mueller Lake. We did the three hour hike through the Hooker Valley there, which was amazing.

    One of our most memorable days was spent in Rotoroa – if you can learn to live with the overpowering Sulphur smell, it really is an intriguing place – you can get a glimpse into the centre of the earth here – the bubbling, hissing mud pools, geysers and volcanic landscape are sights that you won’t forget in a hurry!

    Finally, New Zealand gave us the ULTIMATE experience – the highlight of our 9 month trip – whatever you do, do not leave NZ without doing a BUNGY! It’s where bungy jumping was born and whilst it was the most terrifying thing either of us have ever done – i will remember it forever!

  3. Let’s see… if you’re happy on a boat, try a cruise on Milford Sound – simply spectacular. You’ll touch waterfalls and see sea lions! Or if you feel more active, try kayaking Milford Sound!

    Continuing with sporty stuff, go snowboarding on an active volcano at Mt Ruapehu, walk on a glacier on the West Coast, and learn how to surf in Curio Bay. If you’re lucky you’ll have dolphins playing in the surf beside you as you try to stand up on your board! And when you’ve had a few lessons, take your surfboard to the Surf Highway around Taranaki on the North Island and then continue on to Raglan, New Zealand’s surfers’ paradise.

    In Queenstown, do a bungy and choose from so many options incl. water contact and all sorts of crazy jump styles (“flying squirrel” – intrigued?) and of course different heights. The best thing about it: all jumps have spectacular views.

    And let’s not forget to go camping. New Zealand has some of the best campsites. Department of Conservation campgrounds are in the most scenic spots and remote areas. Try the Mavora Lakes on the South Island, or Moke Lake close to Queenstown.

    For a bit of history and culture, go to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds up in Northland. You get to stand on the land where the Waitangi Treaty was signed and get to see a huge war canoe and a marae, and all that with the best views of the Bay of Islands. New Zealand’s natural history and geography is best explored at the Te Papa Museum in Wellington.

    How about getting in touch with New Zealand’s farmers? You can either go and work as a volunteer (for food and accommodation) at a local farm (it’s called WWOOFing), or do a farmstay or farm visit. There’s Middle Rock Farm in Canterbury, for example, with 5000 sheep!

    I could go on forever, but another one I’d recommend is to go stargazing on Mout John near Lake Tekapo – the most fantastic clear night skies I have ever seen.

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