Get Adventurous: Top 22 Things To Do In New Zealand

Get Adventurous: Top 22 Things To Do In New Zealand
| 12 min read

If you are yearning for a memorable adventure somewhere on the great green Earth, New Zealand is the best place to go! Home to majestic mountains, turquoise seas, lush green fields, and tons of wildlife (especially sheep!), there are myriad opportunities to reconnect with nature in this land down under. It is truly an adrenaline junkie’s paradise and a breath of fresh air (both figuratively and literally). Divided into things to do on the North and South Islands, this article will take you through the best things to do in New Zealand for the ultimate adrenaline rush!

1. Have some family fun at the National Aquarium of New Zealand

National Aquarium of New Zealand
Source: Photo by Flickr user Buffy May used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Situated along the southern end of Napier’s Marine Parade and overlooking Napier Beach, the National Aquarium opened its doors in 1957. Originally housed in the basement of Napier’s War Memorial Hall, it moved to its current location in 1976 and was redeveloped and expanded in 2002. The aquarium offers a wide array of activities that will keep both children and adults entertained: feeding animals, quizzes and many other educational programmes.

The National Aquarium of New Zealand

Address: Marine Parade, Napier

Website: The National Aquarium of New Zealand

Opening hours: 9am - 5pm (daily)

Price: 23 NZD (16 USD)

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2. Get your spook on at Spookers Haunted Attraction Scream Park

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by Spookers Haunted Attraction Scream Park, New Zealand on Sunday, December 20, 2020

Not for the faint-hearted, Spookers is probably New Zealand’s scariest attraction. Choose one of the four spine-chilling themed attractions that will envelop you and your friends in a seemingly neverending spiral of terror. Spooky, gory characters straight out of a horror movie will haunt you and chase you until you manage to escape.

Spookers Haunted Attraction Scream Park

Address: 833 Kingseat Road, Auckland, New Zealand

Website: Spookers Haunted Attraction Scream Park

Opening hours: Wed - Thu: 11am - 4pm; Fri - Sat: 11am - 4pm, 7:30pm - 9:30pm; Sun: 11am - 4pm (closed on Mon & Tue)

Price: 25 NZD (17 USD per kid); 45 NZD (32 USD per adult)

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The North Island

3. Reconnect with nature at Waitakere Ranges Regional Parkland

Spanning more than 16,000 hectares (39,537 acres) of forests and coastlines, Waitakere Ranges National Park is a beautiful natural landscape that you must visit. Be immersed in the subtropical paradise by walking through the numerous tramp tracks, strolling along the pristine beaches, and admiring the spectacular vistas, rocky outcrops, cliffs, and waterfalls. For an introduction to the impressive features of the park, follow the Kitekite Track, which guides you through the impressive features of the park, including the majestic Kitekite Falls. If you are ready for a self-guided tour, visit the Hillary Trail for breath-taking views of the lush green forests and coasts!

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4. Go hiking in Mount Ruapehu

Mount Ruapehu summit
Source: Pixabay

The largest active volcano on the North Island, this majestic mountain represented the ominous Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings films! The snow-capped Mount Ruapehu has room for tons of outdoor activities so you can get your adrenaline running in this surreal landscape. In fact, the mountain is one of the best skiing fields on the North Island. Besides snowy activities, the mountain is also a great place to hike. Take a one-day hike along the Tongariro Crossing, which will lead you to craters, coloured lakes and volcanic rocks, and finally to the summit, where you will find a divine crater lake warmed by underlying volcanic activity.

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5. Go on a simple scenic ferry ride to Rangitoto island

get adventurous: top 22 things to do in new zealand | go on a simple scenic ferry ride to rangitoto island
Source: Photo by user

A volcanic island just off the coast of Auckland, Rangitoto Island is possibly Auckland’s most iconic island. Just a simple scenic ferry ride away, the island is the youngest volcano in New Zealand, and an awesome place to dive, snorkel, kayak, and watch the wildlife. Swim with the fish at Wreck Bay, an astounding ship graveyard with numerous ship wrecks. This hauntingly beautiful site is teeming with marine life, making it a great diving and snorkelling spot. Gung-ho explorers can consider taking a night kayak out to sea and enjoy paddling under the starry skies. Nonetheless, adventure awaits even on land. Explore the black lava caves on the way to the island’s summit, and be mesmerised by the stunning flora and fauna, such as the bellbird.

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6. Be amazed by the surreal landscapes at Hobbiton

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jasenlee~commonswiki used under CC BY-SA 2.5

This is where you will hear the Lord of the Rings soundtrack playing in your head. A quaint little town in Waikato famous for their fine horses and dairying, Matamata is a must-visit if you are a Lord of the Rings fan, or if you enjoy beautiful scenery. Be transported to the mythical world by touring the Hobbiton movie set, and learn about the creation of the Shire. Be amazed by the surreal landscapes of undulating green hills. Whether or not you are a fan of the trilogy, Matamata is sure to take you to another world.

Hobbiton Movie Set

Address: 501 Buckland Rd, Hinuera, Matamata 3400, New Zealand

Opening Hours: 9.00 am - 5.45 pm.

Duration: around 3 hours required.


Contact: +64 7-888 1505

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7. Indulge in wine tasting at Tirohana Estate Vineyard

New Zealand wine
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gadfium used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

When talking about wine tourism, New Zealand never fails to be mentioned. The wines from New Zealand are unique, because of the climate and the vineyards’ proximities to the ocean that preserves the acidity in the fruits. Thus, the resulting wine tastes exceptionally fresh. One of the oldest vineyards in Martinborough, Tirohana Estate is an award-winning vineyard growing on a former riverbed. Besides the New Zealand classics, such as Sauvignon Blanc, another must-try at the vineyard is their Pinot Noir, which claims to be one of the top-ten best Australasian wines. A nice glass of red on the sunny terrace is sure to refresh you before continuing your journey.

Tirohana Estate Vineyard

Address: 42 Puruatanga Rd, Wairarapa 5711, New Zealand

Opening Hours: 9.00 am - 5.00 pm, 6.00 pm - 10.00 pm.

Duration: around 2 hours required.


Contact: +64 6-306 9933

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8. Admire stunning rock formations at Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Waitomo Glow Worm Caves, #NewZealand
Source: Photo by user 2il org used under CC BY 2.0

Take the world famous boat ride on the Waitomo River through these ethereal limestone caves, and be bewildered by the thousands of illuminated glowworms. The Arachnocampa luminosa is a species of glowworm exclusive to New Zealand, and the bugs radiate an ethereal blue glow in the dark. These glowworms have been an important part of New Zealand’s culture and history, and guided tours in these caves have been on-going since the 1880s!

Admission costs 49 NZD (approximately 33.31 USD) per adult and 22 NZD (approximately 14.95 USD). Admission for children under 4 years old is free.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Address: 39 Waitomo Caves Rd, Waitomo Caves, Otorohanga 3943, New Zealand

Opening Hours: 9 am - 5 pm.

Duration: around 2 hours required.


Contact: +64 7-878 8228

Also, while at Waitomo, try out black-water rafting, which will guide you through the mysterious Ruakuri Cave. The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company provides adrenaline-rushing ways to explore the Ruakuri Caves, such as the Black Odyssey (rock climbing through the caves), Black Abyss (abseiling down the black caves) and Black Labyrinth (black water tubing through glowworm caves).

Tickets cost 135 NZD (approximately 91.76 USD) per adult.

The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company

Address: 585 Waitomo Caves Rd, Otorohanga 3977, New Zealand

Opening Hours: 9.00 am - 4.30 pm.

Duration: around 3 hours required.


Contact: +64 7-878 6219

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9. Try your luck with sand boarding at Te Paki Sand Dunes

NZ140415 Te Paki Sand Dunes 02
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Oren Rozen used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Resting right at the northernmost tip of the North Island are the Te Paki Sand Dunes. Grab a surfboard and take part in the exhilarating sport of sand surfing on these tall, mystical mounds of sand! Brave souls can try to tackle the tallest dunes, which reach up to a staggering 2,000 meters (6561.68 feet). Beginners can learn to surf on their stomachs, and when you get the hang of it, more advanced surfers can surf standing up. Remember to keep your mouths closed if you don’t want a mouthful of sand!

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10. Enjoy panoramic views of the city from Sky Tower

Sky Tower
Source: Pixabay

An iconic building in Auckland’s skyline, the Sky Tower provides thrilling activities for adrenaline junkies. Have a grand panoramic view of the city 192 meters (629.921 feet) from the ground. Embark on the SkyWalk, a walk on the edge of the tower’s pergola, where you can truly admire the stunning view outside of a glass box. For a greater thrill, take on the SkyJump, where you can jump off the 192-meter-tall (630-foot-tall) tower!

Do note that the Sky Tower may have unpredictable closing times due to weather conditions.

Admission costs 28 NZD (approximately 19.09 USD) per adult, 11 NZD (7.50 USD) per child, and entry is free for children below 6 years of age.

Sky Tower

Address: Victoria St W & Federal St, Auckland 1010, New Zealand

Opening Hours: 9.00 am - 10.00 pm. Weather permitting.

Duration: around 3 hours required.


Contact: +64 9 363 6000

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11. Have fun in the sun on Waiheke Island

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user [Unknown] used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Waiheke Island is a lovely escape off the coast of Auckland, and has its own warm and dry microclimate. Home to one of the best beaches in the region as well as picturesque rocky bays, Waiheke Island has tons of exhilarating activities planned for visitors. Embark on the Ecozip Adventure, where you can be guided around Waiheke. Enjoy a bus tour that will fill you in about the lovely island while en route to Trig Hill. Upon arrival, be prepared to take flight at the dual flying fox ziplines with a pal, where you will soar through the lush green canopy. Afterwards, feel free to laze around on the beaches, or do some kayaking or hiking!

Ecozip Adventures - Waiheke Island

Address: 150 Trig Hill Road, Onetangi, Waiheke Island, Auckland

Opening Hours: 9.00 am - 5.00 pm.

Duration: around 3 hours required.


Contact: +64 9 372 5646

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12. Raft Kaituna River with Kaitiaki Adventures

Large inflatable boat going down Tutea Falls (Kaituna River)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Pseudopanax used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Go white-water rafting in Rotorua! Journey down the Kaitura River, a body of water that is steeped in Maori history, whilst enjoying the scenic landscape. Further along on your journey, be prepared to hurtle down the world’s highest commercial waterfall, the Tutea Falls, for the ultimate adrenaline rush! Besides white-water rafting, Rotorua still has much to offer. Get a taste of the indigenous Maori culture at the Tamaki Maori Village to catch an exciting cultural performance, followed by a traditional ‘hangi’ feast.

Raft the Kaituna River, Kaitiaki Adventures

Address: 1135 Te Ngae Rd, Tikitere 3074, NZ

Opening Hours: 8.30 am, 12.30 pm & 2.30 pm

Duration: around 3 hours required.


Contact: 0064 7 357 2236

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The South Island

13. Try the highest bungy jump in New Zealand

Jump from nevis bungee platform
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Che010 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Take a leap of faith in Queenstown! There are several bungy jumping spots in the city. The highest bungy jump in New Zealand is the Nevis Bungy, where you can plummet for 134 meters (440 feet) down over the beautiful Nevis River. While at the Nevis River, give the largest swing in New Zealand a shot! The Nevis Swing will release you 160 meters (525 feet) above the ground, and have you bolt toward the other side of the valley at lightning speed! These are definitely extreme jaw-dropping experiences, and not for the faint of heart! If you are feeling extra brave, you may try the night bungy!

AJ Hackett Bungy - Nevis Bungy

Address: PO Box 488, Queenstown, Otago.

Opening Hours: 9 am - 6 pm. Closed on public holidays.

Duration: around 2 hours required.


Contact: +64 3 450 1300

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14. Learn ski lessons from the experts of The Remarkables Ski Field

get adventurous: top 22 things to do in new zealand | learn ski lessons from the experts of the remarkables ski field
Source: Photo by user

Located atop the Remarkables mountain range in Otago, The Remarkables Ski Field is one of the largest ski fields in New Zealand. It offers amazing views too! Breathe in the cold, fresh air and admire the pristine, alpine snow caps. If you are a beginner, do not fret. The ski field is welcoming to beginners, intermediates, and experts alike, providing ski lessons depending on your level of experience.The field is only a short 35-minute drive from Queenstown.

The Remarkables Ski Field

Address: P.O. Box 359, Queenstown

Opening Hours: 8.30 am - 5.00 pm.

Duration: around 3 hours required.


Contact: +64 3-442 4615

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15. Go stargazing in Mount Cook

Tramping or hiking in Aoraki Mount Cook National Park.
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Corey Parsons used under CC BY-SA 4.0

At the very heart of the South Island rests the highest mountain in New Zealand, Mount Cook. Hike or tramp this majestic mountain and admire the breathtaking views of clear lakes and emerald valleys. If you are not on a tight budget, go flight-seeing around the mountain to get even more spectacular shots of the snow-capped mountains. Also, take a tour to the Tasman Glaciers, which are New Zealand’s largest. Other notable points of interest on the mountain include Lake Tekapo, a brilliant turquoise lake, which got its color from the eroded ‘rock flour’ from upstream glaciers. If you are up for a farmstay in the mountains, visit Fairlie, where you can also go boating or fishing on Lake Opuha, Lastly, remember to stay till nightfall to enjoy the mountain landscape under the clear starry skies.

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16. Take a boat cruise around Milford Sound

Milford Sound (New Zealand)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Maros used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Rudyard Kipling called it the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” Telegraph
Said to be the eighth wonder of the world, Milford Sound is a gorgeous glacial landscape that will surely take your breath away. The fjord is so large, it covers the Fjordland National Park, the Piopiotahi Marine Reserve, and the Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Site. Sculpted by glacial activity in the distant past, the fjord is left with steep cliffs, tall mountain peaks, and gorgeous cascading waterfalls.Take a boat cruise around the fjord, and better still, opt to stay overnight! Also, check out the underwater ocean observatory at Harrison Cove and learn about the astonishing marine life.

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17. Go whale watching with friends

Whale watching gold coast
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Chensiyuan used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Continue with the magical marine experience at Kaikoura! Hop on a boat and sail out to sea to get up close with nature! Whales are particularly drawn to this area, as it is the convergence point for two major currents, thus bringing in large amounts of nutrients and fish. Try to spot the giant sperm whales, humpbacks, pilot whales, orcas and even dolphins in the cerulean blue sea.

Whale Watch Kaikoura

Address: The Whaleway Station Whaleway Road, Kaikoura 7340, New Zealand

Opening Hours: 7.00 am - 5.30 pm.

Duration: around 2 hours required.


Contact: +64 3-319 6767

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18. Admire nature's gifts on Cathedral Cove

Wonder what it is like to be roomies with Mother Nature? At The Coromandel, be immersed in all of nature’s goodness. Visit Cathedral Cove, a stunning cove by the beach, which was featured in the film the Chronicles on Narnia. Walk down The Pinnacles Walk, which will guide you through the rugged mountain ranges of The Coromandel. After, take on the 3-day bike ride down the Hauraki Rail Trail, a trail that follows an abandoned railway system and leads you through The Coromandel’s beauties, including the historic railway structures, lush farmlands, and the highlight of the trail - the wondrous Karangahake Gorge. Last but not least, dig your own spa at the golden sands of Hot Water Beach, where the water warms due to underlying volcanic activity.

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19. Look out for Cleopatra’s Pool at Abel Tasman Coast Track

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Patrick Orlob used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Lay around on the golden beaches along the Abel Tasman Coast Track, located in the Abel Tasman National Park. Furthermore, look for more exciting secrets waiting along the track! For instance, look out for Cleopatra’s Pool, a rock pool with a natural mossy rock slide! Cross the suspension bridge, from which you can get a view of the inlet to the fantastic Falls River. Also, the coast is teeming with wildlife, so you may spot some fur seals, particularly at the Tonga Islands, and little blue penguins and dolphins playing in the sea!

Abel Tasman National Park

Address: South Island 7183, New Zealand

Duration: around 3 hours required.


Contact: +64 3-546 9339

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20. Witness magnificent glaciers at Franz Josef Glacier

One of the most magnificent glaciers in New Zealand, the Franz Josef Glacier is a frosty wonderland just waiting to be explored! Take a heli trip onto the pinnacles area of the glacier and navigate the glacial terrain by embarking on a guided walk, or perhaps an ice climb! After your adventure, thaw out at the glacier hot pools back in the town. You have to visit this place soon, since it might disappear in years to come due to global warming.

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21. Experience tandem skydive over Abel Tasman (182 USD)

get adventurous: top 22 things to do in new zealand | experience tandem skydive over abel tasman

What better way to enjoy unobstructed views of beautiful New Zealand than to skydive from 9,000 feet (2,743 meters) height for 20 seconds? Easy: you can do the 16,500 feet (5,029 meters), 70 seconds free fall instead! Scenic flights come along with this activity and you can choose from either 10, 15, or 20 minutes flight excursion depending on your chosen free fall height. With this, tandem skydiving over Abel Tasman is easily one of the best things to do in New Zealand because it offers a thrilling activity that only a few people dare to conquer. If you’re one of the brave few and as long as you weigh under 100 kg (220 lbs), a professional tandem master will serve as your guide before, during and after the excursion and you’ll be diving under a parachute to ensure your maximum safety. Photographer will also be assigned to the participants leaving absolutely nothing for you to do but to simply appreciate the views and enjoy the dive.

Tandem skydive over Abel Tasman

Duration: 3 hours

Price: 182 USD

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22. Go on an Auckland Bridge climb (60 USD)

go on an auckland bridge climb

If you’re looking for a mild thrilling activity that offers an unparalleled view of Auckland, try bridge climbing at Auckland Harbour Bridge. The main reason to book it? It’s the only bridge climb so far in New Zealand so be sure not to give it a miss. An hour and a half excursion to reach the summit will feed your eyes with beautiful landscape plus colorful history of the bridge itself. And if you’re sightseeing Auckland with your fam, it’s also a great idea to bring your kids along as long as they are of age 7 or above. Safety won’t be an issue since the walkways are custom engineered. So what are you waiting for? Check out AJ Hackett Bungy to secure your slot with this affordable yet rewarding excursion!

Auckland Bridge climb

Duration: 1.5 hours

Price: 60 USD

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23. Swim with dolphins in Kaikoura (110 USD)

swim with dolphins in kaikoura

One of the smartest and friendliest mammals in the world, dolphins are such a marvel and are a gift to earth. It’s no surprise many people want to have those rare chances of having a close encounter with them. At Kaikoura, dolphins and other ocean living creatures are abundant hence being able to “swim” with them is no longer impossible. Get ready to watch them dance in their natural habitat as you appreciate the stunning surrounding coast of Kaikoura. Besides being amazed by the dolphins, booking this activity is also a great way to teach your kids to be environmentally responsible since all proceeds will contribute to Encounter Foundation, which helps to improve the town’s natural environment through various research and conservation initiatives. A highly popular activity in New Zealand especially for families, be sure to book in advance since it is often sold out during the Christmas season.

Swim with dolphins in Kaikoura

Duration: 2 hours

Price: 110 USD

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So ... why should I visit?

New Zealand is the ultimate adrenaline junkie’s haven, as it is full of fun and exciting things to do in the great outdoors. With a trip filled with amazing sceneries and majestic landscapes, you will leave New Zealand feeling refreshed and reconnected with nature.

So when’s the best time to visit New Zealand? The answer is ALL THE TIME. New Zealand retains its beauty and splendor all year round. However, if you love tropical weather, visit during the summer months from December to February. If you enjoy hiking, visit during the fall from March to May. If you enjoy basking in the cold, visit during the winter months, from June to August! Any time you visit, your adventure in New Zealand will be ready for you.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Germaine is a free-spirited individual who likes to write and travel. She is also a TV junkie and an animal lover. She has been to several countries, and some of her favourites include Australia,...Read more

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