What to Do on An Outdoor Adventure in New Zealand

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Advisor - Misha Sharp
Curated By

Misha Sharp

  • New Zealand

  • North Island

  • Auckland

  • South Island

  • Queenstown

  • Adventure Travel

  • International Travel

  • Nature Escapes

  • Hiking

  • Mountains

  • Outdoors

Person walking on wood path next to valley and snow-covered mountains
Curator’s statement

New Zealand is heaven for those who love adventure and getting outside to appreciate all of the incredible natural sights the country has to offer. Beyond the capital city of Auckland is a trove of biodiversity: hot springs, mud baths, glow-worm caves, waterfalls, mountains, glaciers, fjord-like ravines — you name it! New Zealand welcomes all types of travelers with its friendly, laid-back atmosphere, impressive commitment to native Maori culture, sustainability and healthy lifestyles.

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Where to stay in New Zealand

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Things to do in New Zealand

Aerial view buildings and water during daytime

Starting from Auckland, travelers can take a three-hour drive down to Rotorua, which boasts a lively center of Maori culture and a geothermal valley with dramatic geysers, hot springs and mud pools. In and around Rotorua, visitors can learn about Maori heritage and culture at Whakarewarewa and Tamaki Maori Village or by walking through the geothermal trails and geysers at Te Puia. There are also plentiful options to soak in one of the many hot streams or mineral pools, like Hell's Gate Geothermal Reserve and Mud Spa. For families, the Agrodome can also be a fun spot to see farm animals, sheep herding and wool demonstrations.

Further south is the tree-lined city of Christchurch, New Zealand's second-largest city. The Avon River runs directly through the city and offers an opportunity for visitors to try "punting" via guided river tour. Another popular site is the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, which has free admission, stunning foliage and more than ten different gardens inside.  Outside of Christchurch, there are multiple options for skiing or hiking, depending on the season. The Southern Alps, home to Mount Cook, are a frequented destination for skiing in the winter, including heli-skiing in particular. Hiking trails abound towards the coast and the French town of Akaroa, including the Te Ara Pataka summit walkway and the Hinewai reserve.

Located at the base of the South Alps, Queenstown is as a haven for adventure seekers. Queenstown offers proximity to skiing, hiking, white water rafting, bungee jumping, fly fishing and more. From here, visitors can also take a three-hour drive or short plane ride to Milford Sound, an incredible fjord with towering peaks, sheer cliffs and plummeting waterfalls. Visitors should tour the Sound by boat to experience the full effect.

Places to eat & drink in New Zealand

Eggs and sauce on a blue plate next to a mug of coffee on a wooden table

Places to eat & drink in Rotorua

1) Eat Street is a colorful, block-long hub for restaurants and bars on the South end of Lake Rotorua. Come here for food of all kinds, from pub grub, craft beers, Indian, Italian, ice cream and more.

2) Aorangi Peak Restaurant is located at the peak of Rotorua offering panoramic views of the surrounding area and an upscale fusion of Japanese and French cuisines. The coffee here is made from water underneath Mt. Ngongotaga.

3) New Zealand makes a mean breakfast, brunch, or coffee and Scope Cafe Rotorua is no exception. This cafe serves an all-day breakfast and lunch menu focusing on local New Zealand produce.

Places to eat & drink in Christchurch

1) Bessie is a sophisticated and quirky spot known for its impeccable steaks and wine, alongside a variety of other high-quality and meat-forward entrees, like pork belly and lamb.

2) Evil Genius is a restaurant and bar with Asian-inspired options like bao buns and gojira dumplings. The place itself has a modern yet cozy vibe, and outdoor seating with excellent views into the Avon Heathcote Estuary.

3) The Old Vicarage Cafe was once the home of the local Vicar in Christchurch. Now, this spot is a relaxed restaurant serving local New Zealand fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Places to eat & drink in Queenstown

1) A part of Eichardt's Private Hotel, Eichardt's Bar has been around since 1867 on the shores of Lake Wakatipu. The bar and restaurant now offers an impressive array of cocktails and small plates.

2) Nest Kitchen + Bar and offers scenic views of Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding Queenstown area. The bar offers a unique array of New Zealand gin and tonics and an extensive wine list, while the restaurant offers some impressive tasting menus.

3) The Bunker Restaurant provides a dark, intimate feel with fireside seating and local New Zealand fare. The tasting menu offers delicious, beautifully presented and creative dishes.

Need to Know

For more travel inspo, check out my guide to Tuscany: Exploring Tuscany's Hidden Gems, Lucca and Siena and my guide to Berlin: Best Things to Do in Berlin, Germany.

Advisor - Misha Sharp

Travel Advisor

Misha Sharp

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