35 Can't Miss Things to Do and See in New Zealand

Here at Kiva, we are constantly trying to learn about the world around us, dreaming about visiting new places, meeting new people and trying new things. We know that you, as Kiva lenders, share a lot of the same interests, which is why we started a series featuring some of the top can’t miss things to do and see in countries around the world.

Our next spotlight is on New Zealand. We asked family, friends and of course, our seasoned Kiva travelers for their best tips for enjoying mythical Middle Earth. Let us know in the comments below if you have any suggestions we missed. We would love to hear them. Happy travels!

North Island

1. Travel to Matamata and explore the Hobbiton Movie Set where the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit were filmed. Extra points if you take a picture in front of Bag End.

Bag End in Hobbiton (Photo by Flickr user Evamaria)

2. Spend the night in a Maori village and stay in a traditional Marae, a sacred Maori gathering place made up of buildings designated for dining, celebrating and sleeping.

3. Take a picture with some sheep. They are everywhere. New Zealand is home to 3 million people yet 60 million sheep.

4. Make your way out to the Coromandel Coast and hike to the breathtaking Cathedral Cove.

View from the beach at Cathedral Cove (Photo by Flickr user Addy)

5. Eat a lamington. Prepare yourself for chocolatey coconut goodness.

6. Revel at the beauty of the Waitamo glow worm caves.

Glow Worm Caves in Waitamo (Photo by Flickr user Merryjack)

7. Indulge your playful side and go zorbing in Roturua.

8. Experience an adrenaline rush and go white water rafting.

9. Marvel at the geothermal parks Wai-o-tapu and Waimangu.

Wai-o-tapu geothermal park in Roturua (Photo by Flickr user Winam)

10. Swim with dolphins in the Bay of Islands.

11. Traverse active volcanoes, cold mountain springs, lakes and thermal steam vents at Tongariro Crossing — New Zealand’s best one-day walk. Be warned though, this outdoor adventure is not for the beginner; it is at least an 8 hour walk with steep incline.

12. Go canyoning at night near Piha.

13. Hike Fox Glacier.

14. Visit the Te Papa museum in Wellington.

15. Order a fish sandwich at Murder Burger on Ponsonby Road in Auckland.

16. Hug a giant Kauri tree in Paihia.

South Island

17. Meet a Kiwi bird, the national symbol of New Zealand.

18. Go whale watching in Kaikoura.

19. Soak in the hot pools at Hamner Springs.

20. Enjoy a glass of world-renowned sauvignon blanc in Marlborough, New Zealand’s largest wine growing region.

21. Kayak your way through the stunning Abel Tasman National Park.

22. Witness the endangered Yellow Eyed Penguins at the Penguin Place, a private conservation reserve in Dunedin trying to protect the endangered birds.)

Yellow Eyed Penguin (Photo by Flickr user Su Yin Khoo)

23. Cruise around Milford Sound.

24. Eat at Fergburger in Queenstown.

25. Ski (or snowboard) at Treble Cone in Wanaka.

26. Explore Christchurch, the third most populous city in New Zealand, and go see the Botanic Gardens.

27. Take a helicopter ride over the Southern Alps.

28. Ogle the Franz Josepef glaciers, the fastest moving glaciers in the world.

29. For any Lord of the Rings Fans out there, take the Trails of Middle Earth tour. Ask for Bob McKinley (apparently he knows literally everything, maybe even more than Stephen Colbert).

30. Do something crazy in Queenstown like bungy jumping off of Bungy Bridge. Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the world.

Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge ( aka Bungy Bridge) in Queenstown (Photo by Flickr user Phillip Wong)

31. Attend a Rugby match.

32. Take a boat cruise in Fiordland and spot some marine life.

33. Relax on the beautiful Tunnel Beach.

34. Drink an L&P.

35. Wake up early and watch the sunrise in Gisborne, the first place in the world to see the sun each day.

About the author

Brianna Gillease

Brianna, a Bay Area native, was born and raised in Sonoma County. She attended the University of California Davis, where she earned her B.A. in International Relations with an emphasis in Peace and Conflict Studies, an area focus in Africa and the Middle East and a minor in French. In 2012, during her junior year at UC Davis, she studied abroad in Paris, France. She lived with Laurence de Saint Sernin, assistant to Senator del Picchia and first cousin of politician Dominique Villepin (previous Prime Minister of France, Foreign Minister of France and 2012 French Presidential Candidate). This offered Brianna a unique perspective on the 2012 French Presidential Election. She was at the Bastille, an important symbol of the French Republic, the night Francois Hollande was elected president. As for her professional experience, Brianna has worked as a Global Ambassador for ISA (International Studies Abroad), creating and maintaining a blog to inspire other students to study abroad with ISA. She also has international nonprofit and social entrepreneurship experience. As an undergraduate, she worked with Nourish International, a nonprofit organization on campus, which uses money raised by social businesses developed by students, to support poverty reduction projects in the developing world. In 2013, she helped fund a project to build schools for underprivileged youth in Moshi, Tanzania in partner with Brown University and international NGO Mama Hope. In her free time, Brianna can be found seeing live music, spending time in nature (especially by the ocean), cooking, laughing, going on adventures, pinteresting, confusing people with her perpetual sarcasm and spending time with family and friends. She is excited to begin this journey with Kiva and is looking forward to using her passion, experience, and education to make a positive difference in the world and to learn more about microfinance and sustainable development.