5. Ninety Mile Beach, Northland
It is not an uncommon site in New Zealand to see automobiles mixing it up in the sand. Nowhere, however, is this practice as famous as at Ninety Mile Beach. The straight stretch of flat sand makes for a highway unlike any other. Sadly, most rental companies won’t allow you to take their cars for a spin. Be sure to make friends with the right local kiwi! Besides your other typical beach activities, body boarding down the towering sand dunes has become a popular hobby. For all the stress on being kind to nature, the kiwis have yet to understand the concept of staying off the dunes. For now there aren’t enough people in Northland to do serious harm to the dune system, so suppose it is alright to give bodyboarding a whirl or two.
4. The Tongariro Crossing
For those looking for a true adventure, the Tongariro Crossing provides eight plus hours of scenic trekking. Side adventures are available such as visiting Mount Ngauruhoe. The area itself is valuable culturally to Maori. Scenes from the Lord of the Rings were filmed here due to the pristine environment. Perhaps the best one-day hike you can do in New Zealand, the Tongariro Crossing covers 15 miles of volcanic terrain. The trail was shorter, but an eruption in 2012 caused it to be rerouted. Yes, there was an eruption: Mt Tongariro is an active volcano, after all. One of the hazards of this trip is that unlike many other hiking locations, there can be very little or no freshwater available to drink at all (due mostly to the volcanic nature of the area). Everything must be carried in and carried out.
3. Hot Water Beach
One highly suggested New Zealand tour would be of the Coromandel Peninsula on the North Island. This peninsula is swollen with sub-tropical rain forest, sea cliffs, pristine beaches, and (small) charismatic towns. It is here that two of the North Island’s prime features, beach and geothermal activity, come together to make the distinct Hot Water Beach. Located on the east coast, Hot Water Beach has a hot spring along the shore of the ocean. During low tide, tourists and locals alike bring shovels and dig at the area of sand left by the retracting surf. It isn’t far down until you start reaching fresh hot water. Dig your hole to your liking and settle yourself in for a relaxing experience. If you get too hot, have a dip in the cool Southern Pacific Ocean. Some people are very industrious and clear out huge areas in the sand to share a soak with friends. Of course, be sure to check the tide charts before you go!
Kiwi’s might cherish Wellington as their prided city, but Queenstown is a thrill seeking paradise. The town itself is a unique global experience that is worth its own spot on this list. You might not find many native kiwis in town, but you will find a vast array of seasonal (or permanent) workers from different countries. The architectural integrity of the city (I use the term city very, very lightly) is enough to give you the European feeling of walking through stone streets and paths. Geographically, Queenstown is second to none: it borders Lake Wakatipu and is surrounded by the “Remarkables”, a set of mountains known for their spectacular beauty. Other mountains and glacier hikes that could be conquered while in the general area include Mt. Cook, Rob Roy Glacier Trail, and the famous Franz Josef Glacier if you have the time and the money. Queenstown is not simply a launching pad to other great adventures, it also has a special charm all its own.
1. Milford Sound (Fiordland)
There are two exceptional experiences you can have in Milford Sound. One is that you have a sunny day with high visibility making for great pictures and more chances of seeing the Fiordland’s penguins. The other is that the weather can be rainy and miserable, but the waterfalls will be flowing full blast! Either experience is worth the trip. If you get the chance, you owe it to yourself to take a cruise around this spectacular fiord. Seals and waterfowl frequent the area and you are bound to see some wildlife. There are many iconic rock formations to be seen such as the Bishop’s Hat. Traveling through Fiordland and into Milford sound is taking a step back in time, when the impact of humans was much, much smaller.