The Best of New Zealand

Published: January 14, 2015

After living in New Zealand while being a student at the University, I had a great opportunity to leisurely travel around the country. This list is a quick highlight of the top picks of my many adventures.

As a disclaimer, it's hard to only offer up my top 10 and not add another 100 suggestions. This country is truly an amazing place where you not only connect with the land and its people, but you connect with yourself.

When I left for my new adventure on New Years Eve, my mother told me not to fall in love with a boy and permanently move. She could have never guessed I would fall in love with a country and never want to leave. My heart is forever in a New Zealand state of mind.

  1. Kaitiaki Adventures in Rotorua

    Kaitiaki Adventures offers you an amazing experience of the undergrounds of New Zealand. On their adventures, you can blackwater raft under glowworms; jump into a whitewater raft with a sledge board; or have an amazing adventure of repelling, ziplining in a cave, and traditional New Zealand snacktime underground.

    So while the adventure may be scary to think about, it's these things that so you how strong you can truly be.

  2. Auckland Zoo - in Auckland

    The Auckland Zoo offers more than just animals! While they have your amazing aps, elephants, and native birds, the Zoo offers an on-site art gallery; convention hall; and educational center. This is a great family place for children of all ages.

    The Auckland Zoo offers special education about the native wildlife that once inhabited this amazing country as well as what people can do today to help protect it for the future.

  3. Abel Tasman National Park between Golden Bay and Tasman Bay

    If outdoor adventures are your thing, this National Park is a must-see. During the warmer seasons, you can kayak and canoe around the shoreland exposing you to sites not visible from the hiking trails. During the cooler seasons, the hiking trails stay open to offer an amazing earthbound adventure.

    No matter what you end up choosing to do at this National Park, you will not regret the time it takes to get to this magical location.

  4. Napier Art Deco in Napier

    Destroyed by a tsunami in the 1920s, Napier rebuilt it's downtown in the fashionable architecture of the day - Art Deco. This amazing town is the largest collection of standing Art Deco buildings in the world.

    Also, to become fully emersed in the Art Deco lifestyle, for a week every January, the city transforms back into the ganster and flapper lifestyle. It's a chance to take a step back into time.

  5. Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers in Fox Glacier

    With only a few remaining glaciers in the world, New Zealand offers two massive ones only minutes apart from one another. Both Franz Josep and Fox Glaciers offer tours that allow you to either hike up or be flown above with an optional top landing.

    Additionally, these glaciers are the only growing ones left in the world. Many of the European glaciers are now shrinking. The tours allow you to get up close and personal with an amazing force of nature.

  6. Milford Sound Tour in Milfound Sound

    Milford Sound is an absolutely amazing place. This gorgeous fjord land was created when the glaciers moved through many ages ago. Many boating & wilderness hiking tours are offered throughout this National Park.

    While there are many public tour boats that venture out into the sound, you can opt for a private boat that allows you to explore the area at your place. There are only two warnings for this area, be careful to not fall in love with it and don't let the Kea bird eat your car!


  7. Auckland City & Surrounds in Auckland

    While Auckland is not the main capital of the country, it is the largest city in the counrty. There are many amazing local shops and restaurants that will let you experience the true New Zealand cuisine in a way the rest of the country cannot offer. Also, during the warmer seasons, this city offers a city market in the main square as well as many local community festivals such as the Ponsonby Festvial and Music in the Park Festival.

  8. Moeraki Boulders in Oamaru

    Like nowhere else in the world, the Moeraki Boulders are amazing larger than life rocks that scatter the oceanside in Oamaru. The natives believe that these rocks were left carved from the Gods themselves and left as a gift to man. While no one is exactly sure where these boulders came from, one thing is certain - they are not worth missing!

  9. Polynesian Spa in Rotorua

    While many people overlook the hot springs offered in Rotorua, I highly suggest a quick trip for a dip. The Polynesian Spa offers over 15 different pools in which specific minerals give each pool a unique feel. After a quick soak, your body and skin will feel amazing.

    While the spa is a very popular place for people during the day, an evening trip to the pools will allow you to not only have a reduced rate but also fewer crowds.

  10. Christchurch City & Surrounds in Christchurch

    Christchurch offers a wonderful combination of new and old. The city is the largest on the South Island. The city gardens are exploding with colors in the warmer months and offer an amazing collection of outdoor statues for the cooler months.

    This lovely city is also known for its outdoor festivals, art shows, and musical acts. Christchurch boasts the local symphony and opera for its top entertainment options.

Many people will say that this attraction or that adventure was the best the country has to offer. However, I can't tell you how happy the feeling of just experiencing the moment makes your next adventure. New Zealand is not only a place of hobbits, sheep, and Tim Tams, but the whole New Zealand outlook can make you appreciate life.

The best outdoor experience for me was driving and discovering Lake Waikaremoana. I did not add this to the list because not everyone enjoys windy dirt roads where there are no guardrails. However, for me, this isolation and the connection of me with the land was a spiritual experience.

The best city experience would be discovering Auckland. The city offers a lively soul between the amazing cuisine and hot spot nightlife. You can also get the true Kiwi experience by popping into a local bar for a pint of Mac's Red Hard Cider.