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Here’s the New Zealand bucket list I think we should all do in our lifetimes. It’s pretty epic. Anything not on the list that should be? Leave a note in the comments!
I shall look to complete this all by the time I reach the young age of thirty-five.
I’ve tried to give the bucket list some kind of order:
- Adrenaline Pumping Activities
- Sporting Activities
- Culture Related
- The Rest
Adrenaline Pumping Activities
1. Helicopter + Hiking = Heli Hiking!
Hiking (or tramping as we call it) is pretty crazy in New Zealand as it is. Why not just add another level of craziness and take a helicopter to your starting point? The Fox Glacier has some spots that are unreachable by foot, so heli-hiking gets you well off the beaten track as you explore ice caves and arches.
2. Take A Jet Boat Ride With A Difference
A jet boat on the ocean is cool, but a jet boat hooning through shallow river water, alongside waterfalls and skirting canyon walls while stopping to spin on a sixpence is EPIC! There are a few different jet boats that offer similar experiences around the country, make the time to take one!
Words cannot describe what a video can.
Four places you can jump on a jet boat in New Zealand: Queenstown, Taupo, Christchurch and Auckland.
3. JUMP! Sky Dive And Watch The World Spin Below
Not a whole lot to say here. Jumping out of a plane could well be the craziest thing you’ll do in your lifetime. The adrenaline rush must be crazy! You can skydive all over New Zealand so when you see a nice weather pattern coming up, hunt out the nearest spot and JUMP, JUMP, JUMP!
Stephens journey tumbling from the sky above Taupo sums it up well!
4. Bungy Jumping
Much like Sky Diving, the chance to jump off a bridge is pretty crazy. New Zealand is the home of bungy jumping, thanks to its founder AJ Hackett. There’s a few different bungy jumps around New Zealand, but you can’t go past Queenstown. It’s not called the adventure capital of the world for nothing.
- I BUNGY JUMPED IN NEPAL
- Amanda said the 134m jump is the scariest thing she’s done in her life. Fair call.
- Charly gives a nice recollection of her 102m bungee jumping experience.
5. Roll Down A Hill In A Giant Clear Ball
You’ve probably seen someone rolling down a hill in a large clear ball. Maybe on the Amazing Race? New Zealand is home to zorbing and what a random adventure it is!
6. Cage Diving With Great Whites
Wholly smokes! The Great White Shark already had a legacy but when Jaws, the movie, was released the legacy increased. You may be happy watching these guys on the TV screen, but if you wander down to Stewart Island you can get up close and reasonably personal. Who decided to build a cage so you can get so close to them. Crazy!
As Nicholas saw first hand, the experience is expensive! But you could also wait until you visit South Africa for a more affordable experience.
Sporting Activities For The Bucket List
7. Get In Some Surfing At Raglan
Raglan is New Zealands most well known surf spot with a few different waves. Manu Bay is the most well known, hosting the countries richest surf comp, the Rip Curl Pro. With a population of just a few thousand, the classic relaxed kiwi lifestyle at play is in effect here.
Best of all, the beaches around Raglan cater for surfers of all abilities making it a great spot for beginners learning to surf in New Zealand.
- Nick tried surfing for the first ever time in Raglan.
- Rob and Laura also gave surfing a whirl catching white water like bosses.
- Chris fell in love with Raglan, just like he did with Aussie’s Byron Bay.
8. Watch The All Blacks
It feels like everyone in the world knows of the All Blacks, they’re definitely a global brand. If you happen to be in New Zealand during the winter, check out the All Blacks website and make your plans around a game if one is nearby. Don’t forget to wear your black clothing to fit in!
If you don’t watch all of the video, at least watch minute 1:50 – 2:15!
9. Watch A Test Match (Cricket) At The Basin
The Basin Reserve is a traditional cricket ground where you can watch cricket while hanging out on the embankment, ideally in the sun. Cricket is the summer sport for New Zealand and there’s nothing quite like hanging out at the Basin for a day in the summer. The atmosphere is exciting, time cruises by and you go home with the lobster-like face. There’s not many test matches at the basin, but have a look at the Black Caps schedule.
10. Have A Party At The Auckland 9’s
This event is no longer, booo.
11. Ski, Golf and Surf In A Day
This is most likely going to be one for the lads, but ladies, get amongst it!The idea of being able to ski and surf in the same day is crazy, but New Zealand is an exception to most rules. Including this ultimate bucket list item.
See this post for ideas on where to ski and surf in the same day. NZ has lots of golf courses, so the real hustlers won’t have an issue fitting in a quick nine holes.
RELATED POST: MY ULTIMATE SPORTS EVENT BUCKET LIST
Cultural Activities In New Zealand
12. It’s An Obligation, Visit Hobbiton
Everyone knows the Hobbit and the idea of Hobbiton is one of those fantasies you can actually experience in real life. Thanks to some creative thinking, rather than letting the filming location fade away you can join hundreds who head to Matamata to visit Hobbiton.
Check out the Hobbiton website for some inspiration!
READY TO BOOK? BUY TICKETS ONLINE NOW
(compare with the official website to get the best price)
13. Come Face to Face With The Haka
KA MATE! Whenever the All Blacks are mentioned, it doesn’t take long for the word ‘haka’ to be mentioned afterward. The traditional Maori war challenge is an impressive site on TV! Wait until you come face to face with a haka in real life. Head to a marae, learn a bit about the culture and face a haka.
The hair on the back of your neck? It’ll be standing.
You could also make a day of it with an online tour go the cultural center.
14. Cook A Hangi
When you’re a kid, eating dirt was a rite of passage. When you’re in New Zealand, a rite of passage is too eat food cooked in the dirt. It’s not exactly as it sounds! A hangi is a traditional way Maoris cook food below ground, and it’s so tasty!
Rather than me try and explain, Violette and Antoine share their experience.
15. Visit A Kiwi (bird)
Heading for a stroll won’t lead you into stumbling across a wild kiwi, a wild duduo maybe. You have to see a kiwi in real life though after all most New Zealanders refer to themselves as kiwis.
Unfortunately, the kiwi has two things going against its survival in the wild 1. Flightless 2. Nocturnal. Thanks to domestic cats the population has dwindled and they’re now protected.
Luckily, you can see them all around the country and you could potentially see them for free!
16. Visit All The Lord of the Rings Filming Locations
Lord of the Rings is a movie that’ll go down as a great. Filmed all over the country, there are plenty of spots you can visit (most for free) and have fun reenacting the movie (if that’s your thing).
17. Be A Tree Hugger
Trees are awesome. New Zealand has lots of them, but there’s a few native to the country that are more awesome than the rest. The Kauri is native to NZ and if you head to Waipoua Forest, you’ll find the “Lord of the Forest”, Tane Mahuta.
Take a read of Sheri’s tree hugging experience (a very useful post!)
More Epic Must Do’s In New Zealand
18. Seek Out The Glow Worms
“Let’s go find worms!” That sounds cool as a six-year-old, but definitely not bucket list worthy as an adult. When they glow they suddenly become awesome and the whole thing screams adventure. The most famous spot to find them in NZ is Waitomo, but there’s a whole bunch of spots (some free) around the country you can find them.
- Matt agrees, The glow worms are a must do in NZ (via Waitomo)
- Dave and Deb experienced the glow worms in Te Anau
- Sissy & David compare their experience at both Waitomo and Waipu Caves
19. Whale Watching
*with the November 2016 earthquake, make sure you research whether visiting Kaikoura is realistic
Kaikoura is the number one place to go on a whale watching tour in the country. It doesn’t matter when you’re in NZ as you’ll be able to see Giant Sperm Whales and possibly another species or two in action. With tour companies reporting 95% success rates of seeing whales, it’s one of the premier whale watching spots worldwide.
Note: planning to watch the whales in summer? You may need to book in advance.
- Becky chose the flight tour option to see the whales rather than the boat
- Bethaney returned home and was stoked to finally visit the whales in Kaikoura
20. Hiking Tongariro Crossing
Mount Doooooooom. You probably have this on your bucket list. For a one day hike it’s pretty grueling but well worth the journey with the emerald lakes one of many highlights. The weather is volatile in the area. Tight on time? Look ahead to the National Park weather forecast to make sure it’s not going to be a waste of time heading there when you could road trip elsewhere.
- I finally hiked this in late-2018. Here’s some of my tips for the Tongariro Crossing.
- Shanti provides a nifty breakdown of the different stages of the Tongariro Crossing.
- Carly posted a tonne of pics from the crossing on her blog
21. Walk The Length Of New Zealand
Massive continuous walks seem to be a popular thing worldwide at the moment. The Te Araroa Trail was completed in early 2016. It’s fair to say this is a real tiki tour at it’s finest as you make the scenic walk from Cape Reinga to Bluff and take in a bit of everything NZ has to offer. Haven’t got a few months to spare? Plenty of sections of the track are awesome day trips.
Check out a few of the trail stories from the official blog.
22. Auckland’s Coast To Coast Walk
Auckland city gets its fair share of haters, but the Coast to Coast walk is pretty awesome. You start right on the city’s waterfront, walk through parks, the burbs and dormant volcanoes to the west coast. All up it’s an 18km fun walk through Auckland that makes it not feel like you’re in the city. Winning!
- See the latest reviews and banter on TripAdvisor (#58 out of 250 Auckland activities) for a quick run down on what to expect.
23. Franz Josef Glacier
Heli hiking may not be within reach of everyone (pesky NZ, so expensive!), but you’ve got to at least visit Franz Josef Glacier, the most famous of the glaciers in Fiordland.
RELATED POST: WHAT TO PACK FOR VISITING NEW ZEALAND
24. Dig You Own Hot Spa On The Beach
After a long hot day, jumping into a ready made spa is heaven. Sometimes life isn’t easy though. That’s the deal at Hot Water Beach in the Coromandel. On arrival (low tide), there will be a bunch of people digging out a pool. Get your spade and start manicuring your dream spa…it’s definitely unique.
Lucas and Lisa had to see Hot Water Beach for themselves after being told about the natural wonder.
25. Pay The Mangatainoka Brewery A Visit
This is more for my bucket list. Tui is the kiwi beer I’m loyal too, and there ads are something I’ll remember until I die. Take a glimpse at the video below, makes you want to visit the brewery doesn’t it?
26. Watch A Shooting Star Show
Wow, the night sky in New Zealand is sensational. I’m not sure why we get it so good, but being able to see the milky way on a clear night is so satisfying. It’s hard to keep track of when there’s meant to be a significant amount of shooting stars flying through the sky, but check out the Star Date website. There could be one coming shortly.
Rhonda’s night at the Stardome Observatory in Auckland is definitely another valid option if you’re not disciplined to look up at the sky for hours in the hope of seeing a shooting star.
27. Walk Up The World’s Steepest Street
For some of you, this may not sound too appealing after too many pies and beer but hey, at least you can see the finish line when you start. Sometimes you’ve just got to huddle! Don’t worry, there will like be others also on Struggle Street as you make your way on up. Take a walk with Tom below.
28. Be The First To See The Sunrise
Time zones baffle you? When you’re in New Zealand, it’s pretty easy as the rest of the world is always going to be X hours behind. This also means we get to see the sunrise every time the calendar ticks over another day.
29. New Zealand Has The Southern Lights – They Dance Too
The Northern lights that are popular in Iceland and Canada get all the attention, but you can see Aurora Australis, the Southern Lights deep down south in New Zealand! Definitely keep the Northern Lights on your bucket list, but with a bit of luck you’ll get to see the Southern version dance the night away.
If you happen to be in Wanaka, keep a sneaky eye on the night sky.
30. Kayaking Abel Tasman
Abel Tasman continues to wow the world, even New Zealanders put their money where their mouth is in 2016. One of the highlights is jumping in a kayak and seeing what you can find.
Kristin’s three days in the park looks pretty sweet to me!
Boom! 30 activities, maybe I could create the most epic trip to New Zealand on my next visit and complete them all in 30 days?
Wait. No chance, unless I learn to walk really fast and cover the length of the country on foot while I’m at it!
I have done a few of these items already, but I will get them all completed sooner or later.
Now, what have I missed on the list? If you’re looking too cut costs,read my free things to do in New Zealand post.
- Castlepoint (under the stars): Daniel Rood
- Bungy Jumping: AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand
- Sky Diving: The Ultimate Jump
- Surfers: Paul Abbitt
- Zorbing: Rotorua
- Haka: Adam Bryce
- Kiwi: Tourism New Zealand
- Hobbiton: Sara Orme
- Tongariro: Camilla Rutherford
- Rugby: Tourism New Zealand