New Zealand is the reason I’m an adrenaline junkie . It is the place to try it all- bungee jumping, skydiving, whitewater rafting, kayaking, zorbing, and canyoning. My friends and I went to New Zealand way back in 2009, but I had to include it on the blog because it was such a defining trip for me as a traveler. We spent roughly 2 weeks covering both the North and South Island and drove from Auckland all the way down to Queenstown. Even though it was a lot of driving, I still feel driving is the best way to see a country. I recommend at least 2 weeks since there’s a lot of ground to cover and the attractions are spread out.
There are sooo many things to love about NZ. Friendly people, super cute accents, wide open spaces, fantastic food, and the lovely scenery. Almost everyone I know that has visited NZ has fallen in love with it and considers it the ideal retirement spot.
Here are some of my favorite destinations and experiences in NZ:
- Queenstown- It’s known as the adventure capital of the world and is a great start or end point. I highly recommend the Kawarau Bridge bungy, Shotover Canyon swing, and rafting on the Shotover River. YOLO!
- Wellington- If I were to live and work in New Zealand, this would be the city for me. It’s NZ’s most populous city, vibrant, and has a good amount of ethnic restaurants. And, I saw a guy in a suit on a hoverboard! Of course I want to live in a city with that kind of quirkiness.
- Rotorua- There are several neat tourist spots here. I recommend Zorbing (now called OGO), the Agrodome, the Polynesian Spa, and cave tubing at the Waitomo glowworm caves. If you’ve ever watched the New Zealand All Blacks play on TV, you’ve seen the Haka war dance. Visit the Tamaki Maori Village to see it in person.
- Pavlova- I’ve learned that there is usually one dish during my travels that leaves a lasting impression and this was the dish for NZ. I know there’s debate about the origin of Pavlova, but in any case, NZ Pavlova is really good stuff. Pavlova is a meringue dessert, hard on the outside, but soft on the inside. In NZ, it is often paired with ice cream. Nom.
- Air New Zealand- I must admit that airlines do not typically make my list, but Air NZ is the bomb! They have a massive entertainment selection, are more spacious than American airlines, and gave us hokey pokey ice cream on the way home!!!
Skydiving at Taupo
Rafting the Shotover River- the Shotover has breathtaking views, Class 3-5 rapids, and one section that takes you through a tunnel. As you can see from the picture, there are some intense rapids, so it’s probably best to have some rafting experience.
The World’s First Commercial Bungee in Queenstown- Kawaru Bridge is AJ Hackett’s original bungee location and has amazing views. At 43 meters high, you’ll feel like a celebrity as it’s a frequent tourist stop and the crowd cheers you on. You can also jump with a friend, aka the tandem jump. Logistically I don’t know how that works but I’m still alive . This is the biggest adrenaline rush you’ll ever have, and the Kiwi bungee experts are great at keeping you entertained while you wait your turn. If you are willing to pay, they do a great job with the video and photos of your jump.
The Franz Joseph glacier- You can walk or fly via helicopter to visit the glacier. There’s also the option to do a guided glacier hike. We opted for the helicopter tour which is pretty cool if you’ve never been on top of a glacier.
ZORBING!!!!! I get extremely excited talking about zorbing and New Zealand is its birthplace. Basically zorbing is rolling down a hill in a clear plastic ball. There’s a little bit of water in the ball so that you don’t get carpet burn, and allows you to slosh around while you roll down. IT’S THE BEST INVENTION EVER. Here are some of my favorite quotes from my friends and I to document this one-of-a-kind experience.
“the human washing machine”
“15-18 seconds of wholesome fun with a constant wedgie”
Wellington Harbor- the capital of New Zealand and the filming location for Rivendell in Lord of the Rings
Just a few of my favorite things, sayings from New Zealand:
- kia ora – a way to say hello in Maori. Literally means be well.
- ka pai – awesome in Maori
- sweet as – awesome, fine by me
- no worries – we all know what this means, and the Kiwis use it a lot.
- the flat white – Starbucks recently brought this to the U.S. It’s similar to a latte but has more coffee and is served in a smaller cup.
- hokey pokey ice cream – filled with bits of honeycomb toffee
- fluffy – milk