Experience the best of New Zealand

NZ is opening its borders again, beat the rush of travellers and have the time of your life!

Milford Sound, New Zealand (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Milford Sound, New Zealand
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)

New Zealand’s government imposed, strict pandemic travel restrictions are starting to ease, resulting in a slow yet steady return of tourists to the Kiwi land. NZ Tourism is by no means back to what it was pre-pandemic, which means it is an opportune time to visit. Travelling now will allow you to avoid the wave of tourists that is sure to come, once air travel is opened to full capacity again.

But what makes travelling to New Zealand so special? Well, simply - New Zealand offers an expansive range of experiences that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Even the pickiest of travellers will find something enjoyable to do. Whether you are a family or single, want to chill out or look for that thrill seeking adventure, New Zealand caters for everyone.

New Zealand is filled with an abundance of natural beauty - fortunately well preserved and protected. Yet it also offers the thrill and excitement of any fast paced urban city. New Zealand is unique among the world, with the ability to balance and maintain adventure, nature, together with modern day luxuries.

Read through our list of the best of what New Zealand has to offer!

Scenic Cruise - Wake up to Breathtaking Beauty

Take an overnight cruise that you will never forget

Milford Sound is regarded as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’ - a 16 kilometre fiord with exhilarating mountain cliff faces capped with mist shrouded peaks. Strikingly beautiful on a sunny day, but even better when it rains (The average rainfall is more than six metres per year - 11 times that of London!). Though rain is often associated with being cold and miserable, it is not so in this part of the world. A rainy day generates gushing waterfalls that stream down cliff faces, as if they were crying. It’s an experience that can only be found in New Zealand.

So what better way is there, but to visit the Sound via a cruise. “Fear not” if you are prone to seasickness, as it is a gentle glide along calm waters. By far the best cruise to take is an overnight cruise, whereby dusk to dawn scenery can be peacefully enjoyed.

During the night you can rug up and stargaze with a hot cup of coffee or tea. And in the morning, you can wake up pre-dawn to be in awe of the cliff faces shrouded in mist, backlit by the sunrise.

Overnight tours are available via RealJourneys, which operates the Milford Mariner. The Milford Mariner can host 64 guests in a mixture of twin, double and single cabins.

Included in the cruise package is a gourmet hot breakfast and three course buffet dinner. The boat also has a licensed bar, offering a range of fine wine, craft beer and other local beverages. 

Hike through Lakes, Volcanoes and Hot Springs, North Island

If you love hiking, then the Tongariro Crossing is a must

It is the most popular and scenic of all hikes, that traverses through the Mount Tongariro National Park, south of Lake Taupo. The trek is not the easiest, and requires on average seven hours to complete to cover the distance of 19.5-kilometres.

Starting off with a gentle climb, it soon becomes very steep as you head towards the top of Tongariro saddle. Having passed the saddle, you then hike down and back out of two craters, alongside the mesmerising Emerald and Blue Lake. The hike concludes with a long two hour descent that veers through the incredible Ketetahi Hot Springs.

Because the hike is at high altitude, some hikers may experience minor dizziness. In addition, water must be carried for the entire journey as there is none available along the hike. The hike is best conducted during summer months (avoid the snow and ice in the winter months).

This is not a beginners hike and requires a medium level of fitness. If you are relatively fit and looking for an adventure that you will never forget, we highly recommend the Tongariro Alpine Crossing.

Cycle through the Majestic Villages of South Island

Take a bike ride journey with overnight stay

The Alps to Ocean Trail (A2O) is a 301-kilometre ride that takes you through magical landscapes of jagged mountains, turquoise lakes and glacier carved valleys. This is definitively the best cycle trail to take if you like pedal action.

Do not be discouraged if you are not an elite rider, because this trail starts from the top of New Zealand’s highest mountain in Mount Cook National Park and descends to the sea level of Oamaru (eastern coast). However, that’s not to say that all sections are down hill. New Zealand is scattered with hills, so there are some sections that you will need to pedal up.

That said, the A2O Trail can be broken into sections which can be graded between beginner and intermediate. You can therefore choose the easier or harder sections depending on your fitness and schedule.

The complete trail will take:

  • Eight days when riding at a very slow, casual pace
  • Four days at a moderate pace, or
  • Two days for the super fit

Please note: there is one section that does not require any riding. The crossing of the Tasman River is conducted by helicopter, in which the view is amazing!

Stay at Mahu Whenua Luxury Lodge, South Island

Luxury and nature combined!

The Mahu Whenua is the most unique lodge in the world. Surrounded by natural alpine scenery, built with rustic recycled wood and traditional local stone, the lodge is an amazing home stay to lose yourself from the rat race.

Located on a private national park reserve, covering 550-square kilometres, there is an abundance of wildlife, flora and fauna. On the reserve, there are over 1.3 million native trees, shrubs and grasses that have been planted to protect the area.

Guests are treated to bespoke, fully hosted guided tours and activities that can include: 

  • horse riding
  • four-wheel driving
  • farm tours
  • picnics
  • yoga

For the thrill seekers there is also heli-skiing, heli-biking and heli-hiking.

If you prefer spending your time chilling out at the lodge, be treated to a decadent fireplace, soothing hot tub and luxurious swimming pool. Every view at the lodge is met with the scenic backdrop of Lake Wanaka and Mount Aspiring National Park.

Golf Heaven - Kauri Cliffs, North Island

Hit a round of golf that will mesmerise you!

Though not a full 18 hole course (15 holes only), the Kauri Cliff Golf Course offers spectacular 180 degree views of the Pacific Ocean. When you tee up, you will enjoy breathtaking sea views, some with plunging cliff faces, and others with pristine nature for the inland holes. Suffice to say, the average golfer will need to carry plenty of golf balls!

Located on 2,400 hectares of pristine natural beauty, you might even want to consider dropping your golf clubs and wander through the woods.

For non-golfers don’t feel that you will be left out. Kauri Cliffs offers accommodation that includes: a spa, tennis court, infinity pool, access to private beaches, game fishing, scuba diving, snorkelling, sailing, sea kayaking and hunting.

Golf at the Kauri Cliffs is a must for any golf fanatic.

Glow Worms of Waitomo, North Island

Venture through dark caves lit by the luminous glow of worms!

Ever thought about drifting through a cave on an underground river beneath a star lit cavern ceiling hosting millions of glow worms? It’s not something that comes to mind, as it is difficult to imagine. But such a rare and unique experience does exist!

The glow worms of Waitomo are a species of fungus gnat fly - Arachnocampa luminosa - that can only be found in New Zealand. There are several tours that you can take to see the glow worms of Waitomo. Most are suitable for all age groups, however our favourite is riding on a floating rubber tube, coupled with abseiling and jumping from waterfalls.

This is truly a remarkable wildlife experience that is once in a lifetime.

Whitewater Rafting - Queenstown South Island

Get up close and personal with the Lord of the Rings

If you have never been whitewater rafting before, then be prepared for an adventure that you will never forget. We highly recommend the Kawarau River (K River) as a good starting place for the best whitewater rafting experience. Other rivers may be more “challenging”, but be aware rafting does require skill and experience when it comes to navigating dangerous rapids.

We suggest taking a half day whitewater rafting adventure, drifting down the spectacular gorges that was the backdrop to the famous Lord of the Rings movies. The K River is ideal because it offers calm waters to catch your breath, stunning scenery and several spots where you can jump off the raft for a swim.

This half day trip is extremely popular for young backpackers, but is suitable for all levels of fitness and ages. Whilst you don’t need rafting experience, you must be able to swim proficiently. Wetsuits, spray jackets and safety gear are provided, as well as a hot shower at the end of the trip.

Auckland City

The number 1 New Zealand City to visit

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand that offers all the comforts of a top tier global city, without compromising on its integration with nature. The area of the greater Auckland region is in fact as large as London, but ranks as one of the lowest in population density around the world.

Downtown Auckland (Auckland City) is the cultural heart of New Zealand, containing manicured parks, historical museums and art galleries. In addition there are also thrill seeking activities.

Auckland Art Gallery

The Auckland Art Gallery showcases a diverse range of exhibitions that will help you lose yourself from the stress of life. With an atmosphere that is relaxing, you will lose track of time, as you wander through the easy layout. Visit one of the best coffee shops around, that also provides a fine selection of wine.

Auckland Museum

A fantastic museum that explains Maori history, historical wars, the evolution of animals, volcanos and art from around the world. Volcano simulation, understanding volcanoes. Free entry. Interactive activities. Great for families and learning about New Zealand history. 

SkyCity Auckland

SkyCity is a hotel, casino, entertainment centre all rolled up into one. Located in the heart of Auckland CBD, it is a convenient location that makes it a breeze to visit the local sites. The casino is modern, stylish and provides a good selection of live table games and poker machines. In addition to the physical casino, games can also be played online. The hotel is 4.5 stars offering over 320 rooms. Alongside, the hotel and casino is the famous SkyTower. Rising up to 328 metres, it is slightly taller than the Eiffel Tower, giving guests birds eye views of the city. For the not so faint hearted, you can walk outside at the top of the tower hands free (but with a harness as a safety measure). And for the super brave, guests can bungy jump down 192 metres and experience nine seconds of free fall.


New Zealand is relaxing its pandemic border restrictions, which is great for overseas travellers who have been starved of experiencing something unique and natural in the world. New Zealand offers something for everyone - from scenic hikes, bikes, luxurious cabin stays, to cultural and heritage activities in Auckland. Enjoy visiting and partaking in our recommended New Zealand activities.

This article was written in cooperation with gambledex.com