New Zealand – also known as Aotearoa (meaning the land of the long white cloud) in the native Maori language – is a popular tourist destination year round.
Many visitors come for the world-famous natural beauty, as well as the intriguing local culture and Maori traditional experiences.
You will find some interesting and quirky cities across both islands, and high-adrenaline activities to get your heart racing. The country truly has something for everyone and will leave you wishing you had stayed longer.
A great way to get around all the main attractions is to book a tour whilst in the country. Here are 15 of the best currently available.
1. Hobbiton Movie Set Guided Tour
New Zealand is visited by thousands of Lord of the Rings fans each year, with the Hobbiton Movie Set being one of the top excursions on their list.
At Hobbiton, you can walk around one of the real sets from the Hobbit movies. You can also visit a Hobbit tavern and enjoy a complimentary drink.
This option gives you a guided tour around the site so you can gain some insider knowledge about the filming of the movies and take a photo in front of a Hobbit hole.
2. Milford Sound Nature Cruise, Underwater Observatory and Lunch
Milford Sound is one of the most spectacular natural sights you can see in New Zealand.
Formed by the seismic rift that goes right through the South Island, this spectacular fiord has multiple tour options available, most including a boat ride through the sound itself. This tour focuses on the unique wildlife of the Fiordland region – including blue penguins and the mighty kea.
You will also visit an underwater observatory to learn more about the marine life, and enjoy a complimentary lunch.
3. Bay of Islands: Helicopter and Cruise Half-Day Island Escape
The Bay of Islands region is a popular summer getaway for many kiwis and it is easy to see why. The vista over the many islands in the bay showcases some of the best natural views the North Island has to offer.
This tour takes you on a helicopter ride over all the islands so you can admire them from a unique vantage point in the sky.
A cruise to one of the most remote islands in the archipelago is also included, giving you time to relax and get away from the tourist crowds in the rest of the region.
4. Franz Josef Glacier 3-Hour Hike and Scenic Helicopter Transfer
The West Coast glaciers are truly unique sights for tourists to behold; their interesting formation helps feed the natural blue waters of many South Island lakes.
The only safe way to reach the glacier is via helicopter, so this is one of your only options if you want to get up close. This tour also includes a hike around the glacier, where you can see the marvelous natural formations caused by the melting ice.
Your informative guide will provide you with information about how the glacier was formed and what the future has in store for the region.
5. Waitomo Glowworm Caves 45-Minute Experience
The Waitomo Caves are famous the world over for their unique display of glowworms; the only way to access them is with a guided boat tour.
This experience is only 45 minutes long, allowing you to check out the best parts of the caves whilst saving you some time for other attractions in the area.
The knowledgeable guide combines some time on foot with a boat ride through the glowworm area to bring you information about how the caves were formed and why the glowworms have decided to stay there.
6. Tamaki Maori Village Evening Cultural Experience
The Maori people were the indigenous inhabitants of the islands before British colonization. Their culture is still deeply important to New Zealanders to this day.
At Tamaki Maori Village, you get a full experience that will teach you about the culture, traditions, and beliefs of the country’s original inhabitants.
Located just outside of Rotorua, you will savor a traditional hangi feast – a meal of meat and vegetables prepared using volcanic heat from beneath the ground.
7. Skyline Queenstown Gondola with Lunch or Dinner
Queenstown is one of the main attractions in the South Island thanks to the abundance of adrenaline-boosting activities and magnificent views of the Southern Alps and Lake Wakatipu.
The Skyline Gondola takes you up one of the nearby mountains to the Skyline Queenstown complex, where you can enjoy go-karting, zorbing, and bungy jumping.
This tour also includes either a lunch or dinner at the Stratosfare Restaurant and Bar – perfect for filling you up after an adrenaline-packed day. The restaurant allows you to dine whilst admiring panoramic views over the mountains and lake.
8. White Island Day Tour from Whakatane or Rotorua
White Island is formed by one of the most active volcanoes in New Zealand – the only one located offshore in the New Zealand marine area.
This tour includes a boat ride from Whakatane (as well as a bus journey from Rotorua if you select that option) straight to White Island. Whilst there, you will hike around the crater and check out some of the unique sights, such as hot mud pools and steam-emitting craters.
The tour guide will talk you through the history of the island, as well as teach you about how volcanoes are formed.
9. Wellington: Hop-on Hop-off City Tour
If you are visiting one of New Zealand’s cities, the hop-on-hop-off bus tours can be a great option. Many of the cities in the country are smaller than the metropolises located elsewhere, and all of the main sights can easily be spotted within a day.
The ‘Coolest Little Capital in the World’ has a variety of quirky and interesting spots worth visiting. Learn about the seat of New Zealand’s government, the filmmaking history of the city, and the strict coffee culture that Wellingtonians are proud of.
10. Auckland Hop-on Hop-off Explorer Bus Ticket
The main international gateway to New Zealand, many visitors ignore Auckland in favor of other better-known attractions in the country.
The largest New Zealand city – known as the City of Sails – offers many more modern attractions and fascinating insights into Kiwi history and culture.
This hop-on-hop-off bus tour allows you to explore these at your own pace, with an audio guide available on board to describe everything. This is a fantastic option if you only have a few days – or even hours – in Auckland.
11. Te Puia Maori Village Entry and Optional Cultural Performance
This is another fantastic option for learning more about Maori Culture while in Rotorua. You will check out some of the natural sites, including Pohutu Geyser and mud pools.
You might even be able to spot the native kiwi birds if you are lucky. The guided tour teaches you all about the importance of Maori culture in New Zealand and how the culture is kept alive to this day.
You can opt for an expanded ticket that allows you to attend the 45-minute cultural performance, where you can enjoy the haka, poi performances, and other displays of Maori culture.
12. Lake Taupo Maori Rock Carving 2.5-Hour Sailing Cruise
Located on Lake Taupo, the extraordinary Maori rock carvings at Mine Bay are well worth a visit to discover one of the best-preserved examples of Maori art in the country.
This boat tour departs from Taupo – the main town located on the lake – and provides you with a huge amount of information about the carvings.
It is done using a boat powered entirely by electricity, making it one of the most eco-friendly ways to see the rock carvings. The small yacht takes a limited number of passengers, creating an intimate experience.
13. Haruru Falls 2-Hour Guided Kayaking Experience
Kiwis love their watersports, and kayaking is an activity enjoyed by locals and tourists alike up and down the country.
This two-hour guided kayaking experience will take you to the Haruru Falls and show you some of the best scenery the Bay of Islands region has to offer.
You will be able to get up close and personal with native wildlife, as well as experience the mangrove forest areas on the way. Your guide will talk about history and the impact on Maori culture the region has had.
14. Lord of the Rings Half-Day Tour from Wellington
Weta – the main company behind the Lord of the Rings movies – is based in Wellington; this tour is a good option if you are short on time but want to learn more about how the movies were made.
You will start the tour by visiting some of the filming locations around the local area.
You will also check out the Embassy Theatre – where the films were premiered – and Weta Workshop, where you can learn how the special effects were done.
15. Tandem Skydive Experience in Taupo
Adrenaline-seekers will love their time spent in New Zealand – a country which appreciates and encourages a variety of thrill-seeking activities.
The ultimate in adrenaline heightening adventures is Skydiving, and Taupo is the capital of the sport in the country. This experience will partner you up with an experienced diver who will talk you through everything you need to know.
You will then jump out of a plane over the gorgeous Lake Taupo area, admiring the scenery whilst experiencing the thrill of the dive.