The Great New Zealand New Year’s Bucket List
New year, new adventures. Here is our short version of New Zealand’s absolute must do experiences (seriously the full list is too long even for a webpage!). Which of these make it to your New Zealand New Year’s bucket list?
1 – Experience an All Black rugby game
Legend! It’s not just a sport, rugby is a religion in New Zealand. And watching the All Blacks – the country’s national team – play live is quite an epic experience. Not just is it an amazing team but the atmosphere and fanfare is infectious.
2 – Sand boarding in Northland
First drive on a 55 mile highway that’s actually a beach – yes, the legendary 90 Mile beach is not really that long. Then head to Te Paki, rent a board and ride the biggest dunes this side of the equator.
3 – Sink a drink at the Green Dragon Hill in Hobbiton
You don’t have to be a Hobbit fan to enjoy New Zealand’s middle-earth legacy, something everyone must try. A great spot to so this is the Hobbiton Movie Set – where you can see the physical evidence of filming – the movie set! Get lost among hobbit holes, see Bag’s End, dance under the Party Tree and then head to the famous Green Dragon for a much-needed drink.
4 – Dig yourself a hot tub in The Coromandel
Hot Water Beach in The Coromandel is not a hidden gem but a popular one – something you must put on your bucket list. Visit the beach at low tide, hire your spade, dig a hole in the sand and relax in geothermally heated water while taking in views of the Pacific Ocean.
5 – Witness the Earth’s raw power
An epic bucket list item would also be walking on White Island – an active marine volcano off the Bay of Plenty coast near Rotorua (another geothermal hot spot). You even get to wear a hard hat for the walk!
6 – Savour some of the world’s best wine
Just over an hour from Wellington, the village of Martinborough has an overwhelming number of excellent boutique wineries and cellar doors − far more than its small size would suggest. A must-do for every wine connoisseur.
7 – Swim with dolphins in Akaroa
Down the coast from Christchurch, in Banks Peninsula, lies the charming French town of Akaroa, also popular for its marine adventures. The most popular of these is swimming with the rare Hector dolphins. Swimming with these tiny dolphins is an extraordinary experience.
8 – Gaze in amazement at the clearest skies in the world
Lake Tekapo in South Island is an International Dark Sky Reserve, home to some of the clearest skies in the world and THE place for stargazing. It’s no wonder you will find many people pulling all-nighters here. You should too!
9 – Try something wild
Along with glaciers that come down to the sea and precious greenstone, the West Coast is renowned for wild flavours – from huhu bugs to wasp larvae ice cream. Washed down with some of the best craft brew in the country, the experience is exceptional and is a must feature on this epic New Zealand’s New Year bucket list.
10 – Jump on giant boulders
If giant rocks that look like dinosaur eggs don’t interest you, then don’t go see the Moeraki Boulders on the Otago coast. But, if that does sound cool, head to Koekohe Beach.
11 – Get an adrenaline rush in Queenstown
Test your mettle in the adventure capital of New Zealand – Queenstown. Begin with the original bungy off the historic Kawarau Bridge, then jump off a plane, followed by ziplining high among the alpine forest. Just when you think you’ve done it all, head for a jet boat ride in one of the most pristine environments in the world!
12 – Day walk, short walk, multi-day walk, Great Walks … take your pick
New Zealand is known as the hiker’s paradise – with good reason. Within its national and regional parks are located some of the best walks, suitable for people of all abilities. If you’re reasonably fit, include at least one of the country’s nine Great Walks into your schedule. Milford Sound Track, Routeburn Track and the Kepler tracks are popular Great Walks – all lie in Fiordland. If you prefer day walks, make Milford Sound Lodge your base and head out to explore the numerous day walks in the area.
13 – Experience the Eighth Wonder of the World
Milford Sound – one of the most popular attractions of New Zealand – is as magical as described in every blog or promotion you’ve ever heard about the place. Day trips don’t do this paradise justice. If you want to truly experience the magic of Milford Sound, spend the night at the Milford Sound Lodge with us where you can enjoy pristine wilderness and starry skies from the comfort of one of our many accommodation types.
14 – Climb the world’s steepest street
The 3.2km Baldwin Street in Dunedin is an odd experience – and that’s why it makes it to our bucket list. The street rises from 30m above sea level at its junction to 100m above sea level at the top! This is also the street where thousands of jaffas (a favourite Kiwi lolly) are rolled down as part of the Dunedin Midwinter Carnival.
15 – Witness the Southern Lights
If you find yourself in a very dark place towards the bottom of the South Island, it’s worth checking out the forecast for the Aurora Australis — also known as the Southern Lights. The dancing lights are often visible from the very south of New Zealand and are incredible to see.