You have to hand it to the Kiwis, whilst they may be located in a remote corner of the earth, literally everyone has heard of them. Whether it’s because of their superior All Black rugby team (and their goose bump-inducing warrior Haka performances), funny accent (try asking a Kiwi to say the number six), or the ethereal beauty that led to its casting as Middle Earth, New Zealand is now one of the top destinations to visit in 2018.
Over 3.5 million visitors travelled to New Zealand in 2016, nearly overwhelming its own population of 4.5 million. The tourism swell expects to see 4.5 million visitors in 2022, so you might want to beat the hordes before it gets too crowded. But what exactly should you see? We’ve got the ultimate New Zealand bucket list for you!
Read also: 5 Events to Look Forward to in Early 2018
Make like a Hobbit in Hobbiton
Just outside of the Waikato town of Matamata, Sir Peter Jackson discovered the perfect place to create The Shire and village of Hobbiton. To this day, the movie set remains and is a spectacular place to visit for fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies.
White Island wonder
Off the North Island’s Bay of Plenty, White Island appears on the horizon as a thick plume of smoke rising from the Pacific Ocean, the first visible sign of one of New Zealand’s most fascinating natural attractions. From Whakatane, just south of Tauranga, take a boat trip or helicopter out to the island for an otherworldly experience.
Hang out at Hot Water Beach
At Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula in the North Island of New Zealand, visitors can create their own natural jacuzzi in the wet sand during low tide. Purchase a spade at the nearby shop or bring your own and set about building a private hot pool with a stunning ocean view.
Walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing
New Zealand’s most famous day walk, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing takes in incredible scenery over a nine-hour trek. The Crossing is a 19.4km one-day hike, past Mt Ngauruhoe and over Mt Tongariro, with panoramic views of active volcanic areas and crater lakes in the UNESCO Dual Heritage area.
Whale watch at Kaikoura
Kaikoura is a year-round whale-watching destination and also renowned for its scenic location, a rugged coastline between the Pacific ocean and the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps which provides a dramatic background for the marine life that is often seen close to shore.
Dive Poor Knights
Twenty three kilometres off New Zealand’s Tutukaka Coast, the Poor Knights Islands are an international icon. Described by Jacques Costeau as the best dive spot in subtropical temperate waters the Poor Knights is part of a marine reserve with a remarkably varied ecosystem.
Explore the beauty of Milford Sound
Fiordland National Park’s crown jewel, Milford Sound was once called the eighth wonder of the world by Rudyard Kipling. Towering peaks, hundreds of waterfalls, quirky wildlife and glassy waters combine to create one of the most breath-taking places on the planet. An overnight experience in Milford Sound is something to behold, embrace the silence after the day’s visitors have left and pay tribute to Mother Nature.
NZ will make you jump, jump
New Zealand was the first country in the world to commercialise bungy jumping at the site of the Kawarau Suspension Bridge just outside of Queenstown. There is no better place to take the plunge than overlooking the stunning Kawarau River from 43 metres up. Once you’ve conquered your fear, tackle the Nevis Swing – 134 metres over the valley floor – the ultimate bungy experience to challenge even the most extreme thrill seeker.
Chase the Southern Lights
While the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis, are a famous and beloved bucket list item for many night sky watchers, the lesser known Southern Lights are equally spectacular. From Dunedin, the Southern Lights appear just over the southern horizon creating remarkable reflections in the water to the delight of photographers.
Glow worm gala
An ancient subterranean world in the heart of New Zealand’s central North Island, the Waitomo Cave system is a series of fascinating and dramatic natural wonders. The glow-worm grotto is one of the most popular attractions where visitors travel by boat into the spectacular cave guided by the light from thousands of unique New Zealand glow worms.
At the end of the day, rest your head in some of New Zealand’s most beautiful villas.
Image credits: Main