20 Nov 15 THINGS TO-DO IN NEW ZEALAND
15 Things To-Do In New Zealand That Will Put It To The Top Of Your Travel Bucket List
by Kristian Guynes
If you asked me 2 years ago what would be my top 5 travel bucket list destinations, I would have told you: Australia, London, Korea, Greece, and Egypt. I’m not one to turn down a great vacation; so when the moment came that my friend, Ina, asked if I wanted to go to New Zealand with her, I WAS STOKED. At the time, I hadn’t heard much about New Zealand. I learned a bit about the Maori culture and the haka, but that was about it. No one told me how AMAZING it would be! Literally, I fell in love with everything there!
Before I start bragging about how great New Zealand is, I want to thank the people who made the trip amazing for me and my friends. Leah-Anne and Nate – thank you so much for everything that you guys did for us during our trip there!! I really appreciate your generosity!
With that being said, let me continue on about 15 things to do in New Zealand that will put it on your travel bucket list!
1. MEAT PIES!!!
These aren’t the meat pies that you hear about in Sweeney Todd (Thank God lol). The pies I’m talking about can be found throughout New Zealand. They are miniature pies with a delicious, flaky crust and endless combinations of flavorful fillings. My favorite flavors are: steak & cheese, butter chicken, and chicken with brie & mushrooms. Right after getting picked up at the airport, we stopped at a gas station and there was an array of pie choices. Ever since the first bite, I was hooked! I’m pretty sure I had one almost every day of the trip and still crave them till this day! You won’t fully understand the hype until you try one. And in my opinion, the meat pies in New Zealand are WAY better than the ones in London.
2. Waitomo Glowworm Caves
I’ve seen some crazy things in my life, but the glowworm cave is really high up there. It was AMAZING! The tour that we did allowed us to actually get into the water. And, with the use of tubes, we were able to float with the flow. The glowworms that are exclusive to New Zealand are known as Arachnocampa Luminosa. The glowworms are situated on the ceiling of the caves. When looking up at them, you don’t notice that they’re worms. It’s actually a much more beautiful sight than it sounds. They look like bright blue hanging beads. An interesting fact that we learned is that the glow isn’t actually the worms themselves, but rather their poop! As gross and weird as it sounds, it’s a really cool and unique experience.
3. Snowboarding on Mt.Hutt
For those of you that know me or based off my blog name, you know that I am from Hawai’i. Living on O’ahu means sunshine almost the entire year round. When I left the Hawai’i summer behind and found out that I was heading for New Zealand’s winter, I made it a point to touch snow for the first time. The snow on Mt.Hutt was perfectly powdery. We rented a few snowboards and hit the slopes. Although I didn’t completely fall on my ass, I really sucked at snowboarding lol. I ended up ditching the board to make snow angels and have a snowball fight (which I recorded on my go pro and it was hilarious). It was an amazing experience!
Ever watched Lord Of The Rings? Well if you have, I’m sure you know what hobbits are! Do you remember the homes in the movie? The round-like house structures. Well, Hobbiton is where those scenes were filmed. Although my friends and I were unable to take the tour, we still enjoyed going and checking out the town.
5. Lake Tekapo or any other lake in New Zealand!
The first thing that I remember when I think back about New Zealand would have to be the beautiful scenery. It’s one of the most breathtaking places that I have ever seen thus far. One of the main reasons for that is their lakes. The water is so blue that it almost looks teal. On our early drive to Queenstown from Christchurch, we stopped at Lake Tekapo and I was in awe of its abundance of beauty. We pulled up right by the Church of the Good Shepherd which you’ll see in many pictures of the lake. There is also a statue of a bronze collie sheepdog that seems to be looking out into the distance. Lake Tekapo isn’t the only beautiful lake though, these amazing lakes are all around New Zealand.
6. Minus 5º ICE BAR
This is exactly what it sounds like; A bar made completely out of ice: the bar, the chairs, tables, cups, walls, displays, etc. There’s music, lights, and drinks! It is freezing inside so they provide a warm jacket and gloves. Because it’s so cold, you are only allowed up to 20 minutes inside the bar. Because this bar is located in the middle of Queenstown, it’s a fun place to hangout and to interact with locals and tourists as well. After getting a couple drinks at the ice bar, head over to Winnies Pizza Bar for great pizza and more drinks!
7. Puzzling World
If you’re into illusions and mind tricks, you’ll love Puzzling World! This interactive museum takes ordinary things and makes them seem extraordinary. They have a lot of cool features, but my friends and I really enjoyed the size room. As a person stands on one side of the room and walks their way to the other side, they seem to the audience as if they grew from little people to giants.
8. Bungee Jumping and Swing
Queenstown is known for places to bungee jump and for the worlds biggest swing, the Nevis. I’m really bummed that I was unable to do the Nevis swing while there; but more of an excuse to go back!! My friend, Stacey, bungee jumped over a river though. She really enjoyed it. I’m somewhat of a chicken when it comes to bungee jumping lol. I think of the worst scenarios in my head! For any adrenaline junky though, this would be a great experience.
9. Shotover Jet Boat Ride
This is a boat that takes you on high-speed rides while doing sharp turns and 360’s through the canyons. The boat goes really fast but it’s an amazing time going over the beautiful blue water in Queenstown. Warning though, it gets really cold so bring a scarf to cover your neck and face.
Zorbing seems to be one of the top bucket list must-do’s on Pinterest. You get strapped into a huge rubber ball and you roll down a hill. Although the hill doesn’t look that big, it really builds up a big momentum. I wouldn’t recommend doing this if you get nauseated easily. They also have different hills and a water zorb option that you sit in about 2ft of water in the ball while rolling down the hill.
11. Sheep Parks
Sheep are everywhere in New Zealand, but a lot of times they’re at farms or high up in the mountains. So when my friends and I came across a sheep park on our scenic drive pass Taylor’s Mistake Beach in Christchurch, we had to stop by. It was a hilarious experience (mainly because my friends and I looked like complete Americans idiots haha). The concept is really simple. It’s a grassy area with a bunch of sheep that you can TRY to pet lol. It was like a game of cat and mouse because they would always run away! But, they were really cool to see up close.
12. Skyline Rotorua Gondola, Swing Ride, and Luging
To start, you take a nice gondola ride up to the top of the mountain. Have your camera to take some awesome pictures of the view. When we got to the top, my friends and I got completely distracted by a huge three seater swing. We decided to give it a try and it was worth it! Not only do you get the rush of falling from such a high-point, but you also get to see the best views in Rotorua in my opinion! After getting back on track, we did what we came there for, LUGING! This was a real-life game of Mario Kart!!! You race down a hill going really fast! My friends and I had a blast!!
13. Watch a Rugby Game
If you’re in New Zealand, catch an All Blacks game. The All Blacks are New Zealand’s national rugby team. Unfortunately, we went a week after the All Blacks played in the finals. I was really sad, but we caught another game in Auckland and I enjoyed it! It was a New Zealand team vs. the Australian Sharks. It was like watching a football game in America, but 10x more intense! The men don’t wear any pads or helmets; they take the hits straight to the body. It’s a really fun experience to do since rugby isn’t a very popular sport in America.
14. Natural Hot Mineral Springs
If you decide to visit Rotorua during your vacation in New Zealand, you may notice a very peculiar smell in some parts of the city. The lingering of rotten eggs lol. Surprisingly, the smell actually has to do with the high levels of sulphur in Rotorua. The smell coming from the sulphur is terrible, but what is amazing is the what comes as a benefit of the sulphur Natural Hot Mineral Springs! Although I was unable to go to the main hot mineral springs, the hotel that we stayed at had a really mini one. The minerals from the sulphur are safe to bathe in and can provide great benefits for your skin.
15. Explore the Cities
Every city that I went to in New Zealand was unique in their own way. First, Christchurch is a very beautiful city. From the scenic views to the beaches, everything was nice. Unfortunately in 2011, the city fell victim to a massive earthquake which destroyed many parts. One part in particular was the Christchurch Cathedral. Also, many homes were wrecked. Despite the earthquake (from my point-of-view), Christchurch has done its best to rebuild and give their people and visitors some beautiful things to look at. While adventuring through the city, I was stunned by the beautiful 59ft sculpture that depicts leaf patterns of 42 native plants. As we ventured on, we came across a giant chess game and grass couches amongst other art in the city. They even built an entire shopping mall out of shipping containers which were surprisingly much nicer than they sound.
Another city worth checking out is Queenstown. This seems to be a very young city. There are a lot of clubs and bars, including the ice bar I mentioned above. Great pizza is served up at Winnies Pizza Bar. Queenstown also has a year-round haunted house that supposedly has a true story behind it. A lot of adventurous things to do, such as water activities, bungee jumping, or the Nevis arch.
Taking in the beauty and excitement doesn’t have to be from one specific city. I would recommend getting a rental car (with a GPS) and adventuring. Take in the beautiful views of New Zealand. Also, make sure to go to both the north and south island. Each have interesting experiences to offer you. I wish I could have experienced more traditional Maori culture, but I’ll save that for the next trip.