New Zealand is incredible. Not much more needs to be said. It has everything and more to offer to a traveller. Many people ask us here at Ultimate long do I need to see New Zealand? Well honestly I’d say 4 weeks, about 28 days. However not everyone has this much time, so then lets go with 2 weeks. But if you only have 2 weeks then a good suggestion would be to choose between the North or South Islands. Both are incredible and both offer so much…I’m just glad I don’t have to choose! So here’s how I’d suggest you spend 14 days in New Zealand…
North Island New Zealand
Auckland is the main city on the North Island and definitely worth a visit! It is surrounded by volcanoes most of which you can climb and has parks where you can play frisbee golf! But I would recommend leaving the city after a short while, although Auckland does have great night life! North of the City of Sails is the Bay of Islands. Locals call it the land of eternal summer. The weather there stays very constant and a lovely warm temperature. Here you can go swimming with dolphins, hiking or visit Cape Reinga, the northern most point of New Zealand where the Tasman sea and the Pacific Ocean meets.
South East of Auckland you’ll find the Coromandel Peninsular and a little bit of paradise! Here you can dig your own hot tub at Hot Water Beach (original name I know!) and go to Narnia. Yes Narnia! Ok well actually where they filmed Narnia but still, all childhood dreams matched! In the Bay of Plenty further south there is White Island where you can visit an active volcano and walk among the sulphur and steam.
In the middle of the North Island there is Rotorua, the cultural capital of NZ, also named ‘Sulphur City!…and also the smelliest place in the world. You’ll know what I mean when you go there! 😉 Once you have gotten over the smell of the bubbling mud pools you can learn all about New Zealand’s natives, The Maori. There is Waitomo Caves where you can go tubing through caves lit up by glowworms, nothing more to be said! Taupo is right in the middle of the island. Sporting the largest lake in New Zealand it is also the home to Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings. You can actually climb the volcano just like Frodo and Sam while doing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing (a must do while you are here). Taupo is also an awesome spot to do a skydive if you dare!
In the south of the North Island you’ve got some amazing places to do a spot of crazy white water rafting in the mountains. Then right in the south is the country’s capital, Wellington. While here in this sleepy chilled out city definitely check out the Museum of New Zealand, it has everything from history to props from the Lord of the Rings films. There are lots of other museums and art galleries here along with some amazing botanical gardens and a gorgeous view from the top of Mount Victoria.
Side note: If you are doing the North and South Islands then the ferry journey between the two across the Cook Strait will be one of the highlights of the whole trip, so grab your jumper and enjoy the view!
South Island New Zealand
The South Island is about twice the size of the North and certainly packs a punch! The top of the South Island starts with Nelson where you can take a calf burning (but well worth it) steep stroll up to the most central point of New Zealand. West of Nelson is the Abel Tasman National Park. Here you can get a boat to take you round to one of the incredible beaches, drop you off and then you make your own way back on foot. With hardly anyone around you’ll have beaches and forest to yourself, not to mention stunning views and incredible wildlife.
Heading south you’ll get to Westport, a super laid back surf town. Time to don the wetsuit and catch some waves here! On the opposite east coast you have Kaikoura, this is a marine wildlife paradise. You can swim with dolphins and catch the passing humpbacks during their migration. A bit further down you have Christchurch, although recently devastated with numerous earthquakes its still a beautiful city, earning its name of The Garden City. Its not all beautiful parks though, you can learn all about Antarctic expeditions or go shopping at a mall made out of shipping containers!
Heading over to the west coast (through Arthur’s Pass, google it and you’ll just want to go!) you get to the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. Here you can hike on some of the fasting moving glaciers in the world meaning you’ll have to carve your own path through, or splash the cash and get a helicopter ride to the top and land on the ice!
Whilst heading south from here you’ll spot the highest mountain in NZ, Mount Cook, where Edmund Hillary practiced for his famous Everest summit.
You will soon hit Queenstown, the adrenaline capital of the world! You could spend weeks here with so many activities that change with the seasons. You could go skiing, skydiving, jet boating, hiking, bungy jumping, zip-wiring, white water rafting, rock climbing, the possibilities are almost endless. If extreme sports aren’t your thing then its ok, Queenstown boasts some amazing bars and also maybe the best burger joint in the world, Fergburger. Speak to anyone who has been to Queenstown and I guarantee they will have eaten one if not seven.
If you’re not satisfied there then the must see place to see on the South Island is Milford Sound. Words can’t describe the beauty of this place, you have to see it.
So there it is plenty to fill two weeks of your time in New Zealand and this has only scratched the surface there is more then enough to fill lifetime. Which would you chose? The North or the South? I’m glad I don’t have to choose, perhaps a piece of advice – Go for longer and see all of it!
New Zealand: A Backpackers Paradise
The land of the Kiwis is often hyped as one of the most well travelled and photogenic places in the world, and for all the right reasons. Not only will the New Zealand photos rack up your Instagram likes, but it boasts some epic adventures to cross off your bucket list. The laid-back, high-quality lifestyle has attracted more and more backpackers looking for one hell of a place to travel to, and New Zealand does not disappoint!
Seriously Friendly Kiwis!
This lovely bunch of people are friendly, welcoming and always up for a chat! When you’re travelling the locals you come across can really make a difference to how you much your enjoy your time so it helps to have locals who are excited for you to be travelling their country! They usually have a few local recommendations up their sleeves too! 😉 After briefly chatting with a local on the street while looking for some late afternoon grub in Queenstown, I was given some insider tips and told to head to the famous Fergberger burger joint. This place is AMAZING and as my new Kiwi friend had suggested I phone ahead to order, I didn’t even have to wait in line! #MakeKiwiFriends!
From bungy jumping, white water rafting and kayaking to glacier hiking and snowboarding, New Zealand is THE place to be if you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie!
Not only does New Zealand offer some amazing activities, but you’ll also be doing them in some of the most stunning spots in the world. Try Skydiving over mountains, jet boating through crystal clear rivers and zorbing down ‘Hobbiton’ hills. Ask our travel team for recommendations!
One of the best things about travelling around NZ is how many different travelling options there are. You can join guided group tours (recommended for when you first arrive – check out Ultimate NZ), buy a hop-on, hop-off bus pass or road trip it in a camper or car. Whatever you decide, the adventures are endless!
One of the most unique things about New Zealand is how true many of them have held onto the traditional Maori culture. You must be on a tour to visit a Marae, which is a tribal meeting ground, but it is fascinating and truly special to be a part of. The local people will hold speeches, sing traditional songs, and eat a hangi feast. If you’ve ever seen a New Zealand’s All Blacks haka warrior dance, you know that the Maori ceremonies are something to behold!
North and South Islands
New Zealand is small yet mighty! The North and South Islands are both stunning in different ways! The North Island is rich in Maori culture, has tons of hot springs (and even a beach where you can dig your own jacuzzi!), scuba diving, and swimmable beaches. In comparison, the South Island has more dramatic scenery, stunning lakes and mountains. You’ll find amazing beaches and breathtaking National parks in both the North and South Island of New Zealand!
New Zealand is crazy beautiful and packs a punch, full of spectacular mountains and beaches for your adventurous side while still being able to enjoy the backpacker life and have an epic night out on the town. Pack your bags, buy your ticket, and check one more amazing country off your list!
If you’re anything like us here at ULTIMATE, you love a bit of thrill seeking during your travels. There’s no better way to get your heart pumping than rafting through river rapids or jumping out of a plane at 14,000ft. If you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie here are some activities to cross off your list this year!
Here are some of our experiences with some amazing (pretty terrifying) adrenaline activities:
Skydive – (Ultimate recommends Mission beach, Australia)
“What a feeling! Falling through the sky at 14,000ft with someone and a parachute strapped to your back doesn’t happen (to most of us!) every day! It’s without a doubt one of the most amazing feelings in the world and I’d recommend it to anyone! For me the scariest part was waiting to jump in the plane beforehand. Luckily I was the first out and as soon as that door was opened, I was ready to jump! The free fall was such an incredible feeling! It almost feels like you’re floating rather than falling. Once the parachute has opened (aaannnd relax!) you get to enjoy 5 minutes of floating down, checking out the beautiful scenery and thinking about what you’ve just done! Like most things great in life the whole experience goes way too quickly so get the photos and videos to watch back!” – Holly
Canyoning & Abseiling (Ultimate recommends Da Lat, Vietnam)
Da Lat in Vietnam has some of the worlds most beautiful waterfalls. You can hike through the jungle to see the waterfalls from a far or if you prefer you can abseil straight down them!
“You hear stories from people on the way and you might even see some of their pictures, yet you can’t quite figure out what to expect from ‘abseiling a waterfall’. The truth is: it’s freakin scary, but I loved it so much, I have done it 3 times now and would do it again anytime. The worst part is standing right on the edge of the cliff, waiting until it’s your turn and seeing the horrified look in everyone’s face in front of you while you are trying to build up the courage to just do it. You’re basically volunteering to face death several times on that one day – kinda a dumb thing to do if you think about it. Though, once you’ve taken the first steps down the cliff, the water is pounding against your legs to a point where you are about to slip any moment now, the adrenaline is rushing through your body and you start to feel invincible. You finally let go of the ropes, take the plunge into the river beneath you and already think: I need to do that again!” – Dirk
Bungy Jump (Ultimate recommends Cairns, Australia & Queenstown, New Zealand)
Could you jump off a ledge with a Bungy cord strapped to your ankles? Bungying is one of those things that you don’t just do the once! Once you jump you can’t stop!
“I was shitting myself for weeks leading up to the jump. We arrived at the site on the day and it was beautiful and scary at the same time. It is set in a valley so you jump from a cable-car which is connected by cables to the mountains on either side, it is 134 metres from the ground. Inside the cable-car the floor is perspex so you can see right down to the bottom of the valley that you are jumping in to! They get people to jump in weight order so there were a few bigger guys before me – this calmed my nerves a bit because they all came back up saying how amazing it was (and none of them died!). It came to my turn and I sat in the chair to have all of the safety stuff put on me. As this was happening the guy who had jumped before me was being pulled back up after his jump, he looked terrible. His legs had turned to jelly and he was crying – this didn’t help me! I shuffled over to the ledge and prepared to jump, I kept telling myself not to make any noise because I was afraid I would squeal or sound really stupid. It turns out it’s impossible to not make any noise and I think I made a kind of mooing sound like a cow! The freefall is around 9 seconds and this was one of the most amazing feelings of my life – like nothing else I have ever experienced. When I bounced back up and started to head down for the second time it felt for a couple of seconds like I was hanging in mid air – I actually instinctively swang my arms around and tried to fly! I bounced a few more times and then pulled the chord so I was in a sitting position and enjoyed the relatively leisurely ride being pulled back up to the top. As soon as I got back up there I turned to my mate and said “we have to do this again – higher!” – Danny
White Water Rafting (Ultimate recommends Tully River, Australia)
“Rafting was an incredible experience! I did the ‘Xtreme rafting’ on the Tully River in Northern Queensland. I had no idea how much fun it would be but I can safely say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done! I felt like I was on the best roller coaster in the world, blasting down the rapids, twisting and turning all the time – it’s definitely not for the faint hearted! The staff and instructors were brilliant providing making us feel as safe as possible with non stop laughs along the way. They really do try and make it the best experience possible for you. The trip I did was a day trip which I’d definitely recommend as you get lots more rafting in and when you’ve started you won’t want it to end! The best part of the day for me was blasting down a rapid with the instructor shouting “Back Paddle, back paddle” then bumping into rocks and dropping down the rock face below you. It was a crazy amount of fun and I’d recommend it to anyone!” – Max
Shark Cage Diving (Ultimate recommends Port Lincoln, Australia)
Port Lincoln in Australia is one of the only places in the world you can experience cage diving with Great White sharks! You’ll be lowered into the ocean with only a metal cage between you and great whites. Put it this way…it’s the closest you’ll ever come to a Great White Shark without being eaten! Game?
“Duunnnn Dunn… Duuunnn Dunn… I’ll never forget the day I encountered the real life Jaws! Diving with sharks was an item on my lifetime bucket list, and although I was super excited, I couldn’t have been more terrified. Being in Australia, you always fear that you may see a shark in the water, and here I was choosing to be with one! This being said I flew down to Port Lincoln for the weekend, one of the few places in the world that you can cage dive with Great Whites. Although I was quite nervous, the staff couldn’t have been better and made me feel really comfortable. We set off early in the morning and the next thing I knew, they were gearing me up to hop in the cage. A fun fact, rather than using bloody “chump” as they call it to attract the sharks, they used the sound vibrations of playing ACDC – how cool is that! Peering over the side, I could already see the shadow of what appeared to be a 5m Great White. Feeling rather nervous, I took a deep swallow and hopped into the cage and there he was, Bruce smiling right back at me. Once in the water, the fear left and I was amazed to be that close to such a large creature. It was absolutely insane and definitely an experience I won’t forget!” – Becca
Diving (Ultimate recommends The Great Barrier Reef, Australia & Koh Tao, Thailand)
Thailand has got some amazing snorkeling and diving spots, especially along the West coast. Kao Tao is popular for diving due to it’s shallow waters and lots of coral.
“Absolutely the BEST part of my time spent in Thailand. If you’re considering scuba diving, better yet getting your open-water certification, Koh Tao is THE place to do it. Not only is it one of the cheapest and most popular places to do it, the island provides some of the best dive sites in the world. Plus, it’s absolute paradise. Palm trees, sunsets, beach parties – not much to complain about. And trust me when I say, there is no cooler feeling than being able to breathe underwater. My dream of becoming a mermaid was finally complete. After completing the 4-day open-water course, I could officially call myself a certified diver. I loved diving so much, I even went on to get my advanced certification with heaps of friends I met from my original dive group. Exploring a shipwreck 30m below surface, diving in complete dark with nothing but a torch, finding Nemo – doesn’t get much better. Eat. Sleep. Dive. that should be the island’s motto.” – Becca
Cage of Death, Darwin, Australia
“The cage of death was such a weird yet amazing experience! Me and my travel buddy were lowered into a massive tank inside a glass cage with two of the largest saltwater crocs in Australia, William and Kate! One of the ‘friendlier’ crocodiles swam straight over to us and at one point it’s teeth were literally 10cm away from me with just the glass between us! To make the crocodile jump up, chicken was dangled into the tank by the crocodile handler and fed to the crocs in front of us. I couldn’t believe how high the crocs can actually jump out of the water and seeing how powerful their jaws are as they snapped down on the chicken was unbelievable. Being so close to such big crocodiles was definitely a once in a lifetime opportunity! If you’re travelling to Darwin, the Cage of Death is not to be missed!” – Holly
Done a Skydive? Been tubing in Thailand? Share your experiences with us in the comments below! If you’re interested in any of the above just get in touch – we will give you the details!