A thrilling way to see New Zealand’s landscapes is by 4WD: quad bikes and 4WD vehicles are popular options. Explore the river beds of Glacier Country or cruise along beaches. Step it up a notch and book an experience in an all-terrain military Hagglund!
With a coastline 15,000 kilometres long, and dozens of lakes, there are plenty of opportunities to experience New Zealand from the deck of a boat. Take a cruise across Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown to see a high-country station, or a glacier lake tour in Mount Cook National Park. In Fiordland, you can drift past waterfalls and spend the night in a private cabin. Experience sailing around the Bay of Islands or the Marlborough Sounds. Go cruising in Auckland to see the islands of the Hauraki Gulf. 360 Discovery introduces visitors to the fascinating wildlife sanctuary of Tiritiri Matangi Island, while Fullers offers day tours to the unique volcanic landscape of Rangitoto Island. For a very different boating experience, Wanaka River Journeys takes visitors past mountains and waterfalls in a high-speed jet boat.
Take a guided cycling tour, on- or off-road – winery tours by bicycle are particularly popular! The Otago Central Rail Trail is a 150-kilometre cycling adventure through Central Otago, passing relics of gold-mining history. Another excellent trail is the Queen Charlotte Track in Marlborough, which is open to mountain bikers for most of the year. The trails around Rotorua are highly regarded, as are trails near Wanaka and Queenstown.
New Zealand’s location at a meeting point of arctic and tropical currents means a diversity of species, making it a popular dive location. The Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve off Northland is particularly renowned and can be explored with Dive! Tutukaka & Perfect Day, while in the Cavalli Islands, the Greenpeace wreck Rainbow Warrior has been used as an artificial reef habitat. The Marlborough Sounds and Kaikoura offer great dives, and Fiordland is the place to see the world’s largest population of Black Coral trees, some up to 200 years old. Contact Tawaki Adventures to find out more.
Flight-seeing can offer a very different view of New Zealand, whether you’re flying over an offshore volcano or whale watching off the coast of Kaikoura. Try Kaikoura Helicopters or Wings Over Whales. Fiordland is a great region for scenic flights – towering peaks take on new dimensions from the air – but opportunities for flight-seeing in helicopters, fixed-wing planes or even hot air balloons are available.
Kayaking & Canoeing
Kayaking with seals is popular off the Kaikoura coast, and these playful mammals are encountered in other areas too. Even dolphins and whales may come for a closer look at kayaking humans! In Abel Tasman National Park, join Abel Tasman Kayaks and experience paddling around the pretty coastline by day and spending the night camping on a sandy beach. Canoeing expeditions are popular on larger rivers, such as the Whanganui River, where they are a tranquil way of exploring a beautiful rainforest.
One of the best ways to discover New Zealand’s stunning landscapes is by hiking (most often referred to in New Zealand as “tramping”). The best-known trails are the Great Walks. Administered by the Department of Conservation (DOC), these multi-day tracks showcase some of the most magnificent scenery and they are maintained to a high standard. Many require bookings. From the lakeside paradise of the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk in the North Island to Rakiura Track on Stewart Island, there are nine Great Walks, each boasting their own unrivalled highlights.