There are tourists, and then there’s you. The traveler. The one who ventures off the beaten path, who is not afraid of the unknown, and travels to experience the culture, the sights, the sounds, the heartbeat of the country. And the food scene, of course.
There’s something inexplicably beautiful about the cultural heritage that permeates New Zealand, this little gem nudged all the way to what seems like the edge of the world. Alongside it’s aesthetic beauty and the fact that every natural and urban spot has a story to tell, this country has something amazing to offer to every type of traveler. So, let’s mix it up a bit a give you a list of some of the most exciting experiences that New Zealand has to offer – which you might not have heard of or included in your itinerary.
Hit every farmer’s market on the map
New Zealand is a land of food and wine. Simple as that. When you land in Auckland or Wellington, the first thing that should be on your mind is to explore and experience the local food scene for all it’s worth. And the best way to do that is to make a tour of the country’s most notable farmer’s markets. Consider it a road trip for your taste buds.
This is the perfect opportunity to experience the local way of life and taste the delicacies hailing from across the land, so first up it’s the Matakana Farmer’s Market in Auckland. Here you will find famous Puhoi cheeses, and of course, your first cup of fresh morning java. Next up is the La Cigale market in Auckland as well, taking place every weekend in the morning hours. It’s a French-themed market so expect to enjoy specialties such as crepes and croissants, various chesses, and fresh fish.
When you’re ready to hit the road, don’t miss the farmer’s markets in Wellington (Harbourside Market), the Bay of Islands Farmers’ Market, the Lyttelton Farmers’ Market, as well as the markets in Nelson, Hawke’s Bay, Otago, and finally Christchurch.
Go caving and canyoning in Nelson
New Zealand is also an amazing place for all adventure travelers, including those who like to dance with danger, and the ones who like to partake in adventure activities that are on the safer side of the spectrum. If you’re not up for the skydiving or the bungee-jumping like everyone else, then perhaps an in-depth encounter with Mother Nature might suit you better.
Bear in mind, canyoning and caving are two sports that do require agility, stamina, a bit of strength, so don’t take the challenge lightly. You will be rappelling and abseiling, jumping and climbing, and making your way down through some of the deepest sinkholes and caves in the southern hemisphere. Deep within the rocks, beneath the surface of the earth, a whole new universe will await, so prepare to be amazed!
Drive through the islands from Cape Reigna to Steward Island
It wouldn’t be a grand New Zealand adventure without a grand road trip from the northernmost point to its southernmost counterpart. At least not if you consider yourself a traveler. From Cape Reigna up north to Bluff in the south (hop on the ferry to Stewart Island), you have about 2083 kilometers to traverse, so prepare yourself for the road trip of a lifetime!
Needless to say, you will need to find a vehicle that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. There’s reliable and cheap car rental all across New Zealand, and Auckland is the best place to find a car and start your journey south. This is a golden opportunity to pass through every urban gem along the way, as well as stop to take some epic photos of the picturesque scenery. Don’t forget to explore Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin as you’re passing through.
Experience the best stargazing sites on Earth
Did you know that New Zealand is the perfect place for stargazing? More than 4300 square kilometers of the South Island’s territory is an International Dark Sky Reserve, meaning everyone from astronomers to adventure travelers come here to look up at the night sky and examine the endless beauty of the Milky Way galaxy, and beyond.
If you’ve always wondered what the famous Aurora Australis looks like in real life, then this is your opportunity to witness a light show like no other. As you’re passing through the South Island, be sure to visit Mt Cook or Tekapo in order to witness the beauty of the night sky through professional telescopes.
Take a walk around Hobbiton
Last but not least, an exploration tour of New Zealand wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the magical place where LOTR was filmed. Hobbiton is quite real, and it resides in the North Island just east of Hamilton, some two hours from Auckland by car, in the Waikato countryside. Here, you can take a guided tour around the Shire, and even enjoy a pint of genuine Southfarthing ale. Truly an adventure you shouldn’t miss.
There is no doubt that New Zealand has plenty to offer, so much in fact, that a single trip is probably not enough to quench your thirst for adventure and exploration. Nevertheless, let this guide take you through some of the most vivid natural and urban gems that are bound to steal your heart, and make you come back for more.