First Time Guide to New Zealand

First Time Guide to New Zealand

Written By: Charlie

I must admit, that despite being so close to New Zealand, I had actually never visited until three years ago. I finally had the opportunity to go when a dear friend of mine planned for a destination wedding and I could see what so many of my friends had described with my own eyes -- New Zealand was every bit as beautiful and peaceful as they all said and I truly fell in love with it by my first day.

As with all travel destinations, figuring out what to do when you visit somewhere new is always somewhat difficult. With so many places to go and so many things to see, it could definitely be hard to narrow down just what you want to do in your limited time. I’ve had the opportunity to explore now on more than one occasion, so I’ve created a list of some of the best things you can do on your first visit to New Zealand. Now keep in mind that this isn’t in any particular order and it’s not all that you should you do when you visit New Zealand, but if you’re feeling overwhelmed when creating an itinerary then these are some of the things that will give you a great overview of some of the iconic spots in the country.


Queenstown is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited, and perhaps one of the most popular in New Zealand. This quaint little town is located at the bottom of a vast mountain range and within driving distance to Lake Wakatipu, which means it’s the perfect spot when you want to have a little adventure and outdoor recreation. Queenstown has a lot of activities for you to participate in, such as hiking, bungee jumping, jet boat writing, river rafting and even biking. If you’re not that into outdoor recreation, but still want to check out this beautiful little town, there are plenty of dining spots to visit as well as nightlife, entertainment, and vineyards that are a short drive away. Queenstown is truly its own destination in New Zealand.


For those who love wine, New Zealand has a beautiful spot for you to visit -- where else on earth can you enjoy an island atmosphere while sipping on some of the tastiest wines in the world. Waiheke Island is a short 35 minute ferry ride from Auckland and takes you to a beautiful island filled with a bohemian atmosphere -- art galleries, cafés and beach views are the perfect destination when you want to escape for the day.


If you’re wanting to learn more about the history and culture of New Zealand, be sure to check out Rotorua. Located here in New Zealand is an authentic Maori Village, which gives guests an opportunity to view the cultural lifestyle of the Maori people. Walking throughout the village will give you a chance to see how they prepare food using traditional methods, as well as cultural shows and entertainment. While you’re visiting the Maori Village, be sure to soak your achy muscles in a thermal pool, which is located all throughout the village.


If you’re not going to be stopping at the Maori Village, but still want to enjoy soaking in some of the hot pools, Rotorua is the prime destination to check out all of these thermal attractions. There are plenty of viewing spots where you can see geysers and volcanic craters, but there are also countless spa therapy treatments and walking tours that allow you to get an exceptional view of these interesting wonders. Since Rotorua is located near the Pacific Ring of Fire, there are plenty of chances to see boiling pools and geysers. Rotorua is a three-hour drive located just southeast of the city of Auckland.


If you’re a fan of the Lord of the Rings, you’ll know that New Zealand played a huge part in that scenic location. Take a tour through movie sets and explore the various hobbit holes located throughout this fun and family-friendly destination -- this is only a one hour drive away from Rotorua, so it’s the perfect daytrip detour.

New Zealand is a perfect blend between outdoor exploration and plenty of city-based activities and relaxation retreats. There are many different regions to visit in New Zealand depending on what you’re interested in, but these are some of my top recommendations when you’re visiting the country for the first time.

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