Where do your preferences lie? Are you the long-term commitment kind of person? Or do you prefer to keep your options open?
Err… I’m talking travel, of course.
If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, you’ll be happy to hear no one will judge you on how you prefer to travel! Whether you prefer the commitment of a group tour to get you from one end of the country to the other, or you’re into travelling at your own pace, New Zealand has got you covered.
There are loads of options for small group tours and hop-on, hop-off bus tours around New Zealand that we’ve covered in this blog. So this post is for those who like to keep their itineraries loose (but still want to see the best sights and activities New Zealand has to offer).
So, for all the commitment-phobes out there, here are 6 of the best day tours and excursions in New Zealand. Whatever your style, there are no excuses not to get out there and explore New Zealand.
1) Milford Sound Day Tour
It’s pretty much an undisputed fact that Milford Sound is the most spectacular fiord in the southern hemisphere. But, the only way you’ll know that for sure is to take a trip to Fiordland yourself. Nestled in the heart of dense rainforest, the best way to see Milford Sound is on a scenic cruise. The 16-kilometre journey from the Milford Sound marina to the open sea is a visual treat. Milford Sound’s highest peak, Mitre Peak soars above the fiord, dwarfing the cruise boats as they cruise through waterfall territory. There’s a good chance you’ll catch a glimpse of dolphins (Bottlenose, Dusky or Hector’s) and New Zealand Fur Seals. You can start a Milford Sound trip from Te Anau or Queenstown.
2) Franz Josef Glacier Hike
The jewel of the South Island’s West Coast is Franz Josef Glacier. At 11 kilometres long and descending to just 240 metres above sea level, this glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers on the planet. So, there’s no excuse not to visit. You can take a walk along the glacier valley floor for a view of the glacier, or you could up the adventure factor and do a heli hike. A glacier heli hike involves 2 – 3 hours on the ice (crampons included), as well as a helicopter transfer up onto the ice. It’s hard to top a glacier hike plus helicopter flight experience. Don’t miss out while you’re on the West Coast.
In case you missed it, there was this movie. It was called the Lord of The Rings; it was kind of big and it was shot in New Zealand. Whether you’re a fan of Tolkien or not, Hobbiton is worthy of a spot on your New Zealand itinerary. A walk through this magical place transports you directly to Middle Earth. The original film set used in the filming of the movie was left behind after the filmmakers left and has since been lovingly re-created into the real life hobbit village of Bag End. Take a guided tour through Bilbo’s house or lunch at Shire’s Rest and keep an eye out for hobbits. Tours depart from Auckland.
4) Bungy in Queenstown
Top of the bucket list for most adventure junkies is bungy jumping. At the bottom of the South Island is the adventure capital of New Zealand, Queenstown. Queenstown happens to be the home of commercial bungy jumping. Our advice is to schedule in plenty of time for Queenstown and give yourself a shot of adrenaline while you’re there. There are three AJ Hackett Bungy operations in Queenstown allowing you to choose your preferred jump height. At 43m, there’s the “kind of scary” Kawarau Bridge Bungy. Then there’s the “a bit scarier” Ledge Bungy at 47m (add to that the bungy site is located 400m above Queenstown). And then there’s the “really, very, seriously scary” Nevis Bungy at 143m. Throwing yourself off a bungy bridge may seem like a crazy idea but when it’s backed by AJ Hackett’s 25 years of experience and a spotless safety record, there’s no reason not to. Surely?
5) Kaikoura Whale Watch
One of New Zealand’s most beautiful small towns, Kaikoura is situated between the beautiful eastern coastline and the snow-capped mountains of Canterbury. What makes this place so special is it is one of the few places on the planet to see Giant Sperm Whales. A Kaikoura Whale Watching experience puts you out on the water amongst these stunning creatures. What we really like about this trip is that the company will refund 80% of your trip if you don’t see whales. As far as New Zealand day tours go, this is one of the best. There are very few places where you can get up close with the world’s largest toothed predator, the Giant Sperm Whale.
6) Rotorua Maori Culture Experience
Visitors to New Zealand will quickly realise how proud the kiwis are of Maori culture and tradition. So, it’s well worth getting yourself on a tour that gives insight into what Maori culture is all about. Our best advice is to head to Rotorua in North Island. After you’ve checked out the geysers and had a soak in the thermal springs, head to the Tamaki Maori Village. There are a few ways to experience the village but one of the best is the dinner tour. It includes a traditional Maori welcome, ceremony and a hangi feast. Tours leave from Rotorua.
So that’s six of the best for those travellers who get jittery at committing to anything that lasts for longer than a day. If you want to book these or any other New Zealand scenic tours, head to PlanIt NZ’s Day Tours & Activities page.