Travel in New Zealand: Your ultimate bucket list

How many times have you said “I’ve always wanted to do that!”?

We’re all guilty of it. And no matter how well intentioned, or how many times we say it, sometimes those plans just don’t happen. From great walks to great restaurants, there are countless incredible things to do and see and taste all over the country, and it’s all too easy to watch another year slip by without doing them.

That’s exactly why a bucket list is so useful. Something about actually making a list and giving yourself real goals can help spur you into action and put plans in place to make it all happen. Not to mention, now is the perfect time to do it all with fewer tourists rattling around, which is making things a little less busy and a little more affordable than usual.

Here are 45 suggestions for the ultimate bucket list in New Zealand – better get planning!  

North Island bucket list items

Adventure trips

  • Do the Auckland Harbour Bridge climb
  • Hike the Tongariro Crossing
  • Go diving or snorkelling at Poor Knights Island
  • Swim with stingrays in Gisborne
  • Cycle through the Redwoods Forest in Rotorua
  • Ride the Rere Rockslide in Gisborne

Fun trips

  • Dig your own spa at Hot Water Beach
  • Visit Hobbiton
  • Take the Northern Explorer KiwiRail train between Auckland and Wellington
  • See the glow worms at Waitomo
  • Visit Cape Reinga, the most northern point in New Zealand
  • Attend a World of Wearable Art event in Wellington
  • Trek up and down the sand dunes at 90 Mile Beach (boogie board if the knees allow it)

Relaxing trips

  • Do a wine tasting tour on Waiheke Island
  • Watch a sunrise in Gisborne
  • Soak in the geothermal pools in Rotorua
  • Spend an afternoon sailing in the Bay of Islands

Historical trips

  • Attend the Napier Art Deco Festival (dress up or it doesn’t count!)
  • Visit the Tamaki Maori Village
  • Visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds
  • Explore Te Papa Museum in Wellington
  • Kayak to the Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings in Taupo

South Island bucket list items

Adventure trips

  • Visit the Franz Joseph or Fox Glacier (or both!)
  • Do the Cave Stream cave walk
  • Attend the Wildfoods Festival in Hokitia (this definitely belongs in the adventure section)
  • Kayak to the Split Apple Rock from Kaiteriteri
  • Walk the Hooker Valley track to see Aoraki Mt Cook
  • Take the gondola up and race the luge down Bob’s Peak in Queenstown
  • Do the Abel Tasman hike (or just part of it!)

Fun trips

  • Cruise in Milford Sound
  • Go whale watching in Kaikoura
  • See kiwis in the wild on Stewart Island
  • Take a Hagglund ride at the Christchurch Antarctic Centre
  • Eat fresh Bluff oysters in Bluff
  • Spot the Southern Lights from Invercargill

Relaxing trips

  • Go star gazing at the Mt John Observatory
  • Unwind in Queenstown’s Onsen Hot Pools
  • Take a river punt on Christchurch’s Avon River
  • Pick your own fruits in summer in Otago
  • Take a cruise on the TSS Earnslaw on Lake Wakatipu
  • Go for a picnic at Castle Hill in Canterbury

Historical trips

  • Explore the seaside village of Akaroa
  • Visit Larnach Castle in Dunedin
  • Pan for gold in Arrowtown
  • Visit Ferrymead Heritage Park in Christchurch

The whole idea of a bucket list is to tick off amazing experiences that you’ve always dreamed of and add them to your collection of treasured moments. Continue ticking items off your bucket list, consider making sure you have your funeral insurance sorted and keep focused on living your best life.