- Sunday, 12 June 2011

10 things to do in New Zealand

... other than bungee jumping !

Areas Covered- North Regions of South Island and South Regions of North Island 

The list is definitely longer than just 10. But this one, in random order, is based on my own travel experience about a month back. I have to plan a year long holiday in New Zealand to probably prepare a list of 101 must do list. It won't be long, I shall be back :)

1. Wine Trail In Motueka & Marlborough

Explore the many Tasman wineries in moutere hills area or in the largest wine growing region of NZ, Marlborough. From small boutique wineries to big ones offering varieties of sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, riesling, pinot noir, pinot gris, gewurztraminer. There are many options. Go on a wine tasting spree while learning its fine nuances, storing, serving, and most importantly meeting new interesting people. A few vineyards also offer accommodation facility and this can certainly be one of the most relaxing and beautiful way to spend your time in the country.

Tip- Do try various cheeses and chocolates, if available, while wine tasting. And don't forget to share your chocolate bite with a stranger. You get a BIG smile back.

2. Hitch-Hike

Oh yes! New Zealand is very safe and very beautiful. Try hitch hiking, its fun. Not only it will save you some bucks, it will surely get you into a long conversation with a stranger ! And its no strange practice in this country.

Tip- Keep your phone, taxi number and map handy. You might have to get off just about anywhere.

3. Hike In The Spectacular Abel Tasman National Park

This park is located in the north end of South Island. The park consists of forested hilly tracks bounded by Golden Bay and Tasman Bay. You can go hiking from short 25 minutes walk to long 6 hour tracks. Signage are clearly put in the park so you would not really be lost, but just have to be careful to follow the track and not falter from it, specially if hiking by yourself. Its important to carry own water and some picnic food which can be picked up from Kaiteriteri which is the nearest town and starting point for your boat ride to the Park. There are no shops in the park. There is only one lodge at the topmost point, and its ok to skip it unless you are planning to stay over in the lodge. More adventurous way is to tent it up on one of the slotted places in the park itself. The park is surrounded by golden beaches, rocky formations and is excellent for kayaking.

I took a return boat ride and got down at anchorage and went hiking for about 2 hours. It was fun exploring through the jungle and then discovering a beautiful sunny beach at the other end. Its highly recommended to use insect repellent cream- very tiny they look (like small bugs) but are way too smart. I ignored it and ended up getting bitten all over my ankle, arms and shoulders by these bugs. The irritation lasted for well over 10 days ! I still had ample time before my boat picked me up, so i did what i do best. Found a shady bench, made pillow out of my bag, took out my book, then read and slept.

Tip- use insect repellent :)

4. Try Local Tap Beer & Hot Chocolates

Please give a skip to the American ones. Try local. I did not get a chance to visit the any of the breweries in New Zealand but yeah I did try very many local beer- fresh from tap. I vote for Mac's, Speight's, Tui & DB Draught. A pub is a culture in itself here. I spent a lot of time hopping from one to another while in Nelson, Motueka & Picton. And its really okay to sometime just go there and sit for hours doing nothing but just basking in some sun. It really doesn't matter what time of day it would be. Staff is always happy to serve you !

5. Take bone carving lesson

Give a shot at bone carving lesson at Tahunanui beach. Its kind of silly and its fun.

6. Lunch at Bay of Many Coves, Picton

After having already spent a day in and around Abel Tasman, I was not sure if I wanted to do the Marlbough sounds. They looked pretty similar. So I chose a small resort island called “Bay of Many Coves” and decided to ask my boat man to drop me off on the island for lunch. The ride is beautiful from the harbour town of Marlborough- Picton. It offered me just perfect luxurious seclusion with stunning scenery around.

7. Get a new tattoo, Tahunanui

Not recommended for those who feel 'what if one day you get bored of it', or 'what when you get wrinkles in old age'.

Yeah that's usual me. Just get a tattoo. Period.

8. Visit Anahata Retreat, Takaka

Go to Anahata Yoga Retreat built over beautiful mountains in Takaka amidst native bush and wonderful views of Golden Bay. Spend a week or ten days at least to absorb its beauty and understand Yoga as a way of living. The air is positively charged all the time. If nothing, it will definitely put you back on earth and make you fall in love with it all over again. I really had an inspiring time.

9. Drive through Kapiti Coast, Off Wellington

When you are done with Wellington (I was done in half a day, some of you may take longer !) just take a drive out for about 50 minutes to Kapiti coast. Its beautiful and takes you through meandering roads across the town on a cliff lined with forests and beautiful bungalows. On the way there or back try visiting cheese tasting/shops, chocolate tasting in chocolate factories, candy shops and art galleries. I found a really inspiring artwork and technique by Maude Heath which will soon be adorning my living room wall.

10. Visit Motueka Orchards

You know you have reached Motueka, when you notice honour system stalls of fruits lined across the roads. Fruits are tree ripened and hand picked and sometimes completely organic too. There are no merchants or cashiers, you are expected to pick your bag of fruits and put the required sum of money in the drop box. The roads are lined with orchards of various fruits from apples to pears. Motueka centre is a vibrant small town frequented by backpackers. Many artists, mainly potters and reggae artists have found their haven here. Its just a small colorful slow paced countryside town. Give it a few days. Its worth it.

*A copy of this write up has also been published on The New Indian Express, Bangalore on 01 May 2014. The online article can be accesses here.


  1. Great post and even better pics.. though couldn't go through the entire post, will be back soon to read the rest, NZ is on my list next year!

  2. Thanks, much appreciate it. NZ is certainly the place to be :)

  3. Hey!! this is a great guide to New Zealand...!!! you are my official travel planner now!!! ;p Great work and good pics.. looking forward to your next vacation now !!! Cheers!