The First Timers’ Guide to Adventures in New Zealand

Active Adventures
(7 minute Read)

Has a New Zealand adventure always been on your bucket list?

There’s simply no place on Earth like New Zealand. The rich wildlife, stunning scenery, dramatic vistas, and the variety of active adventures – from hiking in the remote wilderness to kayaking along Glaciers! Not to mention the unique Maori culture and charming hospitality us Kiwi’s are so proud of.

If a trip to Middle Earth is in your future, it’s good to be prepared. So, here are a few expert tips for your first time adventuring in New Zealand.

Go DIY or Guided?

When planning the perfect trip to New Zealand, you might be wondering whether organising and booking every detail yourself is still the best route. Or whether putting your dream experience in the hands of a professional is the right path to choose?

I don’t know about you, but my ideal way to travel is stress-free and uninterrupted from the daily grind. Years of planning my own adventure trips have taught me that to truly get the most out of your DIY experience, you need to understand the landscape inside and out to find those off-the-beaten-track gems tourists never venture to.

If you’re taking a self-guided tour, it’s a good idea to also practice navigating by GPS beforehand – you don’t want to be caught off guard in the wilderness after all!

However, if you’re on a guided tour, your guide should be intimately familiar with the route and destination—and prepared to make recommendations to help you enjoy it. I recommend going with a tour operator who offers at least a 6:1 ratio on guides per guests.

You may not have the luxury of time, so you shouldn’t let that limit your ultimate Kiwi adventure - which is where guided tours swoop in to save the day!

Opting for a guided tour also adds that extra layer of protection when it comes to cancellations and reschedules.

In the end, it comes down to how much work you want to invest in planning your trip and what you want your vacation to look like when you’re done. There are no right answers, only your answers.

Where to Go?

North Island

New Zealand spoils you for choice when it comes to where to go and what to do.If you venture to the North island you’ll be met with magnificent coasts and beaches, sprawling farmlands and geothermal wonders. Immerse yourself in the rich Māori history and culture that emanates from this side of New Zealand in particular.

Top spots to explore include Tongariro Alpine Crossing, often listed as one of the best day treks in the world. As well as Waipoua Forest for its magnificent Kauri trees. Or how about delving into the underground caves of Waitamo, journeying by boat in search of glow worms.

If you’re a wildlife lover, what could be a more fulfilling experience than whale watching on Auckland's beautiful Hauraki Gulf? Or spotting the iconic kiwi bird, our national bird of course!

South Island

If you choose the South island to visit, imagine indulgent wineries, glacial valleys and star filled skies to gaze upon whilst camping. No matter which part of the region you choose to explore on this long, mountainous island, you'll be constantly bedazzled by the dramatic vistas you encounter.

If you’re an adrenaline junky, why not try your hand at abseiling, kayaking or jumping off waterfalls into the Nelson Lakes National Park? Or saddle up and cycle your way around the Marlborough wine region.

The Adventurer’s Guide to Exploring New Zealand

This 6-part course will walk you through everything you need to know on how to plan, and enjoy an incredible hiking adventure in New Zealand.

Get My Copy!

A country's cuisine, much like its language gives you an insight into the heart and soul of a culture – and New Zealand is no exception.

What typifies Kiwi cuisine is the simple treatment of fresh, local ingredients, preferably shared with friends outdoors – Great news for adventure seekers like yourself!

What to Eat & Drink?

How to Prepare?

If you're wondering how 'Active' our trips really are, you're in good company! One of our most asked questions is 'am I fit enough for this trip?’

Remember walking isn’t a race. You need to be walking at a pace that’s comfortable and lets you enjoy your surroundings. If that’s slower than some, no problem! If it’s faster than your group, that works too! There’s a tour for everyone.

It’s all about having fun. Simple as that.

If you’re looking for some useful fitness tips to follow before your adventure starts, check out this resource from Fit for Trips.

Your most important preparation is mental: Practice letting go of your daily cares and routines and anticipate living moment-to-moment, one step at a time. It’s a wonderfully freeing experience.

  • New Zealand Lamb – A kiwi favourite for Sunday roast
  • Paua – A delicious seafood we often take for granted in these parts.
  • New Zealand Venison – One of the healthiest – and most delicious – red meats you can eat and top chefs are now featuring New Zealand venison on the menus of some of the world’s finest restaurants.

Specialities you should try when you’re here are:

I always like to say – There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing! Your main priority is comfort and durability over anything else. The more comfortable you feel, the longer you’ll want to wander the glorious trails of New Zealand.

Pack according to the destinations you’ll be heading to. For instance a rugged two week trail through the glacier-scoured Aoraki Mount. Cook will require very different clothing compared to a kayaking venture on the Whanganui Journey.

What to Pack?

In a nutshell you’ll need to pack in your good quality rucksack (at least 50L)…

  • Light rain gear
  • Breathable synthetic t-shirt
  • Mid-weight fleece
  • Pants and shorts
  • Several pairs of hiking socks (I recommend Merino for their durability and resistance to becoming malodorous).
  • Comfortable walking boots (with good ankle support, mid or lower cut)
  • A good pair of Kiwi sandals, such as these for beachy terrain and warm weather.
  • Hats/ Gloves depending on whether you’ll be hiking through the Glacier valleys.

See? Preparing for your adventure isn’t nearly as complicated as you imagined—with a good tour operator, it’s even easier than preparing for most theme park or resort trips.

You’ll never forget your first New Zealand adventure—and if you’re one of the lucky few, you’ll get to come back again (and again).

Are you ready to start planning your once-in-a-lifetime New Zealand adventure tour? Get in touch now and see how easy it is to make your travel dreams come true.

Excited to Experience an Adventure in New Zealand for Yourself?

The Adventurer’s Guide to Exploring New Zealand

This 6-part course will walk you through everything you need to know on how to plan, and enjoy an incredible hiking adventure in New Zealand.

Get My Copy!