6 top things to do in New Zealand

Six things you must do in New Zealand

Thursday 17 August 2017

Travel Bureau personal travel expert, Garry, recently visited New Zealand with specialist tour operator Anzcro and discovered that this antipodean archipelago is all about natural beauty. Here are Garry’s top tips on how best to see the country’s iconic landscapes, whether from land, sea or air!

  1. Fly over Mount Cook & Lake Tekapo

Mount Cook, or Aoraki (the mountain’s Māori name), is the highest mountain in New Zealand at 12,218ft. A scenic flight over Mount Cook gives you amazing views of the mountain and surrounding National Park, including the tranquil beauty of Lake Tekapo. There are various options that range from as little as $99 to over $500 so it’s best to set your budget and book before you leave. To observe the power of the mountains and their glaciers from such a vantage point is truly spectacular and it is a “must do” activity for visitors who travel to the area.

Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

*If you stay at the Hermitage Hotel in Mount Cook, make sure to take a look at the museum/exhibition dedicated to the exploits of Sir Edmund Hilary, the famous New Zealand mountaineer who was one of the first men to conquer Mount Everest, reaching the summit with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay. It’s quite small, but there are some very interesting items, news reels and details of Hilary’s adventures both in the Mount Cook region and in the Himalayas; it’s certainly worth a look.

  1. Self-drive South Island

For a UK tourist, self-drive provides an easy alternative to an escorted coach tour, offering travellers more freedom and flexibility with their itinerary. In New Zealand they drive on the left as we do and the roads are well maintained, with facilities for comfort breaks, coffee and food never far away.

Roadside scenery, South Island, New Zealand

A journey via the Southern Scenic Route towards Te Anau, a stunning lakeside resort, will take you into the heart of the Southern Alps. The terrain and scenery change constantly and around every twist and turn in the road there is another “wow” moment: due to glacial deposits from the melting snow in the warmer months, the rivers are a striking icy blue colour and the mountains are an imposing presence. Driving through the open spaces of this vast wilderness, you’ll often see various birds of prey wheeling above you, and it’s hard not to be struck by the grand scale of this majestic landscape.

  1. Milford Sound Boat Trip

The journey to Milford Sound is itself a wonderful experience, travelling via Mirror Lakes where the awesome mountains are reflected in the water. The drive is a very pleasant one, mountains rising steeply on either side, clouds seeming to hang around them like cotton wool, endless vistas and panoramas appearing before you.

The scenery along the Sound is truly breath-taking and seeing it from the water is not to be missed - on a bright day you’ll be blessed with a clear view of Mitre Peak, which is sometimes hidden in cloud. Your excursion may be joined by a pod of dolphins, happy to put on quite a show for tourists as they follow behind the boat; to see these animals up-close in the wild is a truly unforgettable experience.

Milford Sound boat trip

On a boat trip of around 2 hours you can travel out into the Tasman Sea and enjoy a picnic lunch on board before heading back to port. The crew onboard give commentary from time to time, pointing out any sights of interest and any wildlife, including seals, which are often to be found basking on the water’s edge. The whole trip is a terrific experience, full of visual delights and, depending on the time of your visit, you may get to experience the waterfalls of the Sound in full flow.

  1. Queenstown Activity Day

Beautifully located beside Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown is reminiscent of many resorts in the European Alps with a lively atmosphere and lots of bars, restaurants and shops. Queenstown is famously the “Adventure Capital” of New Zealand and there is much to see and do, from skydiving, to bungee jumping and quad biking. But don’t worry, if you’re not looking for an adrenaline-fuelled holiday, there are plenty of less high-octane activities to enjoy in Queenstown, which make the most of the town’s stunning natural surroundings.

Queenstown seen from Bob's Peak

During the day, take a guided nature walk in nearby woodland to learn more about indigenous plants and trees as well as local wildlife, or head up Bob’s Peak on the Skyline Gondola for amazing views over the town and lake from the viewing platform.  In the evening, a trip out on Lake Wakatipu aboard the 104-year-old TSS Earnlaw, an iconic steamship, is undoubtedly one of the best ways to experience Queenstown’s famed scenic beauty. Alternatively, head to the Walter Peak High Country Farm for an impressive demonstration of a sheep herding and sheep shearing.

  1. Glacier Helicopter Flight

From the small glacial town of Franz Joseph you can take a helicopter flight over the untouched native woodland and pristine lakes of the Mount Aspiring and Westland National Parks, and up onto the glacier. From the helicopter you get a wonderful view of the scenery on the West Coast of the Alps: vibrant green forests and hills stretching out beneath you, the Tasman Sea on one side and only the occasional small village or town to break the never-ending stream of beautiful scenery.

Helicopter on the Franz Joseph Galcier

Your pilot will take you swiftly and safely up onto the glacier, from where, once landed, you are able to truly appreciate its huge expanse. The glacier dwarfs the helicopters, but despite its great size is a place of breathtaking tranquility, like nowhere you’ve ever been before. The trip itself lasts around 30 minutes and normally costs $200.00 but is well worth the cost for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make sure to book in advance.

  1. TranzAlpine Train

The 4 ½ hour TranzAlpine Train journey from Greymouth to Christchurch is a relaxing and pleasant way to travel and an excellent way to see the differing landscapes of South Island. The train travels at quite a steady pace from coast to coast, through rural countryside, spectacular alpine scenery, barren gorges, past full rivers, including the ice-fed Waimakariri River, and eventually down on to the flat Canterbury Plains leading in towards the city of Christchurch.

New Zealand scenic countryside

There is a snack outlet on board serving a wide variety of drinks and a good selection of both hot and cold food. The light and spacious coaches are particularly impressive, creating a bright and airy environment with lots of glass to allow for the best possible viewing experience. At the rear of the train is an open viewing car, which provides the perfect vantage point whenever something extra special comes into view. TVs in the coaches give continuous updates of your progress across the country and an informative onboard commentary (via headphones available at your seat).


If you would like to find out more about New Zealand why not give Garry a call and he will be happy to share more of his personal recommendations with you. Call direct on 0191 272 6024 or send an email to garry@travelb.co.uk.

Foreign currency now from Travel Bureau

Planning a holiday, honeymoon or trip abroad? Speak to our team about currency today.

Find out more

Latest Event

More exciting events coming in 2018

Latest News

Hyatt is scheduled to open its first beach resort in Japan later this year. The Hyatt Regency Seragaki Island Okinawa (a bit of a mouthful!) will be situated on its very own island, connected to the mainland by a short...
Generous public spaces, world-class dining and amenities for adventurous and enriching pursuits are the focus of Crystal’s first expedition yacht. The all-suite, purpose-built polar class yacht, set to debut in 2020, will be...
This year, returning home from your summer holiday will be easier than ever with the expansion of Newcastle Airport's international arrivals hall, including five new ePassport gates to make the border process faster.  ​ A...
We are delighted to report that Travel Bureau has won the Feefo Gold Service award, an independent seal of excellence that recognises businesses for delivering exceptional experiences, as rated by real customers. Created by...
Centara Hotels is now offering all-inclusive marine packages at its two Maldives resorts. The Gold and Ultimate All-Inclusive packages, available at the adults-only Centara Ras Fushi Resort & Spa and the family-friendly...

Travel Tweets

Thinking about a holiday in New Zealand? With breathtaking scenery to admire and the finest food and wines to enjoy… https://t.co/1a43sjuKYL 13 hours 37 min ago
RT @AdamHillPhoto: #Tbt From one of my favourite nights ever!! #aurora #canada #northernlights #adventure https://t.co/atFjogocbd 22 hours 1 min ago
RT @TianaTempleman: Here are 7 New Zealand wineries you shouldn't miss via @luxury__travel https://t.co/sTGSJ5qqVV https://t.co/NzLl4euCJQ 22 hours 1 min ago
RT @Astro_Matt27: The #aurora is picking up in Northern #Finland tonight, here's hoping for a display like this later. #StormHour #ThePhoto… 22 hours 1 min ago
RT @DFDestinations: What a beautiful evening for a walk in #Kyoto #japan. Having so much fun! #travel #fridayfeeling https://t.co/eSBzZHhvIk 22 hours 4 min ago
RT @rmountaineer: Planning an @VisitSeattle to-do list before your visit? Check out @pike_place and delight all your senses: https://t.co/6 22 hours 5 min ago
RT @luxury__travel: snorkeling in Galapagos - the 5 top sites https://t.co/UQRSNlBp47 https://t.co/byyTqehtJV 22 hours 8 min ago
RT @JoanneTravels: The perfect beach escape @InnatEngHarbour #Carrier https://t.co/qn88OfIYPk 22 hours 35 min ago
RT @RoughGuides: The best places to visit in #SoutheastAsia, as voted by you: https://t.co/6anuiS72Af 1 day 22 hours ago
#WednesdayWow 4.5* #Bali 7 nights Room & Breakfast from just £799pp! Picture yourself relaxing by the pool of the b… https://t.co/9qzmH5GFRt 2 days 14 hours ago