The Wanderlust Guide to the best of New Zealand

No other country crams so much into a small package. Here's your guide to the destination you chose as the best in the world – New Zealand!

3 mins

Remote, rugged and absolutely remarkable, New Zealand is top of many travellers’ wishlists. If it wowed you on the big screen in Lord of the Rings, New Zealand will knock you with the force of an All Blacks prop forward when you actually visit.

Kayak NZ (Wanderlust)

Looking for inspiration?

Climb it. Bike it. Kayak it. Or just walk it. The great outdoors in New Zealand is never far away, beckoning you to come and explore

With news that the NZ government is putting NZ$50 million (£25.6m) into the Nga Haerenga, a cycle trail that will link up 19 major trails and many smaller ones to create a national circuit stretching for 2,300km, there has never been a better time to discover the country by bike. Chris Moss hit the trail and found there was something for everyone, whatever kind of cycling you are into.

Will Gray explored the South Island’s fabled Fiordland by kayak. You’ll get wet, he says. Very wet. But it is worth it. You’re not going to come within whiskers length of a sea lion on land.

Dan Snow followed in the steps of local hero Sir Edmund Hilary, or Sir Ed as he is known to locals, and climbed Mount Cook. “Mt Cook could not look more splendid or imposing if it had been specially designed,” he says, before strapping on his crampons to conquer the mountain the local Maoris call ‘cloud piercer.’

If day walks are more your thing, Sarah Baxter sets off on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing to see if it can still lay claim to being the world’s best one-dayer. She finds an astonishing mix of active volcanoes, lava flows and fumaroles, odd-coloured lakes and virgin bush, all crammed into seven or so hours of manageable walking. She also finds 700 or so other walkers, keen to get their Frodo Baggins on.

For something a little more off the beaten track, you may want to consider the altogether quieter trails on Stewart Island in the far south of New Zealander. MyWanderluster patagonianflower reveals all here.

More information

New Zealand by bike – Chris Moss

Kayaking adventures in New Zealand – Will Gray

Climbing Mt Cook, New Zealand – Dan Snow

Is this still the world’s best day walk? – Sarah Baxter

The magic of Stewart Island – Patagonianflower


Maori Hall (Peter Moore)

New Zealand’s secrets revealed

Want the inside scoop of some of New Zealand's favourite corners? Milford Sound is the unabashed star of New Zealand’s iconic Fiordland and one of the country’s most visited tourist attractions.  Darroch Donald braves the sandflies to discover it’s hidden corners and explain how you can too.

James Frankham gets an alternate view of the country when he joins two Maori guides on a tour of Auckland and beyond. With a single nose kiss he says he could feel the long history of New Zealand’s Maori; the great Pacific migration that brought his people here, the tribal conflicts, the colonial bloodshed, the small acts of compassion and grave errors of judgement that were the actions of our forebears. Here’s how you can too.

Money too tight to mention? The Wanderlust team have put together a list of ten things you can do for free in Wellington, New Zealand’s capital. A visit to Weta Cave, the mini-museum and shop of the Weta Workshop, the FX company famous for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. We challenge you to not to buy one ring to rule them all. Or  a pair of Legolas ears.

More information

Travel Icon: Milford Sound, New Zealand – Darroch Donald

Maori New Zealand – James Frankham

10 things to do for free in Wellington ­ – the Wanderlust team.

 Mt Cook (Pantagonianflower)

Capturing it on film

As the Lord of the Ring and Hobbit movies show, New Zealand is one photogenic country. So it’s no surprise that myWanderlusters have taken more photos of New Zealand than almost any other country on the planet. If you’re looking for inspiration, look no further than the galleries of stunning images they have uploaded.

More information

myWanderlust photos of New Zealand

Milford Sound (Wanderlust)

Everything you need to know

Ready to start planning your trip? Our New Zealand Travel Guide is the perfect place to start.

If you have a particular question, pop over to the myWanderlust forum where our knowledgeable community is ready to spring into action and share all that they know. Or check out the questions people have already asked about New Zealand. The answer to yours might already be there.

More information

New Zealand destination guide

MyWanderlust forum

New Zealand Q&A

 Sulphur pools (Wanderlust)

Ready to go?

Here’s a selection of fantastic tours offered by our partners. From amazing self-drive holidays to incredible outdoor adventures, there’s something for every taste and budget. 


Related Articles