For those who love the outdoors, New Zealand is the trip of a lifetime. The diversity of beautiful landscapes is staggering and the country is readily accessible for travelers. Of the two main islands, the North Island is impressive, particularly its thousands of miles of coastline, but the South Island holds the wild terrain that has made the country famous.

A certain Hollywood trilogy thrust New Zealand further into the public eye, but the atmoshpere has remained largely intact. Queenstown is now the world’s capital of adventure tourism. The silhouette of Milford Sound is recognized around the world. Still, traveling in New Zealand is enchanting and it’s easy to separate from the crowds. Within a short distance of the most popular natural attractions are pristine pockets of wild country that few people see.

That is one reason why New Zealand is so ideal: within a compact area it caters to the most ambitious outdoorspeople, those looking to relax, families, trampers (tramping is the local term for hiking), surfers, skiers and snowboarders, and just about everyone else. The Kiwis couldn’t be more amiable, and against the backdrop of robust and living Maori history, there is no place more magnificent than New Zealand.

For the towns in New Zealand that are prime for exploring the outdoors, including Queenstown, Wanaka, Te Anau, and Rotorua, see our New Zealand’s Best Adventure Towns. For a breakdown of adventure activities in New Zealand, including hiking, surfing, mountain biking, cycling, kayaking, and paddleboarding, see our New Zealand Adventure Directory.

Milford Sound, New Zealand

Fiordland, New Zealand

When people imagine New Zealand, the scenery of the Fiordland Region often comes to mind. Situated in the southwestern corner of the South Island, Fiordland is dominated by the verdure of rainforests blanketed in ferns, the snow...
Sandfly Bay Otago

Otago, New Zealand

Otago on the South Island is one of New Zealand’s most varied regions, from high alpine terrain to remote coastline and almost everything in between. The outdoorsy towns of Queenstown and Wanaka are most popular...
Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand

West Coast, New Zealand

The West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island has a way of sneaking up on travelers and becoming one of their favorite destinations in the country. Just up the road from Queenstown, Fiordland, and Milford Sound...
Abel Tasman, New Zealand

Abel Tasman, New Zealand

On the northern end of New Zealand’s South Island is the warm coastal region of Abel Tasman. Abel Tasman National Park is one of New Zealand’s smallest and most visited parks, renowned for pristine beaches, turquoise...
Marlborough, New Zealand

Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand

Located at the top of the South Island east of Abel Tasman National Park, the Marlborough Sounds are as easy going as anywhere in New Zealand. Most of the wooded hillsides and peaceful bays are inaccessible by road...
Tongariro, New Zealand

Tongariro, New Zealand

Tongariro National Park on the North Island is a place far removed from the lush rainforests of the South Island, yet this volcanic wonderland is among New Zealand’s most striking landscapes. Established in 1887...
Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

The laid-back Coromandel Peninsula juts out east of Auckland separating the Hauraki Gulf and Pacific Ocean. It is known for white-sand beaches, lush native forests, and small towns with...
Northland, New Zealand

Northland, New Zealand

New Zealand’s Northland region, often referred to as the Far North, stretches to the uppermost tip of New Zealand’s North Island. Bordered to the west by the Tasman Sea and to the east by the Pacific Ocean, this slender sub-tropical peninsula...
 Bay of Islands, New Zealand

Bay of Islands, New Zealand

The Bay of Islands is a peaceful subtropical micro-region located on the northern tip of the North Island. All together, the area is home to 150 islands, over 800 kilometers of coastline, countless bays and inlets, and plentiful...
Milford Sound, New Zealand

Milford Sound, New Zealand

World-renowned Milford Sound is the pearl of New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park. The 15-kilometer length of mysterious dark waters is lined by 4,000-foot rock walls, the peaks of which remain snow-capped during all...
Queenstown, New Zealand sunset

Queenstown, New Zealand

Queenstown has been dubbed the “Adventure Capital of the World” and the reputation is well earned. In close proximity are seemingly endless adrenaline-inducing activities such as bungee jumping, skydiving, jet boating, whitewater rafting, heli-biking...
Mt. Cook Village, New Zealand

Mt. Cook Village, New Zealand

Mt. Cook Village is a tiny town at the foot of New Zealand’s highest mountains. Located in a narrow valley at the end of Highway 80 four hours north of Queenstown, the surrounding landscapes are steep and dominated...
Wanaka, New Zealand

Wanaka, New Zealand

The title of “Adventure Capital of New Zealand” belongs to Queenstown, but Wanaka is close on its heels. The latter can’t complete with the quantity of adventure offerings but the quality and scenery are right on par...
Raglan, New Zealand

Raglan, New Zealand

Raglan is one of the world’s great surfing destinations. People come for the legendary waves, sunsets, and laid back lifestyle, enshrined into surfing lore by the 1966 film “Endless Summer.” Nearby Manu Bay...
Te Anau, New Zealand

Te Anau, New Zealand

Te Anau is the gateway to Fiordland National Park and few places can rival its surroundings. The small town sits on Lake Te Anau, the largest lake on New Zealand’s South Island, at the foot of the Kepler and Murchison Mountain...
Queenstown, New Zealand

New Zealand's Best Adventure Towns

New Zealand firmly has established itself as one of the world’s top adventure destinations. Queenstown receives much of the attention—it is indeed chock-full of adventure opportunities—but a host of other...
New Zealand Kayaking

New Zealand Adventure Directory

Choose an adventure activity and New Zealand likely has world-class terrain to match. From Milford Sound at the bottom of the South Island to Ninety Mile Beach at the top of the North Island...
Thomas Camp

New Zealand's Great Walks

New Zealand has nine Great Walks in total—with five on the South Island, three on the North Island, and one on Stewart Island—centered in some of the country’s most iconic scenery. They are fastidiously managed by New Zealand’s...
Queenstown hiking

Queenstown's Best Hiking Trails

For those visiting Queenstown, hiking is a great way to stretch your legs, see the famous South Island scenery, and spend far less than you would on any of the area’s many adrenaline activities. A number of trails...
Fox Glacier from Lake Matheson

Fox Glacier's Best Hiking Trails

Many visitors to Fox Glacier pay for a guided walk on the ice, but there also are a number of free hiking trails that lead to excellent viewpoints. All of the trails listed below are within close proximity to the Fox Glacier...
Otago Rail Trail New Zealand

Otago Rail Trail

Not long ago the small towns of New Zealand’s gold country were all but dead—the luster from the gold rush of the late 1800’s had long faded and the railroad between the mining communities had grown obsolete. With dwindled economic...
Waterfall Milford Sound

Kayaking Milford Sound

For those interested in exploring Milford Sound via kayak, a range of kayaking trips are available and no prior experience is required. Here are important things to know before you hit the water...
Milford Sound

Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound?

In comparing Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound, start with the premise that both are spectacular. The experience, however, does differ significantly and it's worth doing your research...
New Zealand Sign

New Zealand Travel FAQs

Being in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons in New Zealand are opposite the United States and Europe. The warmer months from October through April are ideal for exploring the outdoors. The Kiwis are on holiday from mid-December...