The Ultimate Kiwi Bucket List, as voted by our TOP 10 Holiday Park staff
Share with your friends!
From the subtropical Kauri forests of Northland to the volcanic alpine terrain of Tongariro National Park, through to the deep sea-drowned valleys of Fiordland, there’s no shortage of stunning and unique scenery in Aotearoa New Zealand. Our humble island abode is home to vibrant birdlife, dramatic mountain peaks, verdant forests, world class beaches, rich culture and heritage, delicious local produce, and more adrenaline adventures than you can poke a stick at. With so many incredible natural and cultural experiences out there, the toughest part of travelling New Zealand is deciding what to do first.
We’ve taken the leg work out of researching your next trip. We asked our very own TOP 10 Holiday Park staff from around the country to put forward ideas of the top things to do in their region, which we’ve pulled together into...
The Ultimate New Zealand Bucket List
The list starts from the very north and works its way south by region, and is bursting with advice straight from the mouths of local Kiwis. So, whether you’re hunkering for history, looking to lounge by a lake, feast on local food, or meet the local wildlife, we’ve got every region covered:
New Zealand’s array of must-see attractions is long, and time is short. So why wait? Get out there and soak in all the incredible life experiences our breath-taking country has to offer.
Visit Cape Reinga where two mighty oceans collide
Fierce and awesome in any weather, Cape Reinga is a Northland experience not to be missed. The point where the two mighty oceans clash is also culturally significant as it’s the place where Māori spirits begin their final journey after death. Many believe Cape Reinga to be the most northern point of the North Island, however this title is in fact taken by North Cape which is slightly further north (though this Cape is a scientific reserve and not open to the public). Take the walk out to the Cape Reinga Lighthouse for epic views, and to snap a quick pic with the famous yellow directional sign.
Stay at Whatuwhiwhi TOP 10 Holiday Park
Explore the unique marine life of the Bay of Islands from the water
The Bay of Islands is made up of 140 subtropical islands and is one of the best places in New Zealand to spot wild dolphins and whales all year round. The enclave is also home to countless New Zealand fur seals, penguins and seabirds like gannets. Locals argue that the best way to experience the Bay of Islands is from the water, on a sailing charter. Soak up the area by swimming, snorkelling, kayaking or just relax on the boat with delicious food and wine. For those avid fishermen out there, you’ll love this area for its mighty fine reputation in deep sea fishing.
Stay at Russell TOP 10 Holiday Park or Paihia TOP 10 Holiday Park
Immerse yourself in Aotearoa’s history at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds
The birthplace of our Nation, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds is one of the most cultural significant locations in all of Aotearoa. Overlooking the stunning Bay of Islands, the Treaty Grounds tells the story of New Zealand’s history and celebrates the language and traditions central to our identify. The site itself is unique; don’t miss the spectacular marae, Treaty House, award-winning museum, the enormous waka, hāngi and cultural performances.
Stay at Paihia TOP 10 Holiday Park or Russell TOP 10 Holiday Park
Marvel at the size of New Zealand’s largest known kauri tree in Northland’s ancient forests
Kauri trees are among the largest and oldest trees in the world, and there’s no better place to be amongst these towering beauties than the Kauri Coast. The Waipoua Forest is home to 75% of New Zealand's mighty kauri trees, and among them ‘The Lord of the Forest’ - Tāne Mahuta - standing 51m high and with a girth of 13.8 metres. Gape at this mighty giant’s stature on a short, easy walk through the Waipoua Forest suitable for children and prams.
Stay at Kauri Coast TOP 10 Holiday Park
Explore the Whangarei Town Basin and Hatea Loop
There is so much to see and do at Whangarei Town Basin. Cafes, shops, art, museums, a fantastic playground, and of course the picturesque international yachting marina. The Hatea Loop is a family friendly walk around the Hatea River with sculptures, murals, pocket playgrounds and stunning scenery. Don’t leave town until you’ve visited the Whangarei Falls, a classic curtain waterfall. The upper lookout is only 2 minutes from the carpark along an easy walking path, suitable for people of all abilities.
Stay at Whangarei TOP 10 Holiday Park
Admire the truly unique and original sculptures pieces of Sculptureum
Not your standard gallery by a long stretch, the Sculptureum sculpture gardens and galleries feature an exquisite collection of artworks, including glass, recycled materials, animals and modern abstract. Together the 6 indoor galleries and 3 sculpture-filled gardens creates an original and enriching experience that celebrates and honours the uniqueness and diversity of New Zealand. After you’re done admiring the artwork, jump over to their in-house restaurant, Rothko, for a feed and to sample their very own award-winning wines.
Stay at Red Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park
Carve the trails of verdant Fourforty Mountain Bike Park
Reaching 440 vertical meters, this mountain bike park gets its name from its height. Located only 1 hours’ drive from Auckland CBD, the extensive park is one of the Upper North Island’s premium destination for mountain biking. The gravity-fuelled bike park has a diverse variety of trails to cater from beginner bikers, through to those expert thrill-seekers looking to push themselves harder and faster. Make the most of the daylight ride time and stay the night in the area and enjoy a picnic and walk on the long stretches of beach at Tapapakanga Regional Park.
Stay at Orere Point TOP 10 Holiday Park
Take a trip around the Coromandel Peninsula on the State Highway 25 loop
Following the scenic loop of State Highway 25 makes for an action-packed day exploring all the goodness of the Peninsula, without being too hard on the pocket. After leaving Coromandel township, drive to the top of Whangapoua Hill via SH25 and take in the views from the lookout. Wind down the hill and take a walk to New Chums Beach for a swim and snorkel. Stop for a late lunch in Kuaotunu at Luke’s Kitchen, and enjoy delicious pizzas from his clay-fired oven. In the afternoon, drive into Whitianga, stop off at the wharf to check out the latest game fish catch, and then head on to The Lost Spring for a soak in their mineral pools to top off the day.
Stay at Coromandel TOP 10 Holiday Park or Shelly Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park
(Literally) soak in the geothermal wonders of Hot Water Beach
There’s more than meets the eye to the beautiful long white sandy coastline of Hot Water Beach. Below the surface a river of hot water flows which filters up from two underground fissures. Dig into the sand and you’ll find hot water (with a temperature as hot as 64 °C) bubbling through the pristine sand, creating your own thermal pool right there on the shoreline. This is a truly unique natural phenomenon and an experience not to be missed.
Stay at Hot Water Beach 10 Holiday Park
Get on yer bike in Cambridge and take a journey through world-class sport
The smooth cycleway winding between the Cambridge and Lake Karapiro townships is an easy 15.2km peddle, roughly following the Waikato River, and snaking past some of New Zealand’s homes of sport. Jump on your bike in Cambridge, but before heading out of town, visit NZ’s Home of Cycling, the Cambridge International Velodrome. After hitting the trail you’ll cycle past lush, grassy acres that are homes to some of NZ’s finest thoroughbreds – past and present. The trail continues to Lake Karapiro, the haunt of the NZ Rowing team and once described by an international rowing selection panellist as “one of the most picturesque lakes in the world”.
Stay at Cambridge TOP 10 Holiday Park
Venture underground and explore the magical Waitomo Caves
The magnificent natural wonder of the Waitomo Caves has been in the making for over 30 million years. This incredible limestone cave system is dotted with stalactites, stalagmites, underground river systems, and thousands upon thousands of spectacular glow worms. Explore any or all the three caves in the region and learn from the knowledgeable local hosts about the lifecycles and habits of these ingenious tiny creatures. Moving below the ceilings studded with radiant glow worms is like gazing up at the night’s sky. If you’re game to ramp up the adrenaline, a black water rafting experience is like no other. Venture 80 metres underground for a heart-pumping few hours of zip lining, tubing and abseiling.
Stay at Waitomo TOP 10 Holiday Park
Cruise on New Zealand's largest lake and gaze upon Maori Rock Carvings
Australasia’s largest freshwater lake, the magnificent Lake Taupō is roughly the size of Singapore! The lake was formed around 26,500 years ago as a result of a super volcanic eruption that left in its wake this humongous crater, now filled with water. The lake is spectacular in all seasons. Plenty of room for water sports in the warmer months, and then forms a stunning mirror in winter through which to view the reflection of the snow-covered Mt Ngauruhoe and Mt Ruapehu. Lake Taupo is also home to a unique historic site. The Mine Bay Maori Rock Carvings stretch 14-metres high and are best viewed from the water on a boat cruise or by kayak.
Stay at Taupō TOP 10 Holiday Park or Motutere Bay TOP 10 Holiday Park
BAY OF PLENTY
Explore the secluded Orokawa Bay and soak up the rich heritage of Karangahake Gorge on foot
Ramble around the coastal headlands to Orokawa Bay and enjoy a picnic on the beach in the shade of giant pōhutukawa trees. The gorgeous, secluded bay can be reached on a 45-minute coastal walk from Waihi Beach. Access isn’t always possible at high tide or if there’s a very strong swell, so pick the right time to go. Looking for other stunning walks in the area? Discover the rich mining history of the Karangahake Gorge via its many walkways and cycleways. Follow the old railway lines, take in the views along the scenic gorge, wander past the old battery and don’t forget your torch so you can walk through the 1100m old railway tunnel.
Stay at Beachaven TOP 10 Holiday Park or Waihi Beach TOP 10 Holiday Resort
Take a boat trip to Moutohorā (Whale Island) and visit NZ’s most endangered birds and reptiles
Moutohorā Island Sanctuary is located off the coast of Whakatane and is home to some of New Zealand’s rarest and most endangered plants, birds and reptiles, including the tuatara and red-crowned parakeet. The island is a pest-free haven and the flourishing wildlife is a tribute to the effectiveness of dedicated conservation efforts. Explore the peaceful surrounds of the ecosystem before digging yourself a geothermally heated bath on Moutohorā’s secluded hot water beach, Onepū Bay.
Stay at Ohope Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park
Plunge down the highest commercially rafted waterfall in the world
For the adrenaline junkies out there, the Kaituna River is home to one of the best white-water rafting experiences in the world. If the 7m Tutea Falls doesn’t get your heart racing, then we don’t know what will. But this adventure is so much more than a paddle down the river; the beautiful gorge is lined with Maori history and stunning native scenery. And if you’re worried about the cold, don’t stress. The Kaituna River is one of the warmest rivers in the country, making it an all-year-round activity.
Stay at Rotorua TOP 10 Holiday Park or Blue Lake TOP 10 Holiday Park
Remember your place among the towering redwoods of Whakarewarewa Forest
Nothing makes you feel humbler than standing among giants. And Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest is not short of giants. The lush, dense forest is made up of a brilliant array of native plants, and most notably the Californian Coast Redwoods which tower up to 72 metres in height. The forest can be explored on foot, mountain bike or even on horseback and features superb views of Rotorua city. Immerse yourself further into the heart of the forest with a treetop walk. The TreeWalk will have you well and truly immersed in the ecological wonders of the forest as you make your way between the platforms and across swing bridges, suspended up to 25 metres in the air. It really comes alive at night when the walkways are illuminated by gorgeous lanterns and a spectrum of colourful spotlights.
Stay at Blue Lake TOP 10 Holiday Park or Rotorua TOP 10 Holiday Park
Get up close and personal with the gentle sting rays of Tatapouri
Only 15 minutes’ drive from Gisborne you’ll find the seaside town of Tatapouri, home to one of the world’s best marine life experiences. The Reef Ecology Tour & Stingray Feeding experience is a highly interactive activity where you can feed string rays and the other reef-dwellers of Tatapouri in their natural habitat. It’s a unique and unforgettable marine experience which will leave you with a deeper appreciation for the gentle, gliding string ray and a renewed passion for the sea, shared by the residents and ancestors of Gisborne.
Stay at Waikanae Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park
Walk in the shadow of a giant in Egmont National Park
Mt Taranaki stands tall and proud and comes in second for the title of the North Island’s highest peak, usurped only by Mt Ruapehu. In Te Reo Maori, tara means mountain peak and naki is thought to come from ngaki meaning shining, paying homage to the snow cover coating the mountain takes on over the colder months. Day hikes on the upper or lower parts of Mount Taranaki are the best way to take in the sights and soak up the beauty of the lush mountain terrain. And if hiking’s not your thing, venture out for just the drive and take in the views until the sun sets over the mountain.
Stay at New Plymouth TOP 10 Holiday Park
Visit Splash Planet for a day of action-packed fun
Set in Hastings in Hawkes Bay, Splash Planet is an awesome amusement and water park that features both wet and dry attractions. It offers bumper boats, water slides, go-karts, a water playground for young children, fantasyland train that goes around the whole park, jeeps, a flying fox and mini golf. An awesome way to cool off on a hot summer’s day, Splash Planet makes for a full day of action-packed activities that the whole family is sure to enjoy.
Stay at Napier Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park or Hastings TOP 10 Holiday Park
Trek the dramatic volcanic landscapes of the Tongariro Crossing
Moon-like, volcanic landscapes, vivid emerald-colour lakes, 360 alpine views – it’s no wonder why the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is world-renowned. The Tongariro National Park was the first in the world to receive cultural World Heritage status, and the Crossing is an ideal way to take in the history and stunning scenery the park has to offer. The track is challenging, steep and slippery with scree in some sections, and can be undertaken all year round. For those less experienced with alpine conditions it’s recommended to venture out with a guide as the weather in alpine regions can change rapidly. And for all of the snow-lovers out there, you can’t visit the region without hitting the slopes on New Zealand’s largest ski area, Whakapapa.
Stay at Ohakune TOP 10 Holiday Park
Experience river travel as it once was, on the only coal-fired paddle steamer still in operation in NZ
Running from Mount Tongariro to the sea, the Whanganui River weaves its way through dense rainforests made up of rare native plants and ferns, before opening up as it snakes into the township of Whanganui. For one of the most unique and authentic ways to immerse yourself in the history and scenery of the Whanganui River, we recommend setting foot on a riverboat. One of the riverboats, Waimarie is the last paddle steamer operating in New Zealand, and it’s friendly and passionate crew will make sure it’s a river-journey to remember.
Stay at Whanganui River TOP 10 Holiday Park
Discover Maori, Dutch and pioneering history in an exquisite setting
Step back in time and take a unique perspective on history with a visit to Foxton. The local museum celebrates the history of the town’s flax mill operations and how the fibrous Harakeke flax has been used in the production of baskets, fishing nets, clothing and more. The town’s strong ties back to its Dutch heritage shine through on a visit to the De Molen Windmill which is an exact working replica of a traditional 17th century Dutch flourmill. Photography and film buffs should get along to the Mavtech Museum and see NZ’s largest collection of cameras; still and film including one of Jacques Cousteau’s underwater cameras. A visit to Foxton isn’t complete without taking a ride on Foxton’s famous horse-drawn tramway.
Stay at Foxton Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park
Indulge your pallet with world-class wine and culinary delights in Martinborough
There’s no better way to sample the delectable flavours of Martinborough’s wineries than by bike. The flat country roads make cycling an easy way to explore the wineries which are all conveniently located within 5kms of one another. The hardest part about discovering this region will be choosing which of Martinborough’s 20-odd wineries to visit first. This quaint town also has a bounty of cafes and restaurants, where the menus allow the local produce to shine.
Stay at Martinborough TOP 10 Holiday Park
Photo credit: Wairapa NZ
Examine New Zealand’s rich culture and fascinating natural history at Te Papa
The Te Papa museum is a must-see for anyone visiting or living in our beautiful capital city. The country’s national museum is free for general admission, and makes for a very cost-effective day out, jam-packed with interactive and entertaining exhibits. On a trip to Te Papa, visitors can delve into the treasures and stories of New Zealand’s complex cultural history and learn more about the country’s fascinating natural history. While much of the museum is relatively static, there is always an ever-changing collection of exciting exhibits rolling through, meaning no trip to Te Papa is the same.
Stay at Wellington TOP 10 Holiday Park
Walk out to the mystical Wharariki Beach and walk amongst mammoth-shaped monoliths
The iconic archway of Wharariki Beach has shot to fame and made its way into office buildings and homes around the globe since one particular photo of the beach was chosen by Microsoft as one of their default Windows screensavers. And no wonder why – Wharariki Beach is a gem at the northern most part of the NZ South Island. The other worldly stretch of coastline features gigantic monoliths, sea caves, seals swimming or lazing in the rock pools, all with a backdrop of a wild expanse of sky and ocean and a beach that goes on and on. A walk to Wharariki Beach will have you awe struck by the size, beauty and raw force of this special place.
Stay at Pohara Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park
Strip away the stresses of life in the coastal paradise of the Abel Tasman
The Abel Tasman National Park is full of golden sandy beaches and gorgeous secluded alcove hideaways. Many argue that the best way to absorb yourself in the serenity of the area is from the water, with the lapping of the water against your chosen vessel. We recommend taking a boat ride up into the Abel Tasman National Park with one of the areas many operators. Relax on the deck of the boat or for the more adventurous a kayak is the way to go or enjoy a day on the beaches, before returning to Kaiteriteri to enjoy fish and chips on the beach. The national park is stunning and a great place to explore all year round, even in in winter.
Stay at Motueka TOP 10 Holiday Park
Test your nerves with a zip down the world’s longest flying fox at 100km/hour
The Cable Bay Adventure Park is located only 15 minutes’ drive from the centre of the Nelson township and has a multitude of activities to keep the whole crew entertained, including the world’s longest flying fox. The 1.5km long cable has riders zooming across the park suspended 100m above the forest canopy and reaching top speeds of up to 100km/hour. And the adventure doesn’t stop there. At Cable Bay Adventure Park visitors can enjoy quad bike tours, paintball, archery, mountain biking, Argo, eel feeding, or simply chill out in the licensed café with a wine or cuppa.
Stay at Nelson City TOP 10 Holiday Park
Cruise the ancient sunken valleys of Marlborough Sounds
An incredible collection of beautiful sapphire bays, the Marlborough Sounds is a delight at the top of the South Island, waiting to be explored. The area is made up of four individual sounds, comprising of valleys flooded by the sea, that come together to make up 20% of New Zealand’s total coastline. The Marlborough Sounds are brilliant for fishing, boating, swimming and diving, but also an excellent place to take a load off, sitting back on the deck of a boat and soaking in the natural surrounds. The Sounds are a haven for sea life and visitors to the area can often spot gannets, dolphins, seals and even orcas. The sites of the Marlborough Sounds are best explored by boat, so jump on a cruise from Picton and enjoy this spectacular part of the world.
Stay at Picton TOP 10 Holiday Park
Taste your way through New Zealand’s most famous wine region
The Marlborough wine region produces over 75% of New Zealand’s wine and is scattered with over 30 cellar doors ripe for the picking. Visit one of the many wineries and sample the region’s stunning array of wines right next to the vines the grapes were grown on. An absolute must is a taste of the intense flavours of the region’s Sauvignon Blanc, for which the Marlborough region is most famous for. The winemakers in this stunning region are extremely passionate about their craft, and you will feel their pride shine through in every glass.
Meet the New Zealand fur seal against a panoramic coastal backdrop
The gorgeous and playful New Zealand fur seals are a delight to watch, especially when they choose to make their home in such stunning locations such as the West Coast. Voted as one of the best places in the country to spot seals, the Cape Foulwind Walkway is an easy walk, located only 15 minutes’ drive from Westport. The clifftop walkway provides coastal views and education info panels where you can learn about the history of the region. A viewing platform provides a place to spot the fur seals at any time of the year, and peer into the lives of both the adult and their pups. The end of the track finishes at Cape Foulwind Lighthouse which is still in operation today.
Stay at Carters Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park
Decide for yourself whether the pancake rocks stack up in Punakaiki
Watching the ocean rush through the Punakaiki Blowholes reminds you that Mother Nature really is in control. The Pancake Rocks and blowhole can be explored on an easy 20-minute loop walk, that's mostly wheelchair accessible and easy for the kids to tackle. Be sure to visit the blowhole close to high tide as this is when the ‘whoosh’ is most impressive. Linger long in the area and soak up the native bushland and amazing scenery, and when you’re on the coast keep your eyes peeled for Hector's Dolphins that like to play close to shore.
Stay at Greymouth TOP 10 Holiday Park
Glide across the West Coast waterways gazing upon Southern Alps and Mt Cook
There’s no better way to take in the sheer scale and beauty of the Southern Alps than with a cruise or kayak through the immaculate West Coast wetlands and waterways out to Lake Mahinapua. Once used by pioneers and early explorers, the waterway is rich with history, and a celebration of New Zealand’s finest sights and sounds. The region is full of unique flora and fauna, with ancient Kamahi and Rimu trees, and the echo of birdsong. Take a cruise or paddle your way silently down the waterways by kayak and breathe in the tranquillity before arriving at Lake Mahinapua where you’ll be greeted by the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps.
Stay at Ross Beach TOP 10 Holiday Park
Soar to the upper reaches of the Franz Josef Glacier for a snow landing
Clocking in at 7000 years old, the Franz Josef Glacier on the West Coast is said to have some of the most stunning ‘ice architecture’ of any glacier in the world. New Zealand’s steepest and fastest moving glacier stretches over 12kms and has spectacular ice caves and ice falls, waiting to leave you awestruck. The best way to experience the magic of the Franz Josef Glacier is through a fully hair-raising helicopter tour to the upper reaches of the glacier. After making a snow landing, you can take in the panoramic views of the stunning snowy mountains and explore the glacial features. While not the most affordable activity to make the bucket list, this is sure to be one of the most unforgettable experiences of the lot.
Stay at Franz Josef TOP 10 Holiday Park
Gaze into the ‘mirror lake’ and extraordinary views of Aoraki/Mt Cook and Mt Tasman
On a calm day Lake Matheson becomes a far-stretching reflective pool through which to view the dwarfing peaks of the Southern Alps. The famous mirror lake is best explored in the morning or around dusk when the sun is low, and the water is likely to be most still. There’s a track that loops around the lake, allowing you to amble around it, taking in the views from the multiple viewing platforms. It’s a reasonable shady track, making it perfect to avoid the heat of a warm day but equally impressive in the winter surrounded by snow-capped peaks. Otherwise there’s a café located nearby the carpark where you can warm your hands around a mug of coffee after a walk on one of those beautiful fresh South Island days.
Stay at Fox Glacier TOP 10 Holiday Park
Photo credit: newzealand.com
Amble along the ancient Kaikōura Peninsula Walkway and marvel at the local wildlife
Undoubtedly the jewel in Kaikōura’s scenic crown, the Kaikōura Peninsula Walkway is not to be missed. This easily accessible walkway loops around the Kaikōura Peninsula on limestone rock formed a mere 60 million years ago. The walk offers incredible 360-degree views of ocean vistas, the snow-capped Kaikōura Seaward Mountain Range as well as wildlife spotting opportunities. The New Zealand Fur seal, Red Bill gull and the endemic Hutton’s Shearwater all breed on the peninsula. There is even a small chance of spotting Kaikōura’s most famous residence, the Sperm whale. The walkway has varying lengths so is suitable for all ages and is the must do for any visitor coming to Kaikoura to show case the amazing diversity of nature that can be found in here.
Stay at Kaikoura TOP 10 Holiday Park
Soak up the serenity in the thermal mineral pools Hanmer Springs
Every drop of the thermal water at the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa is heated by a natural thermal process and infused with minerals. The spa complex has a stunning backdrop of giant redwood trees and mountain ranges, so you can simply sit back, soak it up, and watch the world go by. For those young at heart, unleash your wild side in the freshwater leisure pools, conical thrill or Superbowl slides. Ramp up the fun with waterslides, a float on the lazy river, lounging in kids’ pools, and even a climbing area.
Stay at Hanmer Springs TOP 10 Holiday Park
Photo credit: Hanmer Springs Thermal Spa & Pool
Visit post-earthquake Christchurch, the newest city in NZ
Following the devastating impacts of the 2010/2011 earthquakes, the city of Christchurch has been on a length journey to rebuild from the ruins. For those who haven’t visited the city in the last while, you may not recognise what has risen out of the rubble. The Christchurch of today remains the incredible home base for adventure and exploration in wider Canterbury, but has a unique, new look. The city centre is a tapestry of innovative architecture, combined with heritage, and is forever evolving as new establishments pop up. Hop on board the heritage tram circuit, admire the street art, indulge at one of the city’s many fine eateries, check out the International Antarctic Centre, venture out into the stunning Port Hills, or visit Quake City museum to learn about seismic science and stories of heroism, hope and loss from the Canterbury earthquakes.
Stay at Christchurch TOP 10 Holiday Park
Explore the local produce, heritage and stunning views of the Banks Peninsula
Just a short hours’ drive from Christchurch you will arrive on the Banks Peninsula, an incredible collection of harbours and bays scattered in and around an extinct volcano crater. The rolling green hills and sparking bays of the peninsula are just the start of what this area has on offer. Discover Māori and settler history in the many seaside villages of the peninsula and indulge in the region’s fine food by sampling the renowned Akaroa Salmon, Barry’s Bay Cheeses, boutique wines, and olives from the world’s most southern olive groves. Walk off your feast with one of the many walks around the peninsula before settling down with a wine in the French settlement of Akaroa as the sun sets on the water.
Stay at Akaroa TOP 10 Holiday Park
Enjoy the hidden delights in the understated township of Geraldine
There’s a lot more on offer in the Canterbury town of Geraldine than meets the eye. The area has excellent mountain biking trails to be explored, as well as opportunities for kayaking on the Rangitata River. The local bush walks have an understated variety of wildlife, with native birds to bats all on the doorstep. Treat your pallet to local Talbot Forest Cheese or the famous sauces, compotes and chutneys from Barkers. And in autumn you cannot beat the golden and amber colours of the leaves as the established trees of Geraldine change their coats.
Stay at Geraldine TOP 10 Holiday Park
Visit the most popular beach in the South Island
Referred to by locals as “The Bay”, Caroline Bay is the only sandy beach between Oamaru and the Banks Peninsula. Sheltered by the breakwater, Caroline Bay has gorgeous views at to the water and, on a clear winters’ day, visitors can see the snow-covered mountains in the distance. And then in the summer there’s the annual carnival which has been run by volunteers for over 100 years. It’s a special occasion which has families from surrounding regions flock to Timaru’s Caroline Bay for carnival ride, sideshow games and free entertainment.
Stay at Timaru TOP 10 Holiday Park
Get lost amongst the lupins and towering Alps in the Mackenzie country
Fields of lupin flowers make for a photographer’s dream and are quintessential of the Mackenzie district in the late spring and summer. Each year between (approx.) September and February the vibrant pink, purple and white colours of the lupin flowers can be seen growing in huge, colourful fields along the highways of the Mackenzie Region in the South Island. The skyline in that part of the world is dominated by the Southern Alps, with one peak standing tall amongst the rest - Aoraki/Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain. There is a plethora of hikes in Aoraki National Park, ranging from an easy, short village walk, to the moderately graded and highly popular Hooker Valley track, through to the tough 7-hour slog up to the Mueller Hut, where you’ll be rewarded with some of the most scenic views from any DOC hut in NZ.
Stay at Omarama TOP 10 Holiday Park
Meet the world’s smallest penguin in Oamaru
The seaside town of Oamaru is well-known for it’s Victorian architecture, steampunk museum, but most notably for its penguin colony. No visit to Oamaru is complete without visiting the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, where visitors can sit in the grandstands and watch the nightly routine of the little blues, as they waddle their way to their nesting boxes after a busy day out fishing. Admission to the official nightly attraction does come at a cost, but it does ensure the best chance of spotting penguins and great views, as well as a highly educational commentary from one of the very passionate staff. Did you know that the town of Oamaru has such a strong focus on conservation that they even built an underpass to help the penguins safely navigate busy roads on their journey home!
Stay at Oamaru TOP 10 Holiday Park
Feel the buzz in Wanaka, the ultimate hub for outdoor adventures
A ski resort in winter, with the world class ski areas of Cardrona and Treble Cone on its doorstep and a waterspots, hiking and mountain biking haven in summer, Wanaka is an incredibly picturesque adventure hub that is renowned among thrill-seekers. Being the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park means the Wanaka area is abundent with picture-perfect walking and hiking trails for those keen trampers. But there’s also plenty of more mellow ways to explore the natural beauty of Lake Wanaka and the surrounding areas. A gentle walk or bike along the lakefront tracks provide amazing photo opportunities of the lake and mountains. The local tracks are suitable for all ages and levels of fitness and offer options to explore for an hour or a full day. For sustenance before or after your walk/bike, there are so many amazing cafes and restaurants in town that are not to be missed.
Stay at Wanaka TOP 10 Holiday Park
Hit the slopes in some of Otago’s most ‘remarkable’ alpine terrain
Known to locals as ‘The Remarks’, this famous mountain range lives up to its namesake. The ridgeline of the Remarkables creates a stunning backdrop to the expansive Lake Wakatipu all year round, but in winter it really shines. Located only 40 minutes’ drive from Queenstown, the Remarkables ski field caters for a range of abilities from wide beginner slopes to dedicated freestyle areas and multiple terrain parks. The north-facing slopes remain sun-drenched throughout the day and leads to Incredible alpine views. Perfect for the whole family, you can’t beat a day at the Remarkables skiing on fresh snow. Its sister mountain, Coronet Peak, across the valley, offers both Night Skiing and First Tracks to extend you snow day, if regular hours are not enough!
Stay at Queenstown TOP 10 Holiday Park
Bike the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail to the edges of magnificent Lake Wakatipu
Embark on a 4-5-day cycling journey from Walter Peak through to Kingston on the southern edge of New Zealand’s longest lake, the awe-inspiring Lake Wakatipu. The cycle trail circles (most-commonly counter-clockwise) around The Eyre Mountains – Taka Ra Haka, ‘where the sun dances on the mountain tops’. On the trail you’ll pass through the Von Valley with golden tussocks and past the glorious glacier-carved Mavora Lakes. After enjoying Southern Hospitality along the easy, well-graded Bike Around the Mountains Cycle Trail, you’ll finish up in the lakeside town of Kingston. On your drive back towards Queenstown, be sure to stop for picturesque views from The Devil's Staircase lookout point.
Stay at Kingston TOP 10 Holiday Park
Be captivated by the undisturbed wilderness and ancient valleys of Fiordland National Park
Sitting in the south-west pocket of the South Island, Fiordland National Park is comprised of deep ocean-flooded valleys, lush rainforests, majestic snaking rivers and the snowy peaks of the Alps. The gem in Fiordland’s crown is Milford Sound, one of New Zealand’s most iconic destinations. The photogenic Mitre Peak is one of the most photographed mountains in the country, and towers above the water. A great way to get up close and personal with nature in the fiord is by kayak, where you can experience the real serenity of the area and share the water with New Zealand fur seals, dolphins, and the most elusive Fiordland Crested Penguin. The absolute ultimate Milford Sound experience is as overnight cruise, where you can wake up on to the incredible views of the sun rising over the Sound.
Stay at Te Anau TOP 10 Holiday Park
That’s a wrap
There’s so much to be experienced in the breath-taking country and we hope this taster list has inspired you to get out there and explore more of Aotearoa. There’s no better time than the present to make those travel dreams a reality.
If it’s time to start your adventure and you’re looking for a home away from home while on the road, we’ve got 50 TOP 10 Holiday Parks ranging from Whatuwhiwhi in the sub-tropical north to Te Anau in the deep south. Visit our Find a Park page to book and start making memories for life.