The locals like to call this country ‘God’s own’. They’re justifiably proud of their island home in the South Pacific. What makes New Zealand the perfect destination? Its small size means the coast is never more than a few hours away from a snowy mountain range, and wilderness is never far from any city. Whether you prefer museum and gallery hopping or catching waves and/or drifts, you can do it all in this island nation.

While the South Island wins the prize for best scenery, Queenstown is home to numerous cultural experiences. Wellington and Auckland in the North Island are the cosmopolitan centers, but they are also the perfect jumping off point for the sandy beaches way up north. Whatever type of travel you crave, it's worth the long-haul flight to find it in New Zealand.

If you haven't realized it yet, New Zealand pretty much has it all. Here are some of the most popular types of tour activities you can enjoy on a trip to the land of kiwis.

Adventure Tours

Any kind of adventure you desire can be found in New Zealand. From skydiving and (urban) bungee jumping to surfing and skiing, you name it – you can do it all within a few hours or days in New Zealand. While the North and South Islands vary slightly in terrain and adventure travel experiences you can enjoy, it's not hard to plan a trip to visit both and do it all!

Cultural Tours

New Zealand is home to the Maori, an indigenous people who have called New Zealand home since the 13th Century. There are loads of cultural experiences to be had in New Zealand, and the popular 'haka' (war dance) of the Maori is just the tip of the ice berg.

Wildlife Tours

Like many island countries, New Zealand is a great destination to see species you can't find anywhere else in the world. If you love bird-watching, seek out tours that show you birds unique to New Zealand like the Kiwi and Little Blue Penguin. If you enjoy spending time on the water, try and spot the world's smallest dolphin species, Hector's dolphin, on your boat tours.

Best Time to Visit New Zealand

New Zealand’s summer (December to February) is its high season for travel. This is the time schools are on holiday and office workers take their Christmas and summer breaks; it also means that in addition to international visitors, you'll mix and mingle with New Zealanders taking their own vacations and trips. If you prefer to avoid the crowds, try the shoulder seasons in October to November and March to April.

What to Look for in a Tour to New Zealand

When touring New Zealand, you'll want to pay attention to whether tours include three things: meals, accommodation, and transportation. Most tours will include these things, but it's important to read through itinerary lists and inclusions closely to make sure you know what you'll have included.

Additionally, it's important to consider whether you would like any free time in New Zealand in addition to your tour. Most companies cover the highlights of New Zealand, but many travelers prefer to have free time built into the tour, or take a day or two afterward to explore more on their own.

Typical Tour Cost

The big trade-off in tours to New Zealand is between cost and duration. Because New Zealand is so far away from other destinations and countries, most travelers prefer to take longer tours (one week or longer), but this comes at a cost – the total cost of your tour will likely be much higher. Expect to pay anywhere from $175-$350 per day for multi-day tours, which include most meals and accommodations.

Packing Tips & Gear Rental

New Zealand style is notoriously casual, but you'll want to be sure to pack for the season. Flip flops (known as jandals) and shorts are typical summer wear, with jeans and hooded sweatshirts thrown on against the evening chill.

If your tour includes activities that require special gear, this is likely included. Be sure to double check though, in case you need to bring your own! Additionally, read reviews of past guests to get a sense for the quality of gear you'll be expected to use.

Other Tips for travel in New Zealand

Like Australia, New Zealand has strict biosecurity laws, which will impact what you are allowed to bring into the country. This includes foods and agricultural products, so be sure to declare any foods or souvenirs made of natural products on arrival.

New Zealanders drive on the left side of the road. If you do hire a car, don’t jump in the driver seat directly after a long haul international flight. New Zealand roads can be narrow and windy, so stay alert.

New Zealand is a safe destination for travelers. There are close to no poisonous insects or dangerous animals in New Zealand, and crime levels are generally low. However, it is still important to look after your possessions and yourself. Get travel insurance before you go, and ensure your policy covers you for adventure or extreme sports activities.

Health

No vaccinations are required to enter New Zealand. However, you should be up-to-date with routine vaccinations as recommended in the USA (or your country of origin). Consult with your doctor if the Hepatitis B vaccine, or any other vaccines, are appropriate for your trip.

Bring any medication with you, including asthma inhalers. Asthma and hay fever sufferers may notice an increase in symptoms in New Zealand.

Safety

New Zealand has high levels of UV rays, particularly during the summer but also in autumn and winter. Wear a hat, sunglasses, and use a high-factor sunscreen. On sunny summer days, spend some time indoors or in the shade between 10 am and 4 pm.

Never underestimate the weather in New Zealand, which can change unpredictably. Always check the forecast, follow official advice and bring gear for sudden drops or changes in the temperature.

New Zealand is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire and it gets its fair share of earthquakes. Christchurch, one of New Zealand’s major cities, was severely damaged by earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. In an earthquake, the New Zealand Earthquake Commission recommends you drop, cover and hold. This means fall to the ground, shelter under a heavy piece of furniture such as a table or doorway, and hold on to the furniture while protecting your head and neck. Stay indoors until the shaking has stopped.

Guide Author
Photo of Valerie Stimac
Managing Editor

Tours in New Zealand

Displaying 1 - 15 of 33 programs
EA Ski & Snowboard
Ultimate Winter Travel Experience: Improve Your Skiing & Gain a Qualification
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Do you want to spend a winter gap year in the world's top ski...

Numadi Work and Travel
Work and Travel in New Zealand
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Our Rural Exchange Program in New Zealand is by far the most fun and...

Nomads
Work and Travel Program Australia and New Zealand
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1 review

Finding a job in a new country can be daunting right? That is why the...

Stray
New Zealand South Island Tour (14 days) - Mackinnon
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The Mackinnon tour will introduce you to the best of New Zealand's...

Haka Tours
3 Day - Bay of Islands Winterless North Tour
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In this three day tour, we’ll travel from Auckland to Northland and...

Flying Kiwi
Ultimate Explorer Tour
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Our Ultimate Explorer trip is the most popular and, quite possibly the...

Rafting New Zealand
Tongariro Whitewater Grade 3 Adventure
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The Best Grade 3 Rafting Adventure in New Zealand The Tongariro...

Just New Zealand
5 Day Alpine Explorer
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Discover the unforgettable splendor of New Zealand’s central South...

GoPlay Tours
International Golf Tours Around the World
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GoPlay Golf Tours offers fully customizable golf experiences for avid...

Adventure Capital
e-Bike Tour - North Island - NZ - 4 days/3 nights
New Zealand

Thi 4 day/3 night all-inclusive guided e-bike tour offers visitors an...

Globus
20-Day Highlights of The South Pacific With Fiji Tour
Multiple Countries

Experience the best of Australia and New Zealand on an unforgettable...

Adventure Capital
Authentic 'Back to Nature' Camping Experience - New Zealand
New Zealand

Auckland Guided Camping Tour - 2 days / 1 night Get out of the city...

Foris Eco-tours
Hike New Zealand's finest forest - Whirinaki Forest
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Explore primordial rainforest with an expert guide. Think dinosaur...

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