new zealand photo

My New Zealand to-do list

Most of my travel to-do lists will come from places I’ve already been to. To me, it makes sense to do it this way. Before going to New Zealand, I had not heard of a single place on this list. But after living in a country for a year, you hear about everyone else’s travels around the country and start your never-ending list of places to go and things to see. The only things that ever actually get crossed off my bucket list, are the things or places I wasn’t too crazy about. Even though I’ve already done it twice, bungy jumping in New Zealand is definitely still on my bucket list. I don’t have plans to head back to New Zealand anytime soon, but I know I would love to go back some day. And when I do, these are my definite must-dos:

1. Bay of Islands

I was pretty disappointed that I never made it north of Auckland. I’d love to check out the seaside town of Paihia, dive some of the shipwrecks, and see two oceans collide at Cape Reinga.

2. Stewart Island

The south island of New Zealand is already quite peaceful, but a trip to Stewart Island looks to be the ultimate tranquil get-away. I’d love to go explore the nature  and just enjoy the quiet  slow pace of life. A view of the Southern Lights would be the icing on the cake.

3. Raglan

I’ve never been surfing, but I’d be willing to give it a go especially at the beach town with New Zealand’s most well known surf breaks. Even if I find out surfing isn’t my thing, I’m sure I’d still enjoy walking through the local markets and art galleries.

4. Mt. Maunganui

Another picturesque seaside resort town, Mt. Maunganui (aka “The Mount”) looks perfect for days on the beach, and evenings out in town, with maybe a short hike up to the top of Mauao, the dormant volcano.

5. Routeburn Track

One of my biggest regrets is never doing a multi-day hike in New Zealand. Next time, I will make sure to plan ahead by blocking out some days to do the Routeburn Track and book myself into the DOC huts well in advance. (And then just cross my fingers that the weather cooperates.)

6. Milford Track

I have been to Milford Sound, but I’d love to experience it in a whole different way. The Milford Track is probably the most well-known (and the most popular) track in New Zealand. It will require a lot of planning ahead, but I’m determined to make it work at some point.

7. Doubtful Sound

Doubtful sound is not nearly as popular as Milford Sound, but I’ve heard it’s just as beautiful. In fact, many people enjoy it much more due to the lack of crowds and tourists compared to those at Milford.

8. Morekai Boulders

Part of me thinks these are just a bunch of rocks, but they look so cool! I have an unexplainable urge to climb them and take some good-looking pictures. It could be a nice day-trip from Dunedin (another place I have yet to go).

9. Kaikoura

The only time I’ve been whale-watching was in Alaska, and that was awesome. I certainly have high expectations, but hopefully a whale-watching trip around Kaikoura would be just as good.

10. The Catlins

I saw a couple seals during my time in New Zealand, but not nearly enough. Camping in the Catlins with all the seals and penguins sounds pretty good to me.

11. Rhythm and Vines

I have never been to a music festival before. (I know, I’m embarrassed.) And what better than a festival at a vineyard in New Zealand on New Year’s Eve?