Cape Reinga Lighthouse New Zealand
New Zealand

A New Zealand Bucket List – By A Local

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“Don’t leave town until you’ve seen the country” is a catchphrase thrown out by many New Zealanders, to encourage others to explore their home country before jetting off overseas (probably to Australia) for a couple of years.  I largely agree with this sentiment, New Zealand locals should see as much of this country as we can before heading out into the big bad world, mainly because people you come across are going to ask you A LOT of questions about New Zealand. So it helps to be able to answer them!

While I feel like I have seen a good chunk of the country, particularly the South Island (such as Dunedin, and The Catlins), there is still so much left to see and do! So I have put together a wee list of what some of my New Zealand Bucket List items include.

Hopefully this list will inspire you to look around your own home country for things to add to your own home country bucket list! At the very least, this list will give a little more information on New Zealand and what there is to do here. Sound good?

1. Cape reinga

Cape Reinga is the northernmost tip of New Zealand which is the complete opposite end of New Zealand to where I live, so obviously travelling there is a bucket list must. At this northern point, two oceans collide. The Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide creating swirls of currents beautiful to see.

Cape Reinga Lighthouse New Zealand
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Another reason I want to visit Cape Reinga is that I really enjoy the Maori mythology behind Cape Reinga. It is believed the spirits of dead Maori travel to Cape Reinga, to the mighty pohutukawa tree (believed to be over 800 years old) before travelling down a root of the tree and into the ocean.

Once in the ocean the spirits travel along the spirit pathway (Te Ara Wairua) back to their traditional home of Hawaiki. For some reason, the idea of this really appeals to me, I think it is a very beautiful belief and I think visiting Cape Reinga would be a spiritual experience because of this.

So, how to get there?

There are a few options here. My ultimate number one way to do this would be a massive road trip with my boyfriend, stopping at various towns and cities along the way, crossing Cook Strait on the InterIslander and general road trip fun. However this would be a very loooooooong road trip and somehow I do not think I will be convincing Mr Boyfriend to go on this road trip any time soon! BOO!

Most likely we will fly to Auckland and hire a rental car. Then we can go on a mini road trip, stopping in beautiful beachside destinations such as Paihia or Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands region. This road trip would be a lot shorter and manageable than the previously mentioned road trip.

There are also various tour buses which make the trip between the Bay of Islands are Cape Reinga (Backpacker Bus and Kiwi Experience to name a couple).

2. Zorbing in Rotorua

Leave it to us Kiwi’s to come up with “Hey what if we jumped in a giant ball and rolled down a hill in a paddock?” Zorbing looks like so much fun! I know there is a lot more to Rotorua than just zorbing, but for some reason the idea of cruising around a paddock in a giant ball just sounds so fun.

Rotorua is located in the North Island, about 3 hour drive away from Auckland. There are two zorbing companies in Rotorua believe it or not. OGO is closer to the town centre (five minutes’ drive away) so would most likely be easier to get to. I imagine a local bus probably drives past or if worst comes to worst, a taxi for five minutes probably won’t break the bank.

How to get there: I would probably fly to Rotorua as they have a regional airport and this would be the easiest option.

Other options: Busing from Auckland to Rotorua on the InterCity or other bus service.

3. Mount Roy Track in Wanaka

Now this one I really should have done by now. It is only a couple of hours drive away from me. But I am unfit and lazy. Mount Roy is a strenuous uphill battle of a day walk. So why do it? Like everything else in New Zealand, for the views! The walk, depending on your fitness, can take between 5 to 8 hours to complete and is mostly all uphill. I am going to leave this one for when I am a bit fitter. Time to jump on the treadmill I guess….

View from the summit of Roys Peak Track
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How to get there: Wanaka is about a 3 hour drive away from where I live. This would be another adventure poor Mr Boyfriend would be dragged along on. We would arrive the day before and get a good night’s sleep to arrive at the start bright and early the next day (8am?). The start of the track is signposted as Roys Peak Track and is about 6km out of Wanaka.

4. See an aurora

Southern Lights Aurora New Zealand
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I am lucky enough to live in a southern part of the world that is sometimes blessed with auroras. But I have never seen one. Why not? Because they tend to happen when it’s a) Freezing outside; or b) at 3:00am. I also seem to only ever find out about them the next day in the newspaper. However, all that is about to change (well only the newspaper bit) because Aurora Forecasts exist! Once this beauty tells me there is going to be an aurora I’ll be grabbing my camera and jumping into my car. I will probably be heading to some dark southern spot to try and spot these cheeky elusive lights! Wish me luck!

Well there you have it. My New Zealand bucket list of things to do before I leave home! I hope you enjoyed it.

Please let me know what is on your home country bucket list! Or even what is on your New Zealand bucket list if you have one! Let me know in the comments section and don’t forget to subscribe!

Thank you and much love,

Passport Kiwi.

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New Zealand Bucket List including Cape Reinga zorbing aurora and mount roy wanaka

A New Zealand Bucket List from a local A New Zealand Bucket List from a local


60 thoughts on “A New Zealand Bucket List – By A Local”

    1. It does have some fantastic landscape! I’m not quote sure the aurora reaches cape reigna but it would be magical of it did!

    1. These certainly are amazing destinations! I actually haven’t made it to the Hobbiton Movie Set and I think I may be the only Kiwi who isn’t a Lord of the Rings fan!! Whoops!

  1. Your “don’t leave town until you’ve seen the country” unfortunately rings all too true for me! We did an around the world trip from Australia last year, and Auckland was just a short 2 days stop over, a convenient hub for coming back from South America with direct flights from Buenos Aires. So I would love to head back and actually have the chance to explore NZ properly – especially since we’re neighbors!

    Zorbing in Rotorua sounds like a lot of fun, and catching the aurora is on my bucketlist, whether it’s the northern or southern lights. I live in Tasmania, and the southern lights have supposedly been out quite a bit recently, though they seem to be avoiding where I live!! Maybe in NZ I’ll have better luck!

    1. Oh you for sure need more than 2 days!! And need to see more than auckland! I hope you visit nz soon. I totally relate to the hiding auroras 😀 hope you get to see them one day!!

  2. Wow. So much fun to have in New Zealand especially watching the aurora. While I’d look in to my hometown to see if I can do much, nevertheless, I’d love a trip to the New Zealand and I’m sure to appreciate it just as you do.

  3. I’ve travelled pretty extensively around New Zealand – once by car, and once for 3 months cycling. Even so, this is the first time I discovered that you can see an aurora there! Looks like I’ll have to get back there on the bike again!

  4. When we have friends coming to New Zealand, we constantly say that they should spend the least amount of time in Auckland. I feel that it has the least amount to offer for an authentic kiwi experience. We have visited Cape Reinga several times and always love it, but I find the best and most beautiful places are on the South Island.

    1. Hi Rhonda, I agree. Auckland is not the place for a real kiwi experience. I’m glad you like the South Island so much 😀

  5. I’ve seen videos of people “zorbing” in New Zealand and it looks totally bunkers but a ton of fun. Funny how certain bizarre activities catch on and can become a tourist attraction, right? Of course, it worked on me, because I want to do it when I visit New Zealand!

  6. Cape Reinga was one of the first places I saw while I was in New Zealand, initially I was based in Auckland, and we traveled north all the way to Cape Reinga, and I have to say it felt like I was standing at the edge of the world. After traveling both Islands I was based in Queenstown, and in the year I was there I was not lucky enough to catch a An aurora – New Zealand to this day is my fave country that I’ve lived in or traveled – miss you kiwis and your ‘chups’ with your ‘iggs’ 😀

  7. I love the bucket list, I knew so less about NZ till i stumbled here. Added to my NZ bucket list and I would love to see Cape Reinga and Auroras – they look like Northern Lights from Iceland which is already in my bucket list 🙂 Pinning the post 🙂

  8. What a fun list of places to see. I love the mythology of Cape Reinga, and the story of the 800-year old pohutukawa tree. Zorbing …. well, why not? I really want to visit New Zealand for the hot springs, though. I’ve heard they’re gorgeous.

  9. Cape reinga is beautiful! I’ve done most of the North island now but want to explore more of the South island. I love northland, the coromandel peninsula and the bay of plenty. There’s so much to do in new Zealand unfortunately i had to move away then come back to truly appreciate how beautiful our country is

    1. I agree, there is so much in little old New Zealand! I also never really appreciated it until my first trip overseas. Thanks for commenting!

  10. Aaaaah I’m saving this as I’m new to the country! Moved to Auckland a month ago and still navigating public transport and the “look right first” thing 😀 I’ve only been to Rotorua so far, but the weather was just awful. Looking forward to going back (especially to that place that had the best aioli I’ve ever tasted, haha!), and traveling around the country in general!

  11. I didn’t know that you can also see auroras in NZ! When I just read it, I was like “OMG! I definitely need to go to NZ!”, but then when you say only at 3am or when it’s freezing outside, you took away ALL my hopes and dream!! haha… No, seriously: I’ve been wanting to see auroras for so long. But Iceland and Norway are just too cold. So I thought that New Zealand might be a better choice (even if it means to fly over 20 hours)!

  12. I always say that New Zealand is the most beautiful place on earth, so diverse and magical. I’ve done two on your list, but need to revisit for the others.

  13. While I absolutely have snuck away travelling and will do so again – the rest of the world beckons all the time, but, your so right….. our own backyard has so much to offer, I’m the same living here in Oz. I’d love to whip across the pond and see NZ Aurora lights, they look spectacular.

  14. I’ve only seen Auckland but would absolutely love to return to see more of NZ outside of Auckland. The list looks very tempting – especially the aurora! NZ just has so much nature to offer!

  15. Auroras in NZ!? This is news for me!!! I consider myself a well traveled person but heck, I didn’t know anything about it! An extra reason the visit the country in the next years.. Or to get a working holiday visa and stay for a while 😛

  16. Thanks for sharing your list with us. I’m going to New Zeeland in the future, just have to cycle Africa and Asian first =) So this was helpfull.
    Would love to try Zouring but I get emotionsickness, so maybe not =)
    Aurora looks amazing and probably wort the early (or late) hour and the cold!

  17. What!! I want to see the southern lights!! That’s incredible. I went north like 4 times now, to see the northern lights and I never saw them!! I need to go to New Zealand to try seeing the southern ones. I haven’t been to New Zealand yet and I am going to add all of this to my bucket list. It looks like such an incredible country! Stunning!

  18. It is so true, we must see our own country before we hit the world. I live in India and I have a bottomless bucket list of things to do in India – right from visiting the 5 pending states and some lovely islands.

  19. We did Northland as the first part of our New Zealand road trip and it’s still one of the most interesting areas we’ve seen! Cape Reigna, the sand dunes, 90 Mile Beach, the Kauri trees, and Paihia are all so different. We’re looking forward to finally visiting the South Island soon.

    1. Hi Insia! That’s great I’m so jealous. It sounds like an awesome road trip! I hope you enjoy the South Island, I would love to know what you get up to. Thanks for reading 🙂

  20. I’ve done #1, but not the other 3. My NZ bucket list is:
    – see the Southern Lights (same as your #4)
    – go to the South Island

    Yeah, I haven’t been to the South Island yet. 🙁

    1. Hi Elle! I’m so jealous you’ve been to Cape Reinga!! Is it as stunning as I imagine?? I really hope you make it to the South Island soon and get to see the southern lights! 🙂 Thanks for reading!

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