Top 10 FREE things to do in New Zealand

by Stephanie - 19/10/2010 14:53:00

Let’s face it; a gap year overseas is a wonderful adventure but not always easy on the back pocket. Here is a list of ten of the great things New Zealand has to offer that will give your wallet a break. Sometimes, the best things in life are free.


Grab your rucksack, it’s time for a hike. Mauao is a dormant volcano standing 232 metres above the white sand beaches of Mount Maunganui and the Tauranga Harbour. Mauao is pretty special to the Māori tribes of the Bay of Plenty region, and it is full of native flora and fauna, including the red blooming Pohutukawa tree. The views from the top out towards White Island and the Pacific Ocean are breathtaking.


Muriwai Beach, on Auckland’s west coast, is home to the most accessible gannet colony in New Zealand. Gannets are large black and white seabirds that dive into the water from a height of about 30 metres to catch fish. The gannets return to Muriwai in July to re-establish contact with their lifelong mates and by December their chicks are clamouring for food, so it is a perfect time to watch the parents nosediving into the water at up to 145km per hour in search of fish for greedy chicks. Fur seals can also be seen in spring sunbathing on the rocks below the gannet colony.


One of the most amazing phenomenon of New Zealand is the hot water beach on the Coromandel Peninsula, just south of Mercury Bay. A huge underground reservoir of superheated water caused by a volcano escapes to the surface (cooling along the way) at two fissures at Hot Water Beach. Water comes out as hot as 64ºC (147ºF) at a rate as high as 15 litres/minute. Hire a spade at the store, or bring your own and dig yourself a toasty spa in the sand. The best time is to get there an hour before low tide, so you have time to get a good spot and dig.


Discgolf? It’s played much like traditional golf but instead of a ball and clubs, players used flying discs or Frisbees. The Queenstown Frisbee Golf Course is right in the centre of town, with 18 challenging holes throughout the Queenstown Gardens. Maps of the course can be picked up at Shoeclinic on Beach Street or R&R Sports on Shotover Street.


The Southern Scenic Route stretches around the bottom of the South Island, beginning (or endings) in Dunedin and working through the Catlins region to Invercargill and then meandering up to Te Anau. The route really is a road less travelled and takes in some of the most spectacular scenery New Zealand has to offer. The route passes by towering rainforests, rolling fertile farmlands and golden beaches stretching as far as the eye can see. Along the way is Curio Bay Petrified Forest, one of only two Jurassic forests in the world. Plus you can see Hooker sea lions, New Zealand fur seals, Yellow-Eyed penguins and Hector’s dolphins.


Marlborough means wine in New Zealand, and the region has over 100 vineyards. Most of the wineries have open cellar doors that offer complimentary wine tastings, although no doubt you’ll want to walk away with a few bottles! Located at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, the main city of Blenheim can be reached by car in four and a half hours from Christchurch or within half an hourafter crossing from Wellington on the ferry.


There are 14 spectacular national parks in New Zealand and more than 25 marine reserves preserving New Zealand’s natural heritage. Combine that with protected forest parks, reserves and private land preserves nearly a third of the country’s land is in its natural state. National parks are beautiful areas to visit, and cost nothing!


Te Papa is New Zealand’s national museum, and there are five floors of treasures to explore. New Zealand’s nature, art, history and heritage - from the shaping of its land to the spirit of its diverse peoples, from its unique wildlife to its distinctive art and visual culture - are all on display.


The Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers are among the most accessible in the world to visit. You can easily walk to the foot of these enormous moving ice masses on the West Coast of the South Island. The glaciers descend from the Southern Alps down into the temperate rainforest just 300 metres above sea level.


Many parks and beaches all over New Zealand, such as Muriwai Beach, have BBQs to use. Most only charge a $2 ignition fee, so it’s as good as free!

- Want to explore New Zealand? Take the first step and apply for a New Zealand working holiday visa.

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

New Zealand’s mad and crazy things to do

by Stephanie - 05/10/2010 15:25:00

Ever had a bungy jump? Been blasted down a whitewater river in an inflatable boat? What does it feel like to roll head-over-heels down a hill inside a giant plastic ball? When it comes to adrenaline pumping crazy stuff, New Zealand is the place!


Perhaps what first springs to mind when you think of New Zealand is the bungy jump (pun intended).
Bungy was invented in New Zealand!

Inspired by the land divers of Pentecost Island and daring leaps made by the Oxford University Dangerous Sport Club, New Zealander A.J. Hackett turned bungy jumping into a business in 1988. Today he has jumps in Auckland and Queenstown, including the wickedly-scary Nevis Highwire - an 8.5 second free-fall above the Nevis River.

Put your Platinum Card to good use with a half price bungy jump with Taupo Bungy, one of the country’s leading bungy operators. They are only 10 mins walk from the main centre of Taupo and they have New Zealand’s highest water touch bungy.

But there is more than just bungy jumping if you are after some fresh air. Taupo Bungy also have a extreme cliff swing dropping down 38 metres or so before barrelling up again. You can swing seated, in a lay-back style or completely upside down for the full head rush!

Queenstown has the Shotover Canyon Swing, which is a bit like being in a playground that’s 35 storeys off the ground; and the Mokai Gravity Canyon in the Manawatu region has a giant bridge swing - a mind-blowing thrill that begins with a 50-metre freefall.


Surrounded by ocean and riddled with rivers, New Zealand is a fantastic place for water fun. If you are after some serious whitewater action than Queenstown is the place for you – and Queenstown Rafting is who you want to speak to!

Queenstown Rafting have two courses, Shotover River and Kawarau River, so you can choose just how rough you want to trip to be. Shotover River is the big daddy – with numerous rapids to get the adrenaline going and a 170 long tunnel to paddle in darkness before a final cascade of rapids to end.

Kawarau River is ideal for the first time rafters and adrenaline seekers alike – there is time to sit back and enjoy the spectacular scenery along the way before the unforgettable 400m dog leg rapid to finish.

Queenstown Rafting offers 20 per cent discount for Platinum Card holders – so you could do both!

In Taranaki you can try dam dropping - a plunge down 30 metres of rushing water. This particular kind of madness is a form of river sledging, where you conquer white water rapids armed only with a body board, helmet and flippers. In Eastland you’ll find another kind of river fun at Rere Falls. Here you can slide down a 60-metre natural water slide - "Woohoo!" doesn’t begin to describe it.



Try travelling down a hill inside a large, inflatable ball – yep, zorbing! Warm water is often added to make the experience even more fun. Rotorua is the place for some great zorbing.

Dune surfing is great on the giant sand hills of Cape Reinga and the Hokianga. The walking up is the hard work, but the zooming down is a total blast.

Heliskiing is all about no compromises. It’s for adventurers who are seeking pure adrenalin and pure freedom.
New Zealand’s World Heritage alpine parks offer all these ingredients, plus the added benefit of breathtaking scenery to fill those few idle seconds at the beginning and end of each run.


Propelled by a water jet system that was invented by a Kiwi, jet boats can navigate shallow, fast-running rivers at amazing speeds. These ridiculously fast boats can do full 360˚ spins, and are one of the essential Kiwi experiences for travellers to New Zealand.

Shotover Jet in Queenstown is one of the best with over two million people having caught the canyons with them since 1970. Best yet, Platinum Card holders get 40 per cent off on a jet boat ride with Shotover Jet!

Reach parts of New Zealand that can’t be reached by road on a quad bike safari! Zoom through the forest, along beaches and across farmland – all while on a serious bike beast. Top quad-biking areas include Northland’s Ninety-Mile Beach, the Woodhill Forest and Muriwai Beach in Auckland, the Gannet Colony at Cape Kidnappers, and Hanmer Springs in the South Island.


- Check out the Visa Bureau Platinum Card site for the full discount and offer details for crazy New Zealand Activities like these and enjoy your New Zealand working holiday!

Visa Bureau takes no responsibility and cannot be held accountable for action taken as a result of any information or comment provided on this blog, and we recommend that you always seek a number of opinions before making a decision regarding your migration or visa application. Please refer to the Visa Bureau terms of use for more information.

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