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.
1. WALK TO THE SUMMIT OF MAUAO – BAY OF PLENTY
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.
2. VIEW THE GANNET COLONY AT MURIWAI BEACH – AUCKLAND
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.
3. HOT WATER BEACH - COROMANDEL
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.
4. DISCGOLF COURSE – QUEENSTOWN
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.
5. DRIVE THE SOUTHERN SCENIC ROUTE – SOUTHLAND
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.
6. SELF GUIDED WINE TOUR – MARLBOROUGH
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.
7. VISIT A NATIONAL PARK
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!
8. TE PAPA TONGAREWA, MUSEUM OF NEW ZEALAND – WELLINGTON
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.
9. FOX & FRANZ JOSEPH GLACIERS - WEST COAST
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.
10. BBQ AT A BEACH OR RESERVE
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.
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