Lonely Planet has named New Zealand in the Top 10 countries to visit in 2018 in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2018 – its 13th annual collection of the world’s hottest destinations, experiences and trends for the year ahead. The best-selling inspirational travel yearbook highlights the top 10 countries, cities and regions that Lonely Planet’s experts recommend travellers experience in 2018. New Zealand is ranked fifth on the book’s list of Top 10 Countries 2018 and this is the second time that New Zealand has appeared on the list with the last appearance in 2010. We are here to share the top New Zealand attractions for you to plan your ultimate New Zealand experience.
Just outside of the Waikato town of Matamata, Sir Peter Jackson discovered the perfect place to create The Shire and village of Hobbiton. To this day the movie set remains and is a spectacular place to visit for fans of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit Trilogies.
2. White Island
Off the North Island’s Bay of Plenty, White Island appears on the horizon as a thick plume of smoke rising from the Pacific Ocean, the first visible sign of one of New Zealand’s most fascinating natural attractions. From Whakatane, just south of Tauranga, take a boat trip or helicopter out to the island for an otherworldly experience.
3. Hot Water Beach
At Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula in the North Island of New Zealand, visitors can create their own natural jacuzzi in the wet sand during low tide. Purchase a spade at the nearby shop or bring your own and set about building a private hot pool with a stunning ocean view.
4. Tongariro Alpine Crossing
New Zealand’s most famous day walk, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing takes in incredible scenery over a nine-hour trek. The Crossing is a 19.4km one-day hike, past Mt Ngauruhoe and over Mt Tongariro, with panoramic views of active volcanic areas and crater lakes in the UNESCO Dual Heritage area.
5. Whale Watch Kaikoura
Kaikoura is a year-round whale-watching destination and also renowned for its scenic location, a rugged coastline between the Pacific ocean and the snow-capped peaks of the Southern Alps which provides a dramatic background for the marine life that is often seen close to shore.
6. Dive Poor Knights
Twenty-three kilometres off New Zealand’s Tutukaka Coast, the Poor Knights Islands are an international icon. Described by Jacques Costeau as the best dive spot in subtropical temperate waters the Poor Knights is part of a marine reserve with a remarkably varied ecosystem.
7. Milford Sound
Fiordland National Park’s crown jewel, Milford Sound was once called the eighth wonder of the world by Rudyard Kipling. Towering peaks, hundreds of waterfalls, quirky wildlife and glassy waters combine to create one of the most breath-taking places on the planet. An overnight experience in Milford Sound is something to behold, embrace the silence after the day’s visitors have left and pay tribute to Mother Nature.
8. Bungy jump
New Zealand was the first country in the world to commercialise bungy jumping at the site of the Kawarau Suspension Bridge just outside of Queenstown. There is no better place to take the plunge than overlooking the stunning Kawarau River from 43metre up. Once you’ve conquered your fear tackle the Nevis, 134 metres over the valley floor this is the ultimate bungy experience to challenge even the most extreme thrill seeker.
9. Southern Lights
While the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis, is a famous and beloved bucket list item for many night sky watchers, the lesser known Southern Lights are equally spectacular. From Dunedin, the Southern Lights appear just over the southern horizon creating remarkable reflections in the water to the delight of photographers.
10. Glow Worms
An ancient subterranean world in the heart of New Zealand’s central North Island, the Waitomo Cave system is a series of fascinating and dramatic natural wonders. The glow-worm grotto is one of the most popular attractions where visitors travel by boat into the spectacular cave guided by the light from thousands of unique New Zealand glow worms.
There are too many iconic New Zealand activities to fit in one list so here are a few more ideas just in case some of the above don’t take your fancy. Zoom up the Shotover River near Queenstown on the Shotover Jet. Visit Waitangi Treaty Grounds, the spot where New Zealand’s founding document was signed. Cycle the Otago Central Rail Trail and sip world famous New Zealand pinot noir. Watch the All Blacks play rugby at Eden Park in Auckland and see them perform the haka live. Kayak Abel Tasman National Park and experience unspoiled beaches and amazing wildlife. Go kiwi spotting on Stewart Island and see New Zealand’s national icon in its natural environment. Tackle one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks.