New Zealand is a pretty big place, with an abundance of things to do and see. Incase you need a little help with your itinerary, here's my countdown of unmissable New Zealand experiences...

Top 10 Things To Do In New Zealand

1. Appreciate the Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch

New Zealand’s second largest city is affectionately regarded as the gateway to the South Island, and was recently named 2nd on the New York Times’ list of places to visit in 2014. Part of the reason for this is the incredible regeneration that has taken place within the city over the last few years. Having suffered a series of devastating earthquakes between 2010 and 2011, a creative, vibrant and utterly resilient Christchurch is beginning to blossom from beneath the rubble. A prime example of this is the incredible Cardboard Cathedral. The original cathedral was severely damaged during the earthquakes, so this transitional, cardboard home was designed by architect Shigeru Ban, and is now without doubt the most photographed building in the city.

2. Cruise along Milford Sound

Top 10 Things To Do In New Zealand

Dominating the south west coast of New Zealand’s South Island are the fiords of the Fiordland National Park. There are 14 in total, and each is its own unique and natural wonder, with the most famous being Milford Sound. It was once described by Rudyard Kipling as the “8th wonder of the world”, which gives you a sense of the awe that a boat trip, walk, or even scenic flight can induce. The daily cruises are most popular, and as you glide along atop of the serene water, you are surrounded by waterfalls on all sides flowing down the adjacent, imposing mountainsides.

Milford Sound is a sight to behold throughout the year. Spring showers really bring the waterfalls to life, whilst the ice and snow of winter shrouds the fiord and its mountainsides in a cold, eerie mist. Luckily, Milford Sound is the only fiord in the park accessible by road, so be sure to make it a must visit on your itinerary.  

3. Ride the TranzAlpine railway

Hailed as one of the world’s most scenic rail journeys, a trip on the TranzAlpine train offers the chance to view some of the finest landscape New Zealand has to offer. The train runs once a day, heading north-west out of Christchurch, meandering through the mountains of the Southern Alps, glaciers and gorges before reaching its destination in Greymouth, on the west coast of the South Island. Consider a one way trip to Greymouth, and from there you can head south to see the South Island’s famous Glacier Country. Speaking of which…

4. Behold the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers

Top 10 Things To Do In New Zealand

The South Island’s west coast is home to New Zealand’s Glacier Country, which can be found in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park. The huge sheets of ice make for some fantastic scenery, not to mention an array of adventurous activities. The most popular glaciers are the Fox and the Franz Josef, and arguably they are best viewed from the sky, with plenty of scenic flights and helicopter tours to choose from. If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, then there are other ways to appreciate the glaciers, including ice hikes, guided treks and quad biking tours.

5. Enjoy the best walk in the world

The title of ‘finest walk in the world’ is not one given away lightly, but that is exactly how the Milford Track is known internationally. Its 53km of striking, natural magnificence are found in the Fiordland National Park, on the south west of the South Island. Over the course of around 4 days, you will come across towering waterfalls, thriving forests and breathtaking mountain views. To take on any of New Zealand’s Great Walks, a pass needs to be purchased from the Department of Conservation, so be sure to organise one before you arrive. The small expense is well worth it, as it ensures that all the wonderfully scenic tracks are well maintained and offer sufficient lodgings whilst you travel.    

6. Stargaze in the Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

Top 10 Things To Do In New Zealand

This National Park on the South Island forms part of New Zealand’s only International Dark Sky Reserve. The incredible night sky in this part of the country means it is one of the very finest places in the world to look up and star gaze. Alongside the spectacular landscapes you will be surrounded by at ground level, the fact that there is almost no light or air pollution in this part of the world makes the stargazing just as breathtaking. There are several companies which run personal astronomy tours, so be sure to make the most of this unspoilt region.

7. Explore the Glow Worm caves of Te Anau

We’ve all heard of waterfalls, volcanoes and glaciers, but this next experience is perhaps one that many people don’t even know exists. Deep within an intricate subterranean world, next to Lake Te Anau on the South Island, are the magical Glow worm caves of Te Anau . After a scenic boat trip across Lake Te Anau you will reach the caves, before entering in small groups with a professional guide. Once underground you can explore the ancient rock formations, and in complete darkness, take a small boat to a deeper, silent cavern, where the ceiling has been colonised by thousands of glowworms. The glittering display that they produce is akin to looking up at the sky at night, and is just another New Zealand sight that will leave you speechless.

8. Walk the Abel Tasman Coastal Track

Top 10 Things To Do In New Zealand

New Zealand’s smallest national park, Abel Tasman, is located on the northern coast of the South Island. Its coastal setting makes for a great balance between, scenery, relaxation and more adventurous activities, including the famous Abel Tasman Coastal Track, one of New Zealand’s nine ‘great walks’. The route winds along the sea front, offering beautiful vistas and a wild outdoor experience. Scenic perfection abounds at every turn, including chiseled granite cliffs, crystal clear waters and unspoilt greenery. A highlight of the track is Onetahuti Beach, which is one of the more spectacular bits of coastline within the park. At intervals along the route some of the tidal crossings are only open for a limited window each day, so be sure to check the tide times when you visit! There are a number of campsites and lodges dotted along the track’s 54km, and it takes around five days to complete.

9. Conquer Mount Taranaki

Fancy a hike up Mount Taranaki?

A casual glance at New Zealand’s most perfectly formed volcano is enough to understand why the looming shadow of Mt Taranaki attracts visitors from all over the world. The volcano is about 120,000 years old and last erupted in 1775. Fortunately, in its dormant state it is slightly less life threatening, and still manages to provide hiking enthusiasts with a daunting, summit challenge. Let’s face it; it’s difficult to stand before the awe inspiring silhouette of Mt Taranaki without suddenly fancying yourself as an intrepid mountaineer. Everyone wants to conquer the volcano, but don’t worry, this feeling is natural. Luckily, surmounting New Zealand’s most climbed mountain is challenging, but entirely possible, with between 6 and 8 hours needed for the complete return trip.

10. Spend an evening with a Maori tribe in Rotorua

Top 10 Things To Do In New Zealand

A visit to Tamaki Maori Village in Rotorua will immerse you in Maori culture and introduce you to traditions which date back thousands of years. Witness an ancient welcoming ceremony, weaponry displays, as well a fantastic three course feast at the end of your stay. This really is a unique commemoration to Maori heritage, and has become New Zealand’s most celebrated Maori culture attraction.