It's hard to believe that the two main islands of New Zealand, poetically marked by glaciers and volcanoes and some of the world's best scenery, were actually completely undiscovered by humankind until about 800 years ago.

Yes, for the greater part of human history nobody has had the chance to visit... and yet you can!

Here are 10 things to do in New Zealand.

Take a Boat Trip of Milford Sound

Don't let the name fool you, Milford Sound is technically a fjord that rivals anything Norway could ever muster up. The beautiful mountains featuring the 1,692 metre tall Mitre Peak have been voted the world's top travel destination by TripAdvisor.

One to two hour boat tours run constantly though canoeing is easily the best bet.

a lonely flower blooms on the shore at milford sound new zealand
@manda_atkins via Instagram

Hike to the Mount Maunganui Summit

This Tauranga hiking spot is great from the sunbathing seals of the sea up to the grazing sheep at the top. The best thing is that it only takes about an hour and won't have you gasping for air. The reward? An absolutely gorgeous view of the Pacific Ocean.

a model writes sitting on a cliff edge at mount maunganui
@mtmaunganui via Instagram

Explore the Bay of Islands

On the east coast of the North Island you'll find this drowned valley system featuring 144 islands - a veritable maritime adventure playground famous for golden beaches and stunning seafood. From mountain biking to fine dining and even a little golf this is the great New Zealand getaway.

a man stands under a waterfall at the bay of islands
@leo_aust via Instagram

Take in Tamaki Maori Village

It's impossible to ignore the country's rich Maori history and what better way to do it than with this powerful cultural experience in Rotorua. Here you'll witness ceremonial rituals and learn the customs of the land, but the real highlight is the hangi feasting: a type of underground oven barbecue using hot stones.

maori warriors guard a hut at tamaki village
@moller.linnea via Instagram

Try Tongariro National Park

This truly unique dual World Heritage Site encompasses three mighty mountains: Mt. Tongariro, Mt. Ngauruhoe, and Mt. Ruapehu. New Zealand's patented nature theme continues here with gems like the Mountains to Sea Cycle Trail, the Mount Ruapehu Crater Climb, and any combination of premium kayaking, canoeing or rafting.

a green lake at tongariro national park new zealand
@adrians_travels via Instagram

See the Blue Penguins

Leave the zoo for a city break rainy day. The world's smallest penguin species are best viewed in their natural habitat, and there's no better place to do it than at the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony. Whether you're seeing them in their nesting burrows or coming home after a day of fishing there's nothing quite like it.

blue penguins run ahore at oamaru
@gottalovenz via Instagram

Wander the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Pools

There are few geothermal attractions more colourful and diverse as this wonder just 234 kilometers from Auckland. The smoke and bubbling water and mud of each of the unique thermal pools create a sort of primordial world that's trying to evolve.

the champagne pool at waiotapu thermal wonderland
@waiotapu_wonderland_nz via Instagram

Check the Christchurch Botanic Gardens

A good jet-lag aid could be going for a walk in Christchurch's main attraction. The perfectly manicured gardens and towering trees create an urban oasis that's hard to beat. To really take it all in get yourself a punter with traditional Edwardian attire to take you through it with a boat ride along the river.

an orange flower at the christchurch botanic gardens
@jennybarnesnz via Instagram

Learn at the Museum of New Zealand

This museum in Wellington offers the tourist a perfect chance to understand their temporary home: with six floors of exhibitions dedicated to New Zealand culture. The most popular exhibitions are related to animals of the region, and it's home to the world's largest specimen of colossal squid.

staircase artwork at the museum of new zealand
@te_papa via Instagram

Chill Out in the Cook Islands

Yes, it's a three hour flight. The thing is, how often are you going to be in the area? With the Cook Islands wading patiently in the Pacific blue you may want to head to the land of coral reefs, underground cave pools, and deserted islands that offer arguably the greatest beach chill out scene in the world.

snorkeling in the cook islands
@lisaashleygreen via Instagram

Ready for a little nature?
Take me to New Zealand!

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