Iconic day trips to take in New Zealand

Ready for an adventure like no other? Hit the road on an unforgettable day trip in New Zealand. From snow-capped peaks to pristine beaches, New Zealand is a paradise for adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike. While you could easily spend weeks exploring every corner of this spectacular country, there’s nothing quite like the spontaneous thrill of an adventurous day trip.

From Taupō, North Island

Indulge in a hot top whilst in Rotorua. Image from Miles Holden.

Just under an hour’s drive north from Taupō, a Rotorua day trip delivers geothermal wonders and fascinating Maōri culture. Surrounded by mountains, rivers and freshwater lakes, Rotorua is known for its natural hot springs and bubbling mud pools. Free things to do in Rotorua include walking or mountain biking along scenic trails through lush, native forests and stands of towering Californian Redwoods, all within five minutes of town.

No trip to New Zealand is complete without a visit to Middle Earth – the Hobbiton Movie Set, where Peter Jackson’s famous Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies were made. The iconic film location is 1.5 hour’s north of Taupō, making it an ideal adventure for a day trip. Experience your own moment of cinema history on a guided walking tour of the 12-acre set, past Hobbit Holes, the Mill and the world-famous Green Dragon Inn.

Where to stay

Tucked inside the caldera of an ancient volcano in the centre of New Zealand’s beautiful North Island, Taupō is the perfect base for day trips exploring the region. After your fill of Rotorua activities and Hobbiton things to do, enjoy a relaxing stay at one of these boutique hotels.

From Auckland, North Island

Waikehe Island. Image from Jill Beckmann on unsplash.

Escape New Zealand’s largest city for a day and discover picturesque Waiheke Island, just off the coast of Auckland. If you’re wondering what to do on Waiheke Island, you’ll find rolling vineyards, olive groves and beautiful beaches perfect for swimming, kayaking or enjoying a picnic. Stretch your legs on scenic cliff top walking trails and follow the Stony Batter walkway to find World War II gun emplacements and a network of underground tunnels. 

The question of how to get to Waiheke Island is an easy one. There are regular ferries that run across from downtown Auckland and once you’re on the island, you can catch public buses and taxis, or hire bikes, cars or scooters. You can also bring your own car or bike across on the ferry.

Where to stay

Set on sparkling twin harbours and ringed by ancient volcanic cones, Auckland is a vibrant city with rainforests, parks and beaches all within easy reach. Enjoy modern, spacious accommodation at the Quality Hotel Lincoln Green.

From Timaru, South Island

come and visit the scenic destination of Lake Tekapo. Image from Miles Holden.

A scenic 1.5 hour drive northwest from Timaru, Lake Tekapo is a glacial-fed lake renowned for its astonishing turquoise waters set against the dramatic background of the Southern Alps. The area is also home to the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, part of the UNESCO Dark Sky project, offering a phenomenal night sky for stargazing. Other Lake Tekapo activities include 4WD tours, skiing in winter and soaking in a therapeutic hot pool.

Where to stay

The beautiful port city of Timaru on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island is an ideal base for exploring the Canterbury region and things to do in Lake Tekapo. Enjoy a peaceful outlook to Caroline Bay at the Comfort Hotel Benvenue in Timaru.

From Invercargill, South Island

Come visit Nugget Point! Image from Graeme Murray.

Visit one of New Zealand’s oldest lighthouses on a dreamy day trip from Invercargill to Nugget Point. Enjoy the spectacular 2-hour drive east along the Southern Scenic Route to the historic Nugget Point lighthouse. A craggy headland jutting out into the sea, Nugget Point was so named by Captain Cook because of the rocks below resembling gold. Keep a look out for the resident colony of fur seals along with elephant seals, sea lions and one of the world’s rarest penguins. 

Where to stay

New Zealand’s southernmost city, Invercargill is brimming with old-world charm and heritage buildings, making for a relaxing stay at the Comfort Inn Tayesta.

Share on social networks