My New Zealand Bucket List

New Zealand (well, and all of Oceania really) is a region I am dying to visit. If it weren’t for those “slightly” pesky details like long (read: endless) flight and the “nominal” time difference (a mere 18 hours), I have no doubt that I would have visited by now. And even though I have done an endless flight before and dealt with crazy time differences (my incredible study abroad experience in South Korea), life is a lot different when you’re a 19 year old college student (i.e. not working a full-time job with fixed vacation time).

But I digress. I can’t say when but like most other destinations, I know sometime in the future I will indeed make it to Oceania. And while my Australian table mates that I met on my cruise to Norway back in June would be “aghast” to hear this (they routinely knocked poor little New Zealand), New Zealand is the country that I would like to see the most. And here are the top five things that I’d move heaven and earth to make sure they happened.


This summer I fell head over heels for fjords thanks to my Norwegian cruise, and the fact that New Zealand is home to some spectacular ones is a main reason why I’d like to visit. Fiordland is a geographic region in the southwestern corner of the South Island (New Zealand comprises two islands, don’t you know) and most of it is dominated by the steep sides of snow-capped mountains, deep lakes, and ocean-flooded, steep western valleys. In New Zealand fiords are also known as sounds, and Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound are the two most famous, although I’m sure I’d be happy seeing just about any of them.

Piha Beach

Even though New Zealand is thousands of miles from the shores of Europe, she still lost 18,000 of her sons during World War I (New Zealand was a member of the British Empire at the time). As such there are countless memorials all over the country. The one I would have most interest in seeing is at Piha, on Auckland’s West Coast. After picking up my car rental at Auckland’s airport, I would drive to this natural memorial. Lion Rock was adopted as the local memorial and each Anzac Day whenΒ Australian and New Zealand soldiers are remembered for their war efforts, a service is held at low tide with wreaths washed away as the waters later come in. It sounds quite beautiful and moving.

Abel Tasman Park

As I’ve gotten older, my travel interests have changed and now they definitely include outdoor adventures (although never fear, I will never be a proponent of sleeping outdoors). This is the country’s most visited park and the Fodors guidebook describes it as an “explosion of color.” It’s littered with caves and rock formations and sounds like an incredible hiking (and photography) destination.


While I’m not an oenophile and most likely will never become one, I can still sip a glass here and there, especially when I’m in view of beautiful and majestic scenery, of which New Zealand has an endless amount. Although there are countless wine regions to explore, the one I’d be most interested in visiting is Marlborough, which is on the top of the South Island and produces 70% of the national crop. If Sauvignon Blancs, Rieslings, and Pinot Noirs are your thing, head here apparently.

Blanket Bay

And because I’m someone who does care about accommodations and finds where I stay to be just as important an experience as what I see or do, naturally a special lodging option made it onto my bucket list. Blanket Bay is located on the end of Lake Wakatipu near Glenorchy and features schist-stone chalets right under the Remarkables mountain range. It’s not cheap but for one of those once in a lifetime hotel experiences, its location certainly fits the bill.

My New Zealand Bucket List

So there you have it, My New Zealand bucket list. Is there anything you’d add to my list? Or of the items I featured, would there be any you’d recommend skipping?

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