10 Things to do on a Road Trip around New Zealand

Today’s post comes from Marie, the blogger and very talented illustrator from Miles of Happiness. Marie spent half a year driving around New Zealand and she produced beautiful watercolours to help document her trip. Here she shares some of her highlights from that journey. I’d also recommend you check out here blog – this girl was born in France, currently lives in Hong Kong, and has crisscrossed the globe many times over.

10 Things to do on a Road Trip around New Zealand

New Zealand is a paradise for outdoor adventurers. I spend half a year driving through this beautiful country and, to be honest, I totally fell for this place.

Here are some of the best things to do in New Zealand to get your adrenaline pumping! Ready?

1. Fly over Queenstown

Fly over Queenstown by paragliding

Queenstown is called “the Adventure Capital of the World” and its title is well deserved. There are hundreds of extreme sports to try here. Paragliding is a good way to mix adrenaline with stunning views of Queenstown’s surroundings. You have The Remarkables mountain range standing proudly over the town and Lake Wakatipu, it’s absolutely spectacular.

2. Paddle in Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park is renowned for its golden beaches and sculpted granite cliffs. Kayaking is one of the best ways to explore the area and there are plenty of options available ranging from one day trips to longer ones. You’ll possibly come across dolphins, sea lions or even whales during your excursion! You can even mix in a bit of hiking, and let me tell you, the landscapes are stunning.

3. Hike on a glacier

It’s one thing to watch the surreal blue of a glacier from afar, and it’s another to strap crampons to your own boots. Hiking over the ice, through deep blue ice caves, over ice crags and down slopes is a unique experience, and an original way to explore the mountains of the South Island.

4. Surf among a pod of dolphins

Surf wave in New Zealand Surfboards with miles of Happiness New Zealand








Surfing is one of the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. You can surf pretty much everywhere in New Zealand. We chose the Catlins by chance, and it turned out to be a wise choice. The Hector Dolphins, the smallest dolphins in the world, live right there. They are very good surfers –definitely better than I will ever be – and not shy at all. So…why not dare to realize an old dream?

5. Climb a volcano

Climb a volcano in New Zealand Miles of Happiness

Hiking in New Zealand Miles Of Happiness








New Zealand is well known for its dramatic lanscapes, especially thanks to The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit. What would you think about hiking in the dark atmosphere of Mordor? Characterized by an extending volcanic terrain, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a 19.4 kilometre journey among unique landforms and volcanic peaks.

6. Jump from the Kawarau Bungy Bridge

Do you have a healthy appetite for adrenaline? Although I do love extreme adventures, I have to admit I didn’t jump. I went there only to watch people jump, which is pretty nice as well, but everyone who did it was super excited – and still alive after!

7. Explore an amazing underwater world

Miles Of Happiness Starfish underwater

Sub-tropical reefs, clear water springs and wrecks are the spectacular foundation of hundreds of dive sites along the 15,000 km coastline of New Zealand. The seabed is filled with an amazing diversity of marine life. It’s one of the most beautiful hidden treasures of the country.

8. Go crazy in Queenstown’s Bike Park

There’s an awesome practice park for mountain bikers with a huge network of singletrack trails. You can play with berms, jumps and wooden logs. And once you’re really warmed-up, you can plan your Heli-Bike trip!

9. Go fishing in the countryside 

Lakes, rivers, backcountry streams and spring creeks are not just gorgeous in New Zealand, but they also offer fantastic opportunities to enjoy fishing at its very best. Fishing fanatics will be in their element here.

10. Go River Rafting

New Zealand has some of the best river rafting in the world. Paddling a raft down one of its spectacular rivers, negociating rapids and strong currents is a unique experience. And in addition to the great fun, you’ll enjoy wonderful scenery.

New Zealand is a Disneyland for adults! It truly is. I hope you’ll get the opportunity to explore this amazing country. By the way, here are the 10 things that will make your New Zealand trip worth it. And if you want to travel a bit, check out the video of my trip there!

Have done a New Zealand Road Trip?
Where in New Zealand would you most like to visit?

Join the Conversation


  1. says: Neysha

    Oooooh I like the tips on NZ, and although I find this very helpful… I can’t stop staring at the illustrations. Beautiful!

  2. says: Helena

    Your illustrations are absolutely beautiful! <3 Especially love the one of the surferbus and the starfish!

    I really liked the tips in your post as well. Don't have a trip planned to New Zealand at the moment but one day I plan to go there so I am definitely saving your post!

  3. says: Katie @ Second-Hand Hedgehog

    Beautiful illustrations – and a great list. I know what you mean about NZ being a country that captures your heart. I would love to go back someday. And I’m pleased to say there are a few things on this list I didn’t do, so I guess I’ll have to go back after all! 😉 I’m determined that someday I’ll conquer Mount Doom. (We managed the Tongariro Crossing, but the volcano defeated us. But not for ever!) Glad to hear you also fell for the country. Pretty sure I’m in love with it! 🙂

  4. says: Ryan Biddulph

    Dolphins, sea lions and whales? Wow Marie and Audrey that’s awesome! Abel Tasman Nat Park has popped up on my radar for a few days now; seeing it after doing the travel blogger rounds. Methinks it’s speaking to me. I did Fiji last year but a return trip to the region and NZ is most in order. Marked on my travel list 😉

    Thanks for the fun images guys!


  5. says: Hannah Wasielewski

    I’m planning a NZ road trip, hopefully in the next few months! South island is where I really want to go so great tips!

  6. says: Karen

    Also, hobbit village, Waitomo Caves, White Island boat tour, Swim with Dolphins, Milford Sound, Queenstown in snow.. Definitely go hiking (or tramping as we Kiwi’s say).

  7. says: Heather

    I love how many outdoor activities are on this list. I hate being cooped up in a car, but it seems like the amount of time spent outdoors would balance out all of the sitting!

  8. says: Sam

    Wow! What a cool idea to use illustrations instead of photos. Simple but so beautiful! When I eventually make it to NZ, I think I’d like to do all these things…except maybe the fishing and rafting!

  9. Incredible illustrations. What a talent. Queenstown is definitely the adventure capital. When I was in NZ, one of the highlights was a canyon swing. Think of a bungee, without necessarily going upside down or having the “snap” that most people think about with a bungee. So much fun. You’ll be so addicted you’ll want to jump twice.

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