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New Zealand Bucket Lists

Wildlife encounters – Bucket List

Wildlife encounters – Bucket List

New Zealand has a unique wildlife that you would be a fool to miss when spending your gap year down here.

Not only do we have more native species than you can count, most of those species are actually incredibly easy to get close to. Swimming with wild dolphins in their natural habitat can be a dream come true here, while others will be amazed by penguins, seals or gannet colonies. Spending hours watching the spectacle of nature take place right in front of your eyes will make your trip simply unforgettable.

Dolphin swimming

We like Kaikoura (South Island) and Paihia (North Island)
NZ$110 – NZ$140

Wild dolphins are playful and smart, so swimming with them at sea is pure joy! Usually the tours include a 2.5-3h cruise on the coast or between islands and 30min in the water with the dolphin pods.

Whale watching

Kaikoura (South Island)
NZ$130 – NZ$150

The largest mammal in its natural element is a treat to watch. The tours include at least 2.5h on the water to encounter many species such as dolphins, sharks, albatross and, of course, whales with a viewing rate of over 95%!

Kiwi encounters

All over New Zealand
NZ$15 – NZ$40

Description: The New Zealand national bird is shy, nocturnal and flightless. Viewing it in its natural habitat is nearly impossible. Many conservation centres open their doors to curious travellers for a great viewing experience.

Blue penguin colony

Oamaru (South Island)
NZ$24 – NZ$40

The smallest penguins of New Zealand are on a tight schedule. They come back from sea at the same time every evening. Seats have been installed near their path for a short (about 1h) but hilarious show.

Seal colonies

South Island

Almost every fishing village on the coast of the South Island has its own seal colony. Go early morning for more action and get on one of the many viewing points.

Shark cage diving

Stewart Island (South Island)
NZ$300 (Spectator) – NZ$630 (Dive)

Mix thrill and wildlife by jumping in the water with New Zealand rarest and most mysterious sea creature, the great white shark. Although this may be the most expensive activity you will do in New Zealand, you will get bragging rights for life. Time your trip right from January to June only.

Gannet colony

Muriwai (North Island) Cape Kidnappers (North Island)

Take a 3h tour or walk to the cliff to see more gannets than you can count. From April to August, the shores are full of gannets that tolerate humans very well, and are therefore very easy to get close to.

Glow worm caves

Glow worm caves

Waitomo Caves (North Island)
NZ$45 – NZ$250

Unique to New Zealand, you can find glowworms pretty much everywhere at night but the biggest concentration of them is in the Waitomo Caves. Take a slow boat tour around the cave or make it epic by taking a Black Water Rafting tour.