2024 travel planner: 10 of the best things to do in NZ this year

Lorna Thornber
18 January 2024

Stuff Travel

January 19, 2024

If you think you’ve “done” New Zealand, you’re disillusioned. So many new things to do crop up each year, you’d need to take a lengthy annual tour of the motu to experience them all.

Here are 10 of the best new attractions to visit in 2024. Share your favourite finds in the comments.

Pounamu Pathway, West Coast

Developed by the Poutini Ngāi Tahu iwi and Wētā Workshop, this $34.87 million attraction will take you on a journey back through 1000 years of history as you make your way along the West Coast.

The first of the four immersive and interconnected visitor centres along the pathway opened in Greymouth/Māwhera in December and the next, in Westport/Kawatiri, is set to open this January. The two others will be in Haast/Awarua and Hokitika.

With architectural designs featuring tribal patterns and master carving, the centres will tell Poutini Ngāi Tahu and West Coast stories with audio visuals worthy of a Lord of the Rings movie.

Wētā Workshop’s creative development producer, Jason Aldous, told The Press there’s nothing else like it in New Zealand - or the world for that matter.

The Venice of the Coromandel by boat, Whitianga

Coromandel’s beaches are world famous in New Zealand for good reason, but far fewer visitors know about its network of canals.

You can have a nosey at Whitianga Waterways, a canal development lined with luxury homes with landscaped gardens and private jetties, on a new 1.5-hour cruise with Mercury Bay Discoveries.

Travelling on an eco-friendly catamaran, you’ll also pass landmarks such as the Ferry Landing Wharf, an old pā site and Back Bay as the skipper fills you in on the fascinating history of the area.

Queenstown’s luxe new dining precinct

Set on one of the first farms in the area, an expansive mountain-backed property, Ayrburn was opened to considerable fanfare in December.

Renovated old buildings serve as atmospheric settings for venues such as The Woolshed, where you can tuck into hearty, wholesome meals by an open fire, and the casually chic Burr Bar.

Wine bar The Manure Room, ice cream haven The Dairy and central lawn The Dell are among the other venues, with fine dining restaurant Billy’s, a bakehouse, traditional butchery and private function space set to open in 2024.

Tea at 2020 metres, Ruapehu

Billed as “quite possibly the highest tea in the world”, Mt Ruapehu’s newest summer experience will see you ride the gondola to 2020m above sea level, where you’ll sit down to a traditional high tea at Knoll Ridge Chalet.

Look forward to a bird’s eye view of Tongaririo National Park’s waterfalls and lava flows on the 1.8km journey up - and to sweet and savoury treats served on a three-tier cake stand up top. Think scones with jam and cream, sweet pastries and slices, a hot savoury item, and sandwiches.

Kaikōura EcoZip Adventures

From the eco-conscious team behind EcoZip Adventures on Auckland’s Waiheke Island, this new ziplining experience, sees visitors fly across 2.2km of high wires offering increasingly spectacular views of the Seaward Kaikōra Ranges and the sea.

Based on Rakanui Station, a 1200-hectare working farm, the attraction features five separate ziplines ranging from 250 to 610 metres in length.

Sunflower fields, Waikato

You don’t have to go to the south of France to see a sea of sunflowers - just head to Kaipaki Sunflowers in the Waikato’s Ōhaupō.

Opened in January, the fields, on a lifestyle farm at 176 Kaipaki Road, are albeit guaranteed to become a new Instagram hot spot.

Wharehuanui Trail, Queenstown

Connecting the old gold mining town of Arrowtown with the Queenstown suburb of Arthurs Point, this 17km bike trail snakes its way along the base of Coronet Peak.

Created by Queenstown Trails and set to open in February, the new trail will eventually continue from Arthurs Point to the Lower Shotover Gorge, passing through an old gold mining tunnel and across a new bridge over the Shotover River. It will also connect with the Arthurs Point to central Queenstown route opening in March.

Luxe new Auckland hotels

The new waterfront Intercontinental Auckland, with its rooftop bar and Waitematā Harbour views, is among a spate of luxury hotels to pop up in the City of Sails in late 2023 and 2024.

Accepting reservations from January 30, the five-star hotel offers direct access to the Commercial Bay shopping and dining precinct.

Come March, another new five-star hotel, Horizon, will open at SkyCity, with all the on-your-doorstep attractions and dining and drinking destinations that affords.

The Abstract, an upscale mix of hotel rooms and apartments with access to a spa, on-site gym, restaurant, private bar, co-working spaces and club lounge in upper Queen Street, is also set to open this year, along with the boutique Hotel Indigo, part of the IHG Group, and art deco-inspired Soho Hotel near Mt Roskill.

Helicopter to a hot tub, Mackenzie

See Aoraki/Mt Cook from on high before retreating to a private mountain hot tub for a soak.

Mackenzie Helicopters’ new half-day tour includes two alpine landings and will see you toast the sunrise over the mountains or spectacular lake view with a glass of bubbles and platter as you relax in the warm spring water. Save time for the unique “hole-in-one challenge”.

Go on safari in Dunedin

Travel through the Otago Peninsula to a more than 180-year-old farm in Cape Sanders where you’ll have the opportunity to see native sea lions, fur seals, yellow-eyed penguins and a variety of sea and wading birds.

New family-run operator Clearwater Wildlife Tours will take you to breeding grounds for sea lions and yellow-eyed penguins, and give you the chance to explore a secluded beach before being dropped back at your pick-up point.

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