The Insider’s Guide: 5 Ways to Get to Know the Real New Zealand

So you’re headed “Down Under” and you want to experience New Zealand like the locals do?  We’ve got you covered with all the must-see things to see and do on your trip.

Read on for a roundup of five authentic activities to add to your New Zealand itinerary.

1. Experience a Haka

Many people see their first haka at an All Blacks rugby game. However, there are many places to witness this ancient Maori war dance ritual, which embodies the passion and power of the vibrant indigenous people of New Zealand.

Depending on the venue, you may even have the chance to participate in one—a true “bucket list” experience.

2. Nosh on New Zealand Lamb

New Zealand is known all over the planet for its tender and succulent lamb. However, this is just one example of the quintessential cuisine awaiting you in New Zealand. Kiwis also love their crayfish, mussels, fish and chips, “barbie,” mince pies, and artisan cheese.

And make sure to wash it down with a local Sauvignon Blanc or other selection from one of New Zealand’s world-class wine regions.

3. Hit the Road

New Zealand boasts some truly spectacular scenery. One of the best ways to take it all in like a local? If you don’t have access to a car, New Zealand is home to a vast intercity bus system stretching from the North to the South Island.

From bustling metropolises like Auckland and Wellington to off-the-beaten destinations like Rotorua and Wanaka, Kiwis know that there’s no adventure quite like a good, old-fashioned road trip.

4. Take the Ferry

While New Zealand’s roadways have abundant allures, your trip to New Zealand won’t be complete without taking the ferry. Many locals travel between the North and South Island via ferry.

While both the Bluebridge and the Interislander ferries will hook you up with everything from free Wi-Fi to refreshments for the 3.5-hour trip, you may not need them. You’ll be too busy taking in the breathtaking views of the Marlborough Sounds islands as you coast through the Cook Straight.

5. Catch Sight of a Kiwi

New Zealand is renowned for its wildlife, and its iconic wild kiwi birds are regarded as a national treasure. They’re also incredibly elusive.

However, there are some places where you’re more likely to see one of these endangered flightless birds for yourself—either in the wild or at a reserve. These include Stewart Island, Kiwi Birdlife Park, and the Franz Josef Wildlife Centre.