7 Things To Do In New Zealand (For Free!)

New Zealand is one of the most magical places on earth. But not only is it a million miles from anywhere (well, most places), it’s also pretty expensive. But don’t fret. Once you’re there, there are plenty of incredible things to do in New Zealand that won’t cost you a penny.

1 – HIKE HIKE HIKE

Goes without saying really.  New Zealand is hands-down one of the best places on earth for a nature-lover and exploring the great outdoors on two feet costs nothing!.  Not only do you have mountains, lakes, glaciers, forests and beaches (and that’s just the beginning), it’s all pretty close together, super-accessible, and, for the most part, completely free.  The Department of Conservation (DoC) are doing a pretty impressive job maintaining trails, providing toilets and water, as well as other amenities like picnic tables and so on, and aside from a few places which you need to pay for a guide or a cruise to get really up close to (the glaciers/Milford Sound), for the most part you can explore to your hearts content on foot, for free.

2 – DIG YOUR OWN THERMAL BATH

Just a couple of hours drive (and a lovely one at that) from Auckland, on the Coromandel Peninsula, is a beach unlike any other.  Dig a hole and if you hit the right spot, you’ll be rewarded with hot spring water!  Yes, on a busy day you might be competing with one or two (hundred) other tourists doing the same, but it’s worth it!  Find a little pocket of hot water, make a little pool and bask in lovely warm water – on a beach! There’s nowhere like it.  And it’s free!

3 – SWIM IN A HOT RIVER

After digging a hole to find water, a little further south is an even more incredible spot.  This is hands down one of my favourite things to do in New Zeland. The aptly named Kerosene Creek is a beautiful picturesque river just outside of Rotorua that is fed by thermal springs.  As if nature somehow conspired to make it perfect, the river flows in such a way to create pools deep enough to swim and stand in, at a delightful 38 degrees (ish).  Best of all – unlike the nearby (paid) thermal attractions, this one is relatively unheard of, not too busy, and best of all – free.

4 – GET THAT INSTAGRAM PHOTO

Yeah it’s “that” IG photo that everyone gets when they go to New Zealand.  But it’s kinda gotta be done.  Roys Peak is a day-long hike just outside of Wanaka. It’s genuinely stunning and the photo is impressive, even if you do have to queue up for it…!  There are some other equally stunning spots in my opinion but this is a must!

5 – SWIM IN A STUNNING LAKE

New Zealand’s lakes are truly a sight to behold.  Glacial lakes like Pukaki and Tekapo are particularly stunning – fine powdered rock from the glacier gives them an emerald/turquoise hue and the water is wonderfully clean.  The DoC campsite at Lake Pukaki is a great place to spend a day (and a night – the campsite is free!) lounging by the lake.  And stay for the sunset!

6 – SPOT A DOLPHIN

The East Coast of the South Island is home to whales, seals, dolphins and even penguins!  If you are luck you might see all four from the shore! The road from Picton to Christchurch around Kaikoura is a hotspot so keep an eye out and if possible stop and take a look (the free site just outside of Kaikoura is a good place to base yourself) and if you’re lucky, as well as seals and dolphins, you might even spot a whale and possibly even a penguin!

7 – MUSEUMS GALORE

Museums in New Zealand vary from incredibly interesting to mindlessly boring.  And there are so many!  Every little town has some museum about it’s allegedly “fascinating” history.  One of the most genuinely interesting museums though is in Wellington – Te Papa has some awesome exhibits including some pretty modern tech – even holograms!  It tells the geological and human history of New Zealand and is definitely worth a stop off.  Also, it costs nothing.

If you think I’ve missed anything or have any comments please leave them below!

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