Simone nieuw zeeland Fox Glacier
Simone nieuw zeeland Fox Glacier

Sport and adventure in New Zealand

Are you searching for adventure or a specific active holiday? New Zealand is a perfect destination. The great outdoors is at the heart of New Zealanders everyday lives. Kiwis truly do make the most of their outstanding landscapes. And, you can’t blame them! From the sub-tropical Far North to the very end of the world (almost!) on Stewart Island, you won’t find anything like it.

Do you love cycling, hiking or sailing? Or would you rather spend every second day on the golf course? A holiday jam-packed with active things to see and do is for some travellers an absolute dream come true and for others, their worst nightmare. If you are the latter, this blog is probably not quite for you. Or maybe, we can change your mind?

Sailing boat on the ocean with the sun setting
Go sunset sailing in the Coromandel
Capture stunning views on New Zealand's cycling trails

Cycle your way through New Zealand

If you are a cycling enthusiast, we can organise a journey full of the best of New Zealand cycle trails. You can conquer these trails on your own or we can provide you with an expert local guide. Here are 4 of our favourite trails.

Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail

Be entertained by some of New Zealand’s most striking views on the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail. Starting from the base of New Zealand’s highest mountain - Aoraki/Mount Cook, past glacial lakes, rivers and ever-changing landscape to the coastal town of Oamaru. Conquer over 300 kilometres of trails between 4 and 8 days - how fast you want to go, is up to you!

Queen Charlotte Track

This 70-kilometre track began as a popular trail for hikers but has since opened for cyclists. Over 2 or 3 days, enjoy the ever-changing landscapes and spectacular views of the Queen Charlotte Sound. Your adventure starts with a magical boat trip from Picton to Ship Cove before it's time to hop on your bike!

Biking in Wanaka
Have you got what it takes to conquer the Alps 2 Ocean Trail??
© TravelEssence
Hike the Queen Charlotte Track | New Zealand active holiday
Soak up the views on the Queen Charlotte Track

West Coast Wilderness Trail

Cycle through the wilderness of the South Island’s remote and rugged West Coast. And, enjoy views of the snow-capped Southern Alps along the way. Complete the full West Coast Wilderness Trail in 4 days or select your favourite section for a grand day out.

Otago Rail Trail

The Otago Central Rail Trail follows an old 152-kilometre railway line through farmland, past rocky outcrops, lakes and historic gold mines. Stay at unique accommodation at every stop. You can finish the trail in 4 or 5 days, depending on your cycling speed and how much time you prefer to spend at local cafes, restaurants and vineyards along the trail.

A person cycling a trail in the wilderness
Explore the wilderness of the South Island's West Coast
Bike the Otago Rail Trail | New Zealand holiday
Cycle the 152-kilometre Otago Central Rail Trail

Are you a snow sports enthusiast?

The winter months in New Zealand are simply magical and no matter what your level is, there is an abundance of ski and snowboard areas to choose from. Imagine a bluebird day with fresh powder, can you think of anything better?


You can find Cardrona located between the popular alpine towns of Queenstown and Wanaka. A favourite for the locals with open trails and a terrain park.

Treble Cone

The largest ski area in the South Island and ideally located only 30 minutes drive from Wanaka. Benefit from long vertical runs, spectacular views and fewer crowds.

Snowy mountains by sunrise | New Zealand holiday
Hit the slopes at Cardrona Alpine Resort

Mount Hutt

A great option for all levels of experience, beautiful views over the Southern Alps and facilities for the children. You can reach Mount Hutt within 1.5 hours drive from Christchurch.

Coronet Peak

Soak up the stunning views of Lake Wakatipu, Lake Hayes and The Remarkables as you hit the slopes. This ski area is best suited for intermediate skiers and ideally located 20 minutes drive from Queenstown.

The Remarkables

Set 45 minutes drive from Queenstown, The Remarkables is family-friendly, the perfect place to learn to ski/snowboard and has a great terrain park.

Skiing at Mount Hutt | New Zealand active holiday
Mount Hutt is ideally located 1.5 hours from Christchurch

Explore the underwater world

Dive deep into the oceans of New Zealand, from World Heritage Sites to marine and nature reserves. Explore New Zealand’s best diving and snorkelling spots and unique underwater creatures.

Poor Knights Islands

New Zealand’s best diving location, the Poor Knights Islands should be at the top of your wish list. Located off the coast of Tutukaka, this World Heritage Site is over 11 million years old and home to unique flora and fauna both flourishing underwater and on the island.

Goat Island

Just over 1 hours’ drive north of Auckland, Goat Island Marine Reserve is bursting with underwater life. One of the best places to go snorkelling and if you are travelling with children, there is also a glass-bottom boat to enjoy. It’s also possible to dive here or walk the coastal walkways.

Diving at Poor Knights Islands | New Zealand adventurous holiday
Poor Knights Islands is New Zealand's best dive location

Cathedral Cove

Snorkel the sparkling blue waters of the Te-Whanganui-A-Hei-Marine Reserve. With an array of sea life and magnificent views of Cathedral Cove, it won’t be hard to slip into the laid back life on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Tatapouri Bay, Gisborne

Venture to the remote surf town of Gisborne, on the North Island’s east coast and be one of the first to see the new sun each day. At Tatapouri Bay, you can go snorkelling with stingrays. Watch the majestic creatures glide across the ocean floor and have the chance to feed and touch them.

View through a rock archway of Cathedral cove
Snorkel the sparkling blue waters of Cathedral Cove
© TravelEssence
Diving in Tatapouri | New Zealand active holiday
Have a close encounter with stingray

Perfect your golf swing

There is no shortage of golf courses in New Zealand, nearly 400 spread across the country. Not only world-class in quality but also in views and landscapes. From snow-capped mountains and lush forests to golden beaches and spectacular coastlines. Here are 4 of the best golf courses.

Kauri Cliffs

You can find Kauri Cliffs Golf Course in sub-tropical Northland. This world-class award-winning course is ranked in the Top 100 Golf Courses in the world and is designed to make the most of the spectacular Pacific Ocean views.

Wairakei International

Spend the day at Wairakei International, one of New Zealand’s most exclusive golf courses, where nature and golf blend together. Soak up the stunning views of Lake Taupo and 180-hectares of rolling countryside.

Soak up the views at Kauri Cliffs Golf Course

Cape Kidnappers

Cape Kidnappers is a truly unique cliff-top golf course in the sunny Hawke’s Bay. Designed by famous golf architect Tom Doak and ranked amongst the Top 100 Golf Courses in the world.

Tara Iti

Set an hours’ drive from Auckland in magical Mangawhai is Tara Iti Golf Course. Ranked as New Zealand’s best golf course, and the views aren’t bad either. Enjoy striking coastal views of Little Barrier, Great Barrier, Mokohinau and Tauranga Islands.

Stunning Seaview | New Zealand nature
Putt for birdie at Cape Kidnappers Golf Course

Set sail in New Zealand

New Zealanders absolutely love the water and all activities that involve it, especially sailing. That shouldn’t come as a surprise with 15,000 kilometres of coastline. Surrounded by the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean, you are never too far away from the ocean.

Bay of Islands

Experience the magic of the Bay of Islands, a natural playground with over 140 sub-tropical islands waiting to be explored. And of course, the best way to discover the secluded bays, dramatic coastline, crystal blue waters and marine wildlife including dolphins, is by boat. Whether you prefer sailing yourself or jumping on board with a captain - it’s your choice! We can organise both options for you.


Auckland is a world-class sailing destination and is in fact known as “The City of Sails”. With Team New Zealand hosting the 2021 America's Cup in the Hauraki Gulf, there is more of a buzz than ever around sailing. Explore more than 50 islands dotted around the Hauraki Gulf including Waiheke Island, sail under the iconic Harbour Bridge or spend the night on board at Browns Island.

Go sailing in New Zealand | New Zealand active holiday
Sail on a historic sailing yacht in the Hauraki Gulf
Explore 140 sub-tropical islands in the Bay of Islands


Spend your days on the glistening waters of the Coromandel Peninsula. Whether it’s cruising past the famous Cathedral Cove, jumping off the boat to go snorkelling, sailing around Mercury Island or testing your skills on an America’s Cup foiling catamaran. Experience the quintessential Kiwi beach lifestyle and join the locals on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Abel Tasman

Set sail on a catamaran through the crystal blue waters of Abel Tasman National Park. Discover secluded bays, islands, golden beaches, and marine life such as seals, penguins and dolphins. Join captain Rod for an exclusive boat charter. Listen to his stories about the region and the environment, go snorkelling and simply relax.

A yellow and white sailing boat on clear turquoise water
Set sail in the Coromandel
© TravelEssence

Conquer New Zealand’s spectacular hikes

New Zealand is full of spectacular walking tracks. From easy-going day hikes to adventurous multi-day hikes, there is a range of options to suit all experience levels. While there are simply too many to choose from, here a few of our favourites.

Tongariro Northern Circuit

Put your hiking boots on and discover the dramatic volcanic landscape of Tongariro National Park. The 43.1km Tongariro Northern Circuit leads you through glacial valleys, native forest, alpine meadows and past stunning lakes and mountains. In three or four days you will hike through the World Heritage Area past Mount Tongariro, Mount Ruapehu and Mount Ngauruhoe.

Routeburn Track

Experienced walkers often place the Routeburn Track on the list of the ‘most beautiful walks in the world’. This three-day Great Walk is located in the South Island of New Zealand and offers a large diversity of landscapes. The 32km hike guides you through the wilderness of Mount Aspiring and Fiordland National Parks. Be treated to spectacular views at the highest point of 1,255 metres above sea level.

Hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing | New Zealand active holiday
Tongariro Alpine Crossing is one of the best day hikes in the world
Routeburn Track | New Zealand active holiday
Hike the Routeburn Track over 3 days with a local guide
© Linda van den Berg

Milford Track

Also part of the iconic ‘Great Walks’ of New Zealand - the Milford Track is a favourite for many. This 55km walk is located in the Fiordland National Park and starts with a scenic boat trip across Lake Te Anau. Over four days you will pass valleys, glaciers, rainforest, crystal clear lakes, waterfalls and the most impressive, Milford Sound. Spot native birds, penguins seals and dolphins during your hike.

Abel Tasman Coast Track

Abel Tasman is a coastal paradise featuring granite and marble rock formations. Explore the coastline and lush native forest by foot, together with a local guide, learning about the rich biodiversity and Maori history. Discover secluded bays, golden beaches, and marine life such as seals, penguins and dolphins as you walk the 60km track. Feeling warm? Take a break and cool off with a swim.

Two people sitting on a rock while hiking near water and mountainous forest
Walk the Milford Track in 4 or 5 days
Bay of golden sand and turquoise water | New Zealand nature
Explore the coastline of Abel Tasman National Park
© TravelEssence

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Ready for the holiday of a lifetime?

Discover a world beyond ordinary

At TravelEssence, we specialise in crafting custom-made holidays that take you off the beaten path and create memories to last a lifetime. We believe in connecting with the heart and soul of a place, introducing you to the locals who call it home. Engage in conversations with fascinating individuals who will share their stories, traditions, and way of life, leaving an indelible mark on your journey.