New Zealand Travel Bucket List

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For a long time, we had discussed moving to New Zealand. We knew it was not going to be easy and yet, we are in the country. Now is the time to put our New Zealand Travel Bucket List into action. Having a bucket list is one thing, but actually following through is another. Here is my New Zealand Travel Bucket list. Let’s see how much I can cross off in the next 2 to 5 years.


Here are my 7 ideas for my New Zealand Bucket List. I hope you enjoy the items on this list as I do.

New Zealand Cities

For most of my life, I have mostly only ever known Auckland City. Auckland is the most densely populated city in the whole of the North Island of New Zealand. With over 1.4 million residents. Many things have changed since I have been in England. So, getting used to my old city will be a worthwhile challenge.


Just as London is the Capital of the UK, Wellington is the Capital of New Zealand. I have been to London, UK, many times. I have never really been to Wellington. So I think now is the time to put Wellington firmly on that list. Despite Wellington being the Capital, of New Zealand, it only has a population density of 400,000.

Some New Zealand City Population Facts

Here are the biggest cities in New Zealand and their estimated City population densities in either Millions or Hundred-thousand(s).

  • Auckland (North Islands): Estimated 1.4 Million
  • Wellington (North Islands): Estimated 400,000
  • Christchurch (South Islands): Estimated 390,000
  • Hamilton (North Islands): Estimated 180,000
  • Hawks Bay: (North Islands): Estimated 180,000
  • Tauranga (North Islands): Estimated 140,000
  • Dunedin (South Islands): Estimated 130,000
  • Lower Hutt: (North Islands): Estimated 110,00
  • New Plymouth (North Islands): Estimated 84,000
  • Nelson (North Islands): Estimated 52,900

The size of New Zealand’s overall landmass is equal to the UK. New Zealand is 7.82% (between 4.9m to 5.1m) of the UK’s Population which is currently 69 Million.

Yet, what New Zealand lack in one area, makes up for it more unexplored and untouched wilderness. So New Zealand has one of the most scenic and sought-after vacation locations to visit in a lifetime.

Queenstown New Zealand

Queenstown New Zealand is one of the major filming locations for the Lord of the Rings movies. Those being: Isengard, Amon Hen, Lothlorien Forest, The Misty Mountains, and Ithilien.

This is one location that my husband will most definitely want to visit. I am a big Hobbit and Lord of The Rings movie fan.


Queenstown also has a great variety of 150 restaurants, bars, and cafes. Which can set your taste buds alight for all of the food and drink which Queenstown has to offer.

Queenstown is a hub for extreme water sports and Bungie jumpers. You could take a scenic helicopter ride over Queenstown’s Lord Of The Rings locations, which may be inaccessible on foot.

Dunedin New Zealand

Dunedin or Dùn Èideann, which is Gaelic for Edinburgh is located around the basin of an extinct volcano.

The city was originally settled by Scottish miners looking for a new life. Dunedin thrives on strong tourism and the import industry.

Dunedin is also the gateway to the Otago region, where are lots of great lakes and small towns to visit; as your make your way around the South Islands of New Zealand.


On the Southside of Dunedin is the Royal Albatross Centre for Wildlife conservation. Blue Penguins are also known to nest there.

Because this is a wildlife conservation zone, the public can only get close via the observation point. If you are a bird watcher, then this is an ideal place to come and visit.

However, the tours start at 9 pm at night when the Penguins come ashore to nest. Just north of Dunedin is where they filmed the chase scene in the 1st Hobbit movie, where the Dwarfs were being chased by the Orcs. There was no CGI in the scenery, just the orcs and their WORG’s (orc dogs)

Hobbiton New Zealand

A dream come true of you want to visit the place known as the Shire from Middle-Earth, The Hobbit, and The Lord of The Rings.

You can also get to visit theGreen Dragon’ at the end of your Hobbiton tour. This was a dream come true for my family.

My husband watches the movies numerous times and had always said he wanted to go there one day.


Hobbiton Movie Set is located near a small town called Matamata in the North Islands of New Zealand. Which is 159.9km (99 miles) from Auckland heading in a southeasterly direction.

The Hobbiton Movie Set is in the middle of a 14,000-acre sheep farm owned by the Alexander family. One brother looks after the sheep farm, while the 2nd brother has taken care of the Movie set on behalf of Weta Workshop (Peter Jackson movie studio). So don’t be surprised if you see lots of sheep when you head up to the ‘Movie set’ via minibus.

Lake Wanaka New Zealand

During the Summer, Lake Wanaka is abuzz with sports athletes heading the Challenge Wanaka triathlon.

During the winter months, Lake Wanaka will have snow sports enthusiasts flocking their en route to Mount Cardrona. A popular ski resort in the South Islands.


From the image above, who would have thought that a tree could thrive in the middle of a lake. Well, this one can and it is known as the Lonely Tree. In the photo above, the tide has gone out and the roots are bare.

It is often a wondrous place to visit and surrounded by high snow-capped mounts as far as the eye can see. If you like to eat, there are plenty of restaurants, bars, and cafes for the whole family to find a great evening meal.

Milford Sound New Zealand

Milford Sound is one of the last New Zealand frontiers which has been left untouched and where freshwater meets the ocean beneath.

One of many idyllic and most scenic areas of New Zealand which has remained virtually untouched by mankind.

Access to Milford Sound can either by boat and or by cruise ship. Although the only remaining road in and out Milford is restricted to access only.


If you wish to stay in a hotel, it can cost between $91 NZ Dollars per night for a 3 star Hotel, or $191 for a 5 star hotel. Costs can vary, it does depend on the level of adventure and experience you are looking for.

Aoraki Mount Cook New Zealand

If you loved or enjoyed the scenery from the Hobbit Movies and want to find Erebor the home of the Dwarfs, then look no further than Aoraki Mount Cook.

Not too far from Mount Cook is Lake Pukaki (aka Lake Town) from the movie ‘The Desolation of Smaug’. Mount Cook is the highest peak in New Zealand, which stands at 12,316 feet [3,754 meters] tall.


These are the places that I have added to my bucket list and I wish I had more space to add more.

For now, I will settle for just these 7 locations and decide to add or take away as I cross items from my bucket list. I hope you enjoyed reading this list, just as much as I learned from writing and compiling this list.

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    1. Thank you Kim,

      We are excited to finally be in New Zealand after a lot of heartache and planning for the last 2 years (before the pandemic hit). Once we get out of Managed Isolation, we can begin to work our bucket list. There will be plenty of time to work on this bucket list and put our family plans back into action. I hope you enjoy our New Zealand adventures.


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