Top free things to do around New Zealand

It’s true: New Zealand can be an expensive place to visit. But there are definitely some free natural attractions to add to your itinerary. Here’s 9 free things to do/sights to see around New Zealand that I can vouch for.

Tane Mahuta, lord of the Waipoua Forest in Northland, NZ - NZ Muse


See Tāne Mahuta, our largest living kauri tree

It’s just a short walk through the Waipoua Forest to Tāne Mahuta, aka, Lord of the Forest. Stick to the walking tracks; the environment is delicate.

It’s free to visit; that said, the Footprints Waipoua tour is quite amazing, with Māori guides sharing songs, stories and insights.
Mt Eden summit crater - Climb a volcano!


Climb a volcanic cone

You can absolutely take your pick, but Mt Eden is a popular one close to the CBD, complete with panoramic views and a neat crater at the summit.

Cathedral Cove - a must-visit in the Coromandel


Cathedral Cove

Magical is the only word to describe this beach. It’s a bit of a hike to get to Cathedral Cove, but more than worth it.

And a little further down the Coromandel coastline lies Hot Water Beach. At low tide you can dig your own hot water spa pool in the sand. But get there early and stake out your patch. Maybe bring a gang.


Huka Falls

The Huka Falls are our most-visited natural attraction. The roar and spectacle of the thundering waterfalls are just spectacular.


Te Papa

Our national museum is an absolute must-see, and entry is free. DO IT.


Milford Rd/Milford Sound

The Milford Rd leading into Milford Sound is just bursting with amazing sights around every corner. Waterfalls, the Homer Tunnel, the Mirror Lakes, the Chasm … the journey itself really is half the pleasure.

That said, you really need to take a cruise to see the best of Milford Sound (or a scenic flight, perhaps?), otherwise you’re just chilling at the end of a really long dead end, picturesque as it is. More on that part of our South Island road trip.

Pancake rocks at Punakaiki - NZ Muse

West Coast


At high tide, the ocean sprays up through blowholes at the ‘Pancake Rocks’. There’s a lovely cafe across the road, too. Then drive north along the Great Coast Road; the stretch between Westport and Greymouth has been voted one of the top 10 coastal drives in the world by Lonely Planet. More on that part of our South Island road trip.


Nugget Point

Around Nugget Point you can spot yellow eyed penguins if you time it right. Plus, the coastline is magnificent. More on that part of our South Island trip.



Baldwin St

Said to be the world’s steepest street, the sheer angle of Baldwin St is a bit mind-boggling.

5 thoughts on “Top free things to do around New Zealand

  • Reply Leigh June 16, 2015 at 13:32

    We loved New Zealand, so much! We made it to most of the places on your list, some accidentally. The only ones we missed were Coromandel and the West Coast. One can only do so much in one trip though!

  • Reply Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank June 16, 2015 at 23:38

    For me, NZ is one of the coolest places on Earth to visit. I wonder when I can visit the place.

  • Reply Holly@ClubThrifty June 18, 2015 at 01:02

    Beautiful pics! I would love to visit New Zealand one day! The plane right is just so far.

  • Reply The Asian Pear June 18, 2015 at 01:53

    I SO wish I could have fit south NZ to my trip. Oh well… Next time. I plan for a second visit to south NZ + side trip to Melbourne in a few years.

    I think while in Auckland, I’m going to hit up Rangitoto Island and/or Waiheke Island pending weather. Maybe even hit up both on the same day if I leave early enough (like morning in Rangitoto for a 2hr hike and then Waiheke Island for the afternoon.)

  • Reply Lake Toba May 10, 2022 at 19:31

    Auckland is really good place Nice photos friend!

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