Best things to do in New Zealand with teens

When you purchase through links on our site we may earn a commission, Learn More >>

New Zealand is an adventure waiting to happen. It’s calling all adrenaline-hungry teens.

This island nation boasts epic landscapes, heart-pounding activities, and unique cultural experiences that will blow your mind. Imagine surfing epic breaks, exploring glowworm caves, or even skydiving above glaciers.

Ready to ditch the ordinary and embrace the extraordinary in New Zealand with teens!

Here’s a list of the top 7 places and adventures that teens must do in New Zealand. Visiting these places is guaranteed to make your trip unforgettable.

teens in New Zealand surfing and skiing
New Zealand with Teens Adventures

These experiences will take you from majestic glaciers to hidden beaches, all while exposing you to New Zealand’s unique culture. So, pack your bags, and get ready for an adventure of a lifetime in New Zealand with teens!

With cheap campervan hire easily available, families and young adults can easily cover these iconic attractions at your own pace, making for a memorable and budget-friendly trip.

Conquering the Mighty Franz Josef Glacier: An Epic Adventure for Teens in New Zealand

Craving an epic adventure you won’t find anywhere else? Look no further than the Franz Josef Glacier on New Zealand’s South Island! This colossal wall of ice is a must-do for thrill-seeking teens.

a helicopter landing on  Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand with teens
An unforgettable experience awaits for teens in New Zealand

Imagine strapping on crampons and trekking across the glacier’s icy surface, surrounded by towering peaks and majestic waterfalls. For an even bigger adrenaline rush, try heli-hiking – a helicopter whisks you up to a hidden section of the glacier for an unforgettable guided exploration.

Beyond the Hike:

  • Helicopter Sightseeing: Soar above the glacier and witness its breathtaking scale from a bird’s-eye view.
  • Glacier Hot Pools: After a day of icy adventure, unwind in natural hot pools fed by the glacier – the perfect way to soothe tired muscles. Some pools even offer a touch of luxury with private options available.

Planning Your Franz Josef Glacier Adventure:

  • Best Time to Visit: Aim for the summer months between November and February for the most comfortable hiking conditions.
  • How to Get There: Fly into Christchurch International Airport and continue your journey to the glacier by road (scenic drive!) or air.
  • Accommodation: Many hotels and motels cater to visitors near the glacier, offering comfortable stays after your epic adventure.

Insider Tip: Franz Josef Glacier is just the beginning! New Zealand offers many other adventure activities for teens, from white-water rafting to black-water rafting.

Ready to conquer Franz Josef Glacier and experience the thrill of New Zealand? Start planning your unforgettable adventure today!

Dive into a Fjord Paradise: Unveiling Milford Sound for Teens in New Zealand

Milford Sound on New Zealand’s South Island is an awe-inspiring fiord (picture a super narrow inlet shaped by glaciers) just waiting for adventurous teens to discover its wonders.

teenagers kayaking on Milford Sound
The amazing Milford Sound

With towering cliffs, stunning waterfalls, and marine life like seals and dolphins adding to the magic, it’s a must-visit destination for nature lovers.

Beyond the Scenery:

  • Kayaking Adventure: Paddle beneath the mighty Mitre Peak for an up-close encounter with the fiord’s beauty. Imagine spotting playful dolphins or curious penguins as you kayak through the crystal-clear waters.
  • Scenic Boat Tour: Cruise through Milford Sound and soak in the stunning scenery from the comfort of a boat. Keep your eyes peeled for waterfalls cascading down the cliffs and wildlife swimming alongside your vessel.

Insider Tip: For a truly unique experience, consider a nighttime cruise on Milford Sound. Gazing at the star-filled sky reflected on the calm water is an unforgettable sight.

Planning Your Milford Sound Escape:

standing in front of a stunning waterfall in Milford Sound
Taking in a stunning waterfall in Milford Sound
  • Best Time to Visit: Winter (June to August) offers fewer crowds and a dramatic snowy landscape, but summer provides warmer weather for kayaking. Choose what suits your adventure style!
  • How to Get There: Fly into Queenstown Airport and then travel to Milford Sound by road (scenic!) or take a day tour for a bird’s-eye view.
  • Accommodation: Cozy lodges and retreats near Milford Sound offer comfortable stays after your exploration.

Ready to trade ordinary beaches for a fiord adventure? Milford Sound awaits!

Conquering Waves and Cliffs: Unleash Your Inner Adventurer at Piha Beach

Piha Beach on Auckland’s rugged west coast is shouting out to all you thrill-seeking teens! This isn’t just any beach, Piha with its massive sea stacks and black sand is stunning.

blacksand and sea stacks at Piha Beach in New Zealand
Piha is a fantastic spot to visit on holiday in New Zealand

Surf’s Up!

  • Learn to Shred: Piha is a world-renowned surfing destination. Imagine catching your first wave and riding the power of the Pacific Ocean! Sign up for lessons with experienced instructors and conquer the waves like a pro.
  • Test Your Skills: For seasoned surfers, Piha offers challenging breaks that will put your balance and technique to the test. Feeling brave? Tackle the legendary “Legend” break for an unforgettable surfing experience.

Beyond the Surf:

  • Canyoning: Gear up for an epic adventure at Piha Canyon! Imagine abseiling over Kitekite Falls and exploring narrow slot canyons. But there’s more! Discover caves, take thrilling jumps, and cool off in natural rock pools. It’s an adrenaline-packed journey you won’t forget!

Planning Your Piha Escape:

  • Best Time to Visit: Shoulder seasons (November and April) offer pleasant weather for both surfing and exploring the surrounding area.
  • Getting There: Fly into Auckland Airport and then travel to Piha on a scenic coastal drive to experience its wild beauty. We highly recommend Discovery Cars for car rental.
  • Accommodation: Piha has little accommodation except for a few guest houses and caravan parks. You are best off staying in Auckland and making the short day trip.

Food Tip for Piha

We called in at the Piha Store and tried some homemade Pies. The pastry was crisp, and the meat was soft and tender.

Are you ready to swap sun loungers for surfboards and challenge yourself on New Zealand’s untamed coast? Piha Beach awaits!

Rotorua: Where Adventure Meets Maori Culture (Perfect for Teenagers!)

Rotorua simmers with geothermal wonders, Maori culture, and enough adventure to keep even the most restless teen on their toes.

This geothermal wonderland on New Zealand’s North Island is a place where bubbling mud pools plop, geysers erupt skyward, and thrilling activities await around every corner.

The cable car in Rotorua
The Gondola ride in Rotorua

Geothermal Action:

  • Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland: Explore a bizarre and colourful landscape filled with natural geysers, steaming craters, and hot mud pools. Feel the heat radiating from the ground and witness Mother Nature’s power firsthand. This “otherworldly” experience is sure to blow your mind!
  • Waitomo Caves: Embark on a magical glowworm cave tour. Imagine floating through caverns illuminated by millions of tiny glowworms, creating a breathtaking display that looks like a starry night sky underground.

Rotorua Night Market

The Rotorua Night Market springs into action every Thursday night with food trucks and street performers on Tutanekai Street.

Thrill-Seeking Adventures:

  • Skyline Rotorua: Soar above the treetops on the Skyline Gondola and experience breathtaking views of Rotorua. Once at the top, choose from various exhilarating activities such as luge rides, ziplining, or mountain biking. It’s an adventure you’ll remember forever!
  • Zorbing: Strap into a giant inflatable Zorb ball and roll down a hill – what’s not to love? This hilarious and slightly terrifying activity is guaranteed to create unforgettable memories.

Cultural Encounters:

  • Whakarewarewa, Maori Village: Immerse yourself in Maori culture at a traditional Maori village. Witness cultural performances, learn about their rich history and traditions, and even try a hangi (a Maori earth oven meal cooked underground).
A traditional performance of Maori dancing and music in Rotorua
Traditional Maori Dance

Planning Your Rotorua Escape:

  • Best Time to Visit: Rotorua is a year-round destination, but summer (December to February) offers the warmest weather for outdoor activities.
  • How to Get There: Fly into Rotorua Airport , Drive from Auckland or Wellington or take a scenic bus ride from nearby Taupo.
  • Accommodation: Rotorua offers a variety of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious spa hotels. Quest Rotorua Central is a great choice. Choose what suits your style and budget!

Rotorua is a place where Maori culture, geothermal wonders, and heart-pounding adventures collide. Are you ready to experience it all?

Queenstown: The Adrenaline Capital of New Zealand (Calling All Thrill-Seekers!)

Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island isn’t your average tourist destination – it’s a haven for thrill-seeking teenagers!

This adventure playground boasts heart-stopping activities, jaw-dropping scenery, and a non-stop buzz that will keep you on your toes.

Challenge Accepted:

  • Bungee Jump Off a Bridge (Literally): Queenstown is the bungee jumping capital of the world! Take the plunge from the Kawarau Bridge and experience the ultimate adrenaline rush as you freefall towards the river below. Not for the faint of heart, but bragging rights guaranteed!
  • Jet Boat Through a Canyon: Hold on tight for a white-knuckle jet boat adventure through the narrow canyons of the Shotover or Dart Rivers. Skim past rocky outcrops, navigate thrilling rapids, and get soaked in the spray – it’s an exhilarating way to experience the power of nature.
families on a chair lift at the sky luuge in Queenstown New Zealand
Ready to take on the Skyline Luge
  • Skyline Gondola and Luge: Soar up Bob’s Peak on the gondola and take in panoramic views of the Remarkables mountain range. Then, put your driving skills to the test on the thrilling Skyline Luge – a gravity-powered ride that winds down the mountainside.

Beyond the Thrill:

  • Ziplining Through Forests: Zoom through native forests on a zipline course, feeling the wind in your hair and adrenaline pumping. Imagine soaring between treetops and getting a bird’s-eye view of the surrounding landscape.
  • Mountain Biking Trails: Test your skills on world-class mountain bike trails that cater to all levels. Queenstown has something for every rider from scenic single-tracks to heart-pounding downhill courses.
  • Relaxation (Kind Of): After a day of adventure, unwind at the Queenstown Ice Arena for a ice skating session, or soak in the views from the top of Queenstown Hill.

Planning Your Queenstown Escape:

  • Best Time to Visit: Summer (December to February) offers warm weather for outdoor activities, but winter (June to August) allows for skiing and snowboarding on nearby mountains. Choose your adventure!
  • How to Get There: Fly into Queenstown Airport, conveniently located right in the heart of the action.
  • Accommodation: Queenstown offers a variety of accommodation options, from funky hostels to luxurious lakeside hotels. Find a place that fits your vibe and budget.

Queenstown is the ultimate destination for thrill-seeking teenagers. Get ready for heart-pounding adventures, stunning scenery, and a non-stop buzz that will leave you wanting more!

Are you looking to spend some more time in Queenstown? We have a personalised guide on the best things to do in Queenstown with Teens.

Nelson: Nature’s Playground with a Touch of Urban Cool

Nelson, at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, isn’t just another pretty city. Sure, it boasts a charming waterfront, award-winning cafes, and a rich history, but for teenagers, Nelson is a springboard to adventure!

Exploring the country side around nelson
Exploring the countryside around Nelson

This city, surrounded by mountains and national parks, offers endless opportunities to get your heart racing and experience the thrill of the outdoors.

Adventure Awaits:

  • Soar Through the Trees: Strap into a harness and fly through the lush native forests at Cable Bay Adventure Park. The Cable Bay Skywire whisks you 360 meters across a valley, offering breathtaking views and a serious adrenaline rush.
  • Paintball Showdown: Put your strategic skills to the test at a thrilling paintball match. Team up with your friends and unleash your inner warrior in a simulated combat zone. Prepare for a day of laughter, competition, and maybe a few friendly bruises!
  • Hit the Trails: Nelson boasts an extensive network of mountain bike trails catering to all skill levels. Rent a bike and explore native forests, conquer challenging climbs, or cruise along scenic riverside paths. The fresh air and stunning scenery will make every ride unforgettable.
  • Scale New Heights: Challenge yourself at a rock climbing gym in Nelson. With walls designed for all abilities, you can learn the ropes (literally!), practice your climbing techniques, and get a great workout in the process.
  • Cable Bay Kayaking: Explore the stunning coastline of Tasman Bay from a different perspective. Rent a kayak from Cable Bay and paddle through crystal-clear waters, keeping an eye out for playful dolphins and curious seals. Imagine the freedom of gliding across the water and discovering hidden coves along the way.

Bonus: After a day of adventure, head to Nelson’s lively waterfront for delicious food, trendy shops, and a chance to relax and share stories of your epic exploits.

Planning Your Nelson Escape:

  • Best Time to Visit: Nelson is a year-round destination. Summer (December to February) offers warm weather for outdoor activities, while spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) provide pleasant temperatures for exploring.
  • How to Get There: Fly into Nelson Airport or take a scenic bus ride from nearby cities like Picton or Blenheim.
  • Accommodation: Nelson offers a variety of accommodation options, from cozy backpackers to family-friendly hotels. Choose what suits your style and budget!

Nelson is the perfect place to combine outdoor adventure with a touch of urban fun. Get ready for heart-pounding thrills, stunning natural beauty, and a city that caters to your adventurous spirit!

Bay of Islands: Island Hopping, History & Hauraki Gulf Marine Encounters (Perfect for Teens!)

The Bay of Islands, a cluster of over 144 islands sprinkled off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island, is more than just a dreamy tropical paradise.

While the crystal-clear waters and postcard-perfect beaches are undeniably stunning, this region offers a treasure trove of adventures waiting to be explored by teenagers.

The wildlife in the Bay of Islands is fantastic

Island Escapades:

  • Island Hopping Adventure: Embark on a thrilling day trip exploring the various islands of the Bay. Imagine snorkeling in hidden coves teeming with colorful fish, kayaking along lush coastlines, and discovering secluded beaches perfect for building epic sandcastle empires.
  • Hole in the Rock Tour: Take a scenic boat tour to the iconic Hole in the Rock, a natural rock formation carved by the ocean waves. Cruise through this natural wonder and snap some brag-worthy photos!

History Comes Alive:

  • Waitangi Treaty Grounds: Step back in time at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, a significant historical site where the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi took place, marking a pivotal moment in New Zealand’s history. Learn about Maori culture and the country’s unique colonial past through interactive exhibits and guided tours.
  • Russell Historic Village: Explore the charming seaside town of Russell, once a notorious whaling port. Wander through historic buildings, visit maritime museums, and soak up the town’s unique atmosphere.

Marine Encounters:

  • Dolphin Watching Cruise: Set sail on a dolphin-watching cruise and keep your eyes peeled for playful pods of bottlenose dolphins leaping through the waves. Imagine the thrill of spotting these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
  • Kayaking with Sea Kayaks: Explore the hidden coves and inlets of the Bay of Islands from a different perspective with a sea kayaking adventure. Paddle alongside towering cliffs, discover secret beaches, and maybe even encounter some curious marine life along the way.

Planning Your Bay of Islands Escape:

  • Best Time to Visit: Summer (December to February) offers warm weather for swimming and water activities, but spring (September to November) and autumn (March to May) provide pleasant temperatures for exploring and encountering marine life.
a tourist boat cruise at the bay of islands in New Zealand
A day on the water in the Bay of Islands
  • How to Get There: Fly into Auckland Airport and then travel to Paihia, the main town in the Bay of Islands, by car, ferry, or bus.
  • Accommodation: The Bay of Islands offers a range of accommodation options, from beachfront resorts to cozy backpackers. Choose what suits your vibe and budget!

The Bay of Islands isn’t just about relaxation – it’s about adventure! Island hopping, historical discoveries, and unforgettable encounters with marine life await. Are you ready to explore?

We hope this article from Wyld Family Travel inspires you to visit New Zealand with teenagers. There are so many things to do in Auckland with young adults that will keep you entertained for your family’s whole stay in the city.

Travelling with young adults, teens, and tweens has just as many issues as travelling with young children. Choosing the best teenage vacation destinations, working out a budget, deciding what bags and suitcases to take, travelling essentials, and more can be time-consuming.

Planning family travel with teenagers and tweens can be stressful, and finding the best travel tips is essential. 

Our Travel with Teenagers Destination Guides have you covered! With insights from around the globe, these guides will spark inspiration for your next family vacation, making it an epic adventure with your teens.

For more unique ideas on where to holiday in New Zealand, click our New Zealand Destination Guide page for more brilliant inspiration.