Ten things New Zealand does better than Australia

There are some things that New Zealand can’t do nearly as well as Australia – outback, beach towns, big city energy, pronouncing vowels – but sometimes you just have to admit the Kiwis do it better. Here are 10 areas where New Zealand towers over Australia as a tourist destination…

Adrenalin rushes

sunaug19cover adventure travel cover ; text by Andrew Bain SUPPLIED https://visuals.newzealand.com Location: Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown Please Credit: AJ Hackett Bungy New Zealand Description: There's something about Queenstown that gets you living like never before. Maybe it's the mountain views, the fresh air or the fun-loving people. Adventure is everywhere. It's so easy get a few friends together and laugh your way from one personal high to another; like a freestyle bungy that lets you throw in a flip or twist if you dare.

Photo: AJ Hackett/Bungy New Zealand

New Zealand is the country that invented bungy jumping, jet boating and zorbing. And in all-action hubs such as Rotorua and Queenstown, you can pick from a ridiculously long menu of ways to scare yourself stupid. Skydives, glacier hiking, white-water rafting down big waterfalls and throwing yourself off a bridge are all part of the nerve-shredding NZ experience. See rotoruanz.com, queenstown.co.nz

Geothermal activity

Prince of Wales Feathers geyser erupting, Rotorua.

Prince of Wales Feathers geyser erupting, Rotorua. Photo: Alamy

New Zealand is a rumbling tummy of a place, with geothermal activity rarely far from the surface. This is most prominent in Rotorua, which is riddled with geysers and steam vents. The Polynesian Spa in Rotorua fully takes advantage of this, with a panoply of natural hot tubs. But the geothermal activity also pops up in unexpected spots, such as Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula. Here, you can slide your feet into the sand and they feel like they’re entering a hot bath. See polynesianspa.co.nz


Coronet Peak ski field.

Coronet Peak ski field. Photo: Alamy

Sorry Thredbo and Mt Buller, you’re trying really hard, but New Zealand’s higher mountains and colder temperatures make for much better skiing. Coronet Peak near Queenstown on the South Island has 40-kilometres of ski runs, but there are plenty more options to choose from in Canterbury and on the slopes of Mt Ruapehu in the North Island. See coronetpeak.co.nz, mtruapehu.com


Mt. Aoraki (Mt. Cook).

Mt. Aoraki (Mt. Cook). Photo: Alamy

With those higher mountains come some pretty stunning alpine lakes. Around Aoraki/Mt Cook on the South Island, there are a series of dazzling lakes that take on an eerie, milky blue colour. Then there’s glacier-carved Tasman Lake, where you can kayak around icebergs that have broken free from the Tasman Glacier. And that’s just the South Island – in the north, you’ve got Lake Taupo, a giant volcanic crater ringed by mountains. See mtcook.com, lovetaupo.com


Rangitoto Island near Auckland.

Rangitoto Island near Auckland. Photo: Getty

Firmly on the Pacific’s Ring of Fire, New Zealand’s unnervingly large collection of volcanoes are primed to go off. They look spectacular though. Mt Egmont on the west coast of the North Island rises as a near-perfect cone from the sea. In Auckland, Rangitoto Island is basically one big lump of lava. And on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, it’s all red craters, lava slopes and steaming fumaroles. See tongarirocrossing.org.nz

Big walks

Walkers resting at the highest point on the Tongariro Crossing.

Walkers resting at the highest point on the Tongariro Crossing. Photo: Alamy

The Tongariro Alpine Crossing forms part of the four day Tongariro Northern Circuit, which is one of nine multi-day Great Walks. Now, Australia has some good long distance walking trails, but they’re not packaged as well as New Zealand’s.. Shuttle buses, mountain huts and mapping are all really well organised, turning the walks from mammoth undertakings into manageable achievements. See doc.govt.nz

Boat trips

Lake Taupo.

Lake Taupo. Photo: Alamy

With dolphin-watching tours and Sydney harbour cruises, Australia does boat trips fairly well. But New Zealand tends to offer an extra level. Take going through glowworm-lit caves in Waitomo, for example. Or flitting between the islands in the Bay of Islands. Or chugging across Lake Taupo to giant Maori rock carvings. Or cruising along the Otago Peninsula from Dunedin to see an enormous albatross colony. See waitomo.com fullers.co.nz, laketaupocruises.co.nz, wildlife.co.nz

Fiords and sounds

Lake Quill and Sutherland Falls in Milford Sound.

Lake Quill and Sutherland Falls in Milford Sound. Photo: iStock

New Zealand wins on boat trips before you even get on to the fiords. And the glaciers have worked their magic on the west coast of the South Island. Steep walls rise from the water in Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound, leaving cruise passengers craning their necks to see the tops of tumbling waterfalls. That’s not all though – the flooded valleys of the Marlborough Sounds at the top of the South Island are magnificent for pootling around in. See beachcombercruises.co.nz

Sauvignon blanc

Marlborough wine region.

Marlborough wine region. Photo: iStock

Australia does big reds magnificently, and produces a better range of wine than New Zealand as a whole. But there are certain varietals that New Zealand just does better. Sauvignon blanc is the classic, world-renowned example – taste gazillions of them in the Marlborough region. And New Zealand gewurztraminers are quietly getting a global reputation, while the Central Otago region produces world class pinot noir. See marlboroughwinetours.co.nz

Wildlife sanctuaries

A kiwi chick.

A kiwi chick. Photo: iStock

Australian wildlife sanctuaries tend to be small zoos in disguise. But New Zealand cordons off entire islands, and goes to extraordinary lengths to protect native birds. The likes of Tiritiri Matangi near Auckland and Ulva Island off Stewart Island have undergone years and years of predator eradication programmes, eliminating the cats, rats and mustelids (weasels, ferrets and the like) that humans introduced to New Zealand. This allows native birds – particularly kiwis – to live safely. Some of the islands can be visited, and a similar project is underway at Zealandia in Wellington. See tiritirimatangi.co.nz, visitzealandia.com

David Whitley has been a guest of Tourism New Zealand (newzealand.com).

See also: One of the world’s most spectacular bike rides has opened

See also: North or South, which New Zealand island is best for a holiday?

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