Over 100 Free Things to Do in New Zealand

Photo by Jasper van der Meij on Unsplash

Traveling in New Zealand is generally expensive. It’s considered one of the most expensive countries in the world, even for locals. As a budget traveler, that might turn you off visiting, but it really shouldn’t. There’s a seemingly endless list of free things to do in New Zealand, despite what you might believe.

Some of the most popular attractions in New Zealand are the ones that will drain your bank account almost immediately. Skydiving, bungee jumping, and guided tours will have you thinking there’s no way to see the country without spending money.

I lived, worked, and traveled in New Zealand for about 10 months, and I saved a lot of money by skipping the pricey activities that most tourists flock to. Of course you should budget enough to splurge on the attractions you really want to see—New Zealand can be a once in a lifetime trip and you don’t want to miss out.

However, you can enjoy New Zealand just as much (if not more), by focusing your time on the free attractions and activities in New Zealand. You might be surprised by how much you can do without spending anything at all.

I’ve put together a list of some of the best free things to do in New Zealand to help you see the country on a budget.

This is not an exhaustive list. When you consider how much there is to do out in nature, you’ll realize there’s plenty to keep you busy. Even within the cities and towns of the country, there’s hidden gems and interesting finds to be had that won’t cost you anything.

I’ve organized the best free things to do in New Zealand by location, and I’ve added extended lists and ideas to a couple of places when I couldn’t list everything.

So skip the overpriced experiences and add these free New Zealand attractions to your must-see list!

The Best Free Things to Do in New Zealand

The Big List of Free Things to Do in New Zealand: Over 100 ideas for free attractions & activities around New Zealand to help you save some money while traveling this beautiful country. #budgettravel #newzealand

*Note: there are tons of super cheap things to do in New Zealand (less than $10), but I didn’t include those because that’s simply not what this list is about! I’ve also excluded “free activities” that would require some kind of indirect fee. And, of course, there are numerous walks and natural areas that are totally free—too many to make a full list.

North Island

Guide to Auckland // Where to eat, drink, get coffee, what to do & see, the best day trips from Auckland

Free Things to Do in Auckland

Paihia, Bay of Islands

Free Things to Do in Northland, New Zealand

  • See New Zealand’s largest Kauri tree, Tane Mahuta
  • Watch the Pacific Ocean & Tasman Sea collide (plus check out the lighthouse) at Cape Reinga
  • Walk to Haruru Falls near Paihia
  • Go sandboarding on 90 Mile Beach
  • Take the short walk to Rainbow Falls near Kerikeri

Cooks Beach

Free Things to do on the Coromandel Peninsula

  • Walk to the famous Cathedral Cove
  • Dig your own hot pool at Hot Water Beach
  • Hike the Pinnacles Track
  • Walk the Coromandel Coastal Walkway
  • Drive the 309 Road and check out the waterfall & Kauri forest along the way
  • Take a swim at Hoffman’s Pool in the Kauaeranga Valley
  • Walk the Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway
  • Explore the remote New Chums Beach

Lake Rotorua

Free Things to Do in Rotorua

  • See geothermal features up close at Kuirau Park
  • Explore the grounds at Government Gardens
  • Stand among the redwoods in Rotorua’s own Redwood Forest
  • Walk the Nature Heritage Trail along the lakefront

Read Next: 6 Free Things to Do in Rotorua

Free Things to Do in Tauranga & Mt Maunganui

  • Find contemporary art at the Tauranga Art Gallery
  • Walk to the top of Mt Maunganui
  • Go on a self-guided art walk around
  • Walk (walk!) to Moturiki Island & check out the blowholes
  • Have some fun at the Strand Reserve on Tauranga’s waterfront
  • Explore the art & gardens at Te Puna Quarry Park

Great Lake Taupo

Free Things to do in Taupo

Napier, The “Art Deco City”

Free Things to do in Hawke’s Bay

Free Things to Do in New Plymouth & Taranaki Region


Free Things to Do in Wellington

Read Next: 19 Free Thing to Do in Wellington

South Island

Picton Harbor

Free Things to Do in Picton & the Marlbourough Region

Riding the Christchurch tram is the easiest (and funnest) way to see all of the top Christchurch attractions around the city center
Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch

Free Things to Do in Christchurch

Victorian Precinct in Oamaru

Free Things to Do on the East Coast

Free Things to Do in Dunedin

  • See a range of exhibits at the Otago Museum
  • Walk up the World’s Steepest Street (Baldwin Street)
  • Learn about the history of New Zealand’s people at the Otago Settlers Museum
  • Check out the Railway Station, one of the southern hemisphere’s most-photographed buildings
  • Take a walk in the Dunedin Botanic Garden
  • See more art at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery
  • Go on a self-guided architecture walk
  • Discover the city’s street art scene


Free Things to Do in the Southern Lakes Region

  • Hike to the top of Queenstown Hill
  • Get a photo of “That Wanaka Tree”
  • Visit Historic Arrowtown & the Chinese Settlement
  • Walk from Queenstown to Frankton for amazing views of Lake Wakatipu
  • Hike Roys Peak in Wanaka

Oparara Basin near Karamea

Free Things to Do on the West Coast

 Free Things to Do in Nelson

More New Zealand Budget Tips:

13 Ways to save Money in New Zealand

19 Free Things to Do in Wellington

How Much Does it Cost to Travel New Zealand

By Courtney Minor

Wandering around and writing about it.

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