Here's my recommendations for must see and do: Waitomo glowworm caves, a Moari cultural performance with Hangi dinner in Rotorua, Milford Sound Cruise, visit Franz Josef, go on wildlife eco tour of the Otago Peninsula from Dunedin, bungy jump and skydive in Queenstown, hike Aoraki (Mt.Cook).
If you have the time, visit Abel Tasman National Park, swim with the dolphins in Kaikoura near Christchurch ! about 5 years ago
I've just spent 2 weeks on the North island and I'd highly recommend:
- Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula (dig a hole in the sand at low tide, it will fill with very hot water, then mix in cold ocean water from the waves)
- Rotorua and the thermal sites (eg the city park in town has bubbling and steaming pools of water and mud; Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland has really weird geysers, hot lakes and caves, belching steam and heat)
- Glowworm caves, such as at Waitomo where at the end of the cave tour you sit in a boat in almost complete darkness and gaze up at the glow worms on the cave ceiling in almost silence
I tried to swim with dolphins at Tauranga, but despite it being a school holiday, there were not enough people to go out on the boat.
New Zealanders are super nice and this is a beautiful country! about 5 years ago