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New Zealand Gap Years, Trips & Tours

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Seeking the ultimate adrenaline thrill ride in some of the world's most spectacular surroundings? Then look no further, for New Zealand is known as the top gap year adventure destination for very good reason! Vast stretches of unspoilt natural beauty are just waiting to be explored in this extraordinary country on our New Zealand tours. Check out all of New Zealand's hidden secrets, laze on the beautiful beaches or dive in the clear blue waters on our New Zealand trips. When you're well and truly chilled out, shake yourself up with some high-octane activities; plummet from a plane, bounce back from a bungee, or try a glacier trek for a full-on gap year high!

Read more in our New Zealand Travel Guide.

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New Zealand Highlights

Purple flowers in front of Lake Tekapo

Lake Tekapo

Larger-than-life mountains, lilac flowers and unbelievably blue water make Lake Tekapo an inspirational landscape to discover. Stargaze while sinking into hot springs, or if you’re visiting in the winter, there’s the chance to see the dazzling aurora of the Southern Lights.

Hobbiton house in New Zealand


Step into Tolkien’s imagination with a tour around the Hobbiton set, as seen in the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit films. Wander with excited purpose as you explore protagonists Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ homes, before celebrating your adventure into Middle-earth with drinks at the Green Dragon Inn.

River stream with bright green trees and a blue sky

Milford Sound Fjord

Milford Sound is the star of Fiordland National Park, yet its hidden location has a frontier effect. Its indigo, almost black water brushes against the sharp cliffs and royal green rainforest like a pool of ink. Even the most experienced traveller will be impressed by this spectacular landscape.

Sunset over Auckland skyline


New Zealand’s largest city is more than meets the eye. With a striking mountain range, black sand beaches and a harbour heart, Auckland’s nature getaways are just as promising as the city’s entertaining downtown. It’s the perfect base for a trip down under.

Hikers acsending Franz Josef Glacier

Franz Josef Glacier

The Kiwi rainforest has a frozen heart. No day is the same when trekking the legendary Franz Josef Glacier, as this fast-flowing natural wonder is always evolving. Discover caves, tunnels and more while hiking an accessible path crafted by experts inside this ice giant destination.

Dolphins in Kaikōura sea


Encounter a staggering variety of wildlife off the coast of Kaikoura. This scenic fishing village is an ocean odyssey, with dolphins, sperm whales, seal colonies, a small penguin army and even the elusive albatross all awaiting discovery. For on-land activities, check out the beaches and bars.

Hooker Lake at Hooker Valley Track, Mount Cook

Hooker Valley Track - Mount Cook

Despite being a relatively easy hike, experienced trekkers don’t want to miss this rite of passage route when visiting Mount Cook: New Zealand at its peak. The 5km Hooker Valley track whisks you through spectacular scenery before finishing on a high at the breathtaking glacial lake.

Red canal cruise on water with buildings in distance inside harbour city of Queenstown


White water rafting, skiing, paragliding, jet boating and bungee jumping off the bridge where the daredevil sport was invented are just a taste of all the activities you could do in the world’s adventure capital. Congratulate your courage downtown, from après pubs and happy hour bars to nightclubs.

New Zealand Travel Advice

Open road to snowy mountains, Mount Cook National Park

Climate & Weather

New Zealand’s climate is mostly temperate, and its North Island is roughly five degrees warmer than the south. While New Zealand’s north has subtropical summers and mild winters, the South Island has cool summers and cold winters – particularly in its alpine regions. This weather diversity means that there’s something for everyone in New Zealand, especially since this country experiences four seasons: just in reverse order to us, as it’s in the Southern Hemisphere!

Southern Lights over a scenic church in Lake Tekapo

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit New Zealand comes down to preference more than anything. While the summer months of December to February are best for exploring all of New Zealand’s outdoor attractions, the spring and autumn shoulder seasons are still gorgeous. Winter in New Zealand is an amazing time of year to visit for diverse scenery, and those months of the year see the least cloudy weather and rain. We’ll let you in on New Zealand’s best-kept secret; if you visit the South Island in the winter, there’s a decent chance you might see the Aurora Australis – aka the Southern Lights!

Māori man performing the Haka in traditional clothing

Customs & Culture

New Zealand’s culture today is a mix of indigenous Māori and European communities. Māori culture is incredibly warm and is centred on core beliefs such as Manaakitanga (generosity), Wairutanga (balance), Kaitiakitanga (guardianship), Mātauranga (intellect) and Tikanga (respect). It is considered disrespectful to sit on tables or pass food over someone’s head. While New Zealand is laid back and informal, travellers are expected to be polite, punctual and pay respect to their surroundings. 

Red and blue british passports

Passports & Visas

British passport holders staying in New Zealand for less than 6 months do not need a visa for tourism, however you will need a NZeTA, which can be requested through the Government’s official pages and costs NZ $17-$23 at the time of writing. You will also need proof of return or onward travel.

If you are staying in New Zealand for longer, you can apply for a visa online. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after arrival, and stay up to date on entry requirements and FCDO advice which is subject to change.

Kayaking through open lake with mountains in backdrop, Lake Wanaka

Health & Safety

Check before travelling that you have any necessary vaccinations. British nationals on short-term visits are eligible for urgent healthcare treatment. Always purchase travel insurance before going abroad, especially since New Zealand has so many outdoor activities you’ll want to partake in. New Zealand has a low risk of crime, but general precautions are recommended. Natural hazards are uncommon but can happen. Follow the advice of local authorities in an emergency.

Frequently Asked Questions

Flights to New Zealand from the UK typically take 24 hours and have one or two stops. One of the most common layover destinations is Singapore’s Jewel Changi Airport. This gigantic, nature-themed airport has an incredible variety of activities and restaurants for you to kill time between flights.

You can expect to pay similar prices to the UK while in New Zealand. It’s possible to explore New Zealand on a budget; staying in affordable accommodation and taking public buses (you’ll find regular services almost everywhere in New Zealand!) are some of the easiest ways to save money on your trip. And with one of the highest minimum wages in the world, tipping isn’t expected of travellers either.

New Zealand is one of the best destinations for a gap year trip! With adrenaline rush activities, awe-inspiring “Middle Earth” landscapes and welcoming people, New Zealand has everything you could ask for. Imagine glacier hikes one day and exploring fjords the next, followed by glowworm caves, experiencing Māori culture, beaches or even bungee jumping in the country that invented the sport! If you’re a first-time traveller, New Zealand will make you feel right at home while still providing plenty of adventure throughout your trip. Looking to work abroad? New Zealand has one of the highest minimum wages in the world, so you’ll have the chance to travel on time off while advancing your CV. Or if you’re planning the ultimate multi-country gap year, New Zealand’s diverse scenery and laid-back vibe is a breath of fresh air.

As New Zealand is an outdoorsy destination, you’ll want to bring good hiking shoes, practical clothes and a swimsuit. There isn’t a strict dress code in New Zealand but the weather can be a little unpredictable so packing light layers and a waterproof jacket is recommended. The North Island is generally warmer than the South with an average difference of 6°C. You will need thicker layers if you are visiting in New Zealand’s winter (June to August), as well as for visiting glaciers and fjords. When travelling to New Zealand, pack essentials like your passport, credit/debit cards and New Zealand Dollars, sunscreen, any medications and a mini first aid kit. Should you run out of anything, it’s easy to top up as you’ll find shops almost everywhere in New Zealand - especially in major cities like Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown.

New Zealand has one of the highest populations of native and rare animals in the world, which means that you won’t find wildlife like this anywhere else. New Zealand’s “Big 5” animals are the kiwi bird, the kākā parrot, the tuatara lizard with a third eye, the kea parrot and finally the mystical takahe bird which was rumoured to be extinct. Kaikōura is a must-visit destination for animal lovers. Dolphins and whale-watching tours are the biggest draw, but you’ll also discover seal colonies, penguins and if you’re lucky, the rare Albatross.

It’s entirely up to you. While tipping isn’t mandatory in New Zealand, tour guides will always appreciate the gesture of appreciation for their dedication to ensuring your group tour is the best it can be. So if your tour guide goes above and beyond, then tipping is one of the best ways to show your gratitude and that you had an amazing time on the trip. How much you wish to tip comes down to personal preference, but it’s common to leave a tip of NZ$5 per day or 5-10% of the trip cost.

@gap360official | New Zealand

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New Zealand Trip Reviews


Peter Driscoll

Very organised, friendly and helpful. Worth it


Great people, knowledgeable and super available and supportive!


Was a great trip overall. Days on the slopes, nights on the town and plenty other extras and activities thrown in as well. Our guides Bryce and Blake were real informative, told us so much about the culture and stories of the land.

Justine Lorriman

Easily the best time of my life.

Holly Lacey

The experience has been a lot of fun. It is a seamless and easy way to travel!

Madeleine Borch

I feel I saw the entirety of New Zealand without being rushed through it, my guide and driver were both amazing and I made really good friends.

Isabella Swan

This trip was the highlight of my life. My group leader was absolutely amazing and I wish I could do this trip 100 times over. The only thing I'd change about this trip is to make it longer.

Leila Peck

Easy to use website and extremely helpful staff! Great service

Max Jacoby

Fantastic people and an unforgettable time travelling with them.

Polly Yates

Really wonderful experience, a fantastic group of people and incredible scenery and activities. Our tour guide was amazing! One of the best experiences of my life.

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