Have a read of Luke Mackenzie’s experience on the Grand Kiwi. 

New Zealand is one of the most beautiful places in the world. Fact.

I hopped on Topdeck’s 19 day Grand Kiwi trip to see as much of this incredible place as possible in the space of a few weeks.

Come and check out my favourite experiences from this epic trip.

1. Exploring the Bay of Islands

Luke Mackenzie Topdeck Grand Kiwi Bay of Islands New Zealand

Let’s start things from the top (literally the top of New Zealand) in the Bay of Islands.

Heading out on the overnight Rock the Boat tour and exploring some of the islands out there was incredible.

We got to try out snorkelling, fishing, kayaking and so much more. It’s hard to get bored there!

2. Taking a walk through Hobbiton

luke mackenzie rotorua hobbiton Topdeck Grand Kiwi new zealand

Seeing where the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit movies were filmed IRL is an absolute must when you’re in New Zealand.

Stepping into the tiny world of Hobbiton was so special.

We even sat down for a beer and a snack at the Green Dragon Inn! The perfect way to end the tour of the set.

3. Hiking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

luke mackenzie Topdeck Grand Kiwi new zealand tongariro alpine crossing

19km of pure fun or pain (or some kind of combination of the two), the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is absolutely worth doing.

The views from the higher altitude sections were insane! It feels like you’re on Mars as you’re passing volcanic lakes and walking through the clouds…

The hike is definitely up there as one of my all time favourites.

4. Swimming with dolphins

luke mackenzie Topdeck Grand Kiwi kaikoura dolphin new zealand

In Kaikoura, we had the chance to swim with dolphins or watch from the boat.

There were hundreds to see and the water was crystal clear. You could just tell they were having as much fun as us!

5. Visiting Lake Matheson

luke mackenzie Topdeck Grand Kiwi lake matheson fox glacier new zealand

When we stayed in Fox Glacier, we got the chance to take a walk around Lake Matheson.

I really recommend doing this one whatever the weather – rain, hail or shine.

We got rain the day we went but the views around the lake were still well worth it.

6. Driving through Fiordland National Park

luke mackenzie Topdeck Grand Kiwi milford sound drive stop new zealand

If you’re heading to Milford Sound, the drive to get there through Fiordland National Park will leave you speechless.

We pulled over multiple times for photo stops and to just take in the majestic beauty of this place.

7. Cruising Milford Sound

luke mackenzie Topdeck Grand Kiwi milford sound new zealand

Once on the boat on the mighty Milford Sound, you’ll feel incredibly small – in the best possible way!

The sheer scale of the peaks and waterfalls around us made sure this one got pride and place on this list.

Can you spot the boat in this pic?

8. Staying at Lake Ohau

luke mackenzie Topdeck Grand Kiwi lake ohau new zealand

Spending the night at Lake Ohau and watching the sunrise in the morning. Just wow.

This was the perfect place for some R&R.

9. Seeing Mt. Cook IRL

luke mackenzie mt cook Topdeck Grand Kiwi new zealand

Mt. Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand. Seeing it IRL was quite the spectacle.

Fun fact: Sir Edmund Hillary climbed it in 1948. He wasn’t the first person to summit Mt. Cook BUT in 1953 he was the first person to summit Mt. Everest!

Learnt that on my Topdeck 😉

10. Falling in love with Lake Pukaki

luke mackenzie Topdeck Grand Kiwi lake pukaki new zealand

Have you ever seen water like this?! I’m gonna say probably not…

I could’ve stayed here all day watching the lake. What a place.

Follow Luke’s latest travel adventures on his Instagram.

Check out Topdeck’s 19 Day Grand Kiwi trip or have a browse of Topdeck’s trips to New Zealand.

Get more inspo with these 12 photos you won’t believe were taken in New Zealand

Luke Mackenzie
Joined the Navy to travel the world. That didn’t work out ⚓️ So I picked up a camera and then ended up in the travel industry. I’ve been on endless adventures ever since 🛫