We’ve chosen these virtual tours because they are a good representation of what New Zealand has to offer, whether you’re a Kiwi or a tourist interested in visiting the country. With these interactive experiences, you can learn about the culture, history, and legacy of the country.
So, if you’re ready to be transported all the way down to Aotearoa, check out our choices for the top virtual tours in New Zealand below.
1. Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
|SERVICES||Glowworm Caves, Black Water Rafting, Combo Tours|
|ADDRESS||39 Waitomo Village Rd, Waitomo Caves|
|CONTACT DETAILS||Toll-Free: 0800-456-922|
|Email: [email protected]|
|VIRTUAL TOURS||Glowworms in Motion - A Time-lapse of NZ's Glowworm Caves in 4K|
|Glow Worm Caves of New Zealand in 360° | National Geographic|
The Glowworm Caves of Waitomo will appeal to those looking for a magical otherwordly tour. These natural wonders are located in New Zealand’s North Island, on the southern portion of the area.
These are the most famous of the Waitomo Caves system, which was formed by volcanic and geological events over the last 30 million years. Ruakuri Cave and Aranui Cave are also part of the complex network, offering a unique experience of their own to visitors.
The Glowworm Caves are well-known for an abundance of Arachnocampa Luminosa, a species of fungus gnat endemic to New Zealand. When in the larval stage, it is bioluminescent and produces a magical blue-green glow.
The glowworms’ name in Māori is titiwai, which roughly translates to “projected over water”. These organisms usually reside in caves or sheltered areas with high humidity.
The caves are also known for their vast subterranean river system and remarkable stalactite and stalagmites formations. It has been an attraction in the area for more than a century because it makes visitors feel like they’re on another planet.
There are two levels in the caves, with the upper portion being dry and teeming with rock formations. The lower level, on the other hand, consists of the tallest chamber (the Cathedral) and small streams, and is where the glowworms can be found.
Seeing the Glowworm Caves may not be suitable for everybody though – there is some moderate hiking to reach the area and you’ll need to ride on a boat through to the grotto. You’re required to be completely silent as well since the glowworms get startled by the noise, which may not be ideal for small children.
However, everyone can enjoy the spectacular display online through various online tours and VR 360 videos, which capture the brilliance of the experience.
If you decide to make a trip and see it in person, various organized tours will take you through the journey of seeing the glowworm grotto. A majority of the tour guides are direct descendants of Chief Tane Tinorau who originally explored the cave and shared it with the world.
2. Auckland Zoo
|SERVICES||Photography Workshops, Safari Nights, Behind the Scenes, Birthday Parties, Junior Keeper, Functions & Venues, Te Puna Restaurant, Wētāpunga Café, The Watering Holem, Vet Hospital|
|ADDRESS||Motions Rd, Auckland 1022, New Zealand|
|CONTACT DETAILS||Phone: (09) 360 3805|
|OPERATING HOURS||Sunday to Monday: 9:30am - 5:30pm (Last entry at 4:30pm)|
|Closed on Christmas Day|
|VIRTUAL TOURS||We're going inside our otter habitat!|
|We're going inside our meerkat habitat!|
|We're going inside our leopard tortoise crèche!|
|We're going inside our New Zealand long-fin eel habitat!|
Auckland Zoo first opened in 1922 and although it faced struggles initially, it is now a blossoming wonderland of flora and fauna today. With over 16.35 hectares of gardens, exhibits, and modern enclosures, it is one of the area’s most popular tourist attractions.
Operated by the Auckland Council and the Zoological Society of Auckland, the zoo is adjacent to Western Springs park and quite close to the city’s central business district. It remains a not-for-profit and wildlife conservation organization that actively participates in protecting the future of wildlife.
Having received over 28 million visitors since it first opened, Auckland Zoo has won numerous national and international awards. It has been recognized for its cutting-edge research into wildlife and its modern design.
Since it’s a large area to cover on foot, Auckland Zoo offers those who have mobility challenges the opportunity to rent scooters. There are also strollers for kids and complimentary wheelchairs available for free in different sizes.
The animals in Auckland Zoo are loosely grouped into three main categories: mammals, birds, and ectotherms. If you’re unfamiliar with the last category, this consists of reptiles, invertebrates, fish, and amphibians.
So whether you fancy seeing giraffes or spiders, they have a collection that should suit most people’s tastes.
Now for those who cannot visit the zoo or prefer to have a preview of what’s offered, Auckland Zoo offers live streaming webcams of several exhibits. You can view meerkats, eels, and the African Savannah enclosure in real-time to see what’s currently happening.
The zoo also uploads footage of its employees interacting and caring for the animals online. This provides visitors a more intimate look at what you can expect to see if you visit the zoo.
Auckland Zoo also offers other online activities such as games and outdoor projects that kids can enjoy from home with their families. There are also learning resources for teachers and parents if their children are doing homeschooling.
3. Hobbiton Movie Set
|SERVICES||Private Functions, Weddings, The Millhouse, The Hub, Hobbiton Movie Set Tour, Evening Banquet Tour, Second Breakfast Tour, A Hobbiton Christmas, Summer Harvest Festival, Hobbiton Movie Set Beer Festival, Mid-Winter Feast, International Hobbit Day, Gift Vouchers|
|ADDRESS||501 Buckland Road, Matamata, New Zealand|
|CONTACT DETAILS||Phone: (07) 888-1505|
|Email: [email protected]|
|OPERATING HOURS||Sunday to Monday: 9:00am - 5:00pm|
Hobbiton was first discovered by location scouts of Sir Peter Jackson in 1998, which was originally a vast 1,250-acre sheep farm in Waikato with views of the Kaimai Ranges. Upon seeing the unobstructed hills and striking green pastures, it was immediately chosen as the site for the Hobbits home as found in JRR Tolkein’s Lord of the Ring series.
The area was secretly constructed and converted into a fantasy-turned-reality land within a period of nine months. A total of 39 Hobbit Holes were made covering a 12-acre plot, resulting in what is now popularly known by die-hard LOTR fans as The Shire.
What visitors will witness in Hobbiton today are the remnants of the 2009 film set after The Hobbit trilogy was completed. There are now 44 permanent Hobbit Holes, along with The Green Dragon Inn wherein guests can cap off their magical movie experience.
To get to Hobbiton, you’ll need to depart from Matama, which is located around 16km away. Tours depart daily though and the trip isn’t a difficult one.
If you’re traveling with kids, children younger than 9 years old are free while those from 9 to 16 years old will set you back around $44. An adult is considered as older than 17 years old, which will be charged at a hefty price range of $89 to $199.
Now, if that’s a little pricey for you and are content with a virtual tour, you’re in luck! You can view any of the attractions at Hobbiton from the comfort of your web browser at no cost.
For those that prefer to see the real thing, you can book one of several guided tours available. You can even opt for a Second Breakfast Tour, where you can enjoy a generous movie set spread of mouthwatering treats at the Millhouse, the most recent addition to Hobbiton.
4. Hauraki Gulf by NZ Geographic
|SERVICES||Stories, Video, VR, Photography, Audio, Store|
New Zealand Geographic is a magazine that was first established in 1989, presenting science-related topics predominantly with photographs. They produce issues every two months which are published by Kowhai Media Ltd of Auckland.
Although NZ Geographic focuses mostly on their native biodiversity, geography, and culture, they also produce content about Antarctica and nearby Pacific Islands. They likewise offer online virtual experiences and “tours” for various locations around New Zealand.
They provide a virtual perspective of various regions to celebrate the natural wonders that New Zealand has to offer. There are currently 10 locations that you can explore from the comfort of your own home.
The places you can check out are Kermadecs, Niue, Three Kings, Parengarenga, Poor Knight’s, Outer Gulf, East Cape, Waikato, Taranaki, and one of our favorites, Hauraki Gulf. When you visit NZ Geographic’s VR page, you simply select which destination you want to virtually discover.
We particularly like the series on Hauraki Gulf (also known as Tīkapa Moana), which is a vast coastal area spread throughout 4000 km² of space. It mostly consists of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park but overlaps between several regions, including Auckland and Great Barrier island.
If you’re an angler looking, the virtual tours of Hauraki Gulf and Orakei Wharf show what it means to take part in recreational but sustainable fishing. You can likewise view the natural beauty of the Nordic Reef from a VR 360 camera.
Now while the field of view may be limited in some of their tours, we like the unique perspective of witnessing places that most people may not be aware of. Not everyone will be able to visit some of the featured areas in person though, which actually makes this virtual tour unique.
What we like about this virtual experience from NZ Geographic is that it also educates its visitors and viewers about the growing dangers of urban development. You can see firsthand how human activity is slowly degrading the beautiful landscapes and aquatic ecosystems across the country.
The Tour in Leight Warf, for example, depicts the “leftovers” that humans have left behind, which include litter in the water that has created turbid conditions for the fish. The fixed 360-degree underwater view does well to portray the poor visibility of the murky water.
However, NZ Geographic also makes it a point to present a hopeful future for the country, showing that not all human intervention is geared towards destruction. You can view a virtual aerial tour of a mussel farm that shows sustainable fisheries that have a low environmental impact.
5. Weta Cave at Weta Workshop
|SERVICES||Guided tours, Creative workshops, School Holiday Workshops, VIP Experiences, Groups & Events, Creative Workshops|
|ADDRESS||Wētā Workshop Tours - WellingtonCnr Camperdown Road & Weka Street, Miramar, Wellington 6022|
|Wētā Workshop Unleashed - AucklandLevel 5, 88 Federal Street, Auckland 1010|
|CONTACT DETAILS||Phone: (04) 909-4035|
|Email: [email protected]|
|OPERATING HOURS||Wētā Workshop Tours - Wellington|
|Monday to Friday: 9.30am - 3:00pm|
|Saturday to Sunday: 9.30am - 5:00pm|
|Wētā Workshop Unleashed - Auckland|
|Monday to Friday: 10:00am - 5:00pm|
Wētā Cave first opened in 2008, which is the tourism arm of Wētā Workshop, first founded by Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger. They’re known as the Oscar-winning production team behind the Lord of the Rings film series.
If you’re a LOTR fanatic, this is the place you’ve been searching for – its all sorts of knickknacks to marvel at and purchase. Wētā Cave and Workshop is an instaworthy place to explore, which has made it a renowned attraction in the area pulling in 150,000 visitors a year.
Wētā Workshop lets you get up close and personal to witness firsthand how props, costumes, and special effects in popular films are made. Their newest attraction, Wētā Workshop Unleashed, is a unique experience to see how props are drafted from scratch.
You can go as a group or book a private one-on-one tour if you wish. We like that you can create your own unique bespoke experience, tailored to your specific needs.
The hands-on workshops introduce aspiring artists to the wonders of crafting various props and the application of makeup effects. Prices range from a reasonable $69 to $89, with sessions lasting from 90 minutes to around 3 hours long.
Do take note that only those 14 years old and above can participate in the hands-on workshops. Don’t worry though, there’s a special “Young Creatives” workshop for kids aged 10 to 14 years old.
Entry to the Wētā Cave is free of charge (which is probably why it’s so popular). There are likewise no fees to enter the documentary and mini-museum.
However, it’s highly recommended you book a guided tour or workshop online beforehand, as it can get sold out quickly. Peak season is October through to April, so you can make plans accordingly.
If you want to see all the props in the flesh, Wētā Cave is in Miramar, a 20-minute drive from Wellington. You can bring your own car but parking is limited, so you might want to consider booking a tour with round-trip transfers included.
In the meantime, you can view several 360 videos online and have your own mini-tour of Wētā Cave from your web browser.
6. Auckland Museum
|SERVICES||Auckland Museum At Home, Guided Tours, Exhibitions, Galleries, Museum Store, Venues, Collections Online, Research, Summer Studentships, Pacific Collection Access Project, Te Awe, Library, School Programs, Online Cenotaph, War Memorial Galleries, Memorial Events And Exhibitions, Mymuseum Membership|
|ADDRESS||Auckland Domain, Parnell, Auckland 1010, New Zealand|
|CONTACT DETAILS||General inquiries|
|Phone: (09) 309-0443|
|Email: [email protected]|
|Ticketing and events|
|Phone: (09) 306-7048|
|Email: [email protected]|
|OPERATING HOURS||Monday to Friday: 10:00am - 5:00pm|
|Saturday, Sunday, Public Holidays: 9:00am - 5:00pm|
Auckland Museum was New Zealand’s first museum, which was founded in 1852. It has one of the most complete collections of artifacts that depict the story of the country and its role in the Pacific.
It houses one of New Zealand’s top three heritage libraries and a range of other collections as well. Here, you’ll find displays on the Māori, Oceania, natural history, social chronicles, and military memorials.
Auckland Museum is also known as Tāmaki Paenga Hira, which is a “memorial to fallen chiefs and their gathered taonga”. It is likewise called by its official name, Auckland War Memorial Museum, which is used for reports and other formal communication.
The museum is quite a sight to behold if you’re going to visit it – its original neoclassical temple design can be seen from the harbor. And on the top, you’ll see its copper-and-glass dome which was added in 2007.
For those that are located across the globe, Auckland Museum offers a sneak peek of some of its exhibits via a virtual tour. Only a handful of displays are available though such as the Tamaki Herenga Waka exhibit, The Secret World of Butterflies, Wild Child, and more.
Although “movement” is somewhat limited when doing the virtual tour, what we like best is the quality of the images. You can zoom in close enough to read descriptions of the displays and see even the tiniest details on some of the artifacts.
We also like Auckland Museum’s support for the LGBTTIQ+ community, offering a special Queerseum Audio Guide that provides unique insights into some of the objects on display. They are also the first museum accredited by the Rainbow Tick program, which certifies that they are welcoming of individuals with varying gender identities and sexual orientations.
Visiting the museum in person is the preferred experience though, and the ground floor displays of Pacific Island and the taonga (treasures) from Māori are a must-see. You’ll also want to visit the upper floors that contain military displays, which pay homage to its function as the country’s war memorial.
FAQs about Virtual Tours
And that’s our list of the best virtual tours in New Zealand! If you’re eager to go out and explore the country, we hope these helped to pique your interest!
Did we miss a virtual tour that you think should be on our list? If so, please send us a message and we’ll check it out!
Since we featured some Auckland locations in our list, you may be interested in visiting the area in person! If so, you can start with our list of the best Auckland tours to help you out.