Top 5 Healthy Pastimes to Try in New Zealand
If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand and are looking for ways to immerse yourself in local culture, start with these traditional Kiwi leisure activities.
5. Hill Walking
Boffins at the American College of Sports Medicine claim that a mere 30 minutes of cardio vascular exercise five times a week brings health benefits, and 60 to 90 minutes contributes to weight loss. The average traveller can also expect to burn up to four times the amount of calories when upping the incline on a walk.
The entire body feels the effects: muscle groups grow stronger; blood pumps faster around the body. If you’re taking a well-known path in New Zealand’s backcountry, expect to be on your feet for up to 7 hours. Always be prepared with protective clothing, accessories and water prior to setting off from your hostel or lodge.
4. Horse Riding
Animal lovers will naturally warm to horse riding in the New Zealand countryside, although this leisure activity is suitable for all comers.
Such is its popularity that 5% of adults in have participated in equestrian sports in New Zealand at least once in the past 12 months.
From the lower legs, through your core, to your arms, horse riding works the entire body. Those who saddle up regularly will notice a marked difference in their posture and balance. Horse riding can help improve mental concentration and clear the mind of daily distractions that may otherwise lead to stress or anxiety.
A number of stables offer one-off riding rates or treks for travellers. Well worth taking advantage of to explore New Zealand’s glorious scenery.
No trip to New Zealand is complete without a day in the snow. For around half of the year those with a thirst for high altitude exploration can test themselves against the great outdoors by getting amongst the snow-capped mountains.
Skiing puts all major muscle groups to the test, chiefly targeting the inner and outer thighs, hamstrings and buttock muscles - this owes much to the crouching position that skiing involves.
Experts state that just one hour of skiing can burn around 400 calories. In addition to weight loss and muscle toning, skiing is known for boosting immunity and relieving the symptoms of depression.
Where to try it: check out our full list of snow hostels here.
Some say the best sports in life are free, and we do not disagree. Surfing combines both social and healthy living benefits, and with over 15,000 kilometres of coastline in New Zealand, there’s no shortage of opportunity to get stuck in.
Surfing works the core like few other sports can - no muscle group is spared in the craft of riding waves against the current. People who take up surfing can expect a leaner and stronger physique; carrying a surf board to and from the beach is a workout in itself!
The sport is also praised for its therapeutic ability. Many health experts claim that it works well for helping people manage bouts of depression.
Rugby is considered by many NZ’s national sport, but you don’t have to be a professional to channel Dan Carter.
Rugby can be practised outdoors any time of day, with over 150,000 Kiwis lacing up their boots each year.
Whether you’re staying in a dorm or journeying through the backcountry, there will no doubt be a rugby ball nearby. Learn a Haka or get your war cry on and invite your comrades to stretch their legs with a game.
Rugby relies partly on physical strength, but also flexibility, cardio fitness, speed and endurance. And don’t worry about people playing rough – touch rugby is a lower contact version of the sport that’s easy to get into. The team bonding environment that rugby is synonymous with can boost self-confidence and help lower stress levels.
Where to play: anywhere there’s a field and some friendly strangers, aka your new dorm buddies!
Research and sources courtesy of:
YHA Te Anau
Relax in our cosy, homely atmosphere just a block from the shores of the gorgeous blue Lake Te Anau. This peaceful, super-clean hostel is a great place to recharge.
YHA Golden Bay
YHA Golden Bay is found in the small town of Takaka where a vibrant and bare-foot culture awaits you. This backpacker hostel is ideally located just off the main road, close to the heart of the town.
YHA Raglan offers an eclectic collection of accommodation options designed with environmental sustainability in mind. Relax here with yoga classes, a surf school and a summer cafe all on-site.
DOC Short Walks
Experience some of New Zealand's highlights in easy-to-manage, bite-sized pieces.
Get set to sizzle this summer with a showcase of the best of New Zealand’s culture, music and food. From buskers to bandstands, foodie feasts and films, see NZ through these great events.
7 Epic Surf Spots in New Zealand
With so much coastline to explore, it'd be rude not to hit the surf on your next NZ break.
Top Mountain Biking Towns in New Zealand
Whether you're an avid downhill mountain biker or trail rider, our 35+ hostels have you covered when it comes to hanging up your helmet at the end of the ride. Check out our list, from North to South!
Te Araroa Trail Hostels
The Te Araroa trail is New Zealand's newest long distance tramping route, from Cape Reinga in the north to Bluff in the south. We've got hostels to suit walkers and hikers along the way.
Great Walks Hostels
Keen to strap on a few necessities and hit the tracks through some of New Zealand's native forests, lakes, rivers, mountain peaks, and valleys? Discover our perfectly-located Great Walks hostels.