A new Lonely Planet book has singled out some of the best things to do in New Zealand - and most of them won't cost you a cent.

Featuring 884 sights and experiences in more than 60 cities worldwide, The Best Things in Life are Free will help budget travellers stretch their dollars even further by guiding them towards gratis parks, museums and exercise classes.

And the few experiences that aren't free will set travellers back just a few dollars.

"It's an exaggeration to say that everything good is free," says Lonely Planet's Editorial Director Tom Hall, "so you'll find plenty of excellent-value cheap things to experience throughout this book."

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"The quality of an experience, after all, is not attached to a price tag. Many of the suggestions here involve unearthing the world's secret wonders, whether that's swimming around Sydney's ocean pools or strolling the tombs and monuments of Delhi's Lodi Gardens.

"Walkers tackling the great tracks of New Zealand will find themselves close to the soul of those beautiful islands."

Here are Lonely Planet's picks for the best free (or low-cost) places to visit and things to do in New Zealand:

NORTH ISLAND

Auckland Art Gallery

The Auckland Art Gallery. Photo / Supplied
The Auckland Art Gallery. Photo / Supplied

"From the soaring 'forest' of kauri canopies at the entrance to the enticing glimpses of the old building from the new, to the way it engages with Albert Park, the [Auckland Art Gallery] is a piece of art itself."

Read more: Auckland art walks

Pasifika Festival, Auckland

Performers at the 2014 Pasifika Festival at Western Springs. Photo / Doug Sherring, Herald on Sunday
Performers at the 2014 Pasifika Festival at Western Springs. Photo / Doug Sherring, Herald on Sunday

"Now in its 24th year, Pasifika regularly attracts up to 90,000 people to Western Springs."

Read more: Fiji female tattooing makes mark at this year's Pasifika Festival

Karangahake Gorge, Bay of Plenty

A bridge across the Karangahake Gorge in the Bay of Plenty. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user pbkwee
A bridge across the Karangahake Gorge in the Bay of Plenty. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user pbkwee

"It's hard to beat the scene from the top of Mt Karangahake - three tracks can take you up to the trig station (544m) and you'll want at least six hours to make the return trip."

Read more: Kia ora: Karangahake Gorge

Hot Water Beach, Coromandel Peninsula

Bathers at Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Eli Duke
Bathers at Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Eli Duke

"It's a special experience, being able to bathe in thermal water right on the edge of the sea, on a beautiful sandy beach, with nearly a hundred strangers."

Read more: Hot spot on the seashore

Kuirau Park, Rotorua

Steam rises from a bubbling lake in Rotorua's Kuirau Park on a cold, wet morning. Photo / Tracey Scott, Rotorua Daily Post
Steam rises from a bubbling lake in Rotorua's Kuirau Park on a cold, wet morning. Photo / Tracey Scott, Rotorua Daily Post

"The top attractions of the park are the relaxing foot baths, which the kids loved to splash around in, and the huge steaming crystal clear Kuirau's Pool at the north end, which is traversed by a boardwalk."

Read more: Rotorua, without breaking the bank

Tongariro Alpine Crossing, Tongariro National Park

A boardwalk leads through the tussock on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing track. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user russellstreet
A boardwalk leads through the tussock on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing track. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user russellstreet

"Get a guide if you're inexperienced and want to walk it in winter. We saw young hikers in street shoes, light jackets and jeans trying to make their way up icy slopes and down the snowy descent from the Red Crater."

Read more: Do it in the snow

Len Lye Centre, New Plymouth

New Plymouth's Len Lye Centre. Photo / Eli Orzessek
New Plymouth's Len Lye Centre. Photo / Eli Orzessek

"Shortly before he died, Lye set up a foundation in his name to continue exploring the themes of his artworks and working out how to build them on a larger scale. It's this foundation that has resulted in the centre showing amazing works such as Four Fountains, where I spent an hour and watched people interact with them."

Read more: Under the mountain

Art-Deco Napier, Hawkes Bay

The Veronica Sunbay, on Napier's waterfront, was built in 1934. Photo / 123RF
The Veronica Sunbay, on Napier's waterfront, was built in 1934. Photo / 123RF

"My imagined Napier is painted pastel candy colours: soft pink, creamy mint, hazy blue. Flat, white art deco terraces shimmer in the sun. Nothing bad ever happens here. Well, not since 1931 anyway."

Read more: On top of the bay

Hawkes Bay Farmers' Market, Hastings

Visitors sample the wares at the Hawke's Bay Farmers Market in Hastings. Photo / Hawke's Bay Today
Visitors sample the wares at the Hawke's Bay Farmers Market in Hastings. Photo / Hawke's Bay Today

"Shop for delicacies at the Hawkes Bay Farmers' Market, every Sunday morning at the A&P Showgrounds."

Read more: Kia ora: Hastings

Cape Kidnappers' gannet colony, Hawkes Bay

The gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers in the Hawkes Bay. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user xxnu
The gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers in the Hawkes Bay. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user xxnu

"Located at the southern-most point of the bay, there are many ways to reach the colony, but the most fun has to be via the old-school tractor and trailer option, which trundles along the rock beach front from Clifton."

Read more: Weekender: Havelock North

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington

A display is projected onto the outside wall of Te Papa during an opening event at the 2012 NZ International Arts Festival. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Kristina D.C. Hoeppner
A display is projected onto the outside wall of Te Papa during an opening event at the 2012 NZ International Arts Festival. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Kristina D.C. Hoeppner

"A sense of calmness takes over as Gallipoli - The Scale of Our War beckons visitors to the second floor of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. It doesn't matter what your views on war - a remembrance or glorification of the loss of lives - the impact is undeniable."

Read more: War stories brought to life

Summer City festival, Wellington

Crowds enjoy a Gardens Magic event - a concert series which runs annually as part of the capital's Summer City festival. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Evan Goldenberg
Crowds enjoy a Gardens Magic event - a concert series which runs annually as part of the capital's Summer City festival. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Evan Goldenberg

The capital's Summer City festival, which kicks off each New Year, has been running for 38 years and incorporates more than 90 events, including the increasingly popular Pasifika Festival and Chinese New Year.

SOUTH ISLAND

Five-dollar gigs at the Mussel Inn, Golden Bay

The Mussel Inn is a great place for a feed. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user NZ Craft Beer TV
The Mussel Inn is a great place for a feed. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user NZ Craft Beer TV

"The Mussel Inn bush cafe produces a wide range of craft beers, wine, cider and fizzy drinks, plus its wholesome food goes down a treat too."

Read more: Kia ora: Takaka

Cockling at Marahau, Tasman

You'll have to get your feet wet but you can pull a meal from the sand at Marahau if you're a fan of cockles. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Les Williams
You'll have to get your feet wet but you can pull a meal from the sand at Marahau if you're a fan of cockles. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Les Williams

"The southern and main gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park is Marahau, 67km from Nelson."

Read more: Jump ashore, explorers

Marlborough wine tasting

Head to Marlborough to sample some of New Zealand's best wines. Photo / 123RF
Head to Marlborough to sample some of New Zealand's best wines. Photo / 123RF

"My focus was so much on the winery part of this adventure that I hadn't stopped to think just how pretty the cycling between would be. At moments it felt like being on the Route des Vins in France such was the expanse of vine - literally as far as our eyes could see."

Read more: Pedal power through the vines

The seal colony at Kaikoura

A fur seal hangs out on the rocks at Kaikoura. Photo / 123RF
A fur seal hangs out on the rocks at Kaikoura. Photo / 123RF

"The Kaikoura coast at dawn must be one of the world's great drives: the road plaits with the railway down the rocky strip between sea and snowcapped mountain range and wetsuited seals line the road like hitchhikers."

Read more: Strait to sleep

'The Lord of the Rings' and 'Hobbit' film sets

Mt Sunday in Canterbury played a starring role as the location of Edoras in 'The Two Towers' and 'The Return of the King' movies. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Jeff Hitchcock
Mt Sunday in Canterbury played a starring role as the location of Edoras in 'The Two Towers' and 'The Return of the King' movies. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Jeff Hitchcock

"Beyond Forest Creek a cattle grid marks the entrance to Mesopotamia Station. I have reached the end of the road. Across the river lies the gloomy, storm-wracked peaks of the Cloudy Range and, further back, the Southern Alps. It was behind these ranges that [Samuel] Butler placed the fictional country of Erewhon; 140 years later, the same peaks formed the skyline of Edoras during the filming of The Lord of the Rings."

Read more: What Butler saw

Climb Avalanche Peak, Arthurs Pass

Avalanche Peak in Arthurs Pass is a challenging climb. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Eli Duke
Avalanche Peak in Arthurs Pass is a challenging climb. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Eli Duke

Avalanche Peak sits high above Arthurs Pass village. It's suitable for well-equipped hikers with previous tramping experience.

Read more: Scenic smorgasbord on the TranzAlpine

Canterbury Museum, Christchurch

Christchurch's Canterbury Museum. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user chee.hong
Christchurch's Canterbury Museum. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user chee.hong

"Across the road from the Arts Centre and butting the Botanic Gardens, Canterbury Museum has three [Benjamin] Mountfort wings, built over 17 years from 1870. It was intended to be, and still is, a 'palace of arts and sciences'. It's a survivor, as is the city's other outstanding group of Gothic buildings, Christ's College.

Read more: Cheeky long weekend in Christchurch

World Buskers Festival, Christchurch

Performers at the World Buskers Festival in Christchurch. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Roger Wong
Performers at the World Buskers Festival in Christchurch. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Roger Wong

"Although the buskers are on the streets in force just once a year, this is a city that takes its stomach seriously year-round. So if there's no street theatre there's always street-side dining. And if you visit in autumn, the crisp clear days and gorgeous colours are sure to stir up the appetite."

Read more: Christchurch: An easy act to swallow

Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park Visitor Centre, Canterbury

The visitors' centre at Aoraki/Mt Cook is set amongst some fairly impressive scenery. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Jocelyn Kinghorn
The visitors' centre at Aoraki/Mt Cook is set amongst some fairly impressive scenery. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Jocelyn Kinghorn

"When I asked about flat walks in the area, the Department of Conservation chap at the Aoraki-Mt Cook Visitor Centre gave me a peculiar look. 'I don't really do hills,' I said to the impossibly fit young fellow who looked as though he could sprint up Aoraki before morning tea."

Read more: Mt Cook: Swimming with icebergs

West Coast Wilderness Trail, West Coast

The Wilderness Trail is a great way for cyclists to explore the South Island's West Coast. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Schwede66
The Wilderness Trail is a great way for cyclists to explore the South Island's West Coast. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Schwede66

This cycle trail connects Greymouth and Ross on the South Island's West Coast. Some of it's still under construction but the completed parts boast some of the smoothest and most accessible riding in the country.

Read more: West Coast: An illuminating journey

Stargaze in the Mackenzie Country, Canterbury

The night sky above the Mt John Observatory in Tekapo. Photo / Maki Yanagimachi, Earth&Sky
The night sky above the Mt John Observatory in Tekapo. Photo / Maki Yanagimachi, Earth&Sky

"Kristian Wilson, the astronomy manager of Earth and Sky, which is the education centre linked to Mt John University Observatory and Cowan's Observatory in Lake Tekapo, said Lake Tekapo was internationally recognised for its stargazing attributes and attracted tens of thousands of international visitors each year with many of its night tours running at the 250-person capacity."

Read more: New Zealand stars in world's clearest skies list

Glacier Lookouts, West Coast

The Franz Josef Glacier on the West Coast of the South Island. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Arturo Pardavila III
The Franz Josef Glacier on the West Coast of the South Island. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Arturo Pardavila III

"There are fully-automated facilities in town, although if you head up to one of the alpine huts, Centennial Hut is the loo with a view - leave the door open and look out to the glacier while you spend that penny."

Read more: Kia ora: Franz Josef

Watch bungy jumpers

It'll cost you a bit if you want to bungee jump ... but watching others take the plunge is a budget-friendly spectator sport. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Helena Jinx
It'll cost you a bit if you want to bungee jump ... but watching others take the plunge is a budget-friendly spectator sport. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Helena Jinx

"Last year I did my first bungy jump, something I had managed to avoid on numerous trips to Queenstown. It wasn't that I didn't want to do it, it's just I was too damn chicken. But put in a situation where no was not an option, I jumped."

Read more: High-flying canyon adventures

Queenstown Winter Festival

Fireworks light up the sky during Queenstown's Winter Festival. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Juan Manuel Gomez
Fireworks light up the sky during Queenstown's Winter Festival. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Juan Manuel Gomez

"The Queenstown Winter Festival draws around 45,000 people to the region with street parties, fireworks, international and local acts, and there's plenty on for families as well."

Read more: What to do on a snow holiday when you don't like skiing

Victorian Precinct, Oamaru

Oamaru's striking Victorian precinct will have you thinking you've stepped back in time. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Samuel Mann
Oamaru's striking Victorian precinct will have you thinking you've stepped back in time. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Samuel Mann

"Although I'd never been there, I'd always had a soft spot for the northern Otago town of Oamaru. It seems it is how a proper old-fashioned town should be, with a main street of grand old buildings and proper friendly people."

Read more: Oamaru: Fresh taste of vintage charm

Eastern Southland Gallery, Gore

The impressive facade of Gore's Eastern Southland Art Gallery. Photo / Supplied
The impressive facade of Gore's Eastern Southland Art Gallery. Photo / Supplied

"To round out my quest to lay bare the treasures of Gore, I visit the ornate brick art gallery building on the town's heritage trail. Imagine my surprise to find 50 graphic works and paintings by Ralph Hotere, the largest collection in the country."

Read more: Gore: Heart and soul of Southland

Check out the wildlife in the Catlins, Southland

Nugget Point in the Catlins. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Harald Selke
Nugget Point in the Catlins. Photo / Creative Commons image by Flickr user Harald Selke

"Shared by both Otago and Southland provinces, the Catlins was, when I lived down south, a forgotten corner of New Zealand. Today the secret is out, although judging by the summer visitors I encountered it is mostly overseas tourists who have been venturing off State Highway One to discover it."

Read more: Discovering a forgotten nugget of NZ

Kiwi-spotting on Stewart Island

A Stewart Island brown kiwi on the beach at night. Photo / Venture Southland
A Stewart Island brown kiwi on the beach at night. Photo / Venture Southland

"The main island is now so supportive of native birds that the Stewart Island brown kiwi is prolific by national standards, and grows so big that it feeds not only at night but also emerges during the day for top-up snacks."

Read more: Casting a line in southern seas
'Lonely Planet's The Best Things in Life are Free', in hardback, retails for NZD $32.99.

- nzherald.co.nz