30 Of The Most Amazing Places To Visit In New Zealand
Have you ever wondered what place holds the honorary title of the most beautiful country? Our planet is incredibly diverse with its destinations, and pointing the finger at a particular location seems like an impossible task. There're 195 countries with different cultures and unalike views, yet they're all equally breathtaking – so is it even fair to choose a favorite?
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and what makes a place "the most beautiful" is the memories you've made, the people you've met and, perhaps, the otherworldly views you will treasure for the rest of your days.
However, speaking of the otherworldly views – New Zealand's scenery is among the most memorable in the world. The sixth-largest island country is filled with unique places that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime – and to help all the fellow adventurers, Bored Panda has gathered a couple of locations that'll make your next trip totally unforgettable.
Waipu is a small town in Bream Bay, in the Northland Region of New Zealand, with a Scottish heritage. Near the town are the Waipu Caves, which contain a significant population of glow worms.
Maori Rock Carvings At Mine Bay
The giant Mine Bay Māori rock carving of Ngātoroirangi on Lake Taupō has been hailed as one of New Zealand’s most extraordinary contemporary Māori artworks. Towering 14 meters above the deep water of Lake Taupō, the carving has become one of the North Island’s biggest tourist attractions.
The Mine Bay Māori rock carvings are accessible by boat only, and can be reached by taking a scenic cruise, sailing boat or kayaking trip from Taupō Boat Harbour.
Whananaki is a locality on the east coast of Northland, New Zealand. A long wooden footbridge connects Whananaki North and Whananaki South, with an alternative connection being a 6-kilometer-long (3.7 mi) road that crosses the river above the estuary.
The Hobbiton Movie Set
Middle-earth comes to life at the Hobbiton movie set. A one-hour drive from Auckland will enable you to see the original hobbit holes and several film sites from up close - it’ll almost feel like you’ve stepped into a Tolkien-esque world of your own.
Fiordland National Park
Rudyard Kipling once called Fiordland National Park “the eighth wonder of the world.” Quite simply, it’s one of the world’s most beautiful spots. Established as a national park in 1952 and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990, the territory encompasses ice-carved fjords filled with pristine crystal blue water, deep lakes that seem almost primordial, spectacular snow-topped mountains that reach toward the sky, and sweeping vistas that stretch from the granite hills all the way down to the sea
Tutukaka is a locality on the east coast of Northland, New Zealand, in an area commonly referred to as the Tutukaka Coast.
As the closest marina to the Poor Knights Islands, Tutukaka is the base for boat tours for diving and snorkeling in the waters around these protected islands. At the peak of the busy summer months, Tutukaka's population swells from around 600 permanent residents to over 2,400. A walking track leads from Tutukaka to a small lighthouse at Tutukaka Head (South Gable).
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Waitomo Township is green and hilly, but underneath the sunny, glassy area lies something much darker and more intriguing: A system of caves and underground streams. Visitors to the Waitomo Caves can see the massive stalactites and stalagmites all lit up by the population of phosphorescent glow worms that live in the caves and illuminate the space with an eerie light. Those with a more adventurous heart can also choose to explore the caves via a zipline or by blackwater rafting, which involves holding tight to a rubber tube as they navigate the twists and turns of the underground river.
Lake Tekapo is beautiful and colored a unique cloudy blue due to the glacier-ground rock flour in its waters, and the town, with mountain vistas rising from the lake's turquoise edges, is both historical and friendly. Lake Tekapo might be gorgeous during the day time, but once the sun sets, this area is truly magical. It's part of a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, meaning that once night comes, the skies of Lake Tekapo are lit up by a mind blowing number of stars.
The Huka Falls are a set of waterfalls on the Waikato River that drains Lake Taupo in New Zealand. A few hundred meters upstream from the Huka Falls, the Waikato River narrows from approximately 100 meters across into a canyon only 15 meters across.
Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park
Aoraki / Mount Cook is the highest mountain in New Zealand. Its height since 2014 is listed as 3,724 meters (12,218 feet). It lies in the Southern Alps, the mountain range which runs the length of the South Island. A popular tourist destination, it is also a favorite challenge for mountain climbers
Christchurch is a city on the South Island of New Zealand on the East Coast of the island and in the region of Canterbury. It's the second-largest city in New Zealand and is known as the Garden City for its gorgeous gardens and parks. The traditional English feel of Christchurch is offset by the common New Zealand feeling of never being too far from nature, and it's true: There are oceans, beaches, and mountains at the city's doorstep. The region of Canterbury is well known for its diverse landscape, with snow-capped mountains, beautiful blue lakes, and grassy plains.
Hawke's Bay Region is a region of New Zealand on the east coast of the North Island.
The Hawke's Bay Region includes the hilly coastal land around the northern and central bay, the floodplains of the Wairoa River in the north, the wide fertile Heretaunga Plains around Hastings in the south, and a hilly interior stretching up into the Kaweka and Ruahine Ranges.
The region has a hill with the longest place name in New Zealand, and the longest in the world according to the 2009 Guinness Book of Records. Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu is an otherwise unremarkable hill in southern Hawke's Bay, not far from Waipukurau.
Extending to almost the entire length of the South Island, the Southern Alps mountain range is the highest in Australasia. It is home to Aoraki / Mount Cook, Mount Aspiring, Mount Tutoko, along with various other mountains, glacial lakes and forested wonders.
The Coromandel Peninsula
The Coromandel Peninsula is a summer holiday favorite among New Zealanders. A collection of picturesque coastal towns, campsites, surf spots and fishing locations are some of its assets. Beautiful gems such as Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach are additional bonuses.
Located on the West Coast region of the South Island, the Hokitika Gorge is one of those amazing places that look as good as – if not better than – its pictures. A walking track 33 kilometres (20.5 miles) outside of the town of Hokitika will bring you up close and personal to the gorge’s shimmering turquoise waters and dense forested surrounds. As you reach the viewing platform, a stunning swing bridge comes into view: this is the ultimate spot for a photo opportunity.
Milford Sound is a beautiful sight: Forged thousands of years ago by glaciers, its waterfalls and flowing waters are framed by sky scraping mountains, which reach up with their rocky fingers into the air. Boat cruises of the sound, which are offered both during the day and overnight, are an excellent way to interact with this piece of nature. There is also ample opportunity at Milford Sound to see the fiord from a sea kayak, from the air, or from beneath on a scuba dive. Along the edges of the fiord, hikers can traverse the Milford Track, which winds its way through the vivid wilderness and takes approximately 4 days to complete.
The Moeraki Boulders are unusually large and spherical boulders lying along a stretch of Koekohe Beach on the wave-cut Otago coast of New Zealand between Moeraki and Hampden. These boulders are grey-colored septarian concretions, which have been exhumed from the mudstone enclosing them and concentrated on the beach by coastal erosion.
Matapouri is a place where mermaids would definitely hang out if they existed. Named “The Mermaid Pools” these huge hidden emerald rock pools are so deep you can dive right on in. Top tip: avoid visiting at high tide as the waves can crash over the rocks at an alarming speed and sweep you off your little sunbathing perch!
Redwood Walks In Rotorua
Rotorua is a city on the southern shores of Lake Rotorua from which the city takes its name, located in the Bay of Plenty Region of New Zealand's North Island.
Rotorua is known for its geothermal activity, and features geysers – notably the Pohutu Geyser at Whakarewarewa – and hot mud pools. This thermal activity is sourced to the Rotorua caldera, in which the town lies.
Rotorua is also home to botanical gardens and historic architecture. Known as a spa town and major tourist resort since the 1800s, many of its buildings hint at this history. Government Gardens, close to the lake-shore at the eastern edge of the town, are a particular point of pride
Nelson Lakes National Park
Set on the upper end of the South Island, Nelson Lakes National Park marks the beginning of the Southern Alps. At the heart of the park you’ll encounter two breathtaking alpine lakes surrounded by soaring forested valleys: Rotoiti and Rotoroa. The lakes and the surrounding parkland are highly desirable spots for camping, fishing, hiking and swimming.
Hot Water Beach Around The Coromandel Peninsula
The Coromandel Peninsula’s movie-worthy Cathedral Cove gets plenty of love, but Hot Water Beach is a local treasure worth cherishing too. With its golden sands and bubbling hot waters, this deserted piece of coastline is sure to enthral all travellers who spending some time familiarising themselves with the North Island’s natural beauty. Don’t forget to bring a shovel so you can scoop out your own thermal mineral water spring to dip into.
Egmont National Park
Egmont National Park is located south of New Plymouth, close to the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand.
The park, established in 1900, is dominated by the dormant volcano of Mount Taranaki. Since the area has high annual rainfall and a mild coastal climate there is a lush rain-forest covering the foothills, a forest which is nationally significant for the total absence of beech trees.
Franz Joseph Glacier
Glacier hiking is on top of many New Zealand visitors’ bucket lists. One of the country’s best-known glaciers, Franz Josef is highly desired by those wanting to get on the ice. While you’re in the region, definitely consider taking the time to visit its other famous neighbour, Fox Glacier. While Franz Josef is the steepest of the two, Fox Glacier is noteworthy for being the longest and fastest moving.
Tongariro National Park Alpine Crossing
The first national park of New Zealand, Tongariro is known for its surprises and extremes. The park’s diverse range of ecosystems includes tranquil lakes, active volcanoes, herb fields, untamed forests and desert-like plateaus. Start your trek at the Whakapapa Visitor Center, just a three hour hike from the stunning Taranaki Falls. The short hike will take you through scrubland and forest and across the lava line of volcanic eruptions from hundreds of years ago.
Te Urewera is a protected area and former national park in the area of Te Urewera, near the east coast of New Zealand's North Island. It was established as a national park in 1954 and disestablished as such in 2014.
SH38 is the only road that leads through the park. The road is unsealed over 74 km.
Also known as Mount Egmont, Mount Taranaki is a quiescent stratovolcano on the western coast of the North Island. Its symmetrical shape gives it a strong resemblance to Japan’s Mount Fuji - so much so, that Mt Taranaki served as the backdrop for the iconic mountain in the Tom Cruise film The Last Samurai. Hiking tracks around Egmont National Park provide access to this magnificent summit.
The Korako Glacier in the Milford Sound with terminal lake. A challenging hike for the robust otherwise a comfortable helicopter will reward you this awesome view
Roys Peak is a mountain in New Zealand, standing between Wanaka and Glendhu Bay. It offers a full-day walk, with views across Lake Wanaka and up to the peak of Mount Aspiring/Tititea. The track zigzags steeply up the side of Mount Roy, through thick grass until the ridge to the summit.
Be prepared for rapid weather changes here – take appropriate shoes and warm windproof clothing. You can get sun, rain, wind, sleet and snow in the space of just a few minutes!
Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland is located just outside of Rotorua – a place that, throughout history, has impressed visitors with its geysers and hot pools. The geothermal park is notable for its showcase of colorful springs, including the vibrant Champagne Pools and the fluorescent-green Devil’s Bath; as well as the spouting Lady Knox Geyser and the bubbling mud pools that aptly showcase the area’s remarkable volcanic activity.
White Island is the country’s most active volcano, which makes it one of the best places to go in New Zealand for adventurous travelers. Get up close and personal with White Island by taking a scenic helicopter ride with Volcanic Air Safaris. Your White Island tour won’t be a leisurely stroll: Because this is a very active volcano, you’ll have to wear a hard hat and gas mask. You may even see volcanologists monitoring the volcano.
If a helicopter tour of White Island is not your thing, there are a number of other ways to explore the volcano. You can take a boat to White Island or get a bird’s-eye view of it on a scenic flight. You can even go scuba diving around White Island for a look at the volcano’s underwater vents.
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