New Zealand is a heaven for all nature lovers. With an abundance of natural beauty with varied terrain right from snowcapped peaks to hissing springs, travelers can marvel at the stunning sights that the country has to offer. It is also a hotspot for thrill-seekers and is known for its adrenaline-fueled sports like skydiving and heli-skiing. Being a relatively small country, it is easy to self-drive and explore the country all by ourselves. While there are hundreds of attractions for tourists, here are the best of the lot.
- Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound
Fiordland National Park protects some of the most stunning sceneries in the country and is a designated world heritage site. Many glaciers carved this landscape, which resulted in famous fjords like Milford Track. Here, you can explore offshore islands, walk through rainforests and scale mountains. Sea kayaking is one of the best ways to see this region, while a helicopter ride can give a beautiful aerial view.
- Bay of Islands
Located near Auckland, this beautiful bay is filled with more than 144 islands, making it a heaven for sailing and yachting. It is common to find penguins, dolphins and whales in the waters here and it is a popular fishing spot as well. Sea kayaking into secluded coves and rock formations like Hole in the Rock and Cape Brett is a treat.
The adventure capital of the world is right here on the south island between the shores of the Lake Wakatipu and snowy peaks of Remarkables. Known for bungee jumping, jet boating, paragliding, rock climbing, mountain biking and other adrenaline filled sports, this is one place you must visit when heading to New Zealand.
- Lake Taupo and Tongariro National Park
Located on the North Island, Lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand and the Tongariro National Park is known for its volcanic features and is a designated World Heritage Site. This is one of the oldest national parks in the world and is filled with turquoise lakes, volcanoes and hot springs.
This dramatic landscape is a part of the Pacific Ring of Fire and is one of the most active geothermal regions in the world. It is dotted with hissing geysers, boiling mud pools, volcanic craters and thermal springs; the very forces which gave birth to this land. You can explore these wonders of nature or bathe in the hot springs while learning about the history of the region. From here, you can head over to Mt. Ruapehu for skiing or Wai-O-Tapu to see colorful hot springs.
- Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers
The complete extreme of the hot springs are the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, which are among the most accessible ones on the planet. Located in the Westland Tai Poutini National Park, these rivers of ice flow from Southern Alps to sea level and can be explored on foot! You can explore ice caves and pinnacles at the foot of the glaciers in guided tours or have an aerial view from helicopters.
- Abel Tasman National Park and Coast Track
The marvelous Abel Tasman Coast Track in the Abel Tasman National Park is one of the most scenic walks in New Zealand. This 51 kilometer hike is a sunny one and along the way, you can indulge in snorkeling, and bird and dolphin watching activities or simply kayak your way around. This is a photographers’ heaven with coastal cliffs and cool forests with intriguing formations like the Split Apple Rock. You can camp in rustic huts, plush lodges or on the campgrounds.
- Mount Cook National Park
Mount Cook is the highest peak in New Zealand and is located at the heart of the Southern Alps. More than 40 percent of this park is filled with glaciers and the country’s longest glacier, the Tasman Glacier is also present within the boundaries of this park, making it a popular mountaineering spot. With more than 40 species of birds, this is a paradise for bird lovers. Mount Cook Village is a tiny village that serves as the base for exploration and from here you can head out for some scenic flights, skiing, hiking or stargazing.
- Napier, Hawke’s Bay
The sunny region of Napier in Hawke’s Bay is famous for its gourmet food and architecture. Built in the Spanish Mission style and Art Deco design, the city is worth exploring on foot. Watching the sea while walking along the beautiful Marine Parade seafront promenade is a treat. Napier is also a foodie heaven and restaurants here specialize in using fresh ingredients from the farmers’ market. Cape Kidnappers is a great attraction near the city for bird lovers.
This beautiful city with two harbours is the largest city in New Zealand and also one of the most populous ones. The 328 meter Sky Tower gives some spectacular views of the city skyline and the land surrounding it. With blonde and black sand beaches as well as rainforest hiking trails along with picturesque coves and islands at stone’s throw distance, this is the perfect city to explore the country.
New Zealand is one of the most picturesque destinations for tourists in the world and a visit to these islands is sure to make you want to return here again. There simply isn’t enough time to cover these beautiful drops in the ocean.