New Zealand is famous for its indigenous people called the Maori, descendants from the early Polynesian explorers some 1,000 years ago. The country is popular in the sports world for doing the Haka dance, a traditional war dance, before every Rugby match.
New Zealand is also known for their mouth-watering cuisines such as the traditional Maori hangi and the variety of crayfish dishes. A country that rivals Australia with some of its natural attractions, New Zealand has always raised eyebrows among its neighbours.
New Zealander actually share the same British colonial heritage as Australia. They are extremely close not just geographically, but also with how their economic integration and historical interaction played a crucial part in the relationship.
During the two World Wars, soldiers from both countries fought alongside each other. And in the recent years, several economic policies have been implanted to make the bond much stronger. But despite sharing the same lineage, their culture differs along with the natural wonders their countries are gifted with.
New Zealand lists as one of the most beautiful countries in the world that everyone should visit. The country has untouched rainforests and natural structures, like the following entries on this list.
20 Fiordland National Park
This stunning 1.2 million acres of lush rainforest has a diverse richness of flora and fauna. Some of the plant and animal species inhabiting the forest are endemic because of the country’s relative isolation. There are many rare species of birds including the famous Kiwi bird, Kakapo, Tui, and the Bellbird.
Fiordland is one of New Zealand’s most cherished national parks and has been the battle of conservation debates in the 1960s. The diverse range of unique and endangered wildlife, glorious mountain peaks, and diverging sceneries from snow-capped peaks to breathtaking fiords is something that makes New Zealand unique from Australia.
19 Milford Sound
Milford Sound or what is commonly called as Piopiotahi is located within the Fiordland National Park. It is a must travel destination with towering mountain peaks, diverse wildlife, and two cascading waterfalls. Milford Sound is also considered as the 8th Wonder of the World because of its natural beauty which attracts locals and tourists alike.
Water sports like tramping and canoeing is enjoyable with the highly attractive landscape and an overnight cruise gives every visitor a chance to experience the sights and sounds of the natural preserve at night. Milford Sound is just 4 hours drive from Queensland and 2 hours from Te Anua.
18 Tongariro National Park
The natural preserve is located in the North Central Island of New Zealand and is the oldest protected rainforest in the country. Forest conservation was established in 1887 and the area has since then been considered as a national treasure. Visitors have access to some recreational sites including the alps where skiing is allowed.
Tongarino National Park boasts some of the most scenic landscapes in New Zealand including the volcanic plateau of Mt. Ruapehu. The view of the two other mountains, Mt. Tongarino and Mt. Ngauruhoe is equally breathtaking. The latter mountain was used as the location site for Mt. Doom in the movie the Lord of the Rings.
17 Waitomo Caves
The Glowworm Caves of Waitomo is a must visit for every vacationer who wants to experience the authentic richness of New Zealand. A boat ride through the cave is mesmerizing because of the endemic specie of arachnocampa luminosa, glowworms that emit luminescence and brightens the caves.
Black water rafting and the Hobbit filming locations are also part of the destination site in the Waitomo Caves. Waitomo in the native Maori language means water hole suggesting the labyrinthine cave and underground rivers. Waitomo Caves also house the spectacular Marokopa waterfalls and a natural limestone bridge formation called the Mangapohue. It is a must visit even Australians feel agog about.
16 Bay of Islands
Tourists looking for a great sea adventure often find the satisfaction they need in the Bay of Islands. The destination is a three-hour drive from Auckland and offers exciting activities from fishing to sailing and other water sports. It was given the namesake because of the 144 islands offering different sceneries and fun-filled adventure.
The Maori inhabitants first settled in the Bay of Islands during their migration from Hawaiki establishing its population in the new territory. With many inlets, natural harbors, and unglaciated valley formations, the Bay of Islands is an excellent travel destination for day cruises with activities like sea kayaking, diving, and snorkeling. The abundance of marine life is also its main attraction.
15 Fox Glacier
Located in the South Island’s Westland Tai Poutini National Park, Fox Island is a captivating destination for those who would like to feed their indulgence in the alpine glaciers. A trip to Fox Glacier allows visitors to experience an ice-hiking and sightseeing adventure.
A glowworm cave is located just a few kilometers from the nearby town center and Lake Matheson is also just a couple of miles from Fox Glacier. Called as Te Moeka o Tuawe by the locals, Fox Glacier offers guided tours either by heli-hiking, walking, or ice-climbing. It is one of the major attractions in New Zealand with estimated visitors of more than a thousand during peak seasons.
14 Abel Tasman National Park
The Abel Tasman National Park is located right at the northern tip of the South Island. The park was named after the 15th century explorer Abel Tasman whose expedition reached New Zealand. Opened to the public in 1942, the Abel Tasman National Park is a natural reserve that stretches to a total of 37 acres of unexplored rainforest.
The national treasure is the smallest preserved park in the country comprised of the Golden Bay and Tasman bay by the North. Visitors can visit the coastal paradise especially the Te Puketea Bay which has fine golden sand and crystal clear waters. Only certain parts of the park are accessible including some areas in the Marahau and Kaiteriteri regions in the South, and some at the Golden Bay and Toraranui to the North.
13 Lake Wakatipu
An inland lake located in the South Island of the Otago Region. The lake has been classified as the third largest in the country and goes to a maximum depth of 380 meters below sea level. Lake Wakatipu has a bizarre shape and the glacier-carved mountains make it one of the most scenic places to visit in New Zealand.
Lake Wakatipu is home to a mythical creature known to the Maori people as Matau. Legend says the lake monster sleeps at the bottom and the waves or seiche felt on the river is caused by the rhythmic beating of the monster’s heart. A scenic cruise through a vintage steamboat is offered and includes a tour to the cascading waterfalls, the Lake Face Creek Falls.
12 Franz Josef Glacier
Just a few miles from Fox Glacier is one of the most striking glacial destinations in New Zealand. Named after Austrian Emperor Franz Josef I, the glacial landmark is just a stone-throw away from the village of the same name. There are lots of accommodation options the whole year around town and the town can take in as much as 2,000 people per night.
Franz Josef Glacier offers lots of outdoor activities including guided ice walks, glacial treks, heli-hike, and other aerial touring options. The nearby lake of Mapourika offers tourists kayak tours and paddle board rentals. Hot pools are also a must-try in the area along with rainforest, lakes, and waterfall exploration.
11 Waitomo Glowworm Caves
A guided tour to New Zealand’s famous Waitomo Cave lets visitors marvel at the grandeur of the mysterious glowworms lighting the walls of the cave. This virtual ‘constellation’ feels like a scene straight out from a James Cameron movie with limestone illuminated with bioluminescence.
The imposing cavern complex can either be explored on foot or the boat tour which takes tourists to the glowworm grotto. The caverns were formed from fossil remains of shells and other aquatic animals that are collected on the seafloor. The sedimentary formation was hoisted out of the sea because the continental plates collided some 30 million years ago, forming the Waitomo and Ruakuri Caves.
10 Matamata (Hobbiton)
Matamata is a farming town located in the topmost region of the North Island, just at the base of the Kaimai Ranges. Site of the famous Shire from the movie Lord of the Rings, Matamata is a site worthy to visit for fans of the J.R.R. Tolkien movie adaptation.
Just two hours from Auckland, the Hobbiton is a prodigal farmland with 44 Hobbit holes that were used for filming the movie. There are lots of fabulous things to do including a visit to Bilbo Baggin’s house, a visit to the tavern with a complimentary evening banquet, and an experience at the Green Dragon Inn to give visitors the authentic feel of being a Hobbiton resident.
9 Huka Falls
Huka Falls is located in Taupo which is the catch basin for the Waikato River. It is one of the most visited and photographed tourist attractions in New Zealand. The Huka Falls with its turquoise-colored rapids streams steadily through the narrow canyons of Waikato River and the strong water current creates the majestic cascades of the Huka Falls.
Recent developments in the area include the hydropower electric plant which harnesses electricity from the flowing water. A dam was also installed to regulate the flow of the river downstream and provide the needed energy source. Jet tours at the base of the Huka Falls provide tourists with space to witness the power of the Waikato River.
8 Te Whangunui-A-Hei (Cathedral Cove) Marine Reserve
Like its “best-friend” continent, New Zealand is surrounded by a vast network of oceans and seas. Cathedral Cove or what is locally called as the Te Whangunui-A-Hei Marine Reserve is a beach front with a spectacular cove that has constantly been considered as the top gathering hole for tourists and local vacationers.
Cathedral Cove is an excellent spot for all sorts of water activities and a wonderful site to explore the rich treasures of the New Zealand seas. Marker buoys found in certain depths of the ocean carry informational guides of what inhabits within its expanse. Crayfish, delicate corals, butterfish, marblefish and many endemic specie of marine life abound in the marine reserve.
7 Mount Taranaki
Mount Taranaki or commonly called as Mount Egmont is considered as a gift from the heavens by the Kiwis. The distinctive mountain has a perfectly shaped cone similar to Japan’s Mount Fuji and the Philippines’ Mount Mayon. The volcano is not extinct but dormant waiting for the next big eruption.
The slope of Mount Taranaki is surprisingly not dangerous and many non-professional mountaineers have reached the top pit stop. It is very scenic from afar and the symmetrical cone can be admired from the surrounding villages and towns. Mount Taranaki was used as a backdrop for the Tom Cruise movie The Last Samurai in 2003.
6 Nelson Lakes National Park
Nelson Lakes National Park is a quintessential tourist attraction in the South Island of New Zealand. Located in the Tasman District, the National Reserve is composed of 393 sq. miles of land encompassing the valley regions of the Travers, Sabine, and D’Urville. The land area also goes beyond the slopes of the Saint Arnaud Range and Mount Robert.
Nelson Lakes offer visitors a lot of outdoor activities including hiking, boating, fishing, mountain trekking and biking. The National Park overlooks the mountain ranges of the Southern Alps and has a relaxing vibe not just for lovers but the whole family. The natural diversity of flora and fauna is also something every visitor should try to explore including the local bush robins, kaka, lush beech trees, the giant snails.
5 Ninety Mile Beach
Although the beachfront was named 90 Mille Beach, it is actually short of 55 miles. Located in the Northland Region which boasts a sub-tropical weather, Ninety Mile Beach draws in more than a thousand people each year. It has a unique sand dune area where visitors can enjoy the golden sand for dune surfing, sand boarding, snapper fishing, and shell gathering.
Divers can also visit the Shipwreck Bay near the Ahipara town or go horseback riding in the Horse Trek right within town. The beach front is sometimes used as an alternate route when the main highway is closed for some reason. The northern dunes and the desert-like landscape is mostly what attracts tourists in the Ninety Mile Beach.
4 Kahurangi National Park
Kahurangi in the Maori language means, “treasured possession” and the tourist spot really speaks for its name. The National Park is the second largest natural preserve in New Zealand with some of the most bizarre plants and extraordinary bird species only found in the country.
There are lots of activities to do in the Kahurangi National Park including trekking, cave spelunking, wild river rides, camping, and fishing among others. Reaching the conservation site is fairly easy because there are four gateway towns that give access to the site. Motueka, Takaka, Murchison, and Karamea are just stone-throw away from the National Heritage with budget-friendly accommodations.
3 Arthur’s Pass National Park
Located in Christchurch, Arthur’s Pass National Park is a mountainous terrain with some of the most scenic landscapes and exotic plants and animals. It became the first Reserve in the South Island in 1929 and the third to be a protected zone in New Zealand.
Mt. Murchison is the highest peak in the Arthur’s Pass conservatory and has gorgeous tributaries like the Bealey, Hawdon, Anti Crow, and White Crow flowing to the Waimakariri River. Waimakariri Falls also located in the area with a breathtaking cascade that passes through the mountain gorge. The snow covered mountain peaks offer a picturesque landscape only found in New Zealand.
2 Whakapapa Ski field
The Whakapapa Ski field is located in the Northern side of Tongariro’s Mount Ruapehu. There is a skiable area of about 1360 acres and people looking for an adventure can find Whakapapa Ski field a great place for doing winter sports. Ski season usually starts late June and ends during the early days of November.
Whakapapa Ski field has several terrains for skiers of different skill levels. The tourist spot also has some exciting activities including a sliding tube which can be used for sledding. A volcanic crater can also be found in Whakapapa Ski field and viewing is available during the summer season.
1 Coronet Peak
Coronet Peak is a commercial ski field located in Queenstown. It is a popular tourist destination because of its relative proximity to the resort town of Queenstown-Lakes District. Coronet Peak is normally snowy at the middle of the year up till mid-September. Coronet Peak is a popular destination for students on a school trip because of the well developed skiing area.
Aside from the breathtaking high points of Coronet Peak, one of the best things about the destination is the level of terrains offered to novice and experts. They offer supervised programs for early learners and have the longest operational hours including night skis.