The natural wonders of New Zealand are countless! During our road trip through the country we visited some of the most incredible landscape we’ve ever seen…
Less than three hours drive south of Auckland the scenery had changed so much it was as if we had arrived on a different continent – even another planet. Bubbling mud pots, shooting geysers and milky blue hot springs give Rotorua a truly other-worldly feel. 150 km later, the steamy peaks of the Tongariro National Park, sacred in Maori culture.
Another island, another vista: this time twinkling snow in Glacier Country. We explored Franz Josef and Fox glaciers on foot (but you can go for an incredible heli-hike adventure!). Last stop Milford Sound, a deep, dark 10-mile fjord with sheer rock on each side, waterfalls and a misty, mysterious atmosphere.
No wonder these are some of New Zealand’s most popular destinations. However there are many natural wonders outside the beaten path for you to explore! So leave the crowd behind and check out our list of New Zealand’s hidden natural wonders!
New Zealand’s hidden natural wonders
The Kauri Forest, North Island
The Waipoua Forest on the west coast of the North Island is one of the first of New Zealand’s natural wonders that we discovered during our road trip.This ancient green world of towering kauri trees and rare birds is the largest remaining tract of native forest in Northland. A short hike will take you to the foot of the largest tree you’ll ever lay eyes upon: Tane Mahuta, 2000 years old, 4.4 metres in diameter and still growing.
White Island, North Island
Just 50 km offshore from Whakatāne, in the Bay of Plenty, White Island is the world’s most accessible active marine volcano. Once you arrive on the island you can walk across its wild, lunar landscape with active geothermal steam vents, bubbling mud springing up from the sulfur-tinged Earth and the remains of a sulfur mining operation which ended in disaster. Helicopter and boat trips to the island leave daily from main land.
Abel Tasman National Park, South Island
Situated in the top left corner of the South Island of New Zealand, the Abel Tasman National Park is crossed by a 60 km hiking track: the Abel Tasman Coast Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, and also one of the most beautiful, it’s not hard to see why once you arrive. The park is named after a Dutchman, Abel Tasman, who accidentally discovered the beautiful coastline in 1642.
The Dark Sky Reserve, South Island
Did you know that New Zealand has the biggest Dark Sky Reserve in the whole world? We went for a camping-under-the-stars vacation in the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve, the biggest in the world, which includes the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park and the villages of Lake Tekapo, Twizel and Mt Cook. Before you go there make sure you check the weather forecast for clear skies!
Rob Roy Glacier Track, South Island
Arguably the most stunning attraction in and around the Lake Wanaka area – the Rob Roy Glacier is also one of our favourite natural wonders of New Zealand. The track climbs steadily through a small gorge along the Rob Roy Stream, then into alpine vegetation at the head of the valley, with spectacular views of the Rob Roy Glacier. 4-5 hours return to the glacier viewpoint.
Doubtful Sound, South Island
Most of the people that have visited the South Island of New Zealand went on a cruise or a kayak trip in the Milford Sound, however not many people visited the Doubtful Sound, one of the most secluded natural wonders of New Zealand. The two sounds are located not too far from each other and they both can be accessed from a small town called Te Anau. Incredible waterfalls and wildlife are good reasons to visit this fiord – keep an eye out for bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and penguins.
Penguins of Oamaru, South Island
Oamaru, in the South Island of New Zealand, is home of two kinds of penguins, the rare yellow eyed penguins and the world smallest little blue penguins. The best time to observe the penguins in nature is around dusk, when they are coming home to their nest from feeding in the ocean.
Are you ready for the adventure?