New Zealand is well known for being one of the most beautiful countries in the world, but which locations are must-see? There are so many locations, it is hard to pick just five, but we’ve given it a go. The combination of forest, mountains, rivers, lakes and ocean form a landscape that has been loved by millions of tourists to New Zealand. The ideal is to make a leisurely four week (at least) trip around the country, but most people have under two weeks. Here are our top picks:
- Lake Tekapo. Located just 3-4 hours drive from Christchurch, Lake Tekapo is known for its crystal clear lake and staggering mountain scenery. However, that’s not what puts it on this list – to truly experience the beauty of this place, you must stay overnight. Lake Tekapo is a designated night-sky reserve, which means that at night the Milky Way is visible to absolutely incredible effect. Due to its altitude and distance from civilization, there is no light pollution and the atmosphere is extremely clear. Though you can enlist in a sky tour, all you really need to appreciate it is to step outside.
- Waitomo Caves. Around an hour south of Auckand, the Waitomo Caves are massive limestone structures, with stalactites and stalagmites growing enormous and beautiful. However it’s what lives in the cave network that makes it really special. Thousands and thousands of glow worms line the cave ceiling, glittering and creating a galaxy-like effect.
- Tongariro Crossing. Anyone who has watched The Lord of The Rings trilogy will remember the brutal but beautiful scenery of Mordor – a red, deathly landscape. The real-life location, the Mount Tongariro National Park, is if anything even more beautiful, with bright blue lakes contrasting against the rough rocks and mountains. You can walk the Tongariro Crossing, which takes you right through this amazing region.
- Abel Tasman National Park. Located at the top of the South Island, the Abel Tasman National Park is world-famous for its rich green forests that run right up to the sea, with golden sands and perfect clear water. The best part about the Abel Tasman National Park however, is how easy it is to access and explore. Drive to Motueka or Kaiteriteri, and walk, swim or kayak your way around.
- Milford Sound. Milford Sound is a bit more time-consuming to reach, but everyone who has experienced it for themselves will tell you – it’s worth it. You’ll need to drive 4-5 hours from Queenstown through narrow, winding roads, which leads to the small township. Or fly quickly helicopter or plane. From there, you’ll either need to hike or take a ferry boat out into the sound. You will be rewarded with unbelievable views of an ancient forest, often shrouded in mist, reflected in clear beautiful water.
New Zealand is filled with so many beautiful places, it’s a challenge to choose just 5. The best part of visiting is exploring, experiencing and making your own list.