A large reason that New Zealand has so much pristine natural scenery is that much of the land is protected in designated national parks. Not only does this prevent logging and deforestation, it also ensures that the Department of Conservation (DOC) spends time and money keeping the forests healthy, pest-free and filled with accessible walking tracks. There are national parks of various sizes across the country, and they all contain unique natural attractions. Though some areas can only be accessed on foot, by and large you can experience most of the natural environment by car on sealed or unsealed roads. Any visitor to New Zealand should definitely consider spending some time experiencing the wild in its original state.
Fiordland National Park. The largest national park in New Zealand, Fiordland is also some of the least accessible terrain in the country. Sharp and densely forested mountains make it difficult for many roads to be built here, and the roadways that do exist are quite winding and narrow. However it is worth the trek for some of the most stunning and unique scenery in the world. There are three Great Walks here, all of which provide multi-day hikes through incredible bush.
Kahurangi National Park. The second largest national park is located in the north of the South Island, and its most famous track is the Heaphy. This can be completed in stages, or over the course of 3-5 days depending on your pace. Located near the Abel Tasman, it’s a little more alpine and higher altitude. It still provides good weather for much of the year however, making it perfect for hiking and camping.
Te Urewera National Park. The vast untrodden Ureweras are famous for their lakes and forests. Because much of the area is rugged and inaccessible, it has helped bird and plant life to flourish, and it remains very faithful to its original state. It contains nearly every kind of bird native to the North Island, and is therefore definitely worth a visit if you are an avid birdwatcher. Located between the Bay of Plenty and the Hawke’s Bay, it’s a great stop on any tour of the north east.
New Zealand’s national parks are a fantastic resource that belong to everyone, and can be enjoyed by hiking, camping, or simply driving through. They’re well maintained and offer a glimpse into what the country was like before settlers arrived here.