New Zealand’s Top Natural Wonders
With scenery that can only be described as cinematic just a short international flight away, it’s little wonder over 1.5 million Aussies made the trip across the ditch last year. As soon as we return to trans-Tasman travel, you’ll want to pop New Zealand at the top of your list. Here, Christie Sinclair names the natural wonders you can't miss.
Considered the most scenic region in the country, Fiordland is an obligatory stop on the South Island
. The crowning jewel is Milford Sound, the spectacular fiord described by Rudyard Kipling as the 'eighth wonder of the world’
. With much of the region off limits to preserve its beauty, a cruise is the best way to experience the region, where hulking mountains covered in green forest rise up from the deep, dark water and waterfalls cascade down cliffs up to 1,200 metres high. Experience the beauty through a cruise on our 12 Day New Zealand Discoverer
Bay of Islands
Visitors flock to New Zealand for the mountains and lakes. But relatively few know about the subtropical paradise up north
, whose highlighter-blue waters are dotted with 144 islands. There are hidden bays, golden beaches and coastal walking trails that ribbon through bushland
, while countless cruise boats trundle out to Cape Brett and the ‘Hole in the Rock’ daily. Save time for a visit to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds
, the location of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between Maori Chiefs and the British Crown in 1840. The original document can still be seen in the museum today.
The star of Westland Tai Poutini National Park
, Fox Glacier and its nearby village was named after New Zealand’s former Prime Minister Sir William Fox. The 12-kilometre-long ribbon of white seeps from the Southern Alps into the temperate rainforest below in spectacular fashion. For the views, nothing beats a helicopter flight over the glacier, which shines like shards of cut glass from above. Otherwise, grab a pair of crampons for a walk on the ice itself. Be sure to stop at the nearby Lake Matheson, which reflects Aoraki (Mt Cook) on a clear day. Drive through the Southern Alps on our 8 Day Southern Escape
Aoraki (Mt Cook)
At a whopping 3,754 metres high, Aoraki (Mount Cook)
holds the title of the country’s tallest peak. It’s also the most accessible. There’s only one road leading in and out of the World Heritage-listed national park with the same name, and it also happens to be one of the country’s most scenic drives, following the curves of Lake Pukaki. While flightseeing trips over the Tasman Glacier, boat cruises along its terminal lake and stargazing adventures are popular choices with visitors, there’s really no better way to experience the scenery than along one of the scenic walking trails.
It’s impossible to understand the inexhaustible beauty of Lake Tekapo until you’ve stood on its shores and gazed out at the iridescent blue water. The intense milky colour is created by tiny particles of ground rock from surrounding glaciers suspended in the water. Wander along the lake’s shore to the tiny Church of the Good Shepherd, its altar window perfectly framing the water and the Southern Alps, or simmer away in the thermal pools while enjoying stunning lake views. You’ll want to plan your visit between April and September to witness the Aurora Australis, the southern hemisphere's equivalent of the northern lights. Join our 15 Day New Zealand Getaway
tour to experience all that Aotearoa (the land of the long white cloud) has to offer in landscapes that are just out of this world.