Renowned throughout the world for its majestic natural beauty, the sweeping landscapes and panoramas of New Zealand are like no other place on earth. Lofty snow-capped mountains soar dramatically into the bright blue sky as endless verdant valleys and sun soaked meadows stretch into the distance with bottomless crystal clear lakes reflecting the fluffy clouds above them.
Far removed from the world, the stunning scenery on show was made famous in the popular Lord of the Rings films. Due to their isolation however the national parks in New Zealand are thankfully well protected and preserved, receiving comparatively few visitors for such an unbelievably beautiful country.
Map of National Parks in New Zealand
In this untouched wilderness you will find peace of mind and a sense of enormous wellbeing such is the secluded splendour you will find yourself immersed in.
10. Paparoa National Park
Home to the distinctive Pancake Rocks which are the main draw of the park, Paparoa has a number of lovely landscapes for visitors to explore. Located right on the coast of the South Island, the beautiful mountains of the Paparoa Range overlook the Tasman Sea and the lush forests covering them only add to the area’s charm.
With steep ravines running on either side of pristine rivers and canyons cutting through the ancient rock; the national park has a wealth of scenic views on show. Hidden away within the confines of the park are a number of caves which make for delightful exploring. Paparoa National Park has an abundant array of stunning geological formations which make this a lovely park to visit.
9. Te Urewera National Park
With sprawling forests stretching for as far as the eye can see, stepping into the wilderness of Te Urewera National Park is an unforgettable experience such is the untamed nature of the park.
The crown jewel of Te Urewera is undoubtedly the marvellous Lake Waikaremoana. Here you will find stunning scenery on show and the juxtaposition of the wild forest threatening to invade its shores and the still tranquillity of the lake’s waters is mesmerizing to behold.
Scattered among the overgrowth are a number of delightful waterfalls for you to stumble upon. Lichen and moss coat the rocks on either side of the cascades, bewitching in their splendor, far removed from the outside world. This national park really is amazing to explore and as with most of New Zealand you will find scenes of such beauty that you will want to return time and time again.
8. Nelson Lakes National Park
If scenic lakes surrounded by dreamy mountains is what you are after then Nelson Lakes National Park is the place for you. Lying deep between the rocky ravines and valleys that give way to low-lying mountains, the two lakes of Rotoiti and Rotoroa look absolutely stunning thanks to the dark blue hue they give off.
Reflecting the sky above them and the Saint Arnaud and Mount Robert mountain ranges, this picturesque scenery will certainly serve you up a plethora of memorable photo opportunities. Paths and trails snake out from the lake shores before spiraling their way up the craggy mountainside before ending in stunning viewing points overlooking the perfect panoramas below.
With an abundance of fish residing in the lakes, it is a popular area to go fishing and many visitors to the park opt to camp and stay the night in the secluded beauty. Nelson Lakes National Park is a peaceful and picturesque park to visit with a number of breathtaking sights to see.
7. Westland Tai Poutini National Park
Phwoar! The gigantic domineering peaks of the Southern Alps are truly an awe-inspiring sight to behold. Reaching over 3700 meters at their highest point, these beautiful mountains make Westland Tai Poutini an incredible national park to visit.
This indomitable range stretches right down to the coastline and as such delivers some fantastic views of the mountains plunging into the ocean. Interspersed among the rocky peaks are a number of lovely serene lakes for you to discover and part of the joy of the park is stumbling over a ridge to find yet another unbelievable panorama before your eyes.
Up high glaciers dominate the landscape and two popular attractions are Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier. For a bird’s eye view of all the beautiful scenery on show, take to the skies in a helicopter for the ultimate viewing experience.
6. Mount Aspiring National Park
This mountainous part of the country really needs to be seen to be believed such is its wealth of incredible sights on offer. Snow-topped mountains rise high above the ravines and valleys below before plunging dramatically into the lakes and rivers that wind their way between them.
At over 3000 meters in height, it is the looming Mount Aspiring that fittingly gives the park its name. With craggy cliffs and rocky ridges to explore, this national park is popular among mountaineers and nature lovers who flock to the hidden trails and paths that abound among the wilderness.
Untamed and untouched, like many places in New Zealand the park has a plethora of unforgettable sights for you to delight in; domineering mountains interspersed with serene and tranquil lakes, what more could you want?
5. Arthur’s Pass National Park
As the sun sets over the national park, a plethora of golden hues paint the mountains in a dancing array of bright yellows and oranges before slowly fading into darker shades of purple as yet another beautiful day comes to a close.
Arthur’s Park National Park covers a wild section of the Southern Alps mountain range and as such offers up a range of lovely viewing sites over the surrounding countryside with sunsets being particularly beautiful.
Divided in two by the range that runs through it, one side of the park is covered in rocky peaks while the other consists of lush forests and winding riverbeds. With skiing, mountaineering and even hunting on offer, Arthur’s Pass has a number of adventurous activities to entice visitors with.
4. Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park
Home to the nation’s highest peak, it is the huge Aoraki/Mount Cook that gives the park its name. Standing at a colossal 3724 metres, it is the main attraction that draws visitors to the area. Glaciers cover a huge proportion of the park’s surface and this hints at the cold and unwelcoming weather conditions that frequently plagues the highest peaks.
Sparklingly bright and beautiful, the glaciers and snow-capped mountains will dazzle you in the sunlight, reflecting the sun’s beams and shining vividly in the dark blue of the sky. With a rich array of flora and fauna to explore, the lush vegetation contrasts stunningly with the lifeless rock of the mountainside.
3. Abel Tasman National Park
Named after the first European explorer to set eyes on New Zealand, one can only imagine what he thought upon seeing the spectacular coastline before his eyes. Abel Tasman National Park’s pristine turquoise waters, stunning sandy beaches and forest covered hinterlands are breathtakingly beautiful and are unlike any other national park in New Zealand.
While it may be the smallest in terms of size, it definitely punches above its weight thanks to the impressive scenery that attracts a huge number of tourists each and every year. Nature lovers may want to stay at one of the campsites that lie within the park or head off into the forest to discover one of the lovely waterfalls that plunge into the pools below.
The peaceful coastal waters are welcoming and make for great kayaking; out on the water the beautiful shore is an awe-inspiring sight to behold.
2. Tongariro National Park
The desolate rocky scenery punctured with dazzling turquoise lakes is almost otherworldly in nature. Remarkably it was the fourth national park to ever be established in the world and this alone testifies to how spectacular the scenery is.
Within the park are three active volcanoes, one of which is Tongariro which gives the national park its name. Located dead in the centre of the North Island the park also contains lava fields and lakes that have formed in the craters of extinct volcanoes.
The snow covered Mount Tongariro is famous the world around for its captivating magnificence which was so beautifully highlighted in the Lord of the Rings films. A Maori homeland containing numerous religious sites; Tongariro National Park has to be seen to be believed such is the wealth of natural marvels on display.
1. Fiordland National Park
One of the largest national parks in the world, the sprawling and expansive Fiordland National Park is amazing to explore. The ancient nature of this unbelievable landscape really hits home as you see the enormous ravines and fjords that were left behind from glaciers cutting through the rocks over the millennia. The most famous fjords inside the park are Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound – daily scenic flights and cruises reveal their beauty to visitors.
Home to untouched wilderness, sweeping forests, lofty peaks and crystal clear lakes; Fiordland really does have it all. While New Zealand as a whole is really just an endless expanse of breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, Fiordland somehow manages to stand alone such is its unsurpassable splendor.
Your heart will ache at having to leave this marvelous corner of the world and you will undoubtedly set your mind on returning as soon as your leave the park behind you. Mesmerizing. Unforgettable. A treasure to be cherished.