Whatever it is you want to explore, you can find it in New Zealand. The lands of New Zealand offer a variety of terrain, including mountains, volcanoes, gorges and heavily forested regions. With such a diverse landscape, it is no wonder why there are so many beautiful landmarks that have been made by Mother Nature. No matter which part of the country you plan to visit, these are some must-see natural landmarks New Zealand has to offer.
Franz Josef Glacier (Franz Josef Ranges)
The Franz Josef Glacier extends from the Southern Alps on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island to the Westland Tai Poutini National Park. This glacier, combined with the Fox Glacier, creates a breathtaking view. In 1865, this glacier was named after Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria by Julius von Haast, a German explorer. Guided and self-guided tours are available. If at all possible, allow for an entire day to explore the glacier and surrounding area. Day hikes will take guests to key points of interest and can last up to eight hours.
There are many activities available at the Franz Josef Glacier. Tourists come from all around the world to go hiking and biking in the area. Other activities available include Heli-hiking tours, tandem skydiving, quad bike tours and soaking in the Glacier Hot Pools.
Huka Falls At Waikato River
See the sights of the largest waterfalls on the Waikato River. The Huka Falls are located in Wairakei Park near Taupo on the North Island of New Zealand. This is one of the most visited natural attractions in the country and is a site you do not want to miss. Approximately 220,000 litres per second pours from the waterfall. These falls are fed by the Waikato River, one of the country’s longest rivers, which drains into Lake Taupo. The falls were named for the Maori word meaning foam. The water falling into the rapids resembles foam forming at the bottom of the falls.
Huku Falls is one of the world’s greatest natural wonders and can be seen from the many walking tracks alongside the river. Those wanting a different perspective can enjoy a boat ride to the base of the falls. Other activities near Huka Falls include Mountain Biking, swimming, birdwatching and canoeing.
Tongariro Alpine Crossing At Tongariro National Park
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing more resembles the topography of Mars than the typical North Island New Zealand landscape. This is the country’s oldest national park and offers an awe-inspiring view. While hiking to the center you will see unique landforms along the 19.4-kilometer adventure. During this trek, visitors will climb over stark and spectacular volcanic terrain. Sites along the way include hot springs, old lava flows, water-filled craters and spectacular views.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a World Heritage site, which gives this landmark the distinction of dual status. It has both natural and cultural significance in New Zealand. This site is most commonly accessed from Mangatepopo in the Raupehy region.
The Milford Track is New Zealand’s most recognizable and well-known hiking trail with approximately 14,000 visitors every year. This track can only be walked in a single direction that runs from Glade Wharf to Milford Sound. Since only 40 independent walkers are allowed to start the trail per day, it is important to call and book your walk time. Walking season runs annually from late October through late April.
During the hike you will see huge valleys that were created by glaciers more than two million years ago. These glaciers created unique U-shaped valleys and ice-gouged ledges. All-inclusive guided walks are also available, which include five days of exploration.
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Located on Koekohe Beach on the Otago Coast, the Moeraki Boulders is a unique landmark in New Zealand. These boulders, which are actually concretions exposed by erosion, are perfectly spherical in shape. There are more than 50 boulders scattered on the beach, each one measuring up to three meters in diameter and weighing several tons. Those who make their way to the Boulders are able to climb on and touch the various rock formations originally formed more than 60 million years ago in ancient sea floor sediments.
The Moeraki Boulders are some of the most fascinating things to see in New Zealand and this is definitely one of the most popular attractions in the country. This is one site you cannot drive along the North Otago Coast without stopping to see. You are sure to be amazed.
One Tree Hill
Climb up on the tallest volcanic peaks in the country. One Tree Hill is located in the city of Auckland and is also known as Maungakiekie. This landmark also serves as a sacred memorial ground for the Maori settlers. One Tree Hill, was the site of a single totara tree, but it was replaced with a pine tree back in the late 1800s. Features at this landmark include the Obelisk, which is the grave of Sir John Logan Campbell, the Acacia Cottage and the Stardome Observatory.
There are many activities available for those wanting to spend time at One Tree Hill. Some of these activities include hiking, biking, barbecuing, picnicking, skating and a playground. The summit gate to One Tree Hill is open daily from 7 a.m. until 8:30 a.m. during the summer months and form 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. in the winter months.
Craters Of The Moon
There is something fascinating about the Craters of the Moon that attracts tourists to the area. This area is home to several different hydrothermal eruption craters that are up to 20 meters deep. Steam rises from the crater vents, which formed after the construction of the Wairakei Power Plant back in the 1950s. The building of the power plant in addition to other natural geothermal phenomena created a breathtaking landscape scattered with these craters.Because the soil gets too hot, wooden walkways were built to protect visitors from the heat. Many of these walkways lead to viewing platforms set on the side of many of the craters.