Hikers, mountaineers and avid nature lovers head into Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park to marvel at its exquisite mountain ranges, glaciers and remarkable rocky terrains. The national park is part of Te Wāhipounamu World Heritage area in the southwest corner of the South Island and is home to Aroaki/Mt Cook – New Zealand’s tallest mountain.
Popular among surfers, landscape photographers and holidaying Aucklanders not wanting to delve too far out of the city, Piha Beach is definitely one of those places that has something for everyone. Black sands and a rugged appearance are a strong part of this beach’s appeal. The Lion Rock, a volcanic monolith with a war memorial and unique Māori carvings, is a favourite photo spot for visiting shutterbugs.
Cape Reinga is located right at the top of the North Island – though it’s not quite the northernmost point in New Zealand. Māori legend tells us this is the place where the spirits depart from the Earth and into the ancestral homeland of Hawaiki. The walk to Cape Reinga’s iconic lighthouse provides some spectacular views of the coastlines and its surrounding greenery.
During the day, Lake Tekapo dazzles with its bright blue glacial waters. At night, the area becomes a stargazing haven: the township, its stunning lake and the nearby Mt St John Observatory are all part of the South Island’s International Dark Sky Reserve. During spring, you’ve got another picturesque bonus: the lupins that colour the roadside in a carpet of purple and pink hues.
It’s fair to say that Milford Sound is the jewel of Fiordland National Park. The secluded fiord welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, many of whom come from Queenstown or Te Anau to spend a day cruising the inky waters and admiring the natural scenery. The more adventurous might explore the Milford Track – one of New Zealand’s most highly sought-after multi-day hiking routes.
The Coromandel Peninsula is a summer holiday favourite among New Zealanders. A collection of picturesque coastal towns, campsites, surf spots and fishing locations are some of its assets. Beautiful gems such as Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach are additional bonuses.
Also known as Mount Egmont, Mount Taranaki is a quiescent stratovolcano on the western coast of the North Island. Its symmetrical shape gives it a strong resemblance to Japan’s Mount Fuji – so much so, that Mt Taranaki served as the backdrop for the iconic mountain in the Tom Cruise film The Last Samurai. Hiking tracks around Egmont National Park provide access to this magnificent summit.