New Zealand

Unmissable Landscapes in New Zealand

Unmissable Landscapes in New Zealand

We’ll level with you. Drawing up a shortlist of unmissable landscapes in New Zealand has been challenging to say the least. The country is one unmissable landscape after another; volcanos, mountains, beaches, geysers, forests, vineyards, fiords, glaciers and so much more. The Kiwis don’t call it Godzone (God’s own country) for nothing. So, with the caveat that we could never cram every extraordinary sight into a single blog post, here are just a few of our favourites. From alpine lakes to Art Deco cities, each one is well worth a flight to the other side of the world.


  1. Abel Tasman: Captivating Coastline
  2. Napier: Art Deco Delights
  3. Lake Tekapo: Turquoise Treasure
  4. Tongariro Alpine Crossing: Hiking Heaven
  5. Doubtful Sound: Undoubtedly Lovely


Abel Tasman: Captivating Coastline

Abel Tasman National Park is small yet perfectly formed; a pristine coastal paradise at the top of the South Island. It might be New Zealand’s smallest national park, but it’s big on natural beauty. The best way to take in that beauty is on the 37-mile Abel Tasman Coast Track, which leads through lush native forest to gorgeously golden beaches. Hiking between the bays rewards you with views of verdant greenery, granite cliffs and crystal-clear waters, with paths leading down to the sand when you fancy a paddle or a picnic. The way the national park hugs the coastline also makes it perfect for exploring by sea; set sail in a kayak to discover secret coves and hidden lagoons that can’t be spotted from land. Alternatively, take a scenic flight for a bird’s-eye view of one of the most spectacular landscapes in New Zealand.


Napier: Art Deco Delights

New Zealand isn’t known for the beauty of its urban landscapes, but the retro seaside city of Napier is an exception. In 1931, the Hawke’s Bay region was decimated by a massive earthquake, which destroyed most of downtown Napier. When the city was reconstructed, the new buildings reflected the architectural trends of the time, transforming Napier into an Art Deco dreamland. Today, Napier has one of the best-preserved collections of Art Deco buildings in the world (140 of them to be precise) and strolling the old-fashioned streets feels a little like wandering onto a 1930s film set. The city holds an Art Deco festival twice a year (complete with vintage costumes and cars), but you can slip back in time all year round on a self-guided walking tour. The classic columns, the stylish symmetry, the pastel colour palette, the geometric windows – all the hallmarks of Art Deco architecture can be found in Napier. And did we mention that Hawke’s Bay is the country’s oldest and second-largest wine region? Another great reason to raise a toast to the vintage views of Napier.


Lake Tekapo: Turquoise Treasure

‘Breath-taking’ might be overused when describing landscapes in New Zealand, but when you first set eyes on the vivid turquoise waters of Lake Tekapo, the sight is almost certain to take your breath away. The milky blue hue of the lake comes from the glacial ‘rock flour’ in the water, formed when nearby glaciers grind rocks into a fine dust as they journey towards the lake. This turns the water a captivatingly cloudy aquamarine that must be seen in New Zealand to be believed. Snow-capped peaks and wildflower-filled meadows complete the alpine colour palette, with Mount Cook (the country’s highest mountain) not far from Lake Tekapo. And after dark, as the stars appear, the wow-factor gets turned up an extra notch. Lake Tekapo is part of a UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, so the stargazing here is truly special. Dazzling by day or by night, this picture-perfect place makes that long-haul flight feel like a distant memory.


Tongariro Alpine Crossing: Hiking Heaven

New Zealand is heaven on earth for hikers, with endless opportunities to lace up your walking boots and hit the trails. Close to Lake Taupo, the Tongariro National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to the volcanic peaks of Ngauruhoe (which movie fans might recognise as Mount Doom from The Lord of the Rings film trilogy), Tongariro and Ruapehu. It’s also home to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing; a 12-mile route that’s widely regarded as the finest one-day hike in New Zealand. And in a country of world-class hiking, you know that makes it a good ‘un. It takes around seven to eight hours to complete the hike and a high level of fitness is required, as the track is steep and undulating. But your efforts will be richly rewarded (and not just by a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc when you take off your boots). Walking in the shadow of three volcanos is quite something, while steaming thermal vents, old lava flows, glacial valleys and brilliantly blue lakes combine to make the landscape feel truly otherworldly. If you don’t fancy tackling the full trail, the first section of the track is fairly flat, so you can sample the volcanic vistas on a shorter out-and-back walk.


Doubtful Sound: Undoubtedly Lovely

Located in Fiordland National Park, Milford Sound is a popular pick for the New Zealand bucket list. So, we thought we’d draw your attention to its lesser-known yet no less picturesque partner, Doubtful Sound. Often called the ‘Sound of Silence’ because it’s so blissfully serene, this fiord got its name from Captain James Cook. He thought the inlet looked a bit too narrow and was doubtful his ship would fit; instead he sailed on and found Milford Sound. These days, you can explore Doubtful Sound on a boat trip or under your own steam in a kayak. And what a place to sail and paddle. Surrounded by mountains masked by ancient rainforest, the dark water mirrors the green of the peaks and the shades of the sky. But what about that ‘Sound of Silence’ claim? Wait until the captain of your tour boat cuts the engine and you should soon hear what they mean. It’s oh, so quiet. A haven of tranquillity and tremendous views. No wonder it’s one of our favourite landscapes in New Zealand.