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National parks suggestion

9 day Essential South Island

9 days starting in Christchurch, finishing in Christchurch
Accommodation style: Boutique lodges & hotels

The Essence of New Zealand

14 days starting in Auckland, finishing in Christchurch
Accommodation style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Wellington to Queenstown classic driving route

8 days starting in Wellington, finishing in Queenstown
Accommodation style: Boutique lodges & hotels

The Classic 9 day Southern Alps Circuit

9 days starting in Queenstown, finishing in Queenstown
Accommodation style: Boutique lodges & hotels

18 Day Forests and Coasts Walking Experience

18 days starting in Auckland, finishing in Christchurch
Accommodation style: Hotel 4 star

Classic 22 Day Christchurch to Auckland touring route

22 days starting in Christchurch, finishing in Auckland
Accommodation style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Classic 13 day Coast to Coast touring route

13 days starting in Christchurch, finishing in Christchurch
Accommodation style: Boutique lodges & hotels

The Classic 9 day Southern Lakes

9 days starting in Christchurch, finishing in Christchurch
Accommodation style: Boutique lodges & hotels

The Natural South Island

19 days starting in Christchurch, finishing in Christchurch
Accommodation style: Boutique lodges & hotels

Classic upper North Island touring route

11 days starting in Auckland, finishing in Auckland
Accommodation style: Boutique lodges & hotels

 

National parks

Your visit to Aotearoa will be incomplete without visits to our famous New Zealand National Parks and encounters with the natural wonders they contain.

The diversity across New Zealand's 14 national parks, two World Heritage areas and countless conservation areas and reserves means you are spoiled for choice. The flora and fauna you will encounter is often unique and always amazing: alpine parrots; skinks; penguins and marine mammals found nowhere else; our icon, the Kiwi; the prehistoric Tuatara lizard; and more.

There is a wonderful range of options for exploring these natural wonders, including kayaking, cruising, hiking and scenic flights - something to suit everyone ...

Activity ideas: Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park

Tongariro is New Zealand's oldest national park, established in 1887 after the Maori chief Te Heuheu Tukino IV gifted the sacred peaks to the nation. It was also only the fourth place on earth to be given recognition as a World Heritage area. At the heart of the park are three volcanoes, Mount Tongariro, Mount Ruapehu and Mount Ngauruhoe. Despite the barren and sometimes inhospitable environment, the region abounds with flora and fauna. Alpine herbs and flaxes thrive on the upper slopes while dense beech forests cover the lower regions. New Zealand's only native mammals, the short and long tailed bat also make their homes here. More »

Activity ideas: Te Urewera National Park and Lake Waikaremoana
Te Urewera National Park and Lake Waikaremoana

The ruggedly beautiful Te Urewera National Park is famous for its lakes which are a mecca for fresh water trout fishing, the largest of which is also the site of one of New Zealand’s Great Walks.  The Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk skirts the lake edge, through 46 kilometres of natural forest and deserted beaches. Walking Legends Waikaremoana Discovery Walking Tour is a fantastic 4 day introduction to the region, taking in the highlights of the Lake Waikaremoana Great Walk. More »

Activity ideas: Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park, known for its coastal hiking track has an abundance of golden beaches, inlets and private lagoons. The park has a mild climate and is a special place to visit at any time of the year. Enjoy a scenic cruise through the sounds or take a kayaking tour around it’s many sheltered bays. Enjoy the melodious birdsong and get up close to some of the park’s many animal residents, including native bats, geckos, birds and marine mammals  - fur seals and dolphins.
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Activity ideas: Aoraki-Mt. Cook National Park
Aoraki-Mt. Cook National Park

At 3754 meters Aoraki-Mt. Cook is New Zealand's highest mountain, located deep in the heart of the Southern Alps. From the Visitor Centre at the southern end of Lake Pukaki, you will be rewarded with magnificent views of this immense peak. As well as its impressive beauty, Mt. Cook National Park is also home to a huge range of awe-inspiring sights and activities. Take to the air with Mt. Cook Ski Planes for a scenic flight that includes a glacier landing. At around 27 kilometers long the Tasman Glacier is New Zealand's longest and a Glacier Explorers tour will give you the opportunity to see its unique features.

There are many short hikes in and around the park and these are well signposted. For a fascinating guided tour the Mt. Cook Encounter Guided walk is a must-do and those with an interest in the night sky should take a stargazing tour of the Mt. John Observatory. The region is considered to have one of the clearest night skies in the world and is one of the few gold-rated dark sky reserves worldwide.

The Hermitage Hotel complex offers fine dining, multiple cafes and a bar. Visit the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre for insight into this region’s mountain climbing history. You’ll also learn of Sir Ed's incredible achievements and his dedication to helping others around the world. More »

Activity ideas: Nelson Lakes National Park
Nelson Lakes National Park

The small settlement of St Arnaud, a short drive from Nelson, is the gateway to Nelson Lakes National Park (102,000ha) which includes serene lakes and the majestic mountains that make up the northern expanse of the Southern Alps .  The beech forests around the namesake lakes, Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotoroa contain a network of walking tracks allowing visitors to explore the lake edges and forest.   On signs around the area you can read about the Rotoiti Nature Recovery programme which aims to maintain a predator-free sanctuary around the nectar producing beech forest.  The success of this programme is evident in the rich variety of birdsong you’ll hear as you walk the trails.  More »

Activity ideas: Stewart Island (Rakiura National Park)
Stewart Island (Rakiura National Park)

Stewart Island is New Zealand's third largest island, approximately 75 kms long and 45 kms wide and separated from the South Island by the Foveaux Strait. The Island is relatively low lying and undulating with the highest point, Mt Anglem/Hananui just 981 metres high. The island is largely uninhabited and unmodified which led to 85% of the island being declared a national park in 2002, named Rakiura National Park.  The name "Rakiura" is the Maori name for the island - which means "Glowing Sky", apt as Stewart Island enjoys spectacular sunrises, sunsets and aurora. More »

Activity ideas: Egmont National Park
Egmont National Park

Egmont National Park covers 33,534 hectares of Taranaki countryside on the west coast of the North Island and the best place to base yourself is the town of New Plymouth.  As you approach the park the dominant feature is the volcano Mt Taranaki (or Mt Egmont as it is also known), standing 2518 meters high. This amazing symmetrical mountain stands alone in the rural landscape creating an impressive panorama visible from great distances. More »

Activity ideas: Mt Aspiring National Park
Mt Aspiring National Park

New Zealand’s third largest national park is a paradise for walkers, with its mixture of spectacular mountains, glaciers, alpine lakes, gentle river valleys and towering above them all, Mt Aspiring an impressive 3033 metres high. In straddling the 'great divide' of the Southern Alps, Mount Aspiring National Park presents a magnificent range of landscapes with diverse ecosystems home to a variety of birdlife and flora. There are a number of entry points into the park; from Wanaka popular day walks include the Aspiring Hut walk (5 hr return) and the Rob Roy track (3 hr return). More »

Activity ideas: Arthurs Pass National Park
Arthurs Pass National Park

Arthur’s Pass National park straddles the Southern Alps and because of this offers a landscape of contrast. The Western regions of the park benefit from the high rainfall that drops from the prevailing winds as it ascends the main divide, creating lush rainforests. The east is much drier and is dominated by beech forest, between the two lies the mountainous areas of the Southern Alps with their alpine meadows home to kea and snow tussock. More »

Activity ideas: Whanganui National Park
Whanganui National Park

At the heart of Whanganui National Park lies the Whanganui River, this gentle river flows for 170km through one of the largest tracts of untouched lowland podocarp forests in the North Island.  Pipiriki and Whakahoro are the main gateways into the park.  From Whakahoro you can experience the Whanganui Journey, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks and the only Great Walk that isn’t actually a walk. More »

Activity ideas: Kahurangi National Park
Kahurangi National Park

New Zealand’s second largest national park is located in the north-west of the South Island and can be accessed from Motueka, near Nelson or Takaka and Murchison.  The park is of great interest to cavers, as it is home to the longest and oldest caves in New Zealand and beneath Mt Arthur, lies the deepest cave system in the Southern Hemisphere.  More »

Activity ideas: Paparoa National Park (Punakaiki and Pancake Rocks)
Paparoa National Park (Punakaiki and Pancake Rocks)

Paparoa National Park on the South Island’s West Coast is most famous for its sculpted limestone cliffs including the Pancake Rocks and blowholes at Dolomite Point.  The best place to base yourself for exploring the park is the small village of Punakaiki.  The limestone base of the park makes this a spectacular destination, with karst limestone formations scattered amongst lush green forests and carved out river canyons. More »

Activity ideas: Westland Tai Poutini National Park (Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers)
Westland Tai Poutini National Park (Franz Josef & Fox Glaciers)

Westland Tai Poutini National Park forms part of Te Wahipounamu – South West New Zealand World Heritage Area and rightly so, as this park has it all.  Best explored from either Franz Josef or Fox Glacier villages you can encounter a myriad of landscapes here, from fast moving glaciers to the wild West Coast beaches.  From its highest points in the snow-capped mountains of the Southern Alps you are rewarded with a visual feast encompassing ancient forests, crackling blue glaciers, pristine rivers, lagoons thriving with birds and an immense stretch of untouched coastline.  More »

Activity ideas: Fiordland National Park
Fiordland National Park

Fiordland National Park's statistics are impressive: New Zealand's largest national park; world’s fifth largest national park; largest area of untouched forest in New Zealand ... Lonely Planet's 17th ranked 'desirable, interesting and memorable place to visit' out of 500 and first of nine NZ destinations in the list in 2015.  Spending time in this almost untouched and remarkable part of the world is the highlight of many a New Zealand visit. More »

Activity ideas: Karamea
Karamea

Karamea is the gateway to the Kahurangi National Park, situated between rainforested mountains and the Tasman sea. The area is a natural wonderland serving hikers and adventurers who are looking for a taste of New Zealand wilderness. Limestone arch formations are a special feature of the area. You can walk to the Oparara Arch, which spans the Oparara River, or venture further to find the Moria Gate Arch. To see the Honeycomb Hill Caves and Arch, you’ll need to book a guided tour. Karamea is near the southern entrance to the Heaphy Track, a multi-day walk through the Kahurangi National Park. Day walks include the Fenian Track, Mt Stormy and the first leg of the Wangapeka Track. More »

Activity ideas: Hunua Falls
Hunua Falls

Hunua Falls is a popular destination for bush walkers in the Hunua Ranges National Park on Aucklands East Coast. At 30 meteres high and they spill out over volcanic rock. While still impressive when just a trickle, the falls are really spectacular when full-spate. More »

Activity ideas: Clyde
Clyde

A small town in Central Otago, Clyde is tucked into a sheltered basin at the foot of a gorge now flooded by a large concrete hydro-dam. Born out of the 1860’s gold rush, Clyde is a historic precinct. Many of the original buildings continue to stand and have become iconic to the town. Located in an area renowned first for gold, then for it’s stone fruit orchards, Clyde is a popular summer destination due to it’s hot, dry days and the addition of renowned wineries in the surrounding regions.
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Activity ideas: Poolburn
Poolburn

A small town in Central Otago, Poolburn is tucked into the rugged hills of the Ida Valley. An old gold mining town, Poolburn is steeped in history. There are many walks within its surrounding hills but the main attraction is the Poolburn Dam, a large reservoir covering over 300 hectares and completed in 1931. The dam is known for its large population of brown trout. More »

Activity ideas: Lake Ohau
Lake Ohau

Located in the Mackenzie Basin, Lake Ohau is a glacial lake fed by the Hopkins and Dobson rivers. Cradled between the Ohau Range to the west and the Ben Ohau range to the east, Lake Ohau Alpine Village is a great holiday destination all year around. The Ohau Snow Field attracts many skiers and snowboarders in the winter months, and in the summer months, trampers and mountain bikers can enjoy the stunning wilderness areas. Lake Ohau Lodge is a great place to stay, so you can enjoy all the activities in the region. More »