New Zealand's best self drive holiday landmarks
The landmarks of New Zealand are as unique and varied as you’d expect in a country with spectacular scenery and a reputation for innovation. The natural highlights are unique and diverse – from a majestic native kauri tree to near perfectly spherical rock formations – while iconic structures include the Southern Hemisphere’s tallest tower and a government building aptly named the Beehive.
Visits to these landmarks will become highlights of your New Zealand tour, because they give you a sense of the beauty and creativity of this young nation.
Find out more about some of them below and make sure you add them to your New Zealand vacation ‘must see’ list.
The Sky Tower, Auckland
At 328 metres, this needle-like tower stands highest in the skyline of New Zealand’s biggest city. An elevator ride to the top is a great way to take in a 360 degree view, or to get a thrill by bungy jumping from the rim or doing a ‘skywalk’ around it. The tower also houses some top class restaurants, a casino and a 700-seat theatre.
Huka, meaning ‘foam’ in New Zealand’s indigenous language of Maori, is reasonably low in height at just 11 metres, but it channels over 200,000 litres of water through its narrow 15 metre chute, making for a visual feast of rushing white water and roiling rapids. Descending to a crystal clear blue pool, the Huka Falls (named New Zealand's highest volume falls) are in Taupo - part of the Central North Island Volcanic Plateau.
The Beehive is one of four buildings in the parliamentary complex in the capital city of Wellington, home to the offices of the Prime Minister and cabinet. The building’s beehive shape comes from a 10 floors, each smaller than the lower one, rising in total to 72 metres. Designed by British architect Sir Basil Spence, it was completed in 1979 and its visitor centre and parliament are now open to tour groups.
The Moeraki Boulders
On Koekohe Beach, near the South Island town of Oamaru, the Moeraki Boulders are a fascinating geological attraction. With the appearance of spherical stones, they’re actually hardened mineral formations revealed over millions of years of coastal erosion. The biggest boulders weigh 7 tons and are about 2 metres wide.
Waitangi Treaty House and Grounds
Waitangi is the historic Northland location where New Zealand’s founding treaty was signed between indigenous Maori and British crown representatives. The site features a museum, a heritage treaty house dating back to 1834, a traditionally carved meeting house, and the world’s largest ceremonial war canoe. There’s also the flagstaff marking the location of the treaty signing, flying the New Zealand flag, the Union Jack of Britain and the flag of the United Maori Tribes of New Zealand.
Tane Mahuta (giant kauri tree)
A short, easy walk on one of the tracks in Northland’s Waipoua Forest is all it takes to see Tane Mahuta, a majestic kauri standing at 51 metres tall and measuring nearly 15 metres wide. The tree is New Zealand’s largest known of the kauri species and named after the Maori forest god Tane.
Aoraki Mount Cook
Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is the highest peak of 19 that soar to more than 3000 metres. Besides spectacular mountain scenes, the alpine region boasts several activities that make the most of the landscape, like climbing and hiking, boating on the glacial lakes, scenic flights and four wheel drive safaris. The alpine village at the foot of Mount Cook is surrounded by the national park, which spans more than 700km and includes two major glaciers – Fox and Franz Josef.
The Lemon and Paeroa bottle
This oversized fizzy bottle monument is a popular photo stop in the North Island town of Paeroa, the birthplace of the drink that began being made there in the 1900s with a mix of lemon and carbonated local mineral spring water. The distinctive bottle is coloured dark brown, black and yellow, and these days carries the slogan ‘World Famous in New Zealand’.