Step into Middle Earth: A Tour of New Zealand’s Most Breath-Taking Landscapes

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New Zealand is renowned for its stunning landscape, where spectacular volcanic peaks are clothed in lush rainforest that sweeps down to white beaches and the glittering ocean. With some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, it’s no wonder New Zealand is a favourite with filmmakers, photographers and adventurers alike. We’ve rounded up some of the most breath-taking landscapes of this beautiful country, so you can see for yourself all the beautiful reasons to take a trip to New Zealand.

Mount Taranaki

With the rather spectacular claim to fame of being New Zealand’s most perfectly formed volcano, this 120,000-year-old peak is proof that sometimes nature’s most symmetrical creations are her most beautiful. The snow-capped cone is almost perfectly even, apart from the small bump that is Fanthams Peak, a delicate imperfection that only makes the craggy face more beautiful. In Edgemont National Park, where Mount Taranaki is located, it is possible to see the entire progression of plants from surf to summit. Wonder about in the gnarled and mysterious vegetation of the lower forest, or brave a hike above the forest to discover alpine herbs growing alongside the winding network of paths.

Mount Taranaki - Pixabay

Moeraki Boulders

The Moeraki Boulders can be found on Koekohe Beach, and there are a variety of legends to explain how these enormous spherical stones got there. Māori legend tells that the boulders are the remains of eel baskets that were washed ashore after the legendary canoe Araiteuru was wrecked nearby. Ranging from 1.6 to 7.2 feet in diameter, these unusual formations make for a spectacular photograph. Visit in the early morning or early evening to take advantage of the way the golden light reflects off the crashing waves and gives an ethereal light to the boulders.

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Tongariro National Park

A World Heritage site that is home to three active volcanoes, the beauty of Tongariro National Park will take your breath away. Snow-covered mountains dip down in the sky-blue pools of bubbling hot springs, and spectacular mountain lakes are skimmed by swooping native birds. The 12 miles of hiking track can be a bit gut-busting, but they’re more than worth the effort when you’re weaving your way through mountains, craters, and multi-coloured lakes. Look out for the infamous Mount Ngauruhoe – aka Mount Doom from The Lord of the Rings films.

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Milford Sound

One of the most iconic landscapes in New Zealand, the stunning Milford Sound has tourists returning to New Zealand again and again. The almost prehistoric landscape almost feels like dinosaurs could emerge from the lush mountain vegetation to drink from the glassy water. Dramatic waterfalls tumble down the mountain sides with great force, and the spectacular landscape is cut through with the narrow gaps of ocean fjords. Milford Sound is one of the most awe-inspiring of these fjords, and is best experienced by boat or kayak. There’s nothing quite like gliding along the water as waterfalls pound down the 4,000 feet glacially-carved walls rising out of the ocean at either side of you.

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Mackenzie Basin

Containing a stunning triad of glacially fed lakes, the Mackenzie Basin has some of the most photogenic vistas in New Zealand. The source rivers of the lakes transport finely ground silt from glaciers in the Southern Alps, giving the lakes a distinctive powder blue colouring. Surrounded by mountain peaks dusted in an icing sugar coating of snow, and boasting a multi-coloured blooming of lupines on their banks, there are few places on earth that are more beautiful. Make a scenic drive past them between Queenstown and Christchurch, or enjoy a beautiful walk around the basin.

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Banks Peninsula

The stunning natural landscape of Banks Peninsula is incomparable in its breath-taking beauty. Whether you choose to lace up your walking boots and explore the beautiful greenery, amazing views, and native wildlife, or you just find a secluded beach for a private picnic, you can’t fail to enjoy spending time at the Banks Peninsula. The sparkling waters are even home to a whole host of marine life, including the world’s smallest dolphins, so a trip out onto (or under) the water could reward you with an amazing wildlife encounter.

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Waiotapu

Dramatic geothermal activity in New Zealand’s Taupo Volcanic Zone gives way to Waiotapu

(Māori for ‘sacred waters’), a visually staggering area of geographic splendour. Waterfalls, lakes, steaming bodies of boiling water and geysers make up this incredible part of the world. Thanks to a range of rocks and materials found below the surface, the boiling waters of Waiotapu take a series of dramatic colours, with vibrant blues, greens, yellows and oranges unfolding before your eyes.

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Aoraki / Mount Cook

The highest mountain in New Zealand, Aoraki is similarly popular with mountain climbers and those who just enjoy sampling scenery. Breathtakingly beautiful from whichever angle, we’d suggest approaching from Hooker Lake – to enjoy the mountain’s reflection in the crystal-clear waters. A sacred part of Māori culture, Aoraki has stood protectively over the people and lands of New Zealand for thousands of years.

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If you’d like to experience the undoubted beauty of New Zealand first hand, a cruise can take you to the scenic highlights in one simple trip. For all the best deals, just visit our dedicated New Zealand cruise page or call our friendly sales team on 1300 857 345.

 

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About Author

Lily Egge

Lily is in her mid 60’s and loves cruising. She and her partner have cruised on at least 40 cruises so far and there is much more to see. They usually travel on a balcony cabin, especially at Christmas where they celebrate on the cruise with the family. She lives in Manifold Heights in Victoria. Lily writes for Cruise 1st on a regular basis.

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