Glaciers, Fjords & Volcanoes – The 5 Most Beautiful National Parks in NZL

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Can you put an entire country under nature conservation? In the case of New Zealand, one could almost say: yes! Today, large parts of the country belong to national parks and are therefore protected. Discover the five most beautiful ones in our article.

Majestic mountains, dreamlike lakes, enchanted rainforests, golden beaches – New Zealand’s nature and landscape captivate with its fascinating diversity and untouched beauty. To preserve this treasure – and to keep the ever increasing number of tourists in check – large parts of the country are under protection. The first national park on the North Island was established as early as 1887. We present the five most beautiful ones.


Located in the very north of the South Island, the Abel Tasman National Park impresses with its numerous bays, golden beaches, old trees and pleasant climate – the sun shines here for an average of 2,200 hours a year. New Zealand’s smallest national park takes its name from the Dutch explorer Abel Tasman, who was the first European to drop anchor here.

Tourists are particularly enthusiastic about the 51-kilometre-long Abel Tasman Coastal Track, which can be hiked in several day-long stages. Those who are less keen on sports can take one of the numerous boat operators to one of the bays. This also has the advantage that you can discover the more than 70 native bird species from white-cheeked heron to little penguin as well as a sea lion colony from the water.


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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Glacier Country NZ (@glaciercountrynz)


Glaciers, rainforest, sea, all just a few kilometres apart – this unique constellation can be found in the Westland National Park on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island. The park covers an area of around 1,300 km2 and also includes the nearly 3,500-metre-high Mount Tasman. The centrepiece of the national park is the Franz Josef Glacier.

It is named after Emperor Franz Josef of Austria, who has nothing to do with this natural wonder. A German surveyor gave the glacier this name on a whim in the 19th century. A tour plus helicopter flight on the Franz Josef Glacier is not without its dangers, but it is an unforgettable experience and offers a unique view of the glacier, rainforest and sea.


Tongariro National Park is the oldest national park in the country, founded in 1887 on the initiative of a Maori chief. The indigenous people of New Zealand still revere the volcanoes located here as sacred sites. Fans of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy are familiar with the park, as it served as the backdrop for the dark land of Mordor, with Mount Ngaurhoe as Mount Doom.

For this reason alone, around one million visitors come to the park in the centre of the North Island every year. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is particularly popular. The route runs for almost 20 kilometres, overcomes about 1,000 metres in altitude and takes about a day. However, New Zealand’s most popular hiking route is more suitable for experienced hikers, as the addition of the name Alpine makes clear! Nevertheless, up to 700 daredevils set out on the trail every day in summer.


Located in the very southwest of the South Island, Fjordland National Park covers an area of 12,500 km2. New Zealand’s largest national park is thus larger than all the national parks in Germany put together! It is characterised by the fjords that give it its name – the national park has 14 of them. These deep cuts in the coastline, which reach far inland, were formed by glaciers over thousands of years.

The most famous and beautiful among them is without doubt Milford Sound. As the only fjord accessible by car, a thriving tourist industry has developed here in the middle of nowhere – including a ferry terminal, airport and camping site. But a boat trip through Milford Sound is definitely part of any trip to New Zealand. Visitors can marvel at lush rainforests, rushing waterfalls and sleeping sea bears in the breathtaking natural surroundings.


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The highest mountain in the New Zealand Alps and thus in the entire country is the 3,724-metre-high Aoraki/Mount Cook. It thus towers over the national park named after it on the eastern side of the Alpine ridge on New Zealand’s South Island. Around 40 percent of the area is covered by glaciers. The park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986.

The starting point of many routes through Mount Cook National Park is the Sir Edmund Hillary Alpine Centre, named after the conqueror of Mount Everest and perhaps the most famous New Zealander to date. From here, routes of various levels of difficulty start through the park, such as the ten-kilometre Hooker Valley Track. This leads over a total of three suspension bridges and ends at a picturesque glacial lake.

Words are hardly enough to describe the magical nature of New Zealand. The national parks preserve this greatest treasure of the country. You have to see it with your own eyes!

Source cover image: Unsplash / Gulfside Mike

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