Why you should visit these 5 national parks
New Zealand has a reputation as one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the world. From the top of the North to the bottom of the South, we’d have to agree.
Here are just five of our stunning national parks, and why you should visit them!
1.Tongariro National Park
Established in 1887, the Tongariro National Park is both the oldest in New Zealand and the fourth oldest in the world. It’s home to almost 80,000 hectares of volcanic plains, including three active volcanoes; Ruapehu, Tongaririo, and Ngauruhoe. You can hike the magnificent Tongariro crossing throughout summer, or ski on the slopes of a live volcano on Ruapehu during winter. Here, you might spot native birds or New Zealand’s two bats species amongst the forests and alpine bushland.
2. Aoraki Mount Cook National Park
The Aoraki Mount Cook National Park features 23 mountain peaks – each of which is more than 3,000 metres high. Chief amongst them is Mt Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain. When mountains aren’t interrupting the view, you get to see of some of the clearest night skies in the world, as much of the country’s international dark sky reserve is found here. Closer to the ground, the area is known for its climbing, skiing and hiking opportunities, where adventurers can get up close and personal with more than 400 types of plants, from wild cherries to lupins. Plus, the Tasman Glacier comes in at 27 kilometres long and is the cherry on top to this breath-taking landscape.
3. Fiordland National Park
The Fiordland National Park is truly something magical to behold. It’s the country’s largest park at almost 5,000 square miles, and is one of the largest preserved areas of land anywhere in the world. That, and it’s absolutely stunning. It’s where mountains climb straight up to the sky amongst fjords and islands, and includes the gem that is the Milford Sound – a hugely popular attraction for locals and tourists alike. It’s a mix of lakes, mountains, lush forests, pouring waterfalls, endless hiking tracks (roughly 500km worth) and fascinating wildlife such as bottlenose dolphins, penguins and fur seals. Due to efforts to preserve this area, much of it looks identical to how it would have looked 1,000 years ago. The park was listed as a United Nations World Heritage site in 1990 and dubbed ‘Te Wahipounamu’, the place of greenstone.
4. Egmont National Park
Mt Taranaki, also known as Mt Egmont, is a volcano that looks almost too perfect to be real. It hasn’t erupted for almost 300 years, but is said to be roughly 120,000 years old. It’s known as being one of the most accessible – and therefore one of the most climbed – mountains in New Zealand. It’s decorated with forests of kamahi and rimu trees, waterfalls, dozens of walking tracks, and a magical ‘Goblin Forest’ that’s best experienced to be believed.
5. Abel Tasman National Park
At the other end of the spectrum, the Abel Tasman National Park is the smallest of the 14 parks found in New Zealand. That said, it’s one of the most famous. Renowned as much for its scenic walking track as it is for the golden sand beaches and countless sunny days, the Abel Tasman National Park is a mecca for hikers and nature lovers. Stay in a cabin or sleep under the stars – you won’t be disappointed by this park.
Tristan Cullen - Passionate Conservationist