New Zealand is characterized, among other things, by its exuberant natural beauty. This remote country, located 2000 kilometres southeast of Australia, is made up of two main islands: North Island and South Island and a group of smaller islands around them. Its cities are compared with the best quality of life in the world although they are also compared with the cities in Europe with the highest standard of living. Today, in its culture can be seen marked European traits inherited from the settlers from this continent who inhabited its territory. However, among its population there is a strong rooting of Maori traditions since this was one of the first ethnic groups to inhabit New Zealand.
When talking about the natural beauty of this wonderful country, it should be mentioned that one of the main roles is played by its 13 national parks. They cover an area of more than 30,000 km ² of the entire national territory and 3 of them are located on the North Island and 10 on the South Island. Thanks to the biogeography of its territory and its maintenance as a protected area, at present they are the habitat of numerous species of plants and autochthonous animals.
Today, New Zealand’s national parks represent one of the country’s main tourist attractions, receiving more than 2 million visitors a year. For all the reasons mentioned above is that we invite you to plan your next vacation in New Zealand and to help in its organization we present a top 5 of their national parks.
Tongariro National Park:
Tongariro National Park is located in the center of the North Island. It was declared a protected area since 1887 and is now considered the oldest park of its kind in the country.
In its almost 800 km ² of surface harbors impressive landscapes starring the largest active volcanoes on the island: the Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu. Equally, within its extraordinary beauty stand out its lakes with turquoise waters and its numerous thermal springs.
Besides being one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand, this national park has a high cultural and historical value for the country. Within the park there are several Maori sacred sites, the mountain peaks being one of the most significant.
As I mentioned earlier, New Zealand’s national parks are frequented by those who enjoy direct contact with nature. In this case, those who decide to visit it will be able to choose between varied recreational offers to spend an unforgettable day enjoying its facilities. Both in summer and winter season are organized activities suitable for each season. Many prefer mountaineering, cycling, hunting, fishing, skiing or snowboarding. However, the most popular activities in the park are the routes that travel through it, so I recommend you ¨Tongariro Crossing¨ which will take you to discover its best-kept treasures.
Mount Aspiring National Park:
Founded in 1964, Mount Aspiring National Park was the tenth park in New Zealand to be named under that category. It is located on the South Island and has an area of 3,555 km ². It receives its name from Mount Aspiring which, due to its 3,033 meters above sea level, is considered the second highest mountain in the country. However, within the park also lie other elevations almost as high as this: Mount Pollux and Mount Brewster.
In order to enjoy the park to the maximum, a series of exciting activities are organized: helicopter rides to snowy peaks, excursions through its rivers on board of canoes and walking tours. Among them, the most attractive for hikers are the short trails and routes Routeburn, Wilkin Valley and the Circuit Rees-Dart Track. The latter, although longer in length, give those who make them the opportunity to travel through the valleys that make up the park and enjoy all its charms more closely.
Mount Aspiring National Park has been valued countless times as an earthly paradise. Its impressive landscapes are characterized by wonderfully imposing mountains, waterfalls and rivers that run glacial waters and splendid valleys that invite you to enter the deepest part of its environment. An essential part of the great interest this site arouses is that species of plants and animals belonging to the native flora and fauna of New Zealand can be appreciated in their natural habitat.
Abel Tasman National Park:
Abel Tasman National Park is one of the most idyllic places you can visit in New Zealand. Its 23,000 hectares extend over the territory of the country’s South Island. It was founded in 1942 as a tribute to the 300 years of the arrival of explorer Abel Tasman to these lands and from there receives its name.
It is an enchanting place, that enchants the visitors since they discover the beauty of its environment conformed by virgin beaches and an exuberant natural environment. Although what most attracts us to this park are precisely its paradisiacal beaches, it should be noted that it also has lush forests where you can appreciate the typical vegetation of the place and discover the environment where native animals of New Zealand live as the kiwi.
One of the park’s most popular activities is the Abel Tasman Coastal Trail, valued as one of the ¨Great Walks¨ in New Zealand. This complete tour lasts from 3 to 5 days and allows hikers to discover the park’s most beautiful spots. If you don’t have all that time you can choose to do it in sections and shorten the experience. Another way to get to know the park is to do it on your own by following the trails marked in the territory or renting aquatic equipment such as kayaks and venturing through it.
Fiordland National Park:
The Fiordland National Park is also located on the South Island. It is considered the largest protected area in the country, covering an area of about 12,500 km ², where nature has recreated a scenery of incomparable beauty. Many arrive seduced by the postcards with images of their landscapes however, witnessing them personally has no comparison.
In this extraordinary place visitors will have access to an unsurpassable spectacle where fjords, waterfalls and snow-covered mountains form an atmosphere that seems to be taken from a fantasy movie.
Due to the impressive beauty of its surroundings, the Milford Sound Fjord is, by far, its most precious jewel. Considered as ¨the eighth wonder of the world¨, this separated natural section is capable of dazzling the most skeptical person. On a boat trip through it you will discover the most intense colours of nature, stone masses so high that they seem to touch the sky and from which waterfalls spring up where rainbows form that add a romantic touch to the walk.
As part of the activities that invite you to have the best of experiences in the park
As part of the activities that invite you to have the best experience in the park it is worth mentioning that there are 3 of the tours called ¨Great Walks¨ in New Zealand: the Milford Track, the Kepler Track and Routeburn, which crosses Mount Aspiring National Park. You should also know that there are other offers to make the most of your stay, including kayak rentals, cruising and diving.
Aoraki National Park – Mount Cook
We can not fail to include in this top 5 the Aoraki National Park – Monte Cook. Since 1953, this magnificent place was conceived as a protected area with the aim of preserving its biological species. Its name ¨Aoraki¨ is of Maori origin and Mount Cook, with its 3764 masl, is considered the highest mountain in New Zealand.
It has an area that exceeds 700 km ² where you can find the longest glaciers in the country, covering almost half of its territory. One of the features that most attracts alpinists is that the park is home to almost all of New Zealand’s highest mountains. The most popular among climbers are the Sefton, Tasman and Hicks mountains.
As part of its most outstanding natural attractions should be mentioned that in the park is possible to visit one of the most beautiful lakes in the country, the Pukaki. Formed with glacial waters, this lake offers us one of the best landscapes you will find in the surroundings, with the Cook Mountain in the background and a blue color so intense that we think it has not been created by nature.
Another of the particularities that make this place an incomparable place are its totally starry nights. This is possible thanks to the almost zero light pollution due to the fact that the park is far away from urban areas.
There are many activities you can do to enrich your experience in it. From hiking, mountain biking, skiing or alpinism to scenic flights that will allow you to have a fuller appreciation of the whole territory.