National Parks In New Zealand - The Hidden Gems You Must Explore

The beautiful natural scenery and stunning landscapes of New Zealand are unlike that of any other place on the planet. Forests, mountains, glaciers, fjords, lakes, rivers, valleys and volcanic landscapes are the natural heritage of the island country. The lush green land, flora, and fauna are well preserved by the locals as a part of the Kiwi culture inherited from the Maoris, who were the early inhabitants of the place. The indigenous species of plants, animals, and birds are preserved in the National Parks in New Zealand. 

The national parks are spread over more than 30,000 square kilometres across the North and the South Islands of New Zealand and attract backpackers from across the globe. You can explore these conservation spots of natural exquisiteness kayaking, canoeing, hiking and walking through.

Here Are the 11 National Parks in New Zealand You Should Explore

1. Egmont National Park

Egmont National Park in New Zealand

Egmont National Park is located in the North Island and it houses a dormant volcano Mount Taranaki. You can discover the park’s lush forests, rivers, waterfalls, pools, swamps and lava gorges by walking and hiking around the place. From short 15-minute walks on the Kamahi Track to three-day trips on the Pouakai Circuit, there are several short walking trails and other mountaineering activities that you can enjoy in the park. The Camphouse and Dawson Falls Power Station are the must-see heritage sites in this national park in New Zealand. Experienced mountaineers can try their hands on a challenging climb to the summit of Mount Taranaki.

2. Whanganui National Park

Whanganui National Park in New Zealand

Whanganui National Park is stretched along the Whanganui River and is among the least accessible national parks in New Zealand. The wilderness of the native forests, river gorges, waterfalls, mountains, and valleys attract adventurous souls on multi-day excursions to the park. You can choose the level of adventure that excites you from several water sports and mountaineering activities. There are several camping sites, hiking trails and biking routes across the park. Depending upon your interest you can canoe along the river while enjoying the stunning scenery or take a jet boat ride to Mangapurua Landing and walk to The Bridge to Nowhere. You can also camp at Tieke Marae and experience the local Maori culture up close or hike across Mangapurua.

3. Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand

Located on the north end of New Zealand’s South Island, Abel Tasman National Park is a coastal paradise. It is among the most easily accessible national parks in New Zealand with several tour operators providing services for a horde of recreational activities in the area. You can explore the natural beauty of its pristine beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters and lush native forests by kayaks, helicopters, and catamarans. There are luxurious arrangements for stay and sightseeing inside the national park.

4. Kahurangi National Park

Kahurangi National Park in New Zealand

Located in the South Island, Kahurangi National Park is the second-largest national park in New Zealand. This park is the conservation site for rare species of native plants, birds and even some of the region’s oldest rocks. Mount Owen and Mount Arthur are the marble mountains housing extensive cave systems accompanied by the Oparara Basin that is full of limestone caves. Nature lovers can discover mysterious streams, wild rivers, high plateaus, ancient rocks, rare birds and alpine herb fields. The enthralling landforms and tropical palm forests can be explored using the network of walking tracks in the area. The Heaphy Track is the most popular walking trail however fascinated geologists, fossil hunters and cave explorers take the untracked routes too.

5. Nelson Lakes National Park

Nelson Lakes National Park, New Zealand

The best place for a dreamy getaway, Nelson Lakes National Park is located in the South Island and is among the most picturesque national parks in New Zealand. The idyllic setting of this park makes it the ideal place for unwinding amidst the wilderness. The park houses two gorgeous clearwater alpine lakes Rotoroa and Rotoiti. The lakes are surrounded by the breathtakingly beautiful Saint Arnaud and Mount Robert mountain ranges. The popular activities you can enjoy in this area are hiking up to viewpoints that offer stunning panoramic views of the valleys, camping in the wild and fishing in the pristine lakes.

6. Paparoa National Park

Paparoa National Park in New Zealand

Located along the west coast of South Island of New Zealand is Paparoa National Park. This park encompasses the luxuriant diverse landforms of the region. The stunning geological formations of limestone make it one of the most attractive national parks in New Zealand. You can witness mesmerizing canyons, caves, ridges, blowholes, and New Zealand’s unique ‘pancake’ coastal rock formations in this park. You can also rent a kayak and paddle up the Pororari River. Horse trekking through the rainforest in Punakaiki Valley is also available up to Punakaiki Beach. You can also stroll through stalactite formations in limestone caves and watch glow worms or try rock climbing at the Bullock Creek.

7. Arthur’s Pass National Park

Arthur’s Pass National Park houses the highest pass over the Southern Alps and is characterized by mountainous terrain. You can enjoy stunning views of dense rainforests, rock slopes, gorges, and riverbeds. Mountaineering, skiing, biking, hiking, and walking are the most popular activities in the area. An adventurous walk up the mountain is rewarded by splendid scenery and picturesque sunset. The national parks in New Zealand are conserved and maintained by the Department of Conservation. The DOC has made arrangements for accommodations of hikers and backpackers.  

8. Westland Tai Poutini National Park

Westland Tai Poutini is a national park in New Zealand that has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area has contrasting landscapes comprising snow-clad mountains,  glaciers, grasslands, lakes, rivers, beaches, and wetlands. The Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier, also known as the ‘Moving Glaciers’ are popular tourist attractions. You can book a guided tour to the retreating glaciers and be amazed as you get close enough to touch the ice. You can also kayak along the Okarito Lagoon Kayak Trail and spot kiwis on your way. The area can also be explored by a helicopter for a wonderful birds-eye view of the scenery. 

9. Mount Cook National Park

This national park in New Zealand houses the highest mountains in the country i.e. Mount Cook and is named after it too. Aoraki or Mount Cook is popular among tourists and hikers. In addition to it the longest glacier on the land, Tasman glacier also draws in several tourists to experience its surreal beauty. You can go kayaking in the glacier lake or ski at one of its heli-skiing sites. Explore the Tasman Valley on foot following the walking trails or hike up to Mt. Cook. You can even take a flight above the beautiful national park and soak up the stunning views.

10. Rakiura National Park

Rakiura National Park forms the major part of the Subantarctic Stewart Island. Like the other national parks in New Zealand, it preserves the native plants and indigenous wildlife and marine life in their natural habitats. The surreal landscape of Stewart Island provides a charming backdrop to the untouched ecosystems. The varied geology of the park includes rainforests, beaches, dunes, and mountain ranges. You can walk along the hiking trails through the dense rainforests to discover seabirds, penguins, and kiwis. For those interested in a multi-day action the DOC has arranged accommodation in the park. You can make a booking to enjoy camping under the skies colored by the Aurora Australis (Southern Lights) and filled with nocturnal birdlife activities.

This post was published by Akancha Tripathi

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