5 of the Most Beautiful Natural Wonders in New Zealand


In a place that’s famed for its natural beauty, it’s hard to narrow down the most beautiful spots in New Zealand to just five. Each of these locations is known for its unique beauty and the awe-inspiring feeling you get as you see it for yourself. From thrashing waves to twinkling skies, visiting any of these locations will create a memory that will last a lifetime.

1. Cathedral Cove

There is a plethora of natural wonders scattered throughout the Coromandel for those who are willing to explore. Still, it’s hard to go past the sheer grandeur of Cathedral Cove, where a giant cavern links the golden sands of two stunning beaches. Only two methods allow access to this little piece of paradise: walking or taking a boat. The walk takes around an hour to complete as it weaves up and down the rocky coastline. A boat journey includes cruising over the beautiful turquoise waters in around 20 minutes. Allow plenty of time to soak up the beach vibes by packing a picnic. While you’re in the area, check out other incredible spots like Hahei Beach and Hot Water Beach.

For more Coromandel goodness, check out our list of 7 of the Best Beaches in the Coromandel.

2. Milford Sound

Situated on the southwest coast of the South Island, hours away from civilisation, lies a wet wonderland that tourists worldwide travel to. This enchanting environment combines majestic mountain peaks with forested cliffs and deep blue waters. If you’re looking for a place to enjoy the spectacular beauty of raw, untouched nature, then Milford Sound is the perfect destination. There are many ways to explore what is dubbed as the ‘eighth wonder of the world,’ from boat cruises to hiking trips or scenic flights; land, air, and sea all offer a unique perspective of this fiord. Carved out by ancient glaciers, this ocean inlet is an inky blue from the water drainage of the surrounding forests. Dive underwater to see a colourful kaleidoscope of corals, sponges, and sea stars. As you descend the depths, keep a look out for the black coral native to this area, which is as close as 10m beneath the surface. Before you leave, make sure you hire a kayak to visit some of the most remote spots in the fiord, where you’ll have the chance to spot seals, dolphins, and the Fiordland crested penguin.

3. Pancake Rocks

The Pancake Rocks of the West Coast are a natural wonder that must be seen to be believed. A short 1.1km loop is accessible to all and is easy to traverse. As it weaves around the unique limestone formations and blowholes, there is an abundance of information boards to answer all of your questions about the area. You’ll be awestruck as you experience this geological oddity formed almost 30 million years ago, and the whooshing noise of the blowholes will scare and delight the whole family. Be prepared for a cool dose of sea spray at high tide as the waves thrash around the blowholes. The area is truly enchanting and offers the chance to see some of New Zealand’s native sea life. Look for the seals frolicking in the waves, and at low tide, keep your eyes open for the starfish that cling to the rocky surface.

While you’re in the area, make sure you check out some of the other fascinating natural formations. Notably, the Punakaiki Cavern offers 130 metres of safe-to-explore cave systems that wind and loop around. Take a torch and watch your footing in this underground play area. If you go in far enough, you can even spot some glowworms.

4. Wai-O-Tapu

Wai-O-Tapu is the most diverse and vibrant geothermal area in New Zealand. This natural wonder allows you to soak up the sights of a geyser while breathing in the stinky scent of sulphuric mud pools. Every day around 10.15 am, you can see the Lady Knox geyser shoot water up to 20 metres in the air as you learn how these natural wonders form from one of the knowledgeable staff on site. Other unique features of this geothermal wonderland include naturally coloured springs, bubbling mud, terrace formations, and massive volcanic craters. Wai-O-Tapu has been called ‘One of the 20 Most Surreal Places in the World’ and thanks to the underground activity, this really is an otherworldly experience.

5. Lake Tekapo

Famous for the vibrant turquoise lake water and a spectacular mountainous backdrop, Lake Tekapo is a destination that will amaze and delight the senses. Located in the centre of the South Island, Tekapo is one of the most famous lake destinations in the world. The best time to visit is during mid-November when the lupins around the lake reach full bloom. The destination stays busy throughout the summer months as tourists descend to snap postcard-worthy pictures and swim in this glacial water. Lake Tekapo is a resort that you can enjoy just as much during the evening as you can during the day. The area is the largest dark sky reserve in the Southern Hemisphere, so you’re guaranteed to witness the wonder of a starlit sky in its full beauty. Marvel at the twinkling lights as you relax on the waterfront. At certain times of the year, you can even catch a glimpse of the dancing auroras of the Southern Lights.

While you’re here, indulge in the warm waters of the Tekapo Springs, check out the Mackenzie sheepdog statue, and take a wild ride on a Tekapo jet. Before you leave, don’t forget to photograph the Church of the Good Shephard to tick off your photography bucket list.

New Zealand Guide
New Zealand Guide
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