Six New Zealand landmarks you need to explore

From natural arches and remote coves to Lord of The Rings terrain, these New Zealand landmarks are an outdoor-lovers dream.

New Zealand is home to some of the world’s most dramatic scenery and lush natural attractions. From misty mountains to golden beaches in quiet bays, the island offers a plethora of outdoor escapades. Keen to get involved? Lace up your hiking boots, strap on your explorer’s hat and get ready for adventure.

New Zealand is home to some of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders © Rob Long | Unsplash
New Zealand is home to some of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders © Rob Long | Unsplash

A Hollywood Sensation – Putangirua Pinnacles

The Putangirua Pinnacles are a geological formation, located just under two hours drive from Wairarapa in Aotearoa’s north island.

Movie fanatics will love this New Zealand gem as it’s known for its feature in ‘Paths of the Dead’ in the Return of the King, as well as the third Lord of the Rings film.

To get to the Putangirua Pinnacles lookout, head to Aorangi Forest Park. About an hour’s drive from Martinborough, your journey will begin from the streambed. Take the loop track junction to get a dose of the spectacular view. Hike on for views of Palliser Bay and Lake Onoke.

Putangirua Pinnacles, Wairarapa © Luca Calderone | Unsplash
Putangirua Pinnacles, Wairarapa © Luca Calderone | Unsplash

New Zealand’s most beautiful waterfalls

At a soaring height of 35 metres high, Marokopa Falls is one of the most beautiful sites in New Zealand. Located in Tawarua Forest, which is just a few kilometres drive from the popular Waitomo Caves, this gorgeous oasis is the perfect spot for a day of exploring.

The year-round waterfall can be seen from viewing platforms on an easy 20-minute return walk. Trek through native tawa and nikau forests before being wowed by the stunning cascades. The area is also great for fishing, providing avid fishers with popular trout spots along the river.

Along the drive to the falls enjoy a range of scenic short walks, including the Marokopa Falls Walk.

The Coromandel Church

Cathedral Cove is a New Zealand landmark located a short walk from Hahei Beach. Take the one-hour-long track to the cliff-top before descending to the main attraction. A haven of naturally arched caverns and secluded coves is tucked here, offering explorers a plethora of discoveries to upturn.

Discover sandy shores with shady spots provided by pohutukawa trees to park up, have a picnic and swim. You’ll also discover the ‘Te Hoho’ nearby. It’s a large pinnacle of pumice breccia rock that looks like the prow of a ship washing ashore. Sculptured by the wind and the seas for centuries, it’s a grand natural formation.

For a short walk, take the trail from the Grange Road car park. It’s approximately a 1.5-hour return. Snorkelling and scuba diver enthusiasts will enjoy a smorgasbord of sponge gardens, reef systems and marine life to observe at Cathedral Cove Marine Reserve.

Discover more things to do in The Coromandel.

Cathedral Cove, Hahei, New Zealand © ThatPhotoGuyNL

West Coast Natural Beauty

A hidden gem tucked away in the magic of Kahurangi National Park is the Oparara Arches. It’s a playground of limestone aches, caves, whiskey-coloured rivers and lakes and flourishing rainforests on the West Coast.

Suitable for all abilities and ages, the arches are an easy two-kilometre return walk. Even better, this New Zealand landmark is free to explore.

Or join an eco-tour and learn about the native wildlife and the wide range of subfossil bird bones from extinct species.

Starry South Island Sensation

Stewart Island is New Zealand’s third largest isle located across the Foveauz Strait in the South Island. Fondly known as Rakiura – ‘the land of glowing skies’ in Maori – star lovers will delight in the evening sky where the Aurora Australis is often witnessed.

The island is 85 per cent National Park, offering oodles of hiking, bird watching and natural beauty. The 280 kilometres of walking trails give adventurers short, day-long and multi-day opportunities.

To experience Stewart Island’s awe-inspiring beauty, embark on the three-day Rakiura Track. Stunning coastal views, forested ridges and white-sandy beaches will keep you company along the trek. The Department of Conservation provides huts for overnight stays.

Stewart Island is home to brown kiwi or Tokoeka, blue penguins, yellow-eyed penguins as well dolphins and albatross’. There is also an offshore bird sanctuary with a wide range of species on Ulva Island. The ultimate way to witness the island in all its glory is on a boat cruise. From secluded bays to dazzling inlets and an abundance of wildlife, there’s plenty to see and do onboard.

Continue your South Island discoveries with these other unmissable attractions.

An Ancestorial Journey

The rockstar of the Tasman Bay region, Split Apple Rock has a story and a half for its name. Scientists believe the large rock formation was split more than 120 million years ago during the ice age. Whereas the Māori legend claims a feud between two gods caused the divide. Either way, the New Zealand landmark is grand in legend as much as it is in beauty.

Participate in a traditional paddle a waka – a Māori canoe. You can learn about the Māori ancestors who sailed across the Pacific Ocean to Aotearoa, New Zealand. You’ll be partaking in some of New Zealand’s treasured heritage. Included in the traditional paddle are a karakia (a blessing for protection) and tikanga (etiquette). This all-ages activity launches from Kaiteriteri beach which is the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park.

Split Apple Rock, Tasman Bay South Island New Zealand
Split Apple Rock, Tasman Bay, South Island © Pablo Heimplatz | Unsplash

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