30 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in New Zealand
Are you looking for the best views in New Zealand? Well you have come to the right place! If you want to know the most Instagrammable spots on this breathtaking island nation, read on!
New Zealand has awe-inspiring landscapes, where every corner reveals a postcard-worthy view. This country boasts some of the world’s most incredible scenery, from soaring mountains to pristine lakes and coastal panoramas.
In this article, I’ll take you on a visual journey through New Zealand’s best views, providing essential details on each location, and showcasing captivating photos that will leave you yearning for your own adventure here!
#1 Milford Sound Lookout – Fiordland National Park
Milford Sound is located in Fiordland National Park on New Zealand’s south island.
With over one million visitors every year, Milford Sound is one of the most famous tourist attractions in New Zealand, for good reason.
You can reach Milford Sound by car. If you’re coming from Queenstown, the scenic journey will take you around 6 hours. Or, if you don’t fancy all that driving, you can do a coach tour.
From the Lookout viewpoint here, you can witness the majestic mountain ranges and fjord waters, formed by the erosion of ancient glaciers over millions of years.
The spectacular views are often considered to be some of the most awe-inspiring views in the world, let alone the best views in New Zealand.
If you want to see New Zealand fur seals, dolphins and Fiordland-crested penguins up close here, you could do a luxury Milford Sound cruise.
Alternatively, you could even take helicopter tour for a bird’s-eye view of this majestic fjord.
#2 Mount Cook Road Trip Views, South Island
Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park is one of the most iconic places in New Zealand and an essential stop on every New Zealand itinerary.
In fact, just getting here deserves its own special mention.
If you’re coming from Christchurch or Queenstown you can get to the national park via a scenic four-hour road trip.
The most common route from Christchurch is to travel via State Highway 1, then take State Highway 79 towards Geraldine, and finally, take State Highway 8 to Aoraki/Mount Cook Village.
Or, from Queenstown, take State Highway 6 to Twizel, then take State Highway 80 to Aoraki/Mount Cook Village.
Whatever way you get here, the journey is awe-inspiring. You’ll pass through some of the most naturally beautiful and rugged landscapes in New Zealand, with Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain, drawing ever closer.
#3 Lake Pukaki Viewpoint – South Island
Lake Pukaki also deserves its own spot on this list of the most beautiful places in New Zealand.
The lake is located along the road to Mount Cook National Park and is best appreciated from the scenic lookout points along State Highway 80.
Simply search ‘Lake Pukaki Viewpoint’ on Google Maps and you’ll see tons of options!
The vibrant turquoise waters of Lake Pukaki result from glacial sediment, creating a mesmerising sight that really shouldn’t be missed en route to the main attraction.
Once you get to Mount Cook National Park, you can hike it yourself, join a guided tour, or even catch a scenic flight over it, for bird’s-eye views.
#4 Sealy Tarns Viewpoint – Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park
Sealy Tarns Viewpoint is a super popular hiking destination situated within the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park.
This incredible viewpoint showcases Mount Cook, the Hooker Valley and glacial lakes, offering some of the best views in New Zealand.
Experiencing the breathtaking vistas requires effort though, as the most stunning views are found at the top of the Sealy Tarns Track, a steep ascent up hundreds of steps, which is a 3-hour return hike.
But, as the saying goes, difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations!
#5 Lake Tekapo, South Island
Lake Tekapo is undeniably one of the most breathtaking and beautiful locations in New Zealand, nestled in the heart of the South Island.
For an unforgettable experience, visit the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd, which frames the turquoise lake and the Southern Alps in the background.
Getting here is accessible by car or bus, taking approximately 3 hours’ drive from Christchurch and about 3.5 hours’ drive from Queenstown.
Once you arrive in Lake Tekapo, the Church is easily accessible, as it’s located near the town’s centre, right on the shores of Lake Tekapo.
The church is well signposted, and you can park nearby to explore this sacred place.
#6 Franz Josef Glacier Viewing Area, South Island
Franz Josef Glacier is located on the West Coast of the South Island, which you can reach via the State Highway 6.
To see the retreating glacier in all its glory, do the Franz Josef Glacier Walk, which is a short walk from the car park that takes you to the Franz Josef Glacier Viewing Area.
This viewing area allows you to observe the impressive glacier from a safe distance without the need for specialised equipment.
Or, you may wish to do a guided glacier hike or even take a scenic helicopter flight for an up-close encounter with this magnificent icy wonder.
Whilst you’re in Glacier Country on the west coast, it’s also worth checking out the Fox Glacier Lookout for spectacular views of one of New Zealand’s most famous glaciers.
#7 Lake Matheson – West Coast, South Island
Next up is Lake Matheson, which is a 15-minute drive from the township of Fox Glacier on the South Island.
A short and easy walk takes you to viewpoints that reflect the Southern Alps in the lake’s glassy waters, creating the famous postcard scene known as the “Mirror Lake.”
Undoubtedly, this is one of the most Instagrammable places in New Zealand!
#8 Wharariki Beach – Golden Bay, South Island
Wharariki Beach is a remote gem on the northern tip of New Zealand’s south island.
A scenic drive and a short walk lead you to this untamed coastal paradise, where you can witness massive dunes, sea caves, and iconic rock formations.
#9 Lake Wanaka Lookout, South Island
Lake Wanaka Lookout is an observation deck with stunning views of the famous Wanaka Tree, an Instagram-worthy spot amidst the shimmering waters and mountain ranges surrounding it.
The lookout is easily accessible from Queenstown with a scenic one-hour drive. You can simply pull over at the side of the road on your way in or out of Wanaka.
#10 Lake Hawea – South Island
Lake Hawea is approximately a 15-minute drive from Wanaka on the South Island of New Zealand and offers great views of the Southern Alps.
The serene lake setting is the perfect place for outdoor activities like swimming, picnics, or simply admiring the spectacular views.
#11 Pitt Head Lookout – Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in New Zealand. It’s accessible from various entry points on the South Island’s northern coast.
The best lookout in Abel Tasman National Park is the Pitt Head Lookout. Situated on the Abel Tasman Coast Track, this stunning viewpoint overlooks Te Pukatea Bay, which is the most naturally beautiful beach in the park.
To get to the lookout, you’ll need to take a scenic water taxi or kayak to Anchorage Bay, and then take a short walk from that point.
Once you arrive you’ll be rewarded with the most incredible views of the pristine beaches and lush forests that you really shouldn’t miss.
#12 The Remarkables Viewpoint- Queenstown, South Island
The Remarkables ski field is just a short 40 minute drive from downtown Queenstown.
As the awe-inspiring beauty of the Remarkables mountain range unfolds, you’ll see majestic peaks, snow-capped summits, and deep valleys stretching out in every direction.
When you get here, the “Remarks” offers 385 hectares of skiable terrain with facilities to suit everyone, from first timers to seasoned professionals.
For non-skiers, getting a sightseeing pass ensures you don’t miss out on some of the best views in New Zealand. You can simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride up the Shadow Basin chairlift, which offers panoramic views of the Southern Alps.
#13 Nugget Point – Otago, South Island
Nugget Point is a coastal headland located on the Catlins Coast of New Zealand’s south island.
The steep cliffs here are adorned with unique rock formations known as the “Nuggets.”
From the car park, a short and easy walking track will lead you to the Nugget Point Lighthouse and the main viewing platform.
The walk takes about 20-30 minutes one way and offers breathtaking views of the rugged coastline and deep blue ocean.
#14 Point Kean Viewpoint, South Island
Point Kean Viewpoint in the picturesque coastal town of Kaikoura, is the best New Zealand viewpoint for seeing Kaikoura’s famous seal colony.
The viewpoint is located on the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway and allows you to get up close to the gorgeous fur seals of New Zealand.
#15 Glenorchy Lookout, South Island
The Glenorchy Lookout is a tranquil spot overlooking Glenorchy Lagoon, also known as Paradise Lagoon. This scenic location is situated near the town of Glenorchy on the South Island.
You can get here via the Glenorchy Lagoon Scenic Walkway where you’ll meander over wooden boardwalks through gorgeous green wetlands to reach the lookout.
The lagoon is framed by the majestic Southern Alps, creating a postcard-perfect backdrop that changes with the seasons. The reflections of the mountains and the sky on the calm lagoon waters make it a photographer’s dream.
In fact, the picturesque landscapes around Glenorchy and the Lagoon have served as a filming location for several popular films, including “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and “The Hobbit” films.
#16 Bob’s Peak, South Island
Bob’s Peak is a popular attraction on New Zealand’s South Island, offering breathtaking panoramic views of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and the surrounding mountains.
This scenic viewpoint is accessible by taking the Skyline Queenstown Gondola, a cable car that takes visitors from the town centre to the top of Bob’s Peak.
#17 Queenstown Hill – South Island
Queenstown Hill is a short drive or moderate hike from Queenstown town centre and offers similar views to those from Bob’s Peak.
If you fancy the popular hike to Queenstown Hill from the town centre, you can follow these steps:
- Head to the Queenstown Hill Trailhead: The starting point for the Queenstown Hill hike is easily accessible from the town centre. The trailhead is located at the Belfast Street entrance, which is about a 10 to 15-minute walk from the central part of Queenstown.
- Hike to Queenstown Hill Summit: The hike to the Queenstown Hill Summit is a moderately challenging uphill trek that offers spectacular views of Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables mountain range, and the surrounding landscape. The trail is well-marked, and there are several viewpoints along the way to catch your breath and take in the scenery.
- Summit Views: Once you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Queenstown and its picturesque surroundings. The view from the top is one of the best in the area, making it a popular spot for both locals and tourists.
#18 Crown Range Road Lookout, South Island
The Crown Range Lookout is a stunning viewpoint located in New Zealand’s south island, specifically along the Crown Range Road (State Highway 89), which is the highest main road in New Zealand.
As you drive up the road, you’ll start gaining elevation, and the views will become more and more impressive.
This is undoubtedly one of the most scenic drives in New Zealand. However, it’s full of hairpin bends, so it’s not for the faint hearted!
Note: If you plan to drive the Crown Range between May and September, you need to ensure you are carrying chains and know how to fit them.
Once at the lookout, which is at the top of the Crown Range and signposted, you’ll be treated to breathtaking vistas of the Southern Alps, the Wakatipu Basin, and the picturesque countryside below.
It’s the perfect spot to take photos, have a picnic, or simply soak in the stunning scenery!
#19 Emerald Lakes – Tongariro Crossing, North Island
The Emerald Lakes are located in the Tongariro National Park, North Island.
This spot needs to be on your New Zealand bucket list, with it being one of the most stunning viewpoints in New Zealand and the filming location of Mordor in the Lord of the Rings movies!
You’ll can see this famous New Zealand viewpoint on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, one of New Zealand’s most popular hiking trails.
To experience this awesome lookout and journey into Middle Earth for yourself, you’ll need to visit in spring or summer. Otherwise, if visiting in autumn/ winter, you’ll have to join a guided hike due to snow and ice.
#20 Cape Reinga, Lighthouse Viewpoint, North Island
Cape Reinga is at the northernmost tip of the North Island, with the lookout at Cape Reinga Lighthouse being one of the most iconic New Zealand viewpoints.
You can drive there or join a tour to explore this sacred place, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. The view of the meeting of the waters and the iconic Cape Reinga Lighthouse is truly awe-inspiring.
P.S. Keep your eyes peeled for the Spirit Tree at the end of the rocky tip. This tree holds great spiritual significance for the Māori people, as they believe it to be the departure point for the spirits of the deceased to begin their journey to the underworld.
#21 Cathedral Cove – Coromandel Peninsula, North Island
Cathedral Cove is a natural wonder located on the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand’s north island.
In good weather, the stunning rock formations, golden beach, and azure waters here offer one of the best views in New Zealand.
The track from the car park to Cathedral Cove is well-maintained and relatively easy to walk, with several lookout points to enjoy the stunning scenery of the Coromandel Peninsula’s coastline.
The walking time to reach Cathedral Cove from the car park is around 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your speed!
#22 The Redwoods – Whakarewarewa Forest, North Island
The Redwoods, also known as Whakarewarewa Forest, is located in Rotorua on the North Island of New Zealand. This forest is famous for its towering Californian coastal redwood trees.
Once you arrive, there are various walking and mountain biking trails that wind through the majestic redwood trees, providing a unique and enchanting experience in the heart of nature.
For some epic shots I recommend visiting during sunrise or sunset.
#23 Cape Kidnappers – Hawke’s Bay, North Island
Cape Kidnappers is in Hawke’s Bay on New Zealand’s north island.
The area is famous for its iconic headland and Gannet Reserve, which is home to a large colony of Australasian gannets.
To capture some amazing wildlife shots, I recommend doing a guided gannet safari, where you should be able to catch sight of these awesome seabirds nesting and flying overhead.
Otherwise, you can take a guided walk along the beach to the Gannet Reserve. The walk takes around 1.5 to 2 hours each way and involves walking over a rocky shoreline, so it’s essential to check the tide times and ensure it’s safe to walk during low tide.
#24 Urupukupuka Lookout – Bay of Islands, North Island
The Urupukapuka Lookout is a scenic viewpoint located in the Bay of Islands, North Island, New Zealand.
To get to the island and its famous lookout, you’ll need to take a short ferry ride from Paihia or Russell, the main towns in the Bay of Islands.
The Urupukapuka Lookout can be reached by hiking one of the island’s walking trails. The hike is not overly strenuous, and there are several options, depending on the level of difficulty and time you have available. The track to the lookout provides stunning views of the surrounding islands, the ocean, and the Bay of Islands’ coastline.
Once at the Urupukapuka Lookout, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the Bay of Islands, with its countless small islands dotting the turquoise waters. It’s a fantastic spot to take in the beauty of the Bay and capture some epic photographs.
#25 Auckland City Skyline Lookout, North Island
Auckland, often referred to as the “City of Sails,” is the largest city in New Zealand and is known for its beautiful harbours, diverse culture, and vibrant cityscape.
You’ll find a great lookout over the city skyline at Northcote Point, where you can witness all of Auckland’s iconic skyscrapers such as the Sky Tower, the PwC Tower and the Vero Centre.
#26 Mount Victoria Lookout, North Island
The Mount Victoria Lookout is a popular viewpoint located in Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand.
Wellington is situated on the southern tip of the North Island and is known for its picturesque harbour, vibrant arts scene, and hilly terrain.
Mount Victoria is one of the prominent hills in Wellington and is easily accessible from the city centre. You can drive to the lookout point or take a short walk or hike to the top.
From here you can see the whole city against the sparkling waters of Queen’s Wharf, with hills and mountains behind, which looks epic at sunset.
You’ll also find great city views from the Wellington Cable Car if you don’t fancy the walk.
#27 Pōhutu Geyser – Rotorua, North Island
One of the most unique New Zealand viewpoints is the Pōhutu geyser, which is a famous natural wonder located in the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley, North Island.
Pōhutu is one of the largest geysers in the Southern Hemisphere and can reach heights of up to 30 meters (98 feet) during its eruptions. The word “Pōhutu” in the Māori language translates to “big splash” or “explosion,” which aptly describes the geyser’s powerful eruptions!
The Pōhutu geyser is found inside Te Puia Geothermal Attraction Centre, which also offers cultural tours and access to Māori artwork.
Pōhutu is active throughout the day, and its eruptions occur approximately every 1 to 2 hours, making it one of the most predictable and photographed geysers in the world!
In addition to Pōhutu, the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley showcases a variety of other geothermal attractions, such as bubbling mud pools, hot springs, and smaller geysers, creating a fascinating display of the Earth’s geothermal power.
#28 Shakespeare Cliff Lookout, North Island
Shakespeare Cliff Lookout on the Coromandel Peninsula is an incredible New Zealand viewpoint offering panoramic views of Cooks Bay and Whitianga.
The lookout is found on the Shakespeare Headland Track, with the easy walk rewarding you with incredible views of the aquamarine water and unspoilt coves.
#29 Mount Maunganui Summit Lookout, North Island
Mount Maunganui is an extinct volcano right by the ocean.
To reach the 232-metre high summit, you’ll need to do a 40 minute hike, which requires a good level of fitness.
However, the panoramic views you’ll be rewarded with are well worth the effort.
In good weather, you’ll have breathtaking views of the Western Bay of Plenty and the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean stretches out as far as your eyes can see.
#30 Huka Falls Lookout, North Island
Huka Falls is a famous natural wonder located on the North Island of New Zealand. It’s situated near the town of Taupō and is one of the most visited waterfalls in the country.
The falls are formed by the Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest river, as it narrows from approximately 100 meters (328 feet) wide to just 15 meters (49 feet) wide, creating a powerful rush of water.
From the Huka Falls Lookout, you’ll witness the sheer power of the waterfall, which offers the opportunity to take some epic action shots.
For more Instragrammable shots, you can also walk a few metres south to the Huka Falls Bridge, a footbridge suspended over the powerful natural rapids.
If you’re seeking a more up-close experience, jet boat rides operate from the Huka Falls area, taking visitors on thrilling trips close to the base of the falls. It’s an exhilarating way to feel the force of the water and get sprayed by its mist.
New Zealand is a photographer’s paradise, offering endless views that will leave you in awe! Whether you embark on a hiking adventure, take a scenic drive, or soar above the landscapes in a helicopter, each moment promises to be a visual feast for your senses.
So, pack your camera, set off on your New Zealand journey, and let nature’s wonders unfold before your eyes!
Happy exploring! ✌🏻✌🏼✌🏽✌🏾✌🏿
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