10 Geological Hotspots to Visit in New Zealand

By: Angela Ayles

New Zealand is an island country located in the South Pacific that is known for its natural beauty and spectacular landscape. Many of the places on this list of the top 10 geological hotspots in New Zealand are known around the world.


1. Milford Sound

Regarded as one of New Zealand’s most amazing natural geological wonders, Milford Sound is a fjord located in the south west of South Island. Visitors to Milford Sound will be amazed at the breathtaking views of sparkling water from the cliffs overlooking the sound. With Mitre Peak as the signature peak among the mountains surrounding the sound, visitors will also experience the dense rainforest and other impressive geological sights that make this New Zealand’s most popular attraction.

MIlford Sound New Zealand

2. Great Lake Taupo 

Great Lake Taupo is the largest freshwater lake in New Zealand and Oceania. Located in a caldera, the lake is surrounded by volcanic mountains that have gained international fame from the Lord of The Rings trilogy. Among the activities popular at Lake Taupo are fishing, sailing, kayaking, biking, golf, hunting and snow skiing. The Māori rock carvings are an interesting attraction that can only be accessed by water. Great Lake Taupo has it all: great natural beauty, numerous amenities and leisure activities to suit every taste.

Great Lake Taupo New Zealand

3. Mount Taranki

Soaring 8,261 feet above sea level, the legendary Mount Taranaki is an active stratovolcano that is one of New Zealand’s most notable landmarks. Also known as Mount Egmont, the snow-covered peak and surrounding slopes located on the west coast of North Island offers skiers, snowboarders, climbers, hikers and others seeking leisure activities great opportunities to enjoy the views and challenges of the mountain. The symmetrical shape and majestic beauty of Mount Taranaki is reminiscent of Japan’s Mount Fuji.

Mount Taranaki

4. Rotorua Geysers 

In the vicinity of Rotorua, New Zealand are 65 geysers and more than 500 thermal pools in the Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley that represent some of the most active geothermal activity in the world. Pohutu Geyser is the most prominent and it erupts as many as 20 times per day at heights up to 100 feet. Other notable sites are the Prince of Wales Feathers thermal spring, Te Heketanga-a-Rangi gateways, and the Maori cultural village.

Rotorua Geysers


5. Cathedral Cove at Whitianga

Located on the Coromandel Peninsula of New Zealand’s North Island, the Cathedral Cove is a rock arch and cave that is a popular geological hotspot. The beauty of Cathedral Cove and the natural rock stacks in the area such as Te Hoho Rock and Sphinx Rock make this area a favorite destination for snorkelers, photographers, boaters and other visitors.

Cathedral Cove at Whitianga

6. Piha Beach

Piha Beach is well-known by surfers and beach lovers throughout New Zealand. The beach is highly regarded for its natural beauty, black sands and rock formations that lie along the coastline. One of the most popular formations is Lion Rock and it has reached iconic status in New Zealand. The beach’s proximity to Auckland has made it a popular tourist destination.

Piha Beach

7. Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes

New Zealand is filled with geological wonders that will amaze visitors. The Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes are another awe-inspiring attraction that has been formed by nature. Found on the west coast of the South Island, the Pancake Rocks are layers of limestone and sandstone that have eroded over time to create vertical and horizontal blowholes in the formations. They are especially impressive during high tide when the sea bursts through the holes.

Pancake Rocks New Zealand

8. Franz Josef Glacier

The Franz Josef Glacier gives first-time visitors an amazing juxtaposition of the imposing glacier set amongst the lush rainforest. Located in the Southern Alps on New Zealand’s South Island, the slow-moving glacier is one of the country’s geological hotspots and is part of the World Heritage Site Park.

Franz Josef Glacier New Zealand

9. Tongariro National Park

As the location of three significant and active volcanoes, Tongariro National Park is the site of rich history and Maori legend. New Zealand’s oldest park is also a World Heritage Site and it offers visitors many geological and scenic vistas that have become even more famous due to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Hiking, climbing, fishing, skiing and biking are just some of the activities that make it one of New Zealand’s popular destinations.

Tongariro National Park


10. Cape Reinga

Located at the point on the North Island where the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet, Cape Reinga is a natural wonder that it is also the source of Maori mythology. Thought to be the point where the Maori dead enter the underworld, the cape has grown in popularity and visitors. Three Kings Islands and the lighthouse are don’t-miss features to visit.

Cape Reinga New Zealand