Where To Find New Zealand's Best Scenery

By: Rhiannon Ball  | 
NUGGET POINT, OTAGO, NEW ZEALAND - 2020/03/07: View of the Nugget point lighthouse at sunrise on a cloudy day and calm sea. (Photo by Jorge Fernández/LightRocket via Getty Images) LightRocket via Getty Images / © 2020 Jorge Fernández

New Zealand is a stunning country packed with adventure and picturesque places to take in views of rolling hills, sandy beaches, towering peaks, and city life. After all, it’s named the third most beautiful country in the world for a reason! NZ has incredible wildlife viewing as well and is home to birds found nowhere else – after all, it’s the seabird capital of the world. So whether you’re a native Kiwi or hopping on a plane to explore the country for vacation, here is where you can’t find some of the country’s best scenery.


Cathedral Cove

Cathedral Cove is a marine reserve located on New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula covering 2,100 acres in the northern islands. While there are amazing sights to take in throughout the reserve, one of the most famous is the rock arch formations along the coast. This area is popular with tourists and its beauty draws about 150,000 visitors per year.

Castle Hill, Arthur’s Pass

This rugged rock formation can be found on New Zealand’s South Island within Kura Tawhiti Conservation Area. The formation got its name from the fact that the limestone boulders throughout the area resemble the ruins of an old castle. Fun facts: The front of the Christchurch Cathedral was made with limestone from Castle Hill and in 2002, the Dalai Lama named this spot a “Spiritual Center of the Universe.”

Auckland Sky Tower

What better way to see the city of Auckland than from 720 feet above? The Auckland Sky Tower is an observation building and communications tower in the city’s CBD. At 1,076 feet tall, it stands as the tallest man-made structure in the southern hemisphere. While there are several observation decks and restaurants here, the ultimate view is the Sky Jump – a 630-foot jump off the tower for 11 seconds of freefall adrenaline. It’s located just a 45 minutes drive east of the stunning black sand beach of Muriwai.

Queenstown Skyline Gondola

One of the best ways to get a birds-eye view of the city of Queenstown is by taking a ride up the Skyline gondola. The ride is reportedly the steepest cable car in the southern hemisphere and takes passengers up 450 meters above Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu to Bob’s Peak. Along the way, you’ll enjoy a 220-degree view and at the top, there are viewing platforms, as well as a bar and restaurant in you, want to grab a bite to eat. No trip to NZ is complete without taking one of these tours!


Nugget Point Lighthouse

This beautiful lighthouse sits on Nugget Point in the Otago region of New Zealand’s South Island overlooking a rocky landscape (aka the Nuggets). Construction on the lighthouse began in 1869 and it was first lit in 1870. It has been updated over the years going from having an oil lamp to electric and then finally being replaced with an LED beacon in 2006. It’s also a great spot to see penguins and seals, as the rugged coastline is a perfect place for these species to lounge around between dips into the churning sea. Don’t forget your camera! Photography opportunities abound here at Nugget Point.

Clay Cliffs, Omarama

Another mammoth rock formation, the Clay Cliffs in Omarama are about 4 hours southwest of the city of Christchurch. These sharp rock pinnacles were formed by layers of silt and gravel deposited by the rivers of melting glaciers between 1-2 million years ago. This is one of those views that seem to be almost otherworldly, according to reviews on Tripadvisor.

Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge, Gibbston

One of the most beautiful views in New Zealand also happens to be the birthplace of commercial bungy jumping. The Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge crosses over the Kawarau River high up and offers jumpers (or just spectators) with breathtaking views of the gorge in all its natural glory … before they plunge 43 meters ending in a water touch on their “flight” down!

Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park

Arguably one of the top sceneries in the whole country, Milford Sound is a fiordland with spectacular scenery everywhere. Located 15 kilometers inland from the Tasman Sea, this magical place has received many accolades including World’s Top Travel Destination by Tripadvisor and Rudyard Kipling once called it the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” It’s the only fjord in the area that can be accessed by road (albeit one of the longest and most winding drives), which makes it a popular destination for tourists. A guided dive tour package is available for a pretty penny, where you can see a different kind of scenery, with the surrounding mountains plunging down deep into the fjord floor. Guides are also available for longer walking tours in the area where you’ll get a full history of the area.

Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland

This stunning area of geothermal activity in Rotorua is something that really must be seen to truly be experienced. One of the most amazing views in the park is of the Champagne Pool, a hot spring that was formed over 900 years ago by a hydrothermal eruption. While amazing looking, one dip in this pool could spell disaster as it’s rich in carbon dioxide (which causes it to bubble and fizz), arsenic, and sulfides, so leave your bathing suit at home for this scenic view in NZ.


Tasman Glacier Lake, Mount Cook National Park

Tasman Lake is located in Mount Cook National Park on the country’s South Island. The lake is formed by the retreat of the 27 km long Tasman Glacier and in the 1970s there was no lake at all. By 1990 the lake was fully formed and it’s estimated that the lake will reach maximum size in the next 10-20 years. It offers a stunning view for onlookers hoping to snap some Instagram-worthy photos and is an easy hike, only requiring low to moderate fitness capabilities.