Whatever kind of landscape or activity you are looking for – dramatic coastal cliffs, alpine lakes and peaks, surfable beaches, active volcanoes and geothermal features, lush rainforest and old-growth forest, walkable glaciers, underground caverns – they are all here in New Zealand.
Here are some of the unique landscapes that will convince you to come visit.
Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.
The 8,261ft stratovolcano stands alone above the forested plains of the North Island region of Taranaki. No matter where you’re viewing it from — a distant horizon, an airplane window, or the slopes of an adjacent hill- you’ll be struck by its power. Climbing is best attempted in summer, when there’s minimal snow cover on the summit.
Mt. Aspiring National Park
Mt. Aspiring National Park is a serious hiking and mountaineering destination. The Routeburn Track, one of the country’s most popular multi-day treks, passes through the park. There are enough peaks, river crossings, and glaciers (like those on Mount Rob Roy, seen above) to keep you busy for weeks. Or base yourself in the social alpine/lakeside town of Wanaka to set yourself up for an easy day hike.
This 12-mile track passes over and around the craters and multi-colored lakes of Mt. Tongariro; and skirts a second volcano, Ngauruhoe, used as Mt. Doom from The Lord of the Rings films. The panoramic views look out over the entire Taupo Volcanic Zone and the surrounding central North Island landscape.
Aoraki / Mt. Cook itself is made up of three separate summits and is sandwiched between the Tasman and Hooker Glaciers. Just a few miles south of the mountain lies Mount Cook Village, your base of operations for exploring this incredible landscape.
There are few towns here. The majority of the peninsula is protected land, with steep ridges and hills covered in temperate rainforest. In addition to some surprisingly remote hiking opportunities, highlights include Cathedral Cove, where a massive limestone arch frames an excellent beach, and Hot Water Beach — dig a hole here and underground springs will fill it with Jacuzzi-temperature water.
The cave system is awesome, with underground rivers that you can tube or boat on, huge caverns, and rappelling / spelunking opportunities, but the real draw are the creatures that live in its depths. The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are home to thousands of mosquito-sized glowworms, a species endemic to New Zealand, which cast an eerie green-blue glow throughout the caverns.
Milford Sounds glacially carved walls reach as high as 4,000 feet. After a heavy rain, hundreds of waterfalls cascade down their sides. Boat cruises can give you a good look at Milford Sound — for a more intimate experience, arrange an overnight boat trip or go by kayak.