Three New Zealand natural wonders you have to visit

These islands are packed with all kinds of natural wonders, from Rotorua to glaciers, active volcanos, fjords, and much more.

Dust off your passport, pack a good pair of walking shoes, and don’t forget your togs (bathing suit) because New Zealand’s borders have finally reopened to international travelers.

The South Pacific island nation comprises 600 islands in total, but most of the population lives on just three of these: the North Island, South Island, and Stewart Island. Some kiwis (the people, not the national bird) live on the remote Chatham Islands. 

These islands are packed with all kinds of natural wonders, from Rotorua with its incredible geothermal activity – and the accompanying sulfur smell – to glaciers, active volcanos, fjords, and much more.

So, what wonders should you visit

Hot Water Beach, Coromandel, North Island

Found in the Coromandel Peninsula on the North Island, Hot Water Beach is well known by locals but not as popular with tourists. The beach gets its name because even though the ocean water is cold when digging a hole in the sandy shore, something curious happens: the hole fills up with warm or hot water. 

Hot Water Beach boasts a network of underground hot springs. These bubble up through the sand between tides. Bring a spade, a few drinks, and make a day of it. Surfers can also enjoy the breaks on this beach. 

What to pack for this region of NZ

  • Sunscreen
  • Light clothing for sunny days
  • Beach stuff

The Glaciers, Fiordland, South Island

The South Island’s Fiordland is known for a few things: its rugged beauty, wild roads, abysmal internet connection, and two glaciers.
Both Fox and Franz Josef glaciers have been wowing tourists for years. Not only are the short walks to see both spectacular, but the glaciers themselves are impressive. 

There is a short, 23km drive between the two glaciers, so you can easily visit both in one day. A warning, though: if you’re driving a rental car, be careful of the Keas. These cheeky alpine parrots are well-known for disassembling vehicles!

What to pack for this region of NZ

  • Warm, light layers
  • A good winter jacket
  • tech survival kit that keeps you connected.

The Tongariro Crossing, Tongariro National Park, North Island
You’ll find this famous walk in the North Island’s mountainous center; it’s a popular hike because you’ll traverse along the side of several crater lakes and walk around three volcanoes: Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, the latter of which is still active!

You don’t need to be a mountaineer to do this walk, but you will need to be in decent physical condition and able to hike for 19.4 km. Most people complete this walk in a day. As you hike, expect to see views out over the North Island, including the desert road. You might even spot a few kaimanawa (wild horses) in the distance.

What to pack for this region of NZ

  • Good walking poles and boots
  • The right gear for sub-zero conditions if you intend to cross in the winter season (June to October), and alpine experience
  • Your swimsuit for an apres hike spa bath!

Get ready to say ‘kia ora’ (hello) to New Zealand this year and discover what the land of the long white cloud has in store. These wonders are just the beginning.