Your Top 5 New Zealand Landmarks

New Zealand has one of the most mountainous and visually stunning landscapes on earth, from snow-capped peaks to fern forests, black sand beaches, active and ancient volcanoes. There is little wonder why they decided to set the fantasy world of Middle-Earth in New Zealand in Peter Jackson’s epic Tolkien trilogies. But even amongst all this stunning scenery, there are some standouts that put them in a category of their own. Here are the top five most iconic and breathtaking landmarks in New Zealand.

View of Rotorua

Starting off the list is the town of Rotorua, famous for its incredible geothermal activity. Each year, thousands of people from around New Zealand and beyond travel to Rotorua to bathe in the mineral-rich waters of the hot springs. Water and mud are brought up from deep in the earth, filled with minerals that help skin health and also ease muscle soreness. Around town, you will find many day spas and health retreats using the mud and water from the hot springs in their practices. The natural hot springs are  one of the most visited landmarks in the entire country. Rotorua is located on the North Island, around a 45-minute drive from the coast in the upper section of the island. You can fly straight into Rotorua through the regional airport or arrive by rental car. See the Rotorua lakes, the 30m-tall Pohutu Geyser and a Māori village named Tamaki. See the steam vent from the ground while riding in the Skyline Rotorua gondola or take one of the many walking trails right outside town.

Mount Cook

Mount Cook, the tallest mountain in New Zealand, sitting at over 3,000 metres high, is next on our list. It’s hard to go past such an incredible place, with the longest glaciers in New Zealand, fantastic star-gazing opportunities, breathtaking views and some of the best walking trails in New Zealand. Located on the coast of the South Island, the mountain is close to lakes and herb fields. It’s hard to decide what has the better view, the walking trail from the mountain or being up on the mountain itself. 

Visit Middle- Earth at Hobbiton and Tongariro National Park

The next iconic landmark is technically spread all over New Zealand; Middle-Earth.  . Since the release of the first ‘Lord of the Rings’ film in 2001, fans have flocked to New Zealand to take in the stunning scenery and locations that they witnessed on the big screen. While both islands and dozens of locations were used to construct Middle-Earth in the movies, we’ve highlighted the two that offer the most in terms of screen time and iconic value. The first is Hobbiton, home to the Shire. During the production of the Hobbit Trilogy (2012), the reconstructed shire was  built to last, as opposed to the first trilogy’s Shire. Hobbiton Movie Set Studios, located on the North Island close to the coast and just northwest of Rotorua, offers fans an up-close and personal look at the Hobbit Holes, green pastures, pubs, and buildings of the shire. It has proven to be a resounding success as a tourist destination, with a range of tours on offer.

The second Middle-Earth destination is the Land of Mordor, home to Mount Doom and Sauron. The filming for Mordor took place in Tongariro National Park, with Mount Ngauruhoe acting as a stand-in for Mount Doom. Tongariro is just south of Lake Taupo. The Tongariro National Park is spectacular on its own, even without the added enjoyment of walking the footsteps of Frodo, Sam and Gollum to reach it. It is filled with unique landforms, water-filled craters, and a 19.5-kilometre set walking path. Nobody will judge you if you complete this walk or the drive there playing the Lord of the Rings movie soundtrack; it’s too good an opportunity not to.

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

The final landmark on our list is the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. These 30-million-year-old caves are illuminated by tiny living natural lights, glowworms, that cover the walls of the cave as you float through it on a boat. The upper level is dry but still covered in formations and interesting geography. The lower wet levels are where the glowworms live, Arachnocampa Luminosa, or more commonly the New Zealand Glowworm. The worms are the larvae of a fungus gnat that produce blue-green bioluminescence. The larvae are deposited directly onto the ceiling and walls of the cave, lighting the entire interior up in a natural light show that has to be seen in person to fully appreciate its splendour. The caves are on the North Island, south of Hamilton

Start planning your New Zealand travels today. With so many unique and interesting places to explore, New Zealand provides an unforgettable experience.

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