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National Parks of New Zealand

If you think the National Parks in the US are gorgeous…. wait until you Google “national parks NZ”. Prepare to be blown away.

We’re only going to be visiting New Zealand for 12 days (on the ground), and sadly, it’s not enough time to hit them all! We’ve been doing TONS of research and here are the parks we’ll be hitting.

Tongariro National Park

This National Park has a trail that is commonly referred to as “New Zealand’s best day hike” (the Alpine Crossing). It was also NZ’s first National Park and is a World Heritage site! We’re really drawn to this hike with the exception of knowing it can be freezing in parts of the hike (literally below 32*) and very warm in others. We are going to see if this is practical for our time there… but with amazing photos like this… it’s hard to say no!

There are also 3 inactive volcanoes in this hike and some Hobbit homes if that floats your boat! There are short (1-2hr hikes), day hikes, and several (3-4) day hikes. A little bit of something for everyone.

Abel Tasman National Park


This is slowly becoming the park I’m most excited about. It’s on the Northern part of the South Island, and is right on the water. From what I’ve read, it’s very moderate in temperature and always enjoyable, and its claim to fame is renting sea kayaks like in this photo. I think it will be a fun alternative to exploring by foot or car 🙂

Fiordland National Park


From what I can tell, Fiordland Natioinal Park (the home of Milford Sound) is one of the most sought after attractions in New Zealand. The Milford Sound trek is really famous and you can see why – unbelievable terrain from mountains to lakes. Milford Sound is also one of the most removed places in the entire country – it’s 2 hours drive away from the nearest small town, and almost 4 hours drive from the nearest city! What’s funny is on the map Queenstown & Milford Sound look very close in proximity, but the protected lands prohibit you from driving the short way. Buckle up, I’m sure it’s worth the ride!

Westland National Park AND Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park 


These National Parks are a 2-for-1 deal – they border each other. While I don’t think we’ll be in Aoraki Nat’l Park, we will admire it’s crown jewel (Mt Cook, pictured above!) from Westland. Westland is also home to two of New Zealand’s most famous glaciers, Fox & Franz Josef. Verdict is still out on if hiking ON these glaciers is possible at this time (they are still advancing and conditions are changing), but we will at least do some of the public hikes in this park.

Even though we won’t be spending significant time in these places, we’re still going to be driving through a handful of the other National Parks…. which will make the long days feel a little more magical in the car! I grabbed these next three images from Google Street View… which is amazing.

Kahurangi National Park

Pure scenery between Abel Tasman & the next national park….

Paparoa National Park

If you’ve ever heard of the “Pancake Rocks”… this is where to find them. This beautiful Nat’l Park is right up against the coast, making for a gorgeous drive ahead!

Mount Aspiring National Park

No question of street view here…. but how can you complain about an 8hr drive when you’re looking at all this eye candy? Gorgeous.

We’re getting closer & closer to leaving…. so excited! If anyone has been to the National Parks in NZ, I’d love to hear any tips, tricks or suggestions! Thanks in advance! 🙂

Bottom 3 images via Google Street View