New Zealand is often known as an amazing and unforgettable travel destination; this is in no small part due to the natural beauty it offers. From the world-renowned Milford Sound to the awe-inspiring Mount Cook, there are many famous landmarks in New Zealand that are sure to take your breath away.
Ranging from the stunning mountain ranges and glaciers to the sandy beaches and lush green forests, here are some of the famous New Zealand landmarks that you can explore when traveling there. These natural and man-made wonders will amaze you.
Most Famous Landmark In New Zealand
One of New Zealand’s most iconic landmarks, Milford Sound is often referred to as the eighth wonder of the world.
Situated in Fiordland National Park – a World Heritage Site – on the country’s South Island, this natural attraction is truly breathtaking. Milford Sound is home to majestic mountains, pristine rainforests, and picturesque waterfalls, all of which combine to create an unforgettable experience.
There are a variety of ways to explore Milford Sound, including by boat, helicopter or kayak. Whichever way you choose, you’re sure to be blown away by the landscape.
One of the best times to visit is early in the morning when the fiord is filled with mist, giving the impression that you’re floating on a cloud.
Milford Sound is located in Fiordland National Park on the South Island of New Zealand. The best way to get there is by car or bus from Queenstown or Te Anau.
Popular National Parks In New Zealand
Fiordland National Park
Covering an area of over 12,000 square kilometers, Fiordland National Park is New Zealand’s largest national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This pristine wilderness is home to some of New Zealand’s most iconic landmarks, including Milford Sound – the most popular tourist destination in the country, and Doubtful Sound – the second deepest fiord in the world.
Fiordland National Park is located in the southwest corner of the South Island and covers a large part of the southwest New Zealand wilderness. The area is unsurprisingly mountainous, with some of the tallest peaks in the country, including Mount Cook (12,218 ft) and Mount Aspiring (10,771 ft).
The fiords themselves were carved out by glaciers during the last ice age and are now home to some of the most beautiful and unspoiled scenery in the world.
Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park is New Zealand’s oldest national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is located in the central North Island and is home to three of the country’s volcanoes – Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, and Ruapehu.The park also features a number of beautiful lakes, including the world-famous Lake Taupo.
Tongariro National Park is a popular spot for hiking, with a number of well-marked trails leading to the summits of the volcanoes and to the various lakes. The most popular trail is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, which takes you through some of the most stunning scenery in the park.
Auckland, New Zealand Landmarks
Auckland Sky Tower
One of New Zealand’s most popular modern landmarks is the Auckland Sky Tower. This 328-meter-tall tower is the tallest man-made structure in the country and offers stunning views of Auckland from the observation deck.
You can also dine in the tower’s revolving restaurant, SkyCity, which offers a fine dining experience with incredible views of the cityscape.
If you’re feeling brave, you can also do the SkyWalk – a walk around the perimeter of the deck without any handrails!
The Sky Tower is located in the heart of Auckland city and is easy to get to by public transport.
If you want to get a 360-degree view of Auckland city, head to Mount Eden! As one of the city’s highest volcanic cones, this popular landmark is a great place to watch the sunset over the North Island.
On a clear day, you can see all the way from the Waitemata Harbour to the Manukau Harbour. You’ll also get an up-close look at some of Auckland’s most iconic landmarks, including the Sky Tower and the Rangitoto Island.
In the center of this dormant volcano, lies the Te Ipu Kai a Mata’aho (sounds kind of magical, doesn’t it). This is actually the name of the crater which goes 50m deep. The mountain is considered sacred by many locals and the Maori people.
Mount Eden is located in central Auckland and is easily accessible by public transport. The walk to the summit takes about 15-20 minutes, and there are plenty of photo opportunities along the way.
One Tree Hill, Auckland
This famous New Zealand landmark is an extinct volcano and the second-highest point in Auckland. One Tree Hill, or Maungakiekie as it’s known in Maori, is an iconic part of Auckland’s skyline and offers stunning panoramic views over the city.
This ancient Maori pa (fortified village) was once home to a large Maori population and was an important strategic point in Maori wars. In 1881, a lone Monterey Cypress tree (now long gone) was planted atop the hill as a memorial to John Logan Campbell, one of Auckland’s founding fathers.
Nowadays, the park surrounding One Tree Hill is a popular spot for picnicking, playing sports, and taking in the stunning views. There is also a large stargazing event held here every year, making it the perfect place to gaze at the stars on a clear night.
Queenstown, New Zealand Landmarks
The Remarkables, Queenstown
The Remarkables mountain range is indeed one of the most remarkable natural landmarks in New Zealand. This spectacular mountain range, located in the Southern Alps, provides a dramatic backdrop to the country’s adventure capital – Queenstown.
With its soaring peaks, jagged ridges, and beautiful valleys, it’s easy to see why this place is so popular with hikers, climbers, and skiers. The Remarkables offer some of the most spectacular views in New Zealand and there are plenty of walking and hiking trails to suit all abilities. It is truly a nature’s paradise.
If you’re feeling brave, you can even try your hand at paragliding or base jumping off one of the peaks!
Queenstown Skyline Gondola
The Queenstown Skyline Gondola is one of New Zealand’s top tourist attractions, taking you 450 meters above the city.
This gondola brings you to the top of Bob’s Peak, which is accessible by road but the gondola is a much more fun way to get there! At the top, there are some amazing views over Lake Wakatipu and the surrounding mountains such as Coronet Peak and The Remarkables range.
You will find a panoramic restaurant-bar at the top where you can chill and enjoy the views. There are also a few different walking and hiking trails, as well as the luge – a toboggan-like ride that is great fun for all the family.
Otago, New Zealand Landmarks
The Moeraki Boulders are a natural landmark on the Otago coast of New Zealand. They are large, spherical boulders that lie along a stretch of Koekohe Beach between Moeraki and Hampden, and are scattered along the shoreline for about 2 kilometers.
The boulders vary in size from small rocks weighing a few kilograms to gigantic boulders weighing several tonnes.
The Moeraki Boulders are a popular tourist attraction and have been featured in several TV commercials, music videos, and movies. They are believed to be concretions that were formed millions of years ago from sediments that were deposited on the sea floor.
The sediments were cemented together over time by minerals that precipitated out of the water, and the boulders grew larger as more and more sediment was added.
The Moeraki Boulders are an excellent example of concretionary weathering, and are a popular destination for geologists and other scientists from all over the world.
Wanaka Willow In Lake Willow
Lake Wanaka is a beautiful and peaceful place in New Zealand. And in the southern end of this lake lies a delicately curved Willow Tree called the Wanaka Willow.
The willow tree was planted in 1967 by the late Perrie Plunkett to mark the birth of his first son, Gary. The tree has grown to become an iconic landmark in Wanaka and has to be one of the most photographed trees in New Zealand.
The Wanaka Willow is a great place to relax and enjoy the stunning views of Lake Wanaka. You can also paddle out to the willow in a kayak or canoe and take some photos from the water. The tree is located on the shores of Lake Wanaka, near the town of Wanaka in the Otago region of New Zealand.
Larnach Castle is a must-see New Zealand landmark located on the Otago Peninsula near Dunedin. This incredible structure was built in the late 1800s by William Larnach – a prominent politician and businessman. However, Larnach’s life took a turn for the worse and he ended up taking his own life in the castle’s ballroom.
Since then, the castle has changed hands a few times and was even used as a boys’ school for a while. Today, it is open to the public as a tourist attraction and is one of New Zealand’s most popular landmarks.
As you explore the castle, you will be able to learn about the Larnach family and their fascinating story. You can also enjoy beautiful gardens, which feature over 3,000 roses, as well as sweeping views of the Otago Harbour.
Situated in the rugged mountains of Southern New Zealand’s South Island, Lake Wakatipu is the country’s third-largest lake. This natural wonder is famed for its distinctive shape which resembles a rugby ball, with two narrow arms stretching out from the main body of water.
The surrounding mountains and valleys make for a stunning setting and there are plenty of activities on offer in the area, such as hiking, mountain biking, fishing, kayaking, and skiing.
In the center of the lake lies a small island called Rabbit Island, which is home to a colony of rabbits – introduced by early settlers in an attempt to control the rabbit population. These days they provide a cute photo opportunity for visitors!
Lake Wakatipu is a great place to relax and take in the incredible scenery. It’s also the perfect base for exploring the many attractions of Queenstown, such as the Skyline Gondola and Luge, bungy jumping, jet boating, and more.
Waikato, New Zealand Landmarks
Huka Falls is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and popular landmarks in New Zealand. The falls are located on the Waikato River, which is New Zealand’s longest river, and are a spectacular sight.
Huka Falls is comprised of three different sections: the lower fall, the upper fall, and the gorge. The lower fall is the most popular and is where you will find the majority of tourists.
The upper fall is a smaller waterfall located just upstream from the lower fall. The gorge is located downstream from the lower fall and is a narrow and deep section of the river.
Huka Falls is one of the most popular landmarks in New Zealand because of its beauty and the fact that it is so easy to access. The falls are located just a short drive from the city of Taupo and there are numerous viewing platforms and walkways that allow you to get up close to the falls.
The best time to visit Huka Falls is in the summer when the water is at its highest. However, the falls are still beautiful in the winter and you may even be lucky enough to see some ice formations.
Hobbiton, located in Matamata in the Waikato region of New Zealand, is a must-see destination for Lord of the Rings fans. This famous movie set was used in both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies and has now been turned into a tourist attraction.
You can explore the movie set, which includes Hobbit holes, the Green Dragon Inn, Bilbo Baggins’ house, and more. Take a guided tour of the set and learn about how it was created, then enjoy a drink at the Green Dragon Inn before heading back to reality.
Even if you are not that into Lord of the Rings, this landmark is still extremely fun to visit with the quirky houses surrounded by the lush greenery of New Zealand
Hobbiton is open daily for visiting. You should purchase tickets in advance since it is a very popular attraction. Tours typically sell out, so make sure you book early.
Other Famous Landmarks in New Zealand – North Island
Tongariro Alpine Crossing
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a popular day hike in New Zealand’s North Island. The 19.4-kilometer trail takes you through some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, including Mt. Tongariro, Mt. Ngauruhoe, and the Emerald Lakes.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is considered one of the best day hikes in New Zealand and is a must-do for any avid hiker. The trail can be challenging in parts, but the views are more than worth it.
This is another landmark in New Zealand that has increased in popularity from the Lord of the Rings, as it was part of the filming location portraying the fiery Mordor. Fans of the trilogy also come here to reimagine the scenes.
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is in Tongariro National Park, which is about a 3-hour drive from Auckland.
Mount Cook (Aoraki)
New Zealand’s tallest mountain, Mount Cook is a must-see for anyone visiting the country. This 3,724-meter-tall peak is part of the Southern Alps mountain range and is an iconic New Zealand landmark.
Known as Aoraki in Maori, Mount Cook was first climbed in 1894 by three Englishmen and has been a popular tourist destination ever since.
There are several different ways to enjoy Mount Cook. You can go for a scenic drive or take a helicopter tour to get a bird’s eye view of the peak. For the more adventurous, there are plenty of hiking and climbing trails leading up to the summit.
No matter how you choose to experience Mount Cook, you’re sure to be blown away by the sheer size and beauty of this New Zealand landmark.
Rotorua Hot Springs, Rotorua
The geothermal wonderland of Rotorua is home to some of New Zealand’s most unique landmarks. Rotorua is the country’s geothermal playground where you can find ultimate relaxation in nature.
From steaming hot springs and bubbling mud pools to erupting geysers, Rotorua is a true natural wonderland. The most popular attractions in Rotorua are the hot springs. There are several different hot springs to choose from, each with its own unique features.
The Polynesian Spa is one of the most popular hot springs facilities in Rotorua and offers a range of different pools to relax in, including private mineral pools.
If you’re looking for something a little more active, then you can try your hand at swimming with the dolphins in New Zealand.
The Beehive, Wellington
If you’re looking for landmarks in New Zealand that are a little more unusual, then head to the capital city of Wellington where you’ll find The Beehive.The name of this building comes from its shape which resembles a beehive – and it’s pretty hard to miss! The building is home to the New Zealand Parliament and was completed in 1979. It’s made up of 53,000 cubic meters of concrete, steel and glass.
While it may not be the prettiest building in the city, The Beehive is definitely one of the most unique landmarks in New Zealand and worth a visit when you’re exploring Wellington.
Craters of the Moon, Taupo
The Craters of the Moon is a landscape that has been created by thousands of years of volcanic activity. This geothermal area is located in the Taupo Volcanic Zone and features craters, steaming vents, boiling mud pools, and colorful hot springs.
You can walk around the valley to soak in this natural wonder, and the steamy atmosphere provides opportunities for some great photo shots. So be sure to account time for that.
A great way to explore and really appreciate the Craters of the Moon is on a guided tour. You’ll learn all about the history and geology of the area, as well as get up close to the steaming vents and bubbling mud pools.
It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in New Zealand and makes for a great day out. The Craters of the Moon is located just outside of Taupo, in the North Island of New Zealand.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves, Waitomo
The Glowworm Grotto is the most popular of the three caves at Waitomo on New Zealand’s North Island. Famous for their glowworms, the caves are a magical place to visit when in New Zealand. The tour starts with a short boat ride underneath the stars, where you will see thousands of tiny glowworms flickering in the darkness.
It’s an unforgettable experience and one of the best things to see in New Zealand. The caves as estimated to trace back millions of years ago, as they were formed through geographic and volcanic movements.
The Glowworm Grotto is located in Waitomo, on New Zealand’s North Island. The caves are approximately 2 hours drive south of Auckland, or 4 hours drive north of Wellington.
Tane Mahuta, Waipoua Forest
One of the most impressive landmarks in New Zealand has to be the giant kauri tree known as Tane Mahuta. This massive tree is over 2,000 years old and stands an incredible 51.5 meters (169 feet) tall with a girth of 13.77 meters (45 feet). Tane Mahuta is the largest living tree in New Zealand by volume and is a popular tourist attraction in the Waipoua Forest.
The name Tane Mahuta means ‘Lord of the Forest’ in Maori and it is easy to see why this giant kauri tree has been given this name. Tane Mahuta is an impressive sight and is definitely one for the memories.
The Waipoua forest is located in Northland and is accessible by car. Tane Mahuta is a short walk from the car park and there are several other giant kauri trees in the forest that you can also see.
Other Famous Landmarks in New Zealand – South Island
Franz Josef Glacier, Westland Tai Poutini National Park
One of New Zealand’s most popular glaciers, Franz Josef is a must-see for any visitor to the country. The glacier is named after Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria.
Situated in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the west coast of the South Island, this mighty river of ice stretches 12 kilometers down from the Southern Alps.
The Franz Josef Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers in the world and a popular tourist attraction. It is just over 200 miles outside of Queenstown and takes about a 5-hour drive.
The best thing about this landmark is that you can get up close and personal to the glacier on guided walks, helicopter tours, or even ice-climbing expeditions.
The Franz Josef Glacier is certainly one of the most spectacular landmarks in New Zealand and well worth a visit.
Lady Bowen Falls, Milford Sound
Situated on Milford Sound – one of New Zealand’s most popular tourist destinations, Lady Bowen Falls is a stunning natural landmark.
The falls were named after Diamantina Bowen, the wife of Governor George Bowen, to commemorate their visit to the Milford Sound in 1871.
At 162 meters high, Lady Bowen Falls is the tallest waterfall in Milford Sound. It’s an incredibly popular spot for photographers, nature lovers, and anyone who wants to experience the raw beauty of New Zealand.
You can view Lady Bowen Falls from a number of different vantage points, including on a boat cruise, from one of the many viewing platforms, or even from above on a scenic flight.
Cathedral Caves, Catlins
The Cathedral Caves are one of New Zealand’s most incredible landmarks formed purely by nature as waves crack open the rocks over thousands of years.
These natural limestone caves can be found on the southern coast of NZ’s South Island and are only accessible during low tide. Therefore, you need to time your visit accordingly.
As you walk through the entrance, you will be amazed by the size of the first cavern. The ceilings are incredibly high, some reaching 30m, and the cave opens up into an enormous room.
There is a small stream running through the middle of the cave which eventually leads to an underground lake. The Cathedral Caves are a must-see for any nature lover and are one of New Zealand’s most unique landmarks.
Split Apple Rock, Tasman Bay
A natural rock formation found in Abel Tasman National Park, Split Apple Rock is one of New Zealand’s most photographed landmarks. When you look at it, you probably understand how the name came about – from its visual resemblance to an apple cut into halves.
Split in half by the power of the ocean, this giant granite boulder sits offshore and can only be seen at low tide. The best time to visit is early morning when the sun is rising as this is when the light is at its best for photography.
This Abel Tasman landmark is a popular spot for kayakers and there are many kayaking tours that will include this landmark in the route. You can also see it by taking a water taxi cruise from Kaiteriteri Beach.
Discovering Famous Landmarks In New Zealand
If you’re looking for an amazing travel destination that is full of natural landmarks and beauty, look no further than New Zealand. From the towering glaciers in the south to the incredible cathedral caves on the coast, the stunning landmarks in New Zealand will leave you awestruck. And the above are just the tip of the iceberg!
Not only are the landscapes beautiful, but the culture and people are some of the warmest and most welcoming that you will find anywhere in the world.