Five Must-See National Parks in New Zealand

With beaches and glaciers just a few hours’ drive from each other, New Zealand’s landscapes provide a variety of marvels to see.

1. Abel Tasman National Park (South)

Frenchman Bay at Abel Tasman National Park. Photo by Becky, University of Queensland (AUS) (home university: Northeastern University)

Abel Tasman may be the country’s most unique national park — it’s the smallest, and instead of mountains or glaciers, you got beaches! The park is great for a variety of beach activities, but you can’t miss out on the Abel Tasman Coastal Walk, one of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks.

2. Fiordland National Park (South)

Milford Sound at Fiordland National Park. Photo by Sydney, University of Auckland (home university: George Washington University)

Part of the UNESCO World Heritage site Te Wahipounamu, Fiordland National Park is best known for the famous Milford Sound. With Milford’s majestic cliffs, lush rainforests, rushing waterfalls, and abundant wildlife (especially penguins), the park is a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.

3. Paparoa National Park (South)

Pancake Rocks at Paparoa National Park. Photo by Becky, University of Queensland (AUS) (home university: Northeastern University)

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4. Tongariro National Park (North)

Taranaki Falls at Tongariro National Park. Photo by Jared, University of Queensland (AUS) (home university: Syracuse University)

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5. Westland Tai Poutini National Park (South)

Aerial view of Fox Glacier at Westland Tai Poutini National Park. Photo by Becky, University of Queensland (AUS) (home university: Northeastern University)

Located in the West Coast region, Westland Tai Poutini is home to the Southern Alps and the world-famous Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, which can be seen via hiking, a guided glacier walk, or a helicopter ride! The park boasts a variety of other beautiful landscapes as well. Lake Matheson in particular is a favorite for kayaking. And make sure to pay attention to the animals around you, since some of New Zealand’s rarest bird species call Westland home.

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