If you’re looking for some awe-inspiring experiences in nature, you’ve got to make New Zealand a destination.

Located in the southwest Pacific, New Zealand is composed of two main land masses, the North Island and the South Island, as well as hundreds of smaller islands. And throughout the many islands that compose the country, you’ll find tons of incredible nature.

Here are just four of the most stunning natural sites in New Zealand that can’t be missed:

Aoraki/Mount Cook

Credit: TDway / Shutterstock

Many consider Aoraki, which is also referred to as Mount Cook, as New Zealand’s mightiest mountain. The name translates as “cloud piercer," giving some credence to this claim. At a towering 12,218 feet, its dominant peak also makes it New Zealand’s tallest mountain.

While its towering height draws climbers from around the world, the area surrounding the mountain is well worth a visit. The region is home to the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, a massive park filled with pristine alpine nature, including glaciers, mountains, and plenty of flora and fauna.

Also nearby is the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve, a destination-worthy stargazing spot. To ensure that the area continues to offer excellent views of the night skies, there are limits on the area’s lighting. This ensures an uninterrupted view of the beautiful night sky. Spectacular stars abound in this famed reserve.

The Catlins

Credit: Bildagentur Zoonar GmbH / Shutterstock

The Catlins are one of the most compelling, rugged, and beautiful natural sites in New Zealand, with miles of untouched coastline, lush forests, and unforgettable sunsets.

Among the many spots to enjoy is Curio Bay. This has been a long-time destination for surfers. Its rocky shoreline also makes it enticing for hikers as there are many beautiful nature walks to explore. Keep your eyes open. You might just spot endangered creatures like Hector’s dolphins, or you might encounter one of the area’s striking, unusual yellow-eyed penguins.

Dolomite Point

Credit: Magic Earth Photography / Shutterstock

For a relatively small area, Dolomite Point offers huge rewards for seekers of natural wonders. Located in the Punakaiki Valley on New Zealand’s west coast, this incredible spot offers hiking, climbing, and some very unique rock formations.

One of the area’s biggest draws is what are called the Pancake Rocks. While they’re not edible, they are named for the breakfast food they are said to resemble.

How did they get that way? Over the years, water has come through blowholes to erode limestone rocks in such a way that they resemble huge pancakes. Visitors can see nature’s work in action at high tide, when the water comes through the blowholes to put on an all-natural show.


Credit: Guy Cowdry / Shutterstock

Located on the North Island of New Zealand, Waitomo is famed for its unique cave systems. While the caves would be destination-worthy all by themselves, these ones have a little something extra to offer: glowworms.

Thousands of glowworms can be found in these caves, lighting the space in the most magical way. You’ve never seen anything like it. One of the largest caves, Ruakuri Cave, even features waterfalls and limestone formations.

While you’re in the area, you may opt to check out the Mangapohue Natural Bridge, which is a naturally occurring arch over the stream of the same name.

Nature Abounds in New Zealand

Credit: Olga Danylenko / Shutterstock

New Zealand offers natural sites unlike anything you’ve ever seen. From rocks shaped like pancakes to majestic, cloud-piercing mountains, the beauty of New Zealand is sure to amaze.