Bucket List

5 Must-See Mountains to Visit in New Zealand

By Alicia Sharp
on  December 11, 2019

Among the rest of its breathtaking scenery, New Zealand is nothing if not famous for its incredible mountains. From mountains that have played a role in major blockbusters films to peaks that provide 12/10 views from the top, it’s no doubt that New Zealand is home to some of the most picturesque and accessible mountains in the world.

To celebrate International Mountain Day, we’re marveling at five of New Zealand’s most incredible mountains which you should probably add to your bucket list, like… now!

#1 Mount Cook (Aoraki)

We’ll start with New Zealand’s highest standing mountain, a favourite among hikers and filmmakers because of its spectacular enormity. Found in the Southern Alps, which extend along the length of the South Island, Mount Cook peaks at 3724 meters in height and is always capped with snow.

As Mount Cook is part of a national park and reserve with the same name, it is also home to bundles of beautiful walks.  Strap your shoes on and grab your camera as you enjoy the awe-inspiring landscapes of Mount Cook strolling along one of New Zealand’s best day walks Hooker Valley track. If you’re feeling brave (and a little bit crazy) you can even take a dip in the (very cold) glacier lake.

Alternatively, get up close and personal with New Zealand’s highest mountain by taking a scenic helicopter ride up the mountain to walk the beautiful glaciers. This is an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not to be missed!

Top tip: As Mount Cook is located in the middle of an International Dark Sky Reserve, make sure you check out the sky above you during your overnight stay. You’ll be treated to a glittery galaxy of stars as you witness some of the clearest night skies in the world.

Go there: 7-Day Southern Voyager14-Day Big South14-Day NZ Explorer21-Day NZ Discovery

Mount Cook in New Zealand

#2 Mitre Peak

Introducing one of the most photographed peaks in all of New Zealand (so don’t forget your camera). You may not have heard of the peak itself, but you’ll no doubt have heard of the iconic Fiordland National Park where this majestic mountain can be found. Standing guard over the tranquil waters of Milford Sound, dubbed the eighth wonder of the world, Mitre peak is a breathtaking beauty to witness.

The best way to experience this dramatic peak is by taking a cruise around Milford Sound. Not only will you get to witness the peak towering above you but you’ll also be treated to some of the most spectacular scenery in the world! You’re welcome.

Go there: 7-Day Southern Voyager14-Day Big South14-Day NZ Explorer21-Day NZ Discovery

Mitre Peak, Milford Sound

#3 Tongariro National Park

Though most of the mountains in New Zealand can be found in the South Island, there is no shortage of beautiful peaks to explore in the North. You can catch a glimpse of a few of the North’s best mountains all in one place at Tongariro National Park.

This UNESCO cultural and natural World Heritage site is home to three incredible mountains including Mount Ruapehu, Mount Ngauruhoe and Mount Tongariro. For all you Lord of the Rings fans, get ready for the ultimate Middle Earth as you’ll probably recognise this park being the site of Mordor and Mount Doom.

The best way to see all three mountains is to complete the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a day walk through the central North Island’s volcanic landscape. We wouldn’t want to oversell it or anything, but the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is celebrated as one of the best one-day walks in the world… so we say don’t skip this beauty during your time in New Zealand!

Go there:  7-Day Northern Voyager14-Day NZ Explorer14-Day NZ Adventurer21-Day NZ Discovery

Tongariro National Park

#4 The Remarkables

As you’ll notice during your time in Queenstown, the aptly named Remarkables are nothing short of, well, remarkable! As one of the only two mountain ranges in the world which runs directly north to south, this stunning mountain range also lives up to its name in providing a remarkable backdrop for the “adventure capital of the world”.

Outside of providing an epic backdrop from the township, a trip to Queenstown isn’t complete without an adventure up the Remarkables. As one of New Zealand’s top skiing and snowboarding destinations, this mountain range is your best opt if you’re looking for an epic snow session. Not only does the mountain provide an epic trail but you’ll also be rewarded with unreal views back to Queenstown the whole way down.

If skiing isn’t the activity for you, don’t worry! You won’t be disappointed by simply taking in the awe-inspiring views of this mountain range from Queenstown with a Fergburger in your hand.

Go there: 7-Day Southern Voyager14-Day Big South14-Day NZ Explorer21-Day NZ Discovery

View from the Remarkables 

#5 Mount Maunganui (Mauao)

Not all mountains need to be large and covered in snow! Mount Maunganui is a holiday paradise: think white sand beaches, epic surf and sun-drenched parks perfect for an afternoon picnic.

Located across the harbor from Tauranga and known by locals as “the Mount”, this beautiful mountain is an extinct volcanic cone considered to be sacred by the Maori tribe (iwi) in the area.

Though it’s stunning to look at this mountain from the beach below (ranked in the top 25 beaches in the world!) you’ll obviously find the best views from the top. Almost surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, enjoy breathtaking 360 views as you wander to the peak. It’s a great place to kick back and people watch so take some fish and chips with you and enjoy an epic sunset from the top!

Go there:  7-Day Northern Voyager14-Day NZ Explorer14-Day NZ Adventurer21-Day NZ Discovery

Mount Maunganui

New Zealand is blessed with many exceptional peaks in the North and the South, so make sure you don’t miss any of New Zealand’s mountain magic. If you’re feeling inspired to journey across New Zealand, ticking some incredible mountains off your bucket list, join Wild Kiwi on an epic road trip through New Zealand’s world-renowned landscapes.

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