Westland National Park and Lake Taupo. Popular sights of New Zealand.

Westland National Park and Lake Taupo. Popular sights of New Zealand.

Part of the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand is occupied by Westland National Park, which is famous for its mountain peaks, massive glacial landslides, beautiful lakes as well as dense rainforests and coastal lagoons. The park, one of the few places on Earth that has remained largely untouched by modern civilization.

Westland National Park covers 1,175 square kilometers from the peaks of the Southern Alps in the east, where it borders Aoraki-Mount Cook National Park, to the Tasman Sea in the west. Although Westland National Park was ruthlessly plundered by gold prospectors during the gold rush of the 1860s, and cattle grazing on floodplains didn’t do it any good, the park still retains pristine wilderness.

Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers

Its mountain peaks reach a height of about 3,500 meters. The park includes about 60 glaciers. The most famous of them, Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier, both have a length of 13 km and a distance of 25 km between them. Their uniqueness lies in the fact that they descend from areas of eternal snow to the rainforests off the coast. Ice from majestic white to turquoise green is rightfully considered one of New Zealand’s most spectacular natural beauties.

According to Maori legend, both of these glaciers, the tears of the beautiful Hinehukatera, who mourned her dead lover, Tawa. In Maori, the glaciers are called Ka Koimata o Hinehukatere, which means “Tears of the Lavin Girl.” The Franz Josef Glacier was originally called Victoria in English, but in 1865 it was renamed in honor of the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Josef, who personally came to see it. Austrian geologist Julius von Haast gave it his name. The age of the František Josef Glacier is estimated at 7,000 years. Fox Glacier, the largest of about 60 glaciers in Westland National Park. The Cone Rock observation deck offers a beautiful view.

The Westland National Park area is known for abundant precipitation . The Franz Josef Glacier Village receives about 5,000 mm of rainfall each year. Unfortunately, even high precipitation in the form of snow at high altitudes cannot prevent the gradual melting of the glaciers. They are now three kilometers shorter than when they were first seen by James Cook, who sailed along the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island in 1769.

Walking through the national park

One of the best ways to experience the glaciers in this national park is to go skiing. However, sightseeing flights by helicopter or airplane also promise a breathtaking experience. Several hiking trails pass through the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers. However, because of the risk of falling rocks and ice, hikers (especially on Fox Glacier) should only walk with a guide. Thus, it is possible to take part in commercial walks on both glaciers . Beautiful views are available, for example, from the observation deck at the end of the Roberts Point trailhead.

Interesting Lakes

Other trails crossing Westland Park lead to several lakes whose surfaces are beautifully reflected by the snow-capped peaks of Tasman Mountain (3,498 m) and Mount Cook (3,755 m), which rise behind Fox Glacier. These are the two highest peaks in New Zealand. For example, in the northern part of the park is Lake Mapurica, a popular picnic spot. You can also admire the wonderfully calm waters of Lake Matheson, surrounded by forest. The detour around the lake takes about an hour and is one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the area. Other lakes, such as Gault Lake and Lake Mueller, are also worth seeing. There are thermal springs in this national park and a trail called the Copland Track leads to them.

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In the valleys below the glaciers there are dense rainforests formed by mature trees, ferns, and lichens. It is this greenery, whose growth is almost constantly supported by torrential rains, that creates a clear contrast to the harsh surrounding landscape of ice and rock. The national park also includes the Okarito Lagoon, which is one of New Zealand’s largest wetlands. The lagoon is home to numerous bird species, including the rare white heron.

Westland National Park and Lake Taupo. Popular attractions in New Zealand - Photo 2

Interesting Lakes

There are two small villages near the glaciers that live mostly off of tourism. The Franz Josef Glacier Village is the center of . The village offers accommodations in the Rainforest campground. However, the glacier is still 5 km away, which you can walk or use transportation. Another place, Gillespie beach is about 20 km from Fox Glacier . It is an old gold mining settlement, from which you can follow the trails of the first gold miners, or head to the coast to the sea lion colony of Forster.

Taupo is New Zealand’s largest lake

Westland National Park and Lake Taupo. Popular Sights in New Zealand - Photo 3

Taupo is New Zealand’s largest lake

In 186 AD a violent volcanic eruption created Lake Taupo, which at 619 square kilometers is the largest lake in New Zealand. On its northeastern end has grown over 20,000 towns of the same name, which is not only a service center for surrounding farms and forestry, but also a major tourist center.

Features of Lake Taupo

The giant caldera Lake Taupo is located in the middle of the North Island, at an altitude of 356 meters. It is 193 km long and is surrounded by white pumice beaches and sheltered rocky coves. The snow-capped peaks of Mount Tongariro and Mount Ngauruho are relatively far away, but clearly visible, providing a unique backdrop for the lake on clear days. Major tributaries of Lake Taupo include the Tongariro, Tauranga Taupo, and Waitahanui rivers as the only Waikato river. The maximum depth of the lake is 186 meters, and according to scientists, the width of the earth’s crust in the area of Lake Taupo is only 16 kilometers. Thermal activity is constantly flowing beneath its bottom, so the water is pleasantly warm even in winter.

Westland National Park and Lake Taupo. Popular attractions in New Zealand - Photo 4

Features of Lake Taupo

This geothermal activity has led to several thermal baths near the lake, such as Wairakei. However, energy from the bowels of the earth is also used in the energy industry: the first power plant of its kind in New Zealand supplies electricity to the towns of Napier and Hastings. If interested, you can take an organized tour of this power plant, where you can learn how geothermal energy is extracted from the earth, how the power plant was built, and what its capacity is.

Popularity of Lake Taupo

Westland National Park and Lake Taupo. Popular Sights in New Zealand - Photo 5

The popularity of Lake Taupo

Today, Lake Taupo and its surroundings are a popular destination for tourists not only from New Zealand, but also from all over the world. About 1.2 million people come here every year. In high season it’s quite lively, not only tourists and nature lovers come here, but fans of adrenaline (parasailing, bungee jumping over the Waikato River, skydiving), fans of water sports and fishing. Horseback riders, hikers and cyclists will also enjoy themselves in Taupo. There are also opportunities for sightseeing flights over the countryside and golf.

Taupo Township.

A base of sorts for everyone is the eponymous town of Taupo, which lives mostly off tourism. There are a huge number of accommodation options, most hotels have their own hot water pools, and many also have a sea view. There are also plenty of dining options, you can dine in quality restaurants or fast food cafes.

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Taupo was founded in 1869 , and a few years later the first Wairakei Spa opened here. Since 1880 it has been besieged by tourists craving for experiences and relaxation. Less than 800 residents lived in Taupo after World War II, but their numbers have multiplied and are still growing today.

Westland National Park and Lake Taupo. Popular attractions in New Zealand - Photo 6

Taupo Township

Today, Taupo is home to 23,000 people. The city’s greatest growth came in the 1950s with the construction of the Wairakei Power Plant . Downtown is worth a visit to the Shrimp Farm or the Volcano and Geothermal Research Center. Not far from the Shrimp Farm is the Taupo Honey Hive, which is a large replica of a beehive.

The town of Taupo itself is not that interesting, but it is located in an area full of various attractions. For example, it’s a great base for hiking, and there are two interesting trails. First, from Rotorua and Tauranga south to Palmerston and on to Wellington.

The second route runs from Oakland through Hamilton to Napier and Hastings. Cherry Island is located on the Waikato River, about a 10-minute walk from Taupo. Every day at 10 a.m., you can watch the lock on Aratia Dam open. The water from the dam will raise the Waikato River by several tens of centimeters. Other natural attractions near Taupo include Hooka Falls , which is also worth a visit.

Sightseeing in New Zealand

It is not that long ago that New Zealand became more accessible to tourists. New Zealand’s airline connections have been established, and modern tourist services have also sprung up. What is worth seeing in New Zealand?

What to see in New Zealand?

The main attraction of the country is the nature of New Zealand. It is she drives everyone crazy with her beauty and unusual depth of colors. In addition to the natural beauty of the state in the New Zealand lands and many man-made and natural wonders. Consider them in detail:

All the interesting sights of New Zealand are scattered over its two islands. Despite the great distances between them, these places are worth the trip just to see them.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound

Kipling himself called Milford Sound the eighth wonder of the world. Contemporaries fully agree with him. After all, when you get to the endless waters of the bay, framed by majestic cliffs, it seems that the man-made world ceases to exist, and all that remains is nature around.

In New Zealand’s Fjordland Park, the bay was created by the movement of a huge glacier. The coastline of the bay is 19 km long. The climate there is humid, with a lot of rainfall per year. This is where the rare mixing of fresh and sea water takes place, thus creating a unique ecosystem for the fjord.

You can reach the famous bay by water. A steamboat leaves from Dunedin, calling at Auckland and Wellington. You can also take the Milford Road through the mountains.

Hobbiton Village

Hobbiton Village

Hobbiton Village is popular not only among Tolkien fans. The attraction is located near the town of Matamata. The place can surpass many other tourist sites in New Zealand, there come and go hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.

There is a lot to see in Hobbiton. Hobbit Manor was built for the filming of the legendary movie. It was laid out on the lands of the Alexander family. All 44 cabins were built for real in the village. Despite the fact that all that was needed for the film was a set, director Jackson decided to do everything to perfection. The village now has a pub, a bridge and a mill, gardens in place of fields, and hedges twined with a variety of tufts.

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Each day in Hobbiton guided tours, which are visited by about 300 people a day. The fairytale village can be reached from Auckland. The trip by car or tourist bus takes 2 hours.

Franz Josef Glacier.

Franz Josef Glacier

Why is some glacier visited by an estimated 250,000 tourists each year? What’s remarkable about a chunk of ice and snow-covered roads up the mountain? Simply, Franz Josef Glacier is a UNESCO heritage site. Located in Westland National Park, it is also a sanctuary for the local Aboriginal Maori people.

The glacier in the national park has one unique feature: it moves 2 meters per hour. It is the fastest glacier in the world, feeding the Taiho River and several other mountain lakes.

The Franz Josef Glacier is 12 km long. It is visited by excursions and horseback riding tours around the glacier. The glacier got its name thanks to the tourist town next to it. In Franz Josef City there is all the necessary infrastructure for tourists.



The place of dislocation of the most interesting geysers in New Zealand – Uai-O-Tapu. It is situated on the North Island of the country. Tourists invariably find there mud and mineral springs with varying water temperatures.

In Ouai O-Tapu geysers gurgle from the ground permanently, their waters overflow all the colors of the rainbow, they even pour soapy water into one of the geysers to make its eruption last for over an hour.

There are 3 hiking trails in a small local reserve. Interestingly, Lady Knox geyser begins its eruption daily at 10:15 am. Antimony, manganese, iron and other compounds in the ground naturally color the geyser waters in a variety of colors. It is convenient to get to this place from the city of Rotorua by tourist bus. It takes about 4 hours to get to the geysers from Auckland.

Lake Tarawera

Lake Tarawera

Anyone who loves fishing should visit another gem of Rotorua Lake Tarawera. You need a license to fish for trout there, but the nature at the foot of the volcano will more than pay for all the expenses incurred to get one.

Waitomo Caves

Waitomo Caves

This tiny North Island village is famous not only for its local scenery. Its famous caves attract thousands of tourists every year.

The caves of Waitomo are home to real fireflies. Tourists flock to Waitomo for this spectacle.

It is believed that the Waitomo Mountains are more than 2 million years old. No wonder that over such a long period of time there has developed such an interesting natural infrastructure.

Marine Animals in Kaikoura

Sea Animals in Kaikoura

Traveling around New Zealand makes you realize that the most interesting things in this country are located outside of the big cities. Here is the town of Kaikoura, a glorified attraction.

The large village is inhabited by fishermen, who conduct excursions for tourists in the coastal waters. After all, there you can swim with seals, admire the mighty whales, marvel at the swiftness of dolphins.

Near the town is a tiny reserve Penguin Place. Yellow-eyed penguins live there beautifully.

Sky Tower

Sky Tower

Auckland’s Sky Tower is known for being one of the first in the rankings, among the tallest towers in the Southern Hemisphere. High-speed elevator tower is able to lift everyone to a height of 328 meters, and there are three viewing platforms, casinos and restaurants.

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Tongariro Reserve

Tongariro Reserve

The Tongariro Reserve is filled with subtropical flora. Some scenes of The Lord of the Rings were filmed in this national park. There are 3 impressive volcanoes dormant in the park, but the tourist infrastructure is not bad.

Hook Falls

Huka Falls

The amazing Hoek Falls drop up to 220 liters of water in a single second. The magnificent spectacle attracts many spectators. The cascades of waterfalls are located on the large New Zealand river Waikato. An accessible tourist viewing spot is located near the town of Taupo.

Near the waterfalls on the river are ideal places for rafting. The water there is clear and clean and the banks are decorated with abundant vegetation .

Despite the fact that in summer the water near the falls warms up to 22 degrees, swimming in the river is not allowed, because the current there is too rough and rushing.



There is a theme park near the famous Rotorua called the Agrodome. The park looks more like a huge farm, as evidenced by the popular “sheep show” that is held there regularly.

The park also has a local apiary, honey from which is offered to all tourists. There are off-road vehicle tours through the large area, and local centers sell refreshing kiwi juice.

Nainty Mile Beach

Naintie Mile Beach

The beach is famous for its unusual sand dunes. The sand in them is so fine that the slightest wind changes their position and shape.

Nainty Mile is a treasure of the North Island. The beach is ideal for surfing, as well as other water sports. Because the beach is far removed from big cities, it retains its pristine and natural charm even today. The nature around the beach area seems completely wild.

Sutherland Falls

Sutherland Falls

The title of Oceania’s premier waterfall, Sutherland Falls, is not accidental. It falls from a height of 580 meters. The waterfall is located in Fiordland Park on South Island. It is located on the Arthur River, and its roar can be heard a couple of kilometers away on the approach to the river. Such is the power and strength of Sutherland.

Oakland Art Gallery.

Oakland Art Gallery

The Oakland Gallery of Art in today’s Oakland was established in 1888. It is located in the heart of the city, occupying the building of the former telephone exchange.

The gallery building itself is an unusual mix of architectural styles. The gallery now presents the Victorian and modern styles of architecture together on the facade .

Works by Albrecht and Lindauer, art nouveau and classicist paintings are interspersed with modern art in the gallery. The Temple of Painting and Sculpture is used not only for exhibitions, but also for city events and student teaching.

City of Napier

City of Napier

Napier is a city that was almost completely destroyed after an earthquake. Then it was rebuilt again, but in a new art deco style. So Neipir became a city-attraction, where almost every building is a work of art. Located on the North Island, it is considered a significant tourist attraction in New Zealand.

Kelly Tarleton Oceanarium

Kelly Tarleton Oceanarium

The aquarium, which consists of separate displays of live marine life, is otherwise known as Kelly Tarleton’s Underwater World. The oceanarium is located in Oakland.

The large aquarium has 5 themed areas and a huge tunnel for viewers with sharks swimming behind thick glass .

In addition to spectacular displays of stingrays and fish, the oceanarium offers information about the underwater world of New Zealand’s lakes, rivers and seas. This place is suitable for family visits, so there is a comprehensive admission ticket system.

Kawarau Bridge.

Kavarau Bridge

This in New Zealand is a favorite place of all fans of bungee jumping. From Kawarau it is possible to jump with insurance, both alone and in pairs. It is on this bridge jumpers are waiting for the inexpressible sensation of a long flight. Every year for Kawarau hundreds of extreme tourists from all over the world come to New Zealand.

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Mount Cook Park.

Mount Cook Park

Right in the heart of the South Island is the beautiful Mount Cook Reserve. There is the great Mt. Cook, which reaches 3,754 meters into the sky. There is also the Tasman Glacier, which is considered the largest glacier in the New Zealand islands. Fishing, hiking, and climbing are common activities in the national park. Mount Cook is famous for its lush and dense forests and temperamental mountain rivers.

Hot Water Beach

Hot Water Beach

There is a beach in New Zealand where sun loungers and umbrellas are not in vogue, but a shovel may be the most relevant item. At Hot Water Beach, there are hot springs hidden underground. Since it is very cold to bathe in the ocean nearby, you can dig a hole in the shore, and it will certainly fill with hot water. There tourists love to warm their “bones”, and the locals come to this beach with great pleasure, and take there young children.

Sacred Cape Reinga

Sacred Cape Reinga

Cape sacred to the Maori tribe, called Reinga. You can get to it only by car with large cross-country wheels. Nevertheless, this fact does not stop hundreds of tourists who flock to this cape to the lighthouse every year to see the best sunsets and sunrises of their lives.

Sacred Heart Cathedral

Sacred Heart Cathedral

The Catholic church in New Zealand’s capital city was rebuilt in 1901. Adjacent to the cathedral is the magnificent Lambton waterfront. The parish church, which became an official cathedral only in 1984, is designed in the neoclassical style.

Stone columns and white arches adorn the facade of the church from the outside, while inside, the arrangement of the rooms creates a unique acoustics. Because of its acoustic properties Sacred Heart Cathedral is often used as a concert venue for classical music.

Royal Botanical Gardens

Royal Botanic Gardens

The Royal Wellington Garden is home to the New Zealand Institute of Horticulture. Today the garden is home to New Zealand’s first exotic trees. The reserve occupies more than 20 hectares of land. By the way, walks with dogs are allowed in the garden and there are cafes.

Auckland Zoo

Oakland Zoo

Going to the zoo

The New Zealanders do not spare even the city meters for nature. The excellent zoo in the city center of Auckland occupies 17 hectares with a great variety of species.

Kangaroos, elephants and ostriches are only a small and interesting part of the Auckland Zoo, but there are also rainbow parrots and even flamingos. All of the animals are kept in spacious aviaries that are decorated with habitat installations of the species.

Taumata Hill

Taumata Hill

The unusual hill has become a Wellington landmark quite deservedly. The hill itself only reaches 300 meters into the air, but its full name is so long it’s in the Guinness Book of World Records, but locals just call it “Taumata. A favorite pastime of tourists on the hill is trying to pronounce its full name. This is difficult to do even when you have to read the hill’s name from a plaque.

Colonial Cottage Museum.

Colonial Cottage Museum

The house built by William Wallace is popular because of its historical authenticity. The 19th century atmosphere is really preserved there from those times. The attraction is located in Wellington.

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