Saturday, 30 April 2011

10 Most Beautiful National Parks in New Zealand

1. Fiordland National Park
Fiordland National Park (established in 1952) is a vast, remote wilderness and the heart of Te Wāhipounamu - South West New Zealand World Heritage Area which was recognised by UNESCO in 1990 as an area of outstanding natural value. The park gains renowned as the home of Mitre Peak and the Fiords of Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound. Also well know are the Great Walks (the Milford Track, Routeburn Track, and Kepler Tracks). Southwest New Zealand is one of the great wilderness areas of the Southern Hemisphere. It is an area where snow-capped mountains, rivers of ice, deep lakes, unbroken forests and tussock grasslands produce a landscape of exceptional beauty. Some of the best examples of animals and plants, which were once found on the ancient super-continent of Gondwana, still exist here. The park spans an area of 12,500 km² is the largest National Park in New Zealand and administered by the Department of Conservation.

2. Abel Tasman National Park
Abel Tasman National Park covers an area of 225 km², is the smallest national park in New Zealand. This national park is located in the stunning Tasman Bay region at the top of the South Island, and the nearest towns are Motueka, Takaka and Kaiteriteri. With subtropical weather, turquoise waters, sheltered inlets, secluded beaches of golden sand and famous Abel Tasman Coastal Track has made it become one of the most popular tourists destination. Sea kayaks and coastal track walks are the most popular activities while visiting to the Abel Tasman National Park where visitors have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of this picturesque piece of coastline.

3. Westland / Tai Poutini National Park
Westland / Tai Poutini National Park (established in 1960) is located on the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It stretches from the majestic Southern Alps down to the rugged west coast and encompasses stunning glaciers and a vast range of bird life. There are over 60 glaciers within the park boundary including the famous Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, which are the only glaciers in the world to flow down to temperate rain forest. The park has been designated world heritage status. Rare and endangered bird species live in the park including the crested grebe (kotuku) at Lake Mapourika and the Okarito brown kiwi (rowi) in lowland forests. The park is 127,541 hectares in size. 

4. Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park
The Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park is located in the central part of the South Island. It is a harsh land of ice and rock where the glaciers cover most of the area. These glaciers have helped shape the park's landscape include five major valley systems, namely Godley, Murchison, Tasman, Hooker and Mueller. The Tasman Glacier is the New Zealand's largest and longest glacier which is clearly visible from the main highway at the entrance of the park. There are 19 peaks over 3,000 m, including of course New Zealand's highest mountain, Aoraki / Mount Cook (3,754 m). The park is also part of Te Waipounamu - South Westland World Heritage Area in recognition of its outstanding natural values.

5. Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park is the oldest national park in New Zealand, and also the forth oldest in the world which was established in 1887. Home to three of the world’s most active live volcanoes, Ruapehu, Tongariro and Ngauruhoe, Tongariro National Park covers 796 km² of the North Islands volcanic plateau, creating an environment rich in beauty, history and geological fascination. The park is a dual World Heritage site, protected for both its natural and cultural significance. Herb groves and beech forests give way to barren tussock-dotted desert and stark grey lava flow mountains slope away from their snowy peaks to broad plateaus where hot springs steam and bubble. Beside the breathtaking views, Tongariro National Park also provides a range of adventures through all seasons. Two of New Zealand’s largest ski fields, Whakapapa and Turoa, are on the magnificent slopes of Mount Ruapehu and skiing and snowboarding here has the added attraction of fun on an active volcano.

6. Arthur's Pass National Park
Arthur's Pass National Park was established in 1929 as the first national park in the South Island and the third in New Zealand. It's a popular destination for tramping, skiing and mountaineering, located in the heart of the Southern Alps. Its high mountains with large scree slopes, steep gorges and wide braided rivers, straddles the main divide of the South Island – between Canterbury and the West Coast. It’s a park of contrasts, with dry beech forest in the east, luxuriant rain forest on western slopes, and a historic highway and railway running through the middle. The mountains around Arthur's Pass contain some very challenging terrain and the tracks are often very steep. Amongst the fourteen national parks, the Arthur's Pass National Park is the most dangerous in  New Zealand.

7. Nelson Lakes National Park
Nelson Lakes National Park is located in the north of the South Island of New Zealand. The park covers 1,020 km² of the northern most Southern Alps. It offers several peaceful and charming environments including tranquil beech forest, craggy mountains, clear streams and two beautiful lakes Rotoiti and Rotorua. It is renowned for its magical honeydew beech forests, which feed a variety of native birds. The Department of Conservation is actively working in the park to create a pest-free sanctuary that will support greater numbers of kaka, kakariki and bush robins, as well as giant snails and native bats.

8. Te Urewera National Park
Te Urewera National Park spans 212,672 hectares, and lies between the Plenty and Hawkes Bay. It is the largest national park in North Islands and the fourth largest in New Zealand which was established in 1954. Te Urewera National Park has the largest forested wilderness left on the North Island. To the south of the park there are two of the park’s famous treasures – Lake Waikaremoana is noted for its scenic shoreline and waterfalls, and there is a smaller lake, Waikareiti. A huge landslide created these over 2000 years ago, which blocked the path of the river, creating the lakes. Beside the scenic environments, the park has some interesting things to do including a visit to the Aniwaniwa Museum which shows a lot of natural and cultural history of the area. The visitors can also do the most popular Lake Waikaremoana Track walk which is considered one of New Zealand's Great Walks.

9. Whanganui National Park
The Whanganui National Park is situated between the towns of Wanganui and Taumarunui in the central North Island of New Zealand. It was established in 1986 and covers an area of 742 km². It has an immense lowland forest, beautiful valley and many native plants and bird species include tui, kereru, fantail and tomtit. The centrepiece of the national park is the Whanganui River, one of the great waterways of New Zealand. The river starts in the Tongariro volcanic range and meanders all the way down to the Tasman Sea at Whanganui. The most popular activity in this national park is kayaking along the river which provides a great opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of flora and fauna.

10. Egmont National Park
Egmont National Park is on the western coast of New Zealand's North Island. It was established as a national park in 1900 and covers an area of 33,534 hectares. Here the volcano Taranaki (or Mt Egmont as it is also known) rules supreme standing tall above the surrounding landscape. Beside it are two volcanoes of an earlier era: Kaitake and Pouakai. In good weather it is a challenging climb for the fit and well prepared. For those wanting a more relaxing experience there are beautiful walks through verdant forest to waterfalls, wetlands and excellent viewpoints. Standing as it does in isolation from other mountains it is one of the best parks from which to get an elevated view of another New Zealand – the rural heartland.

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  4. Great scenery! Very relaxing to see those beautiful places. Wish you can post more beautiful places like this. Thanks for sharing.

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