7 Outdoor Destinations in New Zealand
New Zealand has some of the most stunning scenery in the world, so majestic that it was chosen to portray the fantasy world of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Perhaps you would like to experience these magical lands for yourself, either to relive some of your favorite scenes or simply to enjoy an unforgettable outdoor adventure? Well look no further, we’ve got you covered with this list of the 7 best outdoor locations in New Zealand.
You can start your journey at the starting point of any good adventure in Middle-earth: Hobbiton! Nestled in the lush green hills of the Waikato, a region of the upper North Island, this former sheep farm is the setting for the famous Shire.
Although partially destroyed after the filming of The Lord of the Rings, it was rebuilt for The Hobbit and left for all to enjoy. And after visiting these adorable little round houses, you can even rest at the Green Dragon Inn for a refreshing drink!
2. Mavora Lakes Conservation Park
This natural park is home to two magnificent lakes, North Mavora and South Mavora, which hosted many scenes from Peter Jackson’s movies. Surrounded by majestic mountains, these lakes truly feel out of our modern world and offer plenty of activities.
There are two campgrounds for a few nights ashore, with the chance to fish, cycle, horseback or relax on a boat, and even seasoned hitchhikers will love the Greenstone Walkway, a 50km journey from the camping area to Greenstone Track.
3. Earnslaw Burn
Thorin and his fellow hobbits used this path to cross the Misty Mountains! In fact, you’ll witness many epic and awe-inspiring landscapes on this overnight hike, culminating in the magnificent Mt Earnslaw Glacier.
At 20 miles in total and with a drop of around 2,500 feet, it’s definitely not a doddle, but it’s worth avoiding the crowds on the Routeburn and Kepler tracks while taking in similarly stunning views of New Zealand’s mountainous landscapes. And did you know that the “burn” refers to the glacial river that follows the trail?
4. Sutherland Falls
One of the highest waterfalls in New Zealand, cascading 580 meters from Quill Lake, located in Fiordland National Park at 979 meters above sea level. You probably won’t find giant eagles there, but you can still admire the falls from an aerial perspective thanks to helicopter tours.
This is also a short and easy hike, in a wonderful setting of lush greenery and rugged mountain cliffs, which could be ideally suited to a relaxing trip to simply escape the modern world. You don’t always have to push your limits to enjoy lovely wilds!
5. Mt Ngauruhoe
The iconic Mt Doom, where Frodo has to throw the ring! Actually, Mount Ngauruhoe is one of New Zealand’s active volcanoes in the North Island. Its last eruption dates from 1977, but some sulfurous gases are still released from its crater, so the ascent is not recommended for people with asthma.
However, if you’re not at risk, this can be a really interesting challenge with a few tricks. For example, in the summer the sun and heat will warm the tephra on the slopes making it loose and slippery, and there is even a climbing route that crosses the lava! But in the end it is worth contemplating the impressive open crater.
6. Putangirua Pinnacles
These natural rock pillars look like they’re straight out of a fantasy world, and yet you won’t have to travel to Middle-earth to find them, an hour’s drive from Martinborough will do the trick! You can trace the Path of the Dead as you meander among these beautiful pinnacles and relive one of the most intense scenes from Return of the King.
Or you can just enjoy camping near the shoreline for a livelier atmosphere where you can relax and enjoy Palliser Bay or Lake Onoke, two other amazing places.
7. Franz Josef Glacier
And to conclude, another majestic glacier, as most of them are to be honest, but this one is among the most accessible in the world! While the Earnslaw Burn only takes you before the Earnslaw Glacier after quite a physical hike, Franz Josef actually allows you to venture out and discover this strange world of ice.
There are also many options to design your own experience with this glacier: you can simply walk on it, or climb through the ice for a more adventurous expedition, or even take a helicopter tour for an aerial perspective, the choice is yours! And if you look close enough, you might just see the beacons of Gondor…