The landscapes of wild New Zealand are featured in movies and famed for its beauty.

Although comparable in size to the US state of Colorado, New Zealand encompasses an incredible diversity of landscapes.

From the sub-tropical summers in the north to the frigid winters in the south the weather is just as varied and provides visitors and locals the chance to select their location depending on their desire for more agreeable climates year round.

Ever since the landmass separated from the now defunct super continent Gondwana, it has sheltered a unique assortment of flora and fauna some of which are found nowhere else on the planet.

Reminders of this pre historic era are often visible amongst the horizon. Volcanoes, geysers, glaciers and thick forests litter the landscape and often a truly inspiring view.

Over the past 7 months we’ve been scuba diving at the Poor Knights Marine Reserve in Northland and to see the icebergs and glaciers in the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park in the south. We’ve driven over the top of mountain ranges, across flat plains and down the Desert Road.

Join us now as we share some of our favourite photographs from our journey so far.

THE COROMANDEL PENINSULA

wild new zealand

wild new zealand

Named after a British Royal Navy vessel which made port on the peninsula in 1820 to purchase kauri spars – long poles used for ship masts – the Coromandel is known as Auckland’s playground.

A short drive from the big city and you’ve escaped the rat race. Greeted with ocean views, sandy beaches and rugged coastline there is really no fault to find with this remote section of New Zealand’s temperate north.

THE MARLBOROUGH SOUNDS

wild new zealand

At the most northerly point on the south island lay the Marlborough Sounds. An extensive network of sea drowned valleys formed as the surrounding land subsided and the sea level rose.

According to Māori legend the sounds are the remnants of a canoe said to have brought the first Maui settlers over from Polynesia, which is why the south island’s name in the Māori language is ‘Te Waka a Maui‘ which means the canoe of Maui.

THE TASMAN GLACIER

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The Tasman is one of New Zealand’s largest glaciers which flows south through the Southern Alpine Range. Although flowing for an impressive 27km down towards the vast terminal lake it once stretched over 100km further through the valley.

Over the last 30 years the melt rate has far exceeded Mother Nature’s attempt to restock this colossal mass of ice.

Growing at a rate of around 80m each year sadly this is just not enough to combat the rapid speed of retreat. With the increased climatic temperatures and levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, the ice is retreating at over 300m each year.

AORAKI / MOUNT COOK

wild new zealand

The highest peak in New Zealand Mount Cook looms over the Southern Alpine Range and the neighbouring Tasman Glacier. The famed explorer Abel Tasman first set eyes on this incredible landscape in 1642 and visitors have been marvelling at the rugged slopes and frigid glaciers ever since.

The first recorded European attempt on the summit was made by the Irishman Rev. William S. Green in 1882, although no one was to successfully navigate this giant until 1894. An incredible feat to achieve even in modern times.

WHAKAARI / WHITE ISLAND

wild new zealand

While New Zealand boasts a wealth of volcanic activity White Island is the only active marine addition spewing vast amounts of rock and noxious gases into the atmosphere each day.

A 90 minute boat ride will take you out to the tempestuous shores and for those of a brave disposition, and strong constitution, it is possible to hike across the active crater floor. Although we advise using the provided gas mask, the sulphuric stink is quite something!

THE TAUPO VOLCANIC ZONE

wild new zealand

Known throughout the world as New Zealand’s volcanic heart the town of Rotorua is alive with activity, and I’m not just referring to the thousands of tourists who visit each year.

Bubbling continuously underneath the concrete streets is a network of geothermal streams, geysers and springs. Mud boils and steam hisses from cracks in the ground and a sickly sulphuric odour fills the air.

Just a few short miles south lies the geothermal reserve of Wai-O-Tapu which offers visitors the chance to get up close to some of the more impressive examples of Mother Nature’s awe inspiring natural designs.

The main attraction is a gigantic thermal hot spring which sparkles azure blue in the sunlight, its vivid orange sinter ledge contrasting against the deep void beneath.

THE POOR KNIGHTS MARINE RESERVE

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Adjacent to the coast of Northland the Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve is a scuba divers haven. Home to an inordinate amount of underwater flora and fauna the diving here is superb. Enriched by the nutrient rich waters which flow south from the neighbouring Great Barrier Reef the reserve offers a sanctuary from the surrounding open ocean.

Sat on the edge of the Continental Shelf the islands within the reserve are the remnants of a volcano and offer an architectural maze of tunnels, caves, overhangs and bubble caves to explore.

We’ve loved every minute of our wild New Zealand road trip and are looking forward to witnessing the change from winter to spring. There’s so much of this fascinating country we’ve yet to see.

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What are your favourite locations in New Zealand? Share your comments with us below.

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27 Responses

  1. Vanessa

    Incredible! Some of the first shots remind me a bit of my home, Canada, but by the end all I could think was that this was unlike anywhere else on earth! Stunning!

    Reply
  2. Sammi Wanderlustin'

    I’ve never been to New Zealand, but Rotorua is up on my list currently, it’s been mentioned a few times and I definitely want to go there. I like volcanic places :) This post is such a great overview of things to see in New Zealand, particularly for someone like me who doesn’t know a great deal about it.
    Sammi Wanderlustin’ recently posted 10 Things I Didn’t Get to Do in Iceland This Time Around.My Profile

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  3. Ally

    Amazing pictures of an amazing country. Spent around a year there in 2012/2013 and I could quite easily have stayed for good. The only one I didn’t get out to from your snaps was White Island, but that looked impressive enough even from the shore, good work!
    Ally recently posted Gig review: Beans on Toast @ The Portland ArmsMy Profile

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    • Ben | Wanderlusters

      Thanks for your comment Ally. Great to hear you managed to see so much of this wild and wonderful country! If you ever return White Island is a day trip worth taking!

      Reply
  4. Rocky Travel Blog

    By reading your post I have the impression I have seen just a little bit of New Zealand. In one week I have been to the northern island. I liked the peacefulness of the Hokianga Bay and the majestic Kauri Tree, Tane Mahuta. The Rotura region is also special but more touristy. Love your sunset photo from the Coromandel Peninsula!
    Rocky Travel Blog recently posted Margaret River WineriesMy Profile

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    • Ben | Wanderlusters

      Do you know we’ve been here nearly 8 months now and I feel exactly the same. I remember feeling as though our 12 months in Australia were just not adequate to see even a smidge of what’s on offer, although much smaller New Zealand is proving to be the same. There’s such a diverse range of landscapes tightly packed together!

      Reply
    • Ben | Wanderlusters

      Thanks Toni! I have to agree, when the views are as picturesque as these, it’s hard not to get good shots!

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    • Ben | Wanderlusters

      Thanks Kimmy. You will fall in love with the landscapes over here. We’ll be more than happy to share some of our insider knowledge so just shout!

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    • Ben | Wanderlusters

      Thanks Michelle. We decided rather last minute to spend 12 months exploring New Zealand but I am so glad we did. It is simply breathtaking.

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    • Ben | Wanderlusters

      That is so true! We’ve hundreds of photographs from our travels. It was hard to choose our favourites!

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    • Ben | Wanderlusters

      Thanks Tom! I hope you manage to visit too. I have to say it has been one of the most picturesque locations we’ve been to so far.

      Reply