11 beautiful photos that will make you want to travel to New Zealand

Photos that will make you want to travel to New Zealand
Who does not want to travel New Zealand? I mean, just look at the beauty of the country! I've spent five months roadtripping, hiking and hitchhiking through New Zealand, and still, it was not enough! A lifetime in New Zealand will probably not even be enough to discover all of its beauty.

During my five months traveling New Zealand, I took about 3,000 pictures. That said, I could have made this a post called '3000 amazing pictures that will make you want to visit New Zealand', but I won't, because I don't think you are interested in all the vague pictures where I moved the camera, the pictures of the places our car broke down (about 7 times), or the pictures of some peculiar hikers we met in place they probably regretted hiking to.

Without further ado, as I know you're here for pictures and not for the text, I've listed pictures of 11 great places and hidden gems below. Why eleven? Well, because everyone uses 10, 15, 20 etc. Therefore, I don't. For those interested in the places in the pictures, I've added a small paragraph describing the place in the picture below each of them. Enjoy!

Lake Camp, South Island Alps

Reflections in Lake Camp, South Island of New Zealand
Surrounded by snow peaked mountains, a long drive from the nearest town and along the way to the filming location of Lord of the Rings' Edoras village lies Lake Camp. Behind Lake Camp lies a lake called Lake Clearwater, but to be honest, I found the waters of Lake Camp to be clearer than those of Lake Clearwater...

This picture is taken at a campsite on the banks of the lake, which means you could camp here too! Pitch your tent on the grass next to the pebble beach of the lake, or park your car on the pebbles, and enjoy this view when you drink your morning coffee!

Recommended: Best free and cheap campsites of the South Island of New Zealand.

Photo 2: Mt. Sunday, Lord of the Rings' Edoras

View from Mt. Sunday in the Alps of the South Island of New Zealand
This little moleshill in the center of a wide valley was called Mt. Sunday by local ranchers as this was where they met each Sunday. Mt. Sunday is a small hill in the center of a beautiful wide valley in the South Island Alps, surrounded by a wide meandering river. The views are definitely worth driving the long gravel road here, even for non Lord of the Rings fans.

Mt. Sunday was the filming location of Lord of the Rings' Edoras village. Not sure which of the villages was Edoras, check it out here! Never thought I would ever link to a LotR fanpage from my blog...

There are tours going to Mt. Sunday, but to be honest, you can easily make the drive yourself. The only added value of a tour seems to be that you end up with a picture of yourself waving a LotR flag or sword on top of Mt. Sunday...

Photo 3: Mt. Cook/Aoraki, from the Sealy Tarns

View on Mt. Cook/Aoraki from the Sealy Tarns, South Island of New Zealand
The Mt. Cook area offers some amazing views of New Zealand's highest peak: Mt. Cook/Aoraki. The White Horse Hill campsite near the village of Mt. Cook/Aoraki is the starting point for some amazing hikes in the area, including a steep but rewarding hike to the Sealy Tarns (from where I took this photo).

Photo 4 & 5: Sunsets of the west coast

Sunset at the beach on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island
Romantic, yuck! But still, the west coast of the South Island has some of the most amazing sunsets I've ever seen. So whether you're looking for a romantic walk on the beach or just want to stare into the sunset contemplating about life, New Zealand is the best place to do it!

Sunset over a lagoon at the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island
Traveling to New Zealand soon? Or any other destination? Don't forget your Lonely Planet Guidebook. Lonely Planet has guided me to some of the most amazing and hidden gems throughout the world, such as the ones in this post. Even better, their 'Best of Country guides' include all the places worth visiting, without the large lists of accommodations that you'll probably never use. Check out Lonely Planet's best of New Zealand.

Photo 6: Dolphins off the Kaikoura coast

Dolphins off the coast of Kaikoura, New Zealand, South Island
What is there to add to this photo? Just take a boat from Kaikoura with one of the tour operators and watch or even swim with dolphins. Definitely one of my best wildlife experiences!

In addition, watching or swimming with wild dolphins is the only non-abuse alternative to places like Seaworld.

Photo 7: PENGUINS!!!

Yellow eyed penguin colony near Christchurch, New Zealand, South Island
PENGUINS! The cute little flightless ostriches of the ocean. Yuck, did I really say 'cute'? I did, didn't I... Sorry about that. I'm just a big fan of penguins.

New Zealand is home to multiple penguin species, of which I've seen two. Though the coolest of those, the little blue penguin (smallest penguin species on earth), ran through my legs (flap flap flap flap), I was unable to take a photo because it was dark and using a flash might have blinded them.

The little guy in this picture is a Yellow eyed penguin, also cool. We spent several hours at this lookout point near Christchurch waiting for the penguins to arrive, and in the end, was definitely worth it!

Photo 8: View from Mt. Taranaki

View from the summit of Mt. Taranaki, New Zealand, North Island

Climbing Mt. Taranaki has been one of the most rewarding hikes I've ever done! Just look at this view from the frozen summit of this lone volcano. And that's just one side... From this summit, you'll have amazing views like this in all directions. However, if you're not okay with climbing a steep gravel slope for hours, then don't even start. 

Photo 9: Emerald lakes, Tongariro National Park

Emerald lakes along the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, New Zealand, North Island
I could have intensified the colors of the Emerald lakes in this picture (as is done in most pictures of the lakes found online), but I decided not to, as this is what you'll get in real life, and they're awesome the way they are! As most people traveling New Zealand, you'll probably hike the Tongariro Crossing. If you do, you can't miss them as they're right along the trail.

Photo 10: Canoeing the Whanganui River

Canoeing the Whanganui River, New Zealand, North Island
Canoeing the Whanganui River is like descending a jungle river with Redmond O'Hanlon in one of his books. Everything is green, and there are waterfalls all around. Just amazing!

Photo 11: Bridge to Nowhere

Bridge to Nowhere near Whanganui, New Zealand, North Island
The Bridge to Nowhere was originally built to open up new lands for exploitation after the World Wars. However, the soil quality was poor and farming wasn't worth the effort, so the lands were abandoned. These days, this lonely grass-covered bridge is all that remains, a reminder of the past used by tourists (and possibly some wildlife) to cross its valley.

If you liked this post, feel free to share it using one of those nice social media share buttons or move on to some other amazing hikes listed below. You can also pin one of the images below to your Pinterest boards, or check them out on my board about travel in New ZealandI really appreciate all shares!

Recommended further reading:

New Zealand, 11 beautiful photos that will make you pack your bags

11 beautiful photos of New Zealand

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  1. Really nice pictures !!! By the way those dolphins are the "Hectors", the smallest and rarest dolphins in the world. You can only see them in New Zealand. You got lucky to see them !!

    1. Thanks guys!
      I have to disappoint you on the dolphins though, I've double checked it and found that they are not Hector's dolphins. I wish they were though, as that would have been awesome! Now I have to return to New Zealand one day to find the Hectors...


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