When planning your New Zealand tour it's hard to know where to start - but perhaps we can help. New Zealand's greatest assets are stunning landscapes and inspiring vistas - nowhere is this better demonstrated or experienced than in the countries wonderful national parks. There are 14 national parks in New Zealand, each with its own unique appeal and beauty. However, there are 3 that we would highly recommend integrating to any trip or tour around New Zealand. Each offers something slightly different but combined you will get to see the very best of New Zealand's natural beauty:
1. Abel Tasman National Park
Our local and favourite national park. Located just a short distance from the Flying Kiwi head office in Nelson, the Abel Tasman sits atop the sunniest region of the country. This reliable weather enhances the opportunities to get out and explore the most beautiful beaches, bays and lush forests NZ has to offer. The Abel Tasman is quite simply paradise and New Zealand's only coastal national park! Long stretches of deserted golden beaches, turquoise clear waters frequented by a myriad of aquatic and bird life and a fantastic variety of adventure activities (from hiking and kayaking to skydiving and flying an aerobatic plane) make it the perfect spot to explore on land, sea or air.
2. Tongariro National Park
Tongariro is located in the heart of the North island and is the oldest park in New Zealand and the fourth oldest in the World. It is listed as a World heritage area for both its outstanding natural beauty and its significance to Maori culture. The park is also home to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing - regarded by many as the best one day walk in the World. The trek is just under 20km long and takes an average of around 7 hours with the opportunity for plenty of rest and photo stops along the way. This fantastic trek is usually undertaken by all Flying Kiwi passengers without regret. It's a rewarding, inspiring and diverse walk taking in spectacular volcanic terrain from start to finish.
3. Fiordland National Park
Last, but by no means least, is the wonderful spectacle of Fiordland National Park. For many visitors to New Zealand this region is THE must see on their trip and it is rightfully considered one of the great wilderness areas of the Southern Hemisphere. As you breathe in the crisp, alpine air you'll be surrounded by towering snow-capped mountains, deep lakes and dramatic glaciers. The area is also home to Milford Sound - recently rated as one of the new natural wonders of the World. On your Flying Kiwi trip there's the chance to enjoy a great boat ride into the heart of the sound. Frequently escorted by dolphins, you will cruise through huge channels carved by glaciers over millions of years. Vertical cliffs all around are home to thundering waterfalls that plunge from from hundreds of feet - it's a truly unforgettable experience. In addition this national park is also home to some truly inspiring hikes including the highly recommended Routeburn Track - a wonderful 3 day hike and an excellent opportunity to get right off the beaten track.
4. Aoraki Mount Cook National Park
Aoraki Mount Cook National Park is a highlight for many on our tours and often produces that iconic NZ mountain photo! Home to the highest mountains in New Zealand you will enjoy it from a variety of perspectives and year round these towering, snow capped peaks provide a feeling of "epic". Some of the best views we enjoy are on the Hooker Valley hike which is easily accessible for all fitness levels and a must do on most Flying Kiwi trips. In total the park has 23 peaks reaching up to 3000m high but Mount Cook dominates the skyline and is top of the wishlist for many climbers heading to the region.
5. PAPAROA NATIONAL PARK
Heading up the wild West Coast you will enjoy the geographical wonders of Paparoa National Park. Most of the areas impressive landforms can be attributed to the underlying limestone which has created a series of bizarre mountain ridges, uniquely formed caves and the iconic pancake rocks of Punakaiki. We take time to camp in the region giving you plenty of time to explore these natural wonders. The impressive blowholes of Punakaiki will test your camera skills and the variety of flora and fauna also provide a haven for plenty of birdlife. It is in this park that the Great Spotted Kiwi combs the forest by night.