New Zealand natural attractions
New Zealand’s Natural Wonders
Here is a list of the wonderfully weird but all natural things in New Zealand.
- The Champagne Pool, Wai-O-Tapu
- Tuatara Lizard
- Milford Sound, Fiordland
- Glowworms, Waitomo
- Pupū Springs, Golden Bay
- Gannet Colony, Cape Kidnappers
- Devil’s Bath, Wai-O-Tapu
- Little blue penguins, Oamaru
- Moeraki Boulders, Moeraki
- Pink and White Terraces, (gone forever!)
- Pancake Rocks and Blowholes, Punakaiki
- The Blue Pools, Haast Pass
- Kiwi Bird
- The Southern Lights
The Champagne Pool
The steamy orange-lined spring is situated in Wai-O-Tapu outside of Rotorua. It is the largest spring in the area at 65m in diameter and 62m deep. The temperature on the surface is 74°C. The Champagne Pool was formed 700 years ago by a hydrothermal eruption. The orange ledge is deposits of sulphur, arsenic, thallium, antimony, mercury, gold and silver. Carbon dioxide bubbles rise to the surface, hence champagne.
Not only is the tuatara lizard a “living dinosaur”, it has a freakin’ third eye! The lizard is the only existing member of Order Sphenodontia; a species that roamed the Earth with dinosaurs. The tuatara’s third eye or parietal eye is located on the top of its head. The eye can only see light and dark.
Described as the “8th wonder of the world’, Milford Sound is a renowned for its visually stunning landscape. Glacial carving has left these huge fiords. See our Fiordland – Guide for Backpackers for more information on visiting Milford Sound.
It’s a whole other world down in the Waitomo Caves. Glowworms can be found all over New Zealand, even in someone’s back garden, but the most spectacular view is in a glowworm cave. Glowworms are maggots that use their organ similar to a kidney, to produce light. Basically, they shine light out of their bum. This attracts insects, which get caught in the long sticky thread from which they hang from. The Waitomo Caves are the best place to see the glowworms. Find out more information on that in our Waitomo – Guide for Backpackers.
It’s real name is Te Waikoropupu, but that is a bit of a mouthful. Pupu Springs is the largest freshwater spring in the Southern Hemisphere. 14000 litres of water per second is discharged from the spring. Additionally, it has amazingly clear water.
New Zealand is a site for the largest gannet colonies in the world. These majestic seabirds, known for their fishing skills as they dive at break-neck speed into the ocean, have the largest colony in Cape Kidnappers. The nesting colony decorating the coast is a spectacular sight to behold! Cape Kidnappers is in the Hawke’s Bay region, which you can get more information here: Hawke’s Bay – Guide for Backpackers.
The greenest natural water colour you will ever lay your eyes on! If you visit Wai-O-Tapu that is. The colour is a result of excess water from The Champagne Pool (see above) mixing with salts and sulphur. The reflection of the sky can sometimes change the colour from green to yellow.
Little Blue penguins
When the sun starts to set, a colony of little blue penguins waddle across the shore. The viewing stands at Oamaru allows you to see the colony return from fishing.
These perfectly rounded boulders are the main attraction of Moeraki Beach. They have formed over millions of years by a layering process like oyster pearls on the seabed. The seabed rose and became coastal cliffs. Over time the cliffs eroded to reveal the more resistant boulders.
pink and white terraces
A wonder no more! The pink and white terraces were destroyed after the 1886 Mt Tarawera eruption. Tourists would visit this natural wonder to bathe in the silica formed basins holding hot spring water.
Pancake Rocks and blowholes
Want to see some rocks stacked like pancakes? Punakaiki pancake rocks were formed 30 million years ago from dead marine creatures and plants solidified together into layers. The rocks were lifted from the seabed by seismic action. Seawater, wind and rain have eroded the rocks to create crazy shapes, including blowholes.
Blue Pools at haast Pass
Glacier-fed rivers create vividly blue water. Rock flour sediment is picked up by the glacier as it retreats. When the glacier melts the sediment runs into rivers and lakes then absorbs and scatters the colours of sunlight. The blue pools are off the Haast Pass Highway.
Look at them! Take a moment to appreciate how weird looking they are. These birds have evolved with no wings because there are no native mainland predators in New Zealand, with the exception of a couple of tiny bats. Check out our article: Where to See Kiwi Birds in New Zealand.