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Updated by newzealandtrails on Sep 25, 2019
Headline for The 13 national parks in New Zealand
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The 13 national parks in New Zealand

There are 13 national parks in New Zealand. Here are the top six national parks to visit - although they're all worth seeing if you get a chance!

Source: https://newzealandtrails.com/news/visit-six-best-national-parks-new-zealand/

1

Arthur's Pass National Park

Arthur's Pass National Park

Arthur's Pass National Park is the South Island's oldest national park, established in 1929. It is situated near Christchurch, along the Southern Alps. This national park includes New Zealand's only true alpine village, and also hosts the Coast to Coast adventure race every February.

2

Paparoa National Park

Paparoa National Park

Paparoa National Park is one of New Zealand's newer and smaller parks, established in 1987. This national park is found in the north of the South Island, from the Tasman Sea to the Paparoa Ranges. It is a unique area with limestone karst rock creating vast underground caves. If you visit the Paparoa National Park, make sure you stop off at Punakaiki to see the famous Pancake Rocks!

3

Westland Tai Poutini National Park

Westland Tai Poutini National Park

The Westland Tai Poutini National Park is situated on the west coast of the South Island, bordering the Aoraki Mount Cook National Park. This area is home to two of New Zealand's major glaciers - Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier. The landscape in this national park is varied, from NZ's highest mountains, lush rainforest and rugged West Coast beaches.

4

Mount Aspiring National Park

Mount Aspiring National Park

Mount Aspiring National Park is New Zealand's third largest national park. Mount Aspiring is the highest mountain outside the Mount Cook region and reaches 3033m. This national park has over 100 glaciers and numerous lakes throughout the park. There are lots of walking tracks, including the Routeburn Track, one of New Zealand's famous Great Walks. The national park is easily accessible from Wanaka and Queenstown.

You can see some of the best of this national park on the New Zealand Trails Pure South trip, with a scenic flight and jetboat trip in the wilderness of the Mt Aspiring National Park.

5

Fiordland National Park

Fiordland National Park

Fiordland National Park is the largest and most well-known of New Zealand's national parks. Here you will find the famous Milford Sound, along with other 14 fjords on the west coast of the South Island. This is also home to the Milford Track, arguably the most well-known Great Walk in New Zealand. There are numerous other places to explore like the Hollyford Valley, Doubtful Sound, Dusky Sound and the Waihauriri River. The Fiordland National Park is New Zealand wilderness at its best.

6

Mount Cook National Park

Mount Cook National Park

Mount Cook National Park is home to New Zealand's highest mountain, Aoraki Mount Cook, standing at 3,724m (12,349 ft) high. You'll also find all bar one (Mt Aspiring) of New Zealand's highest peaks in this area. There is only one way in and out of this national park and it is a breathtaking drive! With snowcapped mountains and glaciers, some of the best day hikes are found in this region.

7

Tongariro National Park

Tongariro National Park

New Zealand's oldest national park, Tongariro National Park was established in 1887. It is the only national park in New Zealand with dual World Heritage status for cultural and spiritual importance, as well as the amazing volcanic landscape. This is a popular area all year round with ski fields for the winter, and an abundance of hiking trails for any time of year. The famous Tongariro Crossing is found here, where you can walk on an active volcano!

8

Egmont National Park

Egmont National Park

Egmont National Park found in New Zealand's North Island and is easily accessible with three road entries. It is home to Mount Taranaki, standing at 2518m (8261 ft), a very distinctive landmark and sacred to the local iwi (Maori people). There are many walking and hiking trails for both short and long hikes. The "Around the Mountain" circuit can take 4 to 5 days to complete for experienced hikers, while there are other shorter day hikes so there is something for everyone.

9

Whanganui National Park

Whanganui National Park

Historically, the early Maori people used the Whanganui River for trade and communication. The river was the central point to settlements and many sacred sites and traditional customs are still seen in these places today. This national park was established in 1986 with large areas of lowland forest protecting native wildlife. The Whanganui River winds through the heart of the national park and is actually one of New Zealand's Great Walks, although it is not actually a walk! It is a three or five day kayak or canoe trip instead.

10

Abel Tasman National Park

Abel Tasman National Park

At the top of the South Island, Abel Tasman National Park is a popular place for kayaking with its crystal-clear waters and hidden beaches. It is also home to another of New Zealand's Great Walks. You can either walk the length of the trail, or choose to kayak or water taxi to different points along the way. A few days spent in this national park, whether by foot or kayak, won't disappoint - https://newzealandtrails.com/news/abel-tasman-national-park/

11

Kahurangi National Park

Kahurangi National Park

Kahurangi National Park is the second largest in New Zealand, but also one of the newest as it was established in 1996. It is found in the northwest of the South Island. There is a lot to do in this national park from the Heaphy Track (another of our Great Walks) to caving and rafting. It is close to the Abel Tasman and Nelson Lakes National Parks so it would be easy to visit more than one!

12

Nelson Lakes National Park

Nelson Lakes National Park

Nelson Lakes National Park is situated at the top of the South Island in New Zealand. It is one of the lesser known national parks and a bit off the beaten track, so you can really experience the wilderness of New Zealand. With thick beech forest, lakes, rivers and mountains, it is a beautiful area to hike. A lot of the tracks are recommended for advanced hikers, and some tracks can be dependant on the weather.

13

Rakiura National Park

Rakiura National Park

Last but not least is Rakiura National Park found on Stewart Island, which is off the bottom of New Zealand's South Island. This is the most recent national park, established in 2002. This national park on a remote island is a great spot to visit if you're into wildlife, with the best chance of spotting a kiwi in the wild. If you're into hiking, the Rakiura Track is one of New Zealand's Great Walks and will take you along secluded beaches and forests, where you can experience a somewhat untouched New Zealand.