Visit These Amazing Natural Wonders of New Zealand!
Natural wonders are the best wonders. If you want to see maggots that shoot light out of their buttocks, dinosaur lizards with three eyes, perfectly rounded boulders, pancake rocks, orange rimmed springs, green water, blue water, insanely clear water, an obscene about of gannets, tiny penguins, birds with no wings, and green light displays in the sky… *Deep breath* well, New Zealand would be the right place. So with all that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the natural wonders of New Zealand!
If you want to have a look at more awesome natural attractions in New Zealand, then head on over to our Natural Attractions category and start planning your travel itinerary from there.
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
- Pup? 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 (213ft) in diameter and 62m (203ft) deep. The temperature on the surface is 74ºC (165ºF). 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. Find out more about Wai-O-Tapu on Viator and Tripadvisor.
To find the Champagne Pool and other geothermal wonders like it, head on over to 5 Insane Geothermal Parks in New Zealand You Won’t Believe Exist.
Not only is the tuatara lizard a “living dinosaur”, but it also 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.
Tuatara can be seen in captivity as part of breeding programs all over New Zealand from sanctuaries such as Sanctuary Mountain near Cambridge (North Island), Kiwi North in Whangarei (North Island), and the Southland Museum in Invercargill (South Island) [Update: the Southland Museum is now closed].
Described as the “8th wonder of the world’, Milford Sound is renowned for its visually stunning landscape. Glacial carving has left these huge fiords that appear to emerge from the ocean. What’s more, the scuba diving is particularly unique in this area where creatures usually found at great depths are closer to the surface thanks to the dark waters. See The Complete Guide to Milford Sound 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 The Complete Guide to Waitomo.
Its real name is Te Waikoropupu, but that is a bit of a mouthful. Pupu Springs is the largest freshwater spring in the Southern Hemisphere. 14,000 litres (3,698 gallons) of water per second is discharged from the spring. Additionally, it has amazingly clear water.
The walk to Te Waikoropupu Springs can be found just outside of Takaka in Golden Bay (South Island). Take a look at The Complete Guide to Takaka for more information.
New Zealand is a site for the largest mainland 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 (North Island), which you can get more information in our Hawke’s Bay category.
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. Find out more about Wai-O-Tapu on Viator and Tripadvisor.
This is another sight seen in Rotorua (North Island).
Little Blue Penguins
When the sun starts to set, a colony of little blue penguins waddle across the shore in many areas of the South Island. Little blue penguins are the smallest species of penguins in the world. While you can watch them in Dunedin, Timaru, Akaroa and Abel Tasman, the viewing stands at Oamaru allows you to see the colony return from fishing.
Find out more in The Complete Guide to Oamaru.
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. Today, they are buried under Lake Rotomahana in the Waimangu Thermal Valley.
However, if you are dying to see terraces, then a great example can be found at the Wairakei Terraces in Taupo (North Island) along with some thermal hot pools to relax in.
Pancake Rocks and Blowholes
Want to see some rocks stacked like pancakes? Punakaiki Pancake Rocks 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.
For more information, check out 9 Awesome Things to Do in Punakaiki.
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 between Haast and Wanaka in the South Island.
For more reasons to love Haast, check out The Complete Guide to Haast.
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.
The Southern Lights / Aurora Australis
A beautiful display of green and pink lights can sometimes be seen from New Zealand! Just like the Northern Lights, the Southern Lights cast light displays in the sky during polar storms. Your best chances of seeing this activity are in the South Island during winter.
Visit our page: The 5 Places to see the Southern Lights in New Zealand.