There’s certainly no shortage of fantastic views on offer in New Zealand. Both the North and the South Islands are jam-packed with rolling hills, sparkling lakes and rugged peaks, with the mountains in New Zealand providing some of the most photogenic scenery you’ll find anywhere in the world. But where exactly do you need to go to experience this country at its absolute best? No matter if you’re looking for easily accessible knockout views or are on the hunt of back-country vistas you have to really work for, here are some of our favourite lookout points in NZ.
Ben Lomond Summit
The trek to Ben Lomond summit outside of Queenstown is one of the most famous hikes in NZ, with this steady uphill climb offering 360-degree panoramic views over all the surrounding mountains. If you have a head torch and the courage, try to reach the summit in time for the sunrise, as there’s nothing like watching the Remarkables wake up in the morning.
At one of the most southern areas of the South Island lies Nugget Point, a gorgeous rocky outcrop featuring the quaint Nugget Point Lighthouse. This spot (located roughly between Invercargill and Dunedin) is just a 10-minute walk from the car park, so it’s worth planning your visit for either sunrise or after the sun has set, as the core of the Milky Way rises directly behind the lighthouse. From here, you are also presented with a bird’s-eye view of rocky islets flush with seals and sea lions, with this rugged coastline offering a wholly different perspective of the NZ landscape.
Without a doubt, you’ve seen photos of Roy’s Peak. It’s one of the most famous viewpoints in New Zealand after all, with this undulating ridge overlooking Lake Wanaka. Getting here is a bit of slog, as it requires walking two to three hours uphill with zero shade or water spots, but the views are certainly well worth the effort.
Had your fill of uphill climbs? Then Bob’s Peak in Queenstown and the Skyline Gondola are for you. Up at the peak’s viewing centre, you’ll be treated to incredible views over Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and the Remarkables, but if you have the time and the inclination, be sure to also walk the half-hour loop track to see the views from a different perspective – or forget them entirely and just ride the luge for a laugh.
Peter’s Lookout at Lake Pukaki
While driving along the road to Mount Cook and the Hooker Valley Trail – one of the best New Zealand walks – be sure to take the time to stop in at Peter’s Lookout. This unassuming roadside pull-off is a triple threat, showcasing views of the winding road you’ve been travelling on, the icy blue water of Lake Pukaki, and New Zealand’s tallest mountain itself.
Te Mata Peak
No North Island road trip is complete without a visit to Te Mata Peak outside of Hastings near Napier. The landscape here is reminiscent of the Scottish Highlands, and the 399-metre summit can be reached by a steep and winding road, meaning you can save your legs the trouble. This popular lookout offers sweeping views across the plains, Hawke’s Bay, and Mahia Peninsula, with Mt Ruapehu even visible on a clear day.
Mt Egmont National Park
In the west of the North Island lies Mt Taranaki and the Mt Egmont National Park, which stands as a volcanic landscape boasting rich, rugged scenery. The visitor centre can be found just a half hour’s drive from New Plymouth, and offers unobstructed views up and down the mountain and out to the coast. You can also access a number of short walks from here that give you the chance to get up close and personal with the landscape, while the centre itself houses some fascinating displays well worth your time.
Milford Sound Lookout Track
Milford Sound is a New Zealand icon. With its crystal clear waters, lush greenery, and famous Mitre Peak, it’s one of those rare places that has to be seen to be believed – and one of the best ways to take it all in is along the Milford Sound Lookout Track. Short and sweet, this 400-metre return track takes you from the cafe at Milford Sound, up a few steps to quite possibly one of the best vantage points in all of NZ. If you want to experience more of the Fiordlands National Park (trust us, there’s so much more to see), consider stepping out onto the Milford Track, one of Great Walks of NZ.
And speaking of New Zealand’s Great Walks, the Routeburn Track is another famous trail from which you can soak up the beauty of the Fiordlands National Park. The whole 32-kilometre track is essentially one big lookout point, with stunning views unravelling whichever way you look (assuming, of course, you’re here on a clear day – the area is notorious for rain and cloud). Be sure to linger a little longer though at Harris Saddle and Key Summit for expansive vistas guaranteed to knock your socks off.