Discover the best views in New Zealand and build an itinerary filled with the most incredible sights.
New Zealand is known around the world for its incredible landscapes, so it is not surprising to discover that we have equally impressive vantage points.
Whether you choose to climb up a mountain (or catch a cable car or gondola) or prefer to enjoy your views from the ground, there is something for you in this list.
We have intentionally chosen to share a variety of views to ensure there really is something for everyone here.
From the far north to the deep south, ensure you have your camera charged and prepare to be amazed by the incredible vista and viewpoints in this article.
Join us as we share the best views from around Aotearoa, in order from north to south, as written by some of the best-travelled individuals in the country.
Unmissable Viewpoints in New Zealand
Urupukapuka Island, Bay of Islands
Located in the beautiful Bay of Islands, the views from Urupukapuka Island have to be seen to be believed.
The viewpoint on this stunning island straddles two different bays and is easily accessible from the shoreline.
Hikers walk up and over one side of the island (from the most beautiful beach) before being rewarded with panoramic views out over the Bay of Islands.
Of significant historic and cultural importance, this pest-free island (which is part of Project Island Song) also plays an important role in local conservation. Whilst there, keep your eyes peeled for native birds, stingrays and even dolphins.
Urupukapuka Island feels more like tropical Australia or Fiji than New Zealand, making it the perfect getaway in Northland.
Sarah Chant – Exploring Auckland
Related: Things to do in Paihia.
New Chums Beach Lookout, Coromandel
With one of the world’s top 10 beaches an easy drive from many key cities in the North Island, New Chums Beach is well worth a visit. What’s more, it comes complete with one of the best lookouts in the country.
Secluded, out-of-this-world beautiful and still relatively off the well-worn tourist trail, this is a real New Zealand must-do.
The New Chums Beach lookout is accessible by foot only, but it is an easy walk over mostly flat terrain. It’s only when you get to the end that you’ll need to climb for approximately 10 minutes and we assure you, it is well worth the effort.
Once at the top of the lookout, you will enjoy superb views over the pristine beach below (which coincidentally is a fantastic swimming beach and should be your next stop after the lookout).
For all of these reasons and more, New Chums Beach is one of our favourite bays in New Zealand.
Related: Things to do in the Coromandel.
Related: The best beaches in the Coromandel.
Mount Maunganui, Bay of Plenty
New Zealand is a beautiful place full of towering mountains, long stretches of beaches, vast lakes, and stunning viewpoints across the entire country.
Indeed, one of the best views in New Zealand – specifically the North Island – can be found at the top of magnificent Mount Maunganui.
Located in the coastal town/suburb of Mount Maunganui (which is just over the bridge from Tauranga), Mount Maunganui is a sight that is impossible to miss.
Located at the northern end of the beach, Mount Maunganui (Mauao) stands an impressive 232 metres tall and boasts spectacular 360-degree views from the summit, which span across the entire Bay of Plenty.
The 3.8km return walk to the summit isn’t as easy as people may think. The track includes consistently steep slopes and steps the majority of the way up.
However, once you’ve reached the summit, your pain will soon be forgotten about when you reach the summit and enjoy expansive views of the bay and town below.
The view from the top of Mount Maunganui will take your breath away, and is easily one of the best views in New Zealand. It is a must-do experience while in the North Island.
Jasmine Gruber – Kiwi Talks Travel
The Tongariro Alpine Crossing, National Park
Considered one of the best day hikes in the world, the Tongariro Crossing hike is unsurprisingly home to some spectacularly memorable New Zealand views. On a clear day, keen hikers can see as far as Mount Taranaki and Lake Taupo from the peaks. However, the best views are much closer to the well-maintained footpaths.
This volcanic terrain is made up of expansive craters, dome-like peaks, and vibrant acidic lakes. One of the first (and best views) is of Mt Ngaruhoe which visitors walk on their journey along Tongariro Alpine Crossing.
Perhaps the best view on the Tongariro Crossing is when you finally get to the highest 1886 metre peak and see over the edge. Beyond lies a majestic and vibrant landscape of steaming blue lakes below and a red crater. Brightly coloured and shining amidst this harsh landscape, the acidic Blue Lakes are a reminder of what makes New Zealand such a unique country to visit.
At 19.4 kilometers, this hike is packed with breathtaking panoramas that make the 6-8 hour walk more than worth it.
Pack your hiking boots (and camera) and prepare for an aesthetically pleasing adventure!
Cassie Bailey – Cassie the Hag
Related: Free things to do in Taupo.
Mount Taranaki, a perfectly-formed volcano, is one of the highlights of North Island.
Being a dormant volcano, it is also one of the most climbed mountains of New Zealand. It is situated in the Egmont National Park, where you’ll find the whole region full of lush waterfalls, rainforests and mossy swamps.
One of the classic (and most impressive) views of Mount Taranaki is from Pouakai Tarn which involves an arduous hike, taking a good few hours. Although the hike is somewhat difficult, the views on a clear, still day are amazing. It is especially well-known for providing picture-perfect reflections of the peak in the lake!
But, if you are not a fan of hiking (or are short on time), then there are a few locations where you can enjoy the breathtaking views of the mountain with minimal efforts.
One such view point is from Kent Road, where the mountain looks absolutely stunning on a straight road view.
Te Rewa Rewa Bridge is another outstanding place to enjoy epic views of the snow-capped mountain. This is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Waiwhakaiho River; it represents both a whalebone and a breaking wave.
Finally, a short drive south from the town of New Plymouth, along Junction road, will bring you to Lake Mangamahoe. While there are few points from which to capture the mountain, the view from Burgess Park (which is home to the aforementioned lake) steals the show!
No matter where you witness Mount Taranaki, it is sure to impress you with its magnificent snow-capped peaks!
Sunetra Biswas – Globetrotting Su
The Wellington Cable Car
You can’t beat Wellington on a good day.
Some people think that saying is getting old, but when you’re taking in the view from the top of the cable car on a perfect day, it’s so true!
From the top you’ll enjoy stunning views over the city, across to Mount Victoria, and the harbour, along with a multitude of landmarks.
The best part about this viewpoint is you don’t need to go out of your way to get to it. There are a host of reasons you’ll find yourself nearby as a tourist in Wellington.
- Riding the cable car is an attraction in itself (check out the Cable Car Museum at the top too).
- The top of the cable car is the start of one of Wellington’s awesome walks, the Northern Walkway.
- You’ve got easy access to the Botanic Gardens.
- There are free shuttles between the top of the cable car and Zealandia, another great place to visit.
And the view – what must be one of the best city views in New Zealand – is an incredible bonus on the way to any of these activities.
Jub Bryant – Chur New Zealand
Related: More amazing Wellington walks.
Roy’s Peak, Wānaka
From the peak, you’ll enjoy incredible views over beautiful, blue Lake Wānaka and the snowy, white mountain caps of Aspiring National Park.
In order to get to the viewpoint, you need to hike the Roy’s Peak Track to the summit at 1,578 meters above sea level. It’s a really tough day hike that requires a good fitness level since you have to gain 1,228 meters of elevation in only 8 kilometres. In other words, you have to walk 8 kilometres uphill, and then 8 kilometres right back again.
With that said, the tough hike only makes the viewpoint at Roy’s Peak feel even better! Watching the Matukituki River endlessly twist in-between the mountains is such a beautiful sight that the hardship of the walk is soon forgotten.
The viewpoint is beautiful, both in the winter when the hills and mountains are covered in snow, and during the summer where only the tallest mountains carry traces of snow.
This really is one of the most iconic viewpoints possible!
Cecilie Mortensen – Worldwide Walkers
Related: Things to do in Wānaka.
Pro Tip: We recommend hiking Roy’s Peak just before sunrise, so you can watch the sunrise over the lakes below. Should you choose to do so, be sure to take a torch and plenty of warm clothes.
Akaroa Harbour, Canterbury
Akaroa is a small town located on the coast of the South Island. An approximate 1.5-hour drive from Christchurch (along State Highway 75), the town is famous for its 19th century British and French architecture.
Although the buildings and the history of the small coastal town are fascinating, they aren’t the only things that make it stand out as an incredible destination in New Zealand.
Meaning ‘long harbour’ in Maori, Akaroa is also home to a harbour that provides some of the best views in the country. Looking out along the harbour towards the South Pacific Ocean, you begin to understand why many visitors to the South Island of New Zealand divert east in order to pay a visit to Banks Peninsula.
With endless rolling hills and a multitude of rock coves, Banks Peninsula is one of New Zealand’s most unique landforms, and nowhere is this more apparent than in Akaroa Harbour.
The truly breathtaking views out to the ocean are only disturbed by the occasional luxury cruise line, slowly drifting into the harbour having made its way from the Australian coast.
For those fortunate few, you may even be lucky enough to spot a lone orca, or a pod of playful Hector’s dolphins, swimming on the horizon.
Akaroa harbour sits on top of an ancient volcano and is home to extraordinary wildlife and some truly awe-inspiring views of the rugged New Zealand countryside.
Ben Lloyd – Ticket 4 Two Please
Related: Things to do in Akaroa.
But that doesn’t mean you’ll always be lucky enough to see it! At times the peak will be shrouded in cloud, but if you’re fortunate to have a clear day then the views of New Zealand’s highest peak really are breath-taking.
Luckily, there are lots of different places to view Mount Cook, so if you’re in the vicinity you’ll have multiple opportunities to spot it. It’s possible to see all the way from the west coast from places like Lake Matheson, where on a still day it reflects in the lake itself, and also from many hikes to the south and east of the mountain itself.
When driving on the scenic road alongside Lake Pukaki towards Mount Cook Village, be sure to keep an eye out for views of Mount Cook, especially from Peter’s Lookout. This also happens to be a fantastic photo opportunity – be sure to capture both the mountain and winding road in your frame.
From Mount Cook Village, we recommend walking the popular Hooker Valley Track. On a good day, you’ll continually get glimpses of the mountain, before finally seeing it tower in all its glory behind Hooker Lake and the glacier face.
For more Aoraki/Mount Cook views by foot try Mueller Hut, Sealy Tarns, Mount Fox, or Kea Point.
Or of course, you can take a helicopter flight in the area for an epic bird’s eye view!
Sonja Bolger – Migrating Miss and Scottish Scran
Related: Things to do in neighbouring Tekapo.
Milford Sound, Fiordland
One of the most picture-perfect views you’ll find in New Zealand is the towering Mitre Peak at Milford Sound.
Milford Sound is often referred to ‘8th Wonder of World’, which is no surprise as it simply is that stunning. This fiord is surrounded by steep cliff-faces, hundreds of waterfalls, and the iconic Mitre Peak – a huge mountain with a perfectly pointed tip.
In order to see Mitre Peak, you must first make your way to Milford Sound. You can self-drive the iconic Milford Road (Te Anau to Milford Sound) through Fiordland National Park, join a guided tour or take a scenic flight from Queenstown.
Once there, one of the best views is from the foreshore. There, you’ll stare out onto the water and beyond to Mitre Peak.
For an entirely different point of view, consider jumping on a boat cruise in Milford Sound – this way, you can check out Mitre Peak from many different angles.
Plus, you’ll likely spot some of the wildlife Milford Sound is famous for, including seals and penguins!
Daniel Caracciolo – Destinationless Travel
Related: Things to do in Te Anau.
Luxmore Hut, Fiordland
For an incredible panoramic view of the Southern Alps, you must hike the famous Kepler Track to the Luxmore Hut.
The Kepler Track is one of the ten Great Walks in New Zealand, and as such, hiking it is often considered one of the best things to do in all of New Zealand. Although the entire 60-kilometre-long trail is stunning, most consider the views from the Luxmore Hut to be the absolute best!
From the Luxmore Hut kitchen windows or outdoor deck, you’ll look down onto Lake Te Anau with mountains as far as the eye can see. The best part is that you are able to spend the night at Luxmore Hut, allowing you to enjoy both sunset and sunrise at this stunning location. However, be sure to book it well in advance since this is a very popular hut in NZ and is almost always fully booked.
If you don’t manage to book the night, don’t worry. It is also hike to the Luxmore Hut on a day trip from Te Anau. From the trailhead, it is a 13.8-kilometre-long hike (one-way), which takes most people around 5-6 hours. You can also cut this hike short by taking the ferry from the Te Anau lakefront to Broad Bay, where you will start the hike closer. This way, you’ll cut about 5 kilometres off the hike each way, making the walk a lot more manageable in just the one day.
Whether you stay overnight or not, this is a Fiordland view not to be missed!
Bailey Ann – My Queenstown Diary
Bob’s Peak, Queenstown
One of the most famous and iconic views in New Zealand can be found from the top of Bob’s Peak which is 450 metres above Queenstown.
Ride the Skyline Gondola (the steepest cable car lift in the Southern Hemisphere) up the mountain to enjoy unobscured 220-degree panoramic views of the town, Lake Wakatipu, and many mountains (including the Remarkables and Coronet Peak).
At the top of the Skyline Gondola, there are also a range of activities to enjoy with this scenic backdrop. paragliding, bungy jumping and the luge (a gravity ride downhill on a three-wheel cart) – there are lots of awesome options.
The Skyline Gondola also has a restaurant called Stratosphere which has huge floor-to-ceiling windows. This is the perfect place to enjoy a buffet lunch or dinner with spectacular views.
If you fancy something a bit more challenging in your Queenstown itinerary then you can hike to the top of Bob’s Peak. This route takes 1 hour and weaves through beautiful forest. Known as the Tiki Trail, this route is a good option if you are on a budget and do not want to pay for the gondola ride up!
Regardless of how you reach the top, we recommend making the trip up.
Caroline Keyzor – CK Travels
Related: Adventure activities in Queenstown.
Related: Things to do with kids in Queenstown.
Nugget Point, The Catlins
Nugget Point in The Catlins boasts another of the most incredible views in New Zealand. Being at the very bottom of the country, Nugget Point is a hidden gem that isn’t packed with tourists, making it all the more special.
The view is incredible no matter what time of the day you visit, but the real magic happens at sunrise. The walk is well marked and flat, so it’s easy to do in the dark. Just be sure not to stand too close to the cliff! You’ll reach the path to the lighthouse after just 10 minutes.
As the sun rises to mark the start of the day, watch the sky come alive. This is one of our favourite photos spots in the whole country.
Once the sun has risen, take a walk right up to the lighthouse to see where Nugget point got its name from. From there, you’re able to look out to the water where you’ll see the namesake nugget-shaped rocks protruding out of the ocean.
Delilah Hart – Our Travel Mix
With so many stunning views right across New Zealand, be sure to include at least a few in your next adventure!