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It doesn't tend to snow in Auckland (the last time was in 2011, and the time before that was in the 1930s!) but the region is still dotted with mountains to see and climb. Auckland is built on a volcanic field and there are around 50 volcanic cones around its metropolitan area.
The most famous is Rangitoto Island, which erupted some 600 years ago. Rangitoto is one of the Hauraki Gulf islands, sitting just outside the Waitemata Harbour, and can be viewed from most parts of the central city and suburbs. You can visit Rangitoto on a ferry ride and hike to its summit, or cruise past it on a Hauraki Blue overnight or lunch cruise.
Mount Eden is another prominent Auckland mountain. Close to the central city, its summit is 196m above sea level, making it the highest natural point on the Auckland isthmus and offering great views of the region. The mountain is a popular place for a gentle stroll and a photo opportunity or two, followed by a walk down to the neighbouring village for a bite to eat.
Bay of Plenty
The Bay of Plenty on the east coast of the North Island is home to some impressive mountains. Visit Tauranga and spend some time in the seaside suburb of Mt Maunganui. The mountain, known as Mauao, rises above the northern end of the beach offering excellent views for those who make the trek to the top.
For a very different experience, visit Whakaari/White Island - an active volcano! White Island is situated about 48km off the coast from Tauranga and accessible by helicopter, aeroplane or boat for a guided tour. This is one of the most accessible active volcanoes in the world. See its smoking crater, steaming streams and mud poools, vivid mineral deposits and acid lakes.
Central North Island
The central North Island is home to a well-known trio of mountains: Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro, all situated within Tongariro National Park. Many scenes from the Lord of the Rings movies were shot in the park, with Ngauruhoe 'playing the part' of Mt Doom.
Ruapehu is the largest peak in the North Island and its slopes host two major skifields: Whakapapa and Turoa. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a day-long hiking trail that passes between Tongariro and Ngauruhoe, the youngest of the three and a difficult peak to climb thanks to its loose gravel-like surface.
InterCity buses regularly pause along the Desert Road for photo opportunities - and the odd snowball fight - during the winter months.
Further down the North Island, Mount Taranaki (formerly known as Mount Egmont) looms over the city of New Plymouth and surrounding towns. Taranaki's symmetrical shape made it the ideal stand-in for Japan's Mt Fuji during filming for The Last Samurai.
Wellington is known for its hilly landscape surrounding the central city. Head to the top of Mount Victoria for unrivalled views of the city and harbour. A trip up Mount Victoria is included on a Wellington City & Bays Tour with GreatSights.
The Southern Alps dominate the landscape from almost every point in the South Island. From Christchurch, you can take a trip into the high country on a Christchurch Alpine Safari Tour and experience farming life in the foothills of these mighty peaks, or take the Lord of the Rings Edoras Tour and visit Mt Potts and Mt Sunday. Both tours offer opportunities to see the sites of Key Lord of the Rings filming locations including the Misty Mountains, the battle of Helm's Deep and Edoras.
From Christchurch you can also board the TranzAlpine, one of the world's most scenic train journeys, and travel right through the Southern Alps and over to Greymouth on the West Coast.
Aoraki / Mt Cook
If you want to see New Zealand's most impressive mountains then of course the largest of them all, Aoraki/Mount Cook, will be top of your list.
Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park in the centre of the South Island was made a UNESCO World Heritage park in 1986 and boasts over thirty 3,000 metre high peaks, including the mighty Aoraki which gave it its name. (It also has five of New Zealand's largest glaciers.)
Scenic flights over the park provide unparalleled views of this spectacular spot.
The resort town of Queenstown sits on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by beautiful mountain peaks including The Remarkables, Walter Peak and Cecil Peak. Queenstown or nearby Wanaka are popular bases for ski or snowboard holidays at the Remarkables, Coronet Peak or Treble Cone skifields. Take a relaxing stroll along the lakefront and enjoy the picture-postcard views, or get active and soak up the vistas from on high before taking off on another run down the slopes.
You can also experience the grandeur of the Southern Alps from the West Coast of the South Island. During your visit to Franz Josef or Fox Glacier, take a sightseeing plane or helicopter up into the alps and get a birds-eye view of the glaciers, which flow down from the lofty heights of the mountains above.
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