Mountains and Alpine Landscapes

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New Zealand’s mountains are one of the country’s best kept secrets. Here’s why you should see them.

New Zealand’s mountains feature prominently in the Lord of the Rings films, both for their beauty and inherent drama. They are one of New Zealand’s most distinctive landmarks. Eye catching because they rise sharply from sea level – a geological feature of shifting tectonic plates or super volcanoes belonging the Pacific Ring of Fire. These mountains support unique alpine habitats and are a playground for every type of adventurer, from hardcore mountaineer to leisurely day walker in search of a glacier.

Best mountain hikes

Many of New Zealand’s mountain walks have been custom-made, designed to show off the country's best alpine features. In the Southern Alps, this might be moss-covered beech forest, tussock high country, vast mountain ranges, rugged riverbeds, and deep glacier-carved valleys. Look out for Kea, the world’s only alpine parrot and probably its cheekiest – so keep an eye on any valuables, they’ll run off with them if they can.

For volcanic alpine terrain, visit Tongariro National Park. Here you’ll find a unique alpine habitat with an almost otherworldly beauty, where bright emerald lakes stand out against a bleak volcanic landscape. 

Best mountain activities

For mountaineers, the Southern Alps offer Himalayan-level vertical scale, and steep glaciers at low altitude, so climbers are less exposed to the risks of extreme cold and lack of oxygen. For this reason, Sir Edmund Hillary and many other climbers have trained here. For non-mountaineers but the glacier curious, the Southern Alps also provide loads of options for less challenging glacier hikes.

Best mountain accommodation

Here’s a selection of accommodation options, from basic accommodation for people who just want to sleep and go through to luxury accommodation for people who’d like the all the conveniences of a comfortable hotel and pristine alpine scenery just outside the door.

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