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National Parks in New Zealand - Campervan Guide

Which are the best national parks to visit in New Zealand?

Aotearoa captivates visitors with its extraordinary natural landscapes and abundant opportunities for adventure. Exploring these parks is effortless with New Zealand's superb infrastructure and sweeping network of roads and campsites.

Among the top parks to consider visiting are:

Abel Tasman: Cradled at the crown of the South Island, this haven features pristine shores and azure waters, beckoning you to indulge in swimming, kayaking, or hiking. The coastal pathways showcase mesmerizing vistas of the sea and surrounding woodlands, and its hidden coves and bays offer idyllic locations for picnics or a sunset swim.

Fiordland:Etched on the South Island's southwestern fringe, this untamed realm sings of deep, sapphire inlets, towering mountains draped in mist, and waterfalls that dance and shimmer. Its rugged terrain nurtures a diverse range of plant and animal life, including the elusive kiwi. Boating, angling, and birdwatching enthusiasts will find this park unforgettable, leaving an indelible impression.

Tongariro: Nestled within the North Island's embrace, this park houses three active volcanic peaks, including the striking Mount Ngauruhoe, famously portrayed as Mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings films. Otherworldly vistas of snow-crowned summits, alpine pastures, and crystalline lakes delight the senses. Its extensive network of trails caters to various abilities, from volcano summiting to leisurely strolls.

Westland Tai Poutini: Unfolding along the South Island's southwestern coast, this park unveils the awe-inspiring Fox and Franz Josef glaciers, Nature's own sculptures of ice and time. Its lush forests, enigmatic mountains, and turbulent rivers create a diverse landscape ideal for hiking, angling, and birdwatching. It also hosts numerous rare and threatened species, such as the kea, the sole alpine parrot in existence. Its astonishing beauty and thriving wildlife make this park a veritable Eden.

How much is campervan entry to national parks in New Zealand? Are permits required?

Unlike many other parts of the globe - New Zealand’s National Parks are free to enter and explore. New Zealand is home to 13 National Parks that cover over 85% of the island.

There are 3 located on the North Island:

  1. Tongariro
  2. Whanganui 
  3. Egmont 

The remaining 10 are located on the South Island:

  1. Abel Tasman 
  2. Kahurangi 
  3. Nelson Lakes 
  4. Paparoa
  5. Arthur's Pass 
  6. Westland Tai Poutini 
  7. Aoraki/Mount Cook
  8. Mount Aspiring 
  9. Fiordland 
  10. Rakiura

Popular National Parks in New Zealand

Egmont National Park (376 km south)

An epic ice-caped volcano enveloped by misty rainforest lures nature lovers here in droves. Marvel at the scenery from easy-to-access lookouts or trample the 18 km Pouakai Crossing to savour the majestic scene.

Tongariro National Park (364 km south)

Stretch your legs and soak up spectacular volcanic views on the North Island’s most celebrated hike. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing showcases the park’s most breathtaking highlights on a demanding (but totally worth it) 19 km stint.

Mount Cook (322 km west)

New Zealand’s highest mountain rises 3,724 metres into the sky. Admire her majestic presence on a rugged walking trail or a winding scenic drive. Thrill seekers could embark on an unforgettable heli-hike tour of the nearby Franz Joseph Glacier.

Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, 255 km north

Home to New Zealand’s highest and most-celebrated peak, this dramatic national park encapsulates the essence of the Southern Alps. If you don’t have the energy for an arduous hike, the scenic drive into White Horse Hill Campground offers equally breathtaking views.