For such a small country, New Zealand certainly punches above its weight in terms of impressive landmarks, rich with culture and history, which tourists flock to see from all over the world. From volcanoes and mountains, to subterranean caves, New Zealand is packed with sights that live long in the imagination. So, here’s our round-up of the most exciting and historic landmarks New Zealand has to offer.
The Sky Tower
As the tallest building in New Zealand, Auckland’s Sky Tower stands at 328 metres. Whilst claiming the title of the tallest freestanding building in the Southern Hemisphere, it doesn’t break into the top twenty tallest buildings in the world, but its design has become iconic. It was constructed from high strength, high performance, reinforced concrete, and as such the building can withstand winds up to 200km. The Sky Tower was constructed to serve as a radio and telecommunications facility, but now it’s better known as a tourist attraction. The Sky Tower hosts a range of activities and events, including the annual Firefighter Sky Tower Stairway Challenge, as well as offering visitors the chance to try their hand at an urban bungee jump, and viewing the city from 328 metres up.
Otago’s coast line is home to many of the South Island’s natural treasures, and the Moeraki Boulders are one of the most famed. These huge spherical rock formations can be found scattered across the beach, where they have been protected in a scientific reserve. Rather than being rocks, as many may assume, they are in actual fact concretions, made from cemented bodies of sediment which formed over 60 million years ago, the largest measuring three metres in diameter. According to local Maori legend, the boulders are the remains of a large canoe wreckage. Visitors can touch and climb the boulders that have been resident on the beach for thousands of years.
One Tree Hill
Everyone knows that volcanic peaks surround the Auckland area, but One Tree Hill is the most famous of them all. It’s not known when the eruption occurred, but it is believed to have happened over 20,000 years ago. Not only is One Tree Hill a significant landmark, but it’s a sacred memorial ground for the Maori settlers, and a has a turbulent political past. For centuries the many trees that have inhabited the famed hill have attracted vandals. First in 1852, though it is unknown if the then Pohutakawa was cut down in an act of vandalism or an innocent need for firewood. Most recently in 2000 the single Pine tree which remained was attacked by activists seeking to draw attention to injustices believed to have been inflicted upon Maori by the New Zealand government. In 2016, One Tree Hill hosted a dawn ceremony that saw nine native Totara and Pohutakawa trees planted on it, the same as the original trees that stood on the hill hundreds of years before. Those that climb the hill are rewarded with a scenic view of the Auckland area and can view the Obelisk landmark, a memorial to Maori who founded the area, and beneath it lies the grave of politician, Sir John Campbell.
The Waipou Forest is home to the Tana Mahuta, the largest Kauri tree in the country. Rightly so, the Maori name means ‘King of Forest’ and it is estimated to be around 2,300 years old and still growing. The tree was discovered and identified back in the 1920s by a group of surveyors, and since then it has become notorious for its huge size. Currently, it measures 51 metres in total height and it’s nearly 18 metres to the first branch. The Tane Mahuta is the go-to sight whenever you’re exploring the Waipou forest.
It may only takes 20 minutes to walk the summit of Tokatoka Peak, but that doesn’t mean it’s not one of the most intriguing and unusual mountains in New Zealand. It’s actually a volcanic plug, created from hardened lava core, which has eroded over time. It can be found on Tokatoka road and it is a popular attraction for hikers, offering an extraordinary view from the mountain’s apex.
New Zealand’s diversity and glorious landscape means that it’s not difficult to find exciting and impressive sights when exploring the country. There are so many fascinating landmarks to see, but the five listed are quintessential and among the most iconic attractions in the country we recommend you visit.
Is there any other NZ landmark you think should be on this list? Share in the comments box below!
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