There’s no doubt about it, New Zealand is home to some stunning mountain peaks. With the Southern Alps spanning across the South Island and a number of impressive volcanoes on the North Island, there sure are a lot of mountains to check out.
If you, like so many other tourists, are coming to New Zealand to see the picturesque mountain peaks that are often found plastered all across the fronts of postcards, then there are a few mountains that should be on your “must-see” list. Here are the 7 most impressive and awe-inspiring mountains in New Zealand!
1. Mount Taranaki
Mt Taranaki is famous amongst visitors in New Zealand for being the most symmetrical volcano – it is so picture-perfect it hardly looks real! But for the Maori people, this volcano is a living thing, an ancestor in fact, and for that reason, you must not climb to the very top. You can climb almost all the way to the top, but the highest point should be avoided out of respect to the Maori.
Mt Taranaki is located in Egmont National Park not too far from the city of New Plymouth on NZ’s North Island. This volcano is a popular place for hikers who either tackle the challenging summit hike or one of the many other nearby hikes offering incredible views. For one of the best views of Mt Taranaki you must hike up to the Pouakai Hut and check out the famous reflective tarn – it’s gorgeous!
2. Aoraki/Mount Cook
Mount Cook is New Zealand’s highest mountain. She reaches an incredible 3,724 meters above sea level and stands tall amongst the surrounding mountains. Mt Cook is so impressive that there are many world-famous hikes centred around getting the best viewpoint. The Hooker Valley Track is one of these hikes. It is a 10 kilometre round trip trail taking hikers through the Hooker Valley. The trail ends at Hooker Lake, where Mt Cook sits in the background.
Mt Cook is located within Mt Cook National Park in the state of Canterbury on the South Island. It is about a 4-hour drive from Christchurch or 3 hours from Queenstown. You can spend one day there exploring or stay a night or two in Mount Cook Village. Spending the night is the best way to really enjoy everything this park has to offer.
Visiting Tasman Lake and seeing Tasman Glacier is another popular attraction within Mount Cook National Park, as is going on a scenic helicopter flight or conquering the climb to the Mueller Hut.
Related: Explore Mount Cook Village and take in views of NZ’s tallest mountain on our 14-Day South Island Wonders Self Drive Tour.
3. Mitre Peak
Mitre Peak is definitely the most unique mountain on this list, but strangely enough, the most famous. From the foreshore in Milford Sound, this pointy peak is impossible to miss and you will likely make it the centre of many photographs.
Mitre Peak not only looks unique, but it also has a unique location. This 1,692 meter high peak protrudes out of the Tasman Sea in Fiordland National Park. Only very experienced mountaineers and climbers can make it to the top, but everyone else can enjoy the views from a boat cruise in Milford Sound or even a scenic flight!
Related: Milford Sound is a place you simply must visit in NZ! Our 14-Day Exclusive North and South Luxury Tour visits Milford Sound along with many other “must-see” places!
4. Mount Ngauruhoe
Mount Ngauruhoe is more commonly known as Mount Doom thanks to its part in the Lord of the Rings films. This dormant volcano is located in Tongariro National Park with Mount Ruapehu ski field to the south.
One of the most popular day hikes in New Zealand is the Tongariro Crossing. This 19 kilometre-long trail takes you right next to Mt Ngauruhoe getting you right up close! But, if hiking isn’t your thing you can jump on a scenic flight instead or on a clear day, you can even see this beautiful mountain in the distance across Lake Taupo right from Taupo township!
Related: On our 9-Day North island Self Drive Tour, we go to both Taupo town as well as have the option to do a scenic flight over Tongariro National Park.
5. Mount Aspiring / Tititea
After those in the Mount Cook region, Mt Aspiring is New Zealand’s tallest mountain standing at 3,033 meters high! This beauty is the centre of a national park with its own name – Mount Aspiring National Park. It is located in the southern section of the Southern Alps 30 kilometres west of Lake Wanaka.
Many people stop in Mount Aspiring National Park on a road trip between Wanaka and Franz Josef. Here you can marvel at the towering Thunder Creek Falls, swim in the Blue Pools, or even hike the Rob Roy Glacier Track.
However, if you really want to enjoy Mt Aspiring then you need to climb it! There are several huts along the trail from Raspberry Flats but the trail is challenging and is best attempted by experienced hikers and climbers only.
Related: Our 16-Day South Island Adventure Private Tour spends a day on the road stopping at amazing places in Mt Aspiring National Park featuring the best of New Zealand mountains.
6. The Remarkables
The Remarkables isn’t actually just one mountain, but an entire range! Believe it or not, this range got its name from the fact that a mountain surveyor back in the day noticed the mountain range runs exactly north to sound and called it “remarkable!” Today, locals more commonly refer to this impressive mountain range as “Remarks.”
The Remarkables is located right on the edge of Queenstown in the South Island state of Central Otago. This range is tall and gorgeous and chances are if you are visiting Queenstown, you will notice them right away! In fact from Queenstown town centre along the edge of Lake Wakatipu, the Remarkables sit as the perfect backdrop. Enjoying a sunset here with a glass of wine in hand is the ideal way to spend an evening.
For those looking for a little more adventure, consider going jet boating on Lake Wakatipu and down Kawarau River. Here you’ll really get great views of the Remarkables. Taking the gondola up to Bob’s peak is also a fun activity offering views of Queenstown, and of course, Remarks!
There is also a ski field on the Remarkables called, you guessed it, The Remarkables! From the months of June to October, it is possible to ski and snowboard here on many of the groomed or backcountry tracks.
Related: Spend some time in New Zealand mountains around Queenstown hitting the slopes on our 6-Day The Remarkable Queenstown Ski Tour.
7. Roy’s Peak
Recently, hiking to the top of Roy’s Peak has become one of the most popular things to do in New Zealand. This short, but challenging day hike climbs 1258m over 8 kilometres. The trail zig-zags up the side of the mountain until after a gruelling climb, you finally reach the top of Roys Peak.
Why is such a steep hike so popular? Well, the views from the top are like no other! You tower above other mountains and have panoramic views of the surrounding lakes. Not to mention, the trail is located only a 10-minute drive from the town of Wanaka. See the best New Zealand mountains from up here!
The popularity of this trail has made it very busy in the summer months. So, if you do choose to tackle it for yourself be sure to leave early in the morning in an effort to beat the crowds!
Related: Our 9-Day South Island Adventure Private Tour spends some time exploring Wanaka and the nearby hikes!
At the Road Trip, we love New Zealand’s mountains just as much (maybe more) than you do! Let us show you our favourite viewpoints on our private guided tours, or better yet, go yourself on one of our self-drive trips where we take care of the planning for you!