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The Best New Zealand Viewpoints You NEED to Visit in 2023

The top New Zealand viewpoints you can’t miss:

1. Mount Cook from Lake Pukaki

A turquoise blue lake in front of towering snow-capped mountains with a winding road on the left leading towards the mountain range.
Views of Mount Cook from Lake Pukaki in the Canterbury Region

Possibly the most iconic New Zealand viewpoint, the view of Mount Cook from the turquoise waters of Lake Pukaki is not to be missed.

There are several viewpoints on Lake Pukaki (at the southern end and along the western shoreline), which offer this brilliant photo opportunity.

Simply search ‘Lake Pukaki Viewpoint’ on Google Maps and you will be provided with lots of options.

Alternatively, if you’re doing a New Zealand Roadtrip, you can simply pull over in one of the lay-bys and get your camera out.

If you’re lucky enough to enjoy a night or two at the highly rated Braemar Station, you can enjoy this view from the comfort of your bed.

2. Emerald Lake Lookout (Tongariro Crossing)

A rocky volcanic landscape of dark brown peaks and green lakes shown from a high viewpoint.
Emerald Lake Lookout on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

As one of the most stunning spots in New Zealand and the filming location of Mordor in the Lord of the Rings movies, the Emerald Lake Lookout needs to be on your New Zealand bucket list.

You’ll only be able to see this famous viewpoint on the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, a 19.4 km (12 mile) one-day trek through jagged rock formations and barren landscapes towards Mount Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom).

In order to experience this epic lookout and journey into Middle Earth for yourself, you’ll need to visit New Zealand in spring or summer.

In autumn/ winter, you’ll need to join a guided hike due to snow and ice (which can end up being quite pricey).

3. Queenstown Ultimate Viewpoint

An aerial view of a lakeside town at sunrise overlooked by snow-capped mountains.
Views over Queentown from the Queenstown Ultimate Viewpoint

For the best views over Queenstown, you should check out the Queenstown Ultimate Viewpoint.

From here, you’ll be able to see Queenstown from above, sitting on the shores of Lake Wakatipu and flanked by The Remarkables Mountain Range.

To reach the viewpoint you can either take the Skyline Gondola or walk the Tiki Trail on foot.

Want even more epic views? After checking out the Ultimate Viewpoint, you can continue higher to the Ben Lomond summit for a full day hike above the clouds.

4. Roy’s Peak

A mountain ridge covered in grass overlooking a blue glassy lake with other mountains dotted around it.
The Summit of Roy’s Peak overlooking Lake Wanaka

Roy’s Peak is another unmissable New Zealand viewpoint.

At the end of Roy’s Peak Track, you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views across Lake Wanaka and the snow-capped mountains of the Southern Alps.

The 16km tramp through alpine meadows and tussock grasslands is a challenge indeed, but the views at the top are so worth it.

5. Tasman Glacier Viewpoint

A glacial lake with ice floating in it flanked by a 3000 metre snow-capped mountain.
Views of Mount Cook from the Tasman Glacier Viewpoint

The Tasman Glacier Viewpoint is a fantastic lookout in Mount Cook Aoraki National Park.

The Tasman Glacier Viewpoint can be reached via a short 20-minute walk from the Tasman Glacier Car Park.

Once you arrive at the lookout, you’ll find yourself up close to the icy Tasman Lake with Mount Cook in the background.

Don’t miss the stunning Blue Lakes on the way up too!

6. Huka Falls Lookout

Huka Falls is a natural phenomenon near Lake Taupo, where a quarter of a million litres of water per second is drained from the lake.

From the Huka Falls Lookout, you can experience the sheer power of the waterfall for yourself.

Next, walk a couple of metres south to the Huka Falls Bridge, a footbridge suspended over the powerful natural rapids.

7. Sealy Tarns Viewpoint

A viewpoint at the top of a grassy summit overlooking a snow-capped mountain range and glacial lakes below it.
The view from the top of the Sealy Tarns Track

Definitely one of New Zealand’s most incredible viewpoints, the Sealy Tarns Viewpoint offers unparalleled views of Mount Cook, the Hooker Valley and glacial lakes.

Experiencing this incredible view requires a little effort, as it’s found at the top of the Sealy Tarns Track, a steep ascent up hundreds of steps.

The 3-hour return hike is so worth it for some of the best views I’ve seen in my life.

8. Milford Sound Lookout

A fiord surrounded by steep mountains which are reflected in the glassy water.
Views of the fiord from the Milford Sound Lookout

Milford Sounds is one of the most famous tourist attractions in New Zealand, visited by tens of thousands each year.

The Milford Sound Lookout allows you to witness the mountain peaks and inky black waters of the fiord, which was formed by the erosion of ancient glaciers over millions of years.

If you have driven all the way to Milford Sounds (6 hours return from Queenstown), then you should definitely jump on a scenic boat cruise to see the sheer rock faces and waterfalls up close (as well as dolphins and other marine life!).

Alternatively, you can do the Southern Discoveries Coach and Nature Cruise from Queenstown if you don’t fancy all that driving.

9. Mount Maunganui Summit Lookout

The viewpoint from the top of a mountain overlooking a peninsula town by the ocean with a white beach, gentle waves and small islands in the distance.
The view of the Bay of Plenty from the Mount Maunganui summit

An extinct volcano by the ocean, Mount Maunganui is a must-do hike for those who love a good panoramic view.

The short but challenging tramp offers brilliant views of the Bay of Plenty from the summit, and you can see for miles and miles on a clear day.

10. Franz Josef Glacier Viewing Area

A retreating icy glacier with a rocky river bed in the foreground used by people walking towards the glacier.
Walking to the Franz Josef Glacier Viewing Area

Franz Josef Glacier is on the other side of the Southern Alps to Mount Cook.

The Franz Josef Glacier Walk is a short 1.7km return walk that takes you to the Franz Josef Glacier Viewing Area, where you can see the retreating glacier up close.

Whilst in Glacier Country on the west coast, you should also check out Fox Glacier Lookout.

11. Point Kean Viewpoint

Point Kean Viewpoint in Kaikoura is the best New Zealand viewpoint for experiencing marine life.

Located in the picturesque coastal town of Kaikoura, Point Kean Viewpoint overlooks Kaikoura’s famous seal colony.

Found on the Kaikoura Peninsula Walkway, this viewpoint allows you to get up close to the beautiful fur seals of New Zealand.

12. Shakespeare Cliff Lookout

A vantage point overlooking a small bay with golden sand and gentle turquoise waves with a cliff behind it and a seaside town with houses and telephone lines.
The clear turquoise water of Cooks Bay from the Shakespeare Cliff Lookout

Shakespeare Cliff Lookout on the Coromandel Peninsula is a brilliant viewpoint offering vistas of Cooks Bay and Whitianga.

Found on the Shakespeare Headland Track, the easy walk rewards you with breathtaking views of clear aquamarine water and unspoilt coves.

If you’re planning your North Island Itinerary, you definitely shouldn’t miss the Coromandel Peninsula.

13. Glenorchy Lookout

A person sitting on a bench on a wooden boardwalk jutting out onto a lake with trees and mountains in the distance.
Views of the lagoon and snow-capped mountains from the Glenorchy Lookout

The Glenorchy Lookout is a quiet, tranquil spot overlooking Glenorchy Lagoon with snow-capped mountains behind it.

Found on the Glenorchy Lagoon Scenic Walkway track, you’ll meander over wooden boardwalks through lush green wetlands to reach the viewing area.

14. Pitt Head Lookout

The view from a viewpoint overlooking a blue crescent bay with golden sand surrounded by trees and rocks.
Views from the Pitt Head Lookout in Abel Tasman National Park

The Pitt Head Lookout is found in Abel Tasman National Park, one of the most beautiful places to visit in New Zealand.

The coastal paradise is complete with dazzling turquoise ocean and soft white sand.

The best lookout in Abel Tasman National Park is the Pitt Head Lookout.

Found on the Abel Tasman Coast Track, the viewpoint overlooks Te Pukatea Bay, the most stunning beach in the national park.

The Pitt Head lookout can’t be accessed by car so you’ll need to jump in a water taxi to Anchorage Bay and take the short walk from there (this makes it all the more special when you arrive).

15. Cape Reinga Lighthouse Viewpoint

A tip of rocky land reaching out into the ocean with a small sandy beach on the left being hit by small waves.
Cape Reinga lookout, the northernmost tip of New Zealand

Fancy witnessing the northernmost tip of New Zealand?

The lookout at Cape Reinga Lighthouse is one of the iconic New Zealand viewpoints you can’t miss.

You will also be able to see the Tasman Sea and Pacific Ocean collide, which creates cool currents and waves.

Keep your eye out for the Spirit Tree at the end of the rocky tip.

The tree is culturally significant for Māori, as they believe that the spirits of the deceased depart to the afterlife from this point.

16. Mt John Observatory View Point

A grassy hill overlooking a bright blue lake with a mountain range in the background.
Views of Lake Tekapo from the Mt John Observatory Viewpoint

Mt John Observatory View Point is an observation deck above Lake Tekapo, offering 360° views of the lake and the Southern Alps mountain range.

The viewpoint is best enjoyed after tackling the Mt John Summit Circuit Track, a relatively short but steep uphill hike to the grassy viewpoint.

Alternatively, the observatory and lookout can be accessed by road (entry costs $8 per vehicle which contributes towards the maintenance of the road).

17. Nugget Point

An aerial view of a small white lighthouse at the end of a steep grassy cliff next to a deep blue ocean with huge rocks dotted around it.
Nugget Point on the Catlins Coast

Nugget Point is a panoramic platform on the Catlins Coast and home to one of New Zealand’s oldest lighthouses.

The rugged rocks around the steep lookout are surrounded by deep blue ocean and the views are pretty breathtaking.

18. Auckland City Skyline Lookout

A city skyline with skyscrapers and a radio tower behind a body of water dotted with sailing boats and port equipment.
Auckland city skyline from the Northcote Point viewing area

Auckland is the largest city in New Zealand, and you’ll find a great lookout over the city skyline at Northcote Point.

From here, you can see all of Auckland’s iconic skyscrapers like the Sky Tower, the PwC Tower and the Vero Centre.

19. Urupukupuka Lookout (Bay of Islands)

A viewpoint overlooking small tree-covered islands and blue ocean dotted with small sailing boats.
Urupukupuka Lookout in the Bay of Islands marine park

The Bay of Islands is an area made up of over 140 subtropical islands, and Urupukupuka Island is one of the most picturesque places in New Zealand.

You’ll need to ascend a grassy hill to reach Urupukupuka Lookout, a vantage point that offers brilliant views of both Urupukupuka Bay and Otehei Bay.

Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins and other marine life, as well as birds and of course, some fluffy New Zealand sheep!

20. Mount Victoria Lookout

A vantage point overlooking a waterfront city at sunset with a marina, high rise buildings and green mountains in the backdrop.
Views of the city of Wellington from Mount Victoria Lookout

For an epic viewpoint over New Zealand’s capital city, you can’t beat Mount Victoria Lookout.

From the elevated suburb, you can see the whole city against the glistening waters of Queen’s Wharf, with hills and mountains behind.

Mount Victoria Lookout is especially beautiful at sunset.

If you don’t fancy the uphill walk to the lookout, you can get great city views from the Wellington Cable Car instead.

21. Pōhutu Geyser (Rotorua)

A person standing in front of a spouting geyser ejecting water and steam with a forest in the background.
Pōhutu geyser in Rotorua

One of the most unique New Zealand viewpoints is the Pōhutu geyser in Rotorua.

Found in the Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley, the geyser is in fact the largest in the southern hemisphere.

It’s also incredibly active, erupting up to 20 times per day and spouting water and steam up to 30 metres high.

The Pōhutu geyser is found inside Te Puia Geothermal Attraction Centre, which also offers cultural tours and access to Māori artwork.

22. Lake Wanaka Lookout

Lake Wanaka Lookout is an observation deck overlooking the lake and the mountains surrounding it.

It’s found on the road towards Mount Aspiring National Park/ Haast River Valley, so you can simply pull over at the side of the road on your way in/ out of Wanaka.

I hope you enjoyed my guide to the best New Zealand viewpoints and lookouts. Don’t miss my Ultimate New Zealand Roadtrip Itinerary or my North Island Roadtrip Route.