- Tongario National Park, North Island New Zealand
Established in 1887, Tongario is New Zealand’s oldest national park, and is located in the Central North Island. The 796 km2 area comprises the active volcanic mountains Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Tongariro, located in the centre of the park as well as a number of Māori religious sites within the park, and many of the park’s summits, including Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, are tapu, or sacred. It has been acknowledged by UNESCO as one of the 28 mixed cultural and natural World Heritage Sites. The main activities are hiking and climbing in summer, and skiing and snowboarding in winter. There is also opportunity for hunting, game fishing, mountain biking, horse riding, rafting and scenic flights. Geeks will be happy to learn that Mount Tongariro surroundings are one of the several locations where Peter Jackson shot the The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
- Fiordland National Park, South Island New Zealand
Located in the southwest of New Zealand’s South Island, Fiordland with its 12,500 km2 is the largest of the country’s 14 national parks. It is often described as the country’s most dramatic and enthrallinglandscape. Fiordland known for the glacier-carved fiords of Doubtful, Dusky and Milford sounds (the most famous and visited). Turgut Var, the he author of described the region as ‘a cherished corner of the world where mountains and valleys compete with each other for room, where scale is almost beyond comprehension, rainfall is measured in meters and scenery encompasses the broadest width of emotions’. The early Maori hunted here, caught fish from the sea and gathered pounamu (New Zealand jade) from the rivers. Today humane activity is limited, and perhaps that is for the best.
- Daintree National Park, Queensland, Australia
The Daintree Rain Forest can be found in North Western Queensland. The 1,200 km2 region became a UNESCO World heritage site in 1988. The Greater Daintree Rainforest has existed continuously for more than 110 million years, making it possibly the oldest existing tropical forest. It is home to 430 bird species, and many rare mammals such as Bennett’s tree kangaroo, swamp wallaby, platypus and short-beaked echidna, and at least least 23 species of reptile. One of the region’s distinctive and attractive feature is its extensive and relatively unspoiled beaches from Thornton beach to Cape Tribulation beach – fringed with the increasingly rare littoral beachside rainforest.
- Freycinet National Park, Tasmania, Australia
Located on the east coast of the island of Tasmania this National Park was named after French navigator Louis de Freycinet. Freycinet consists of knuckles of granite mountains surrounded by azure bays and white sand beaches. The park contains part of the rugged Tasmanian coastline and includes the secluded Wineglass Bay, voted by several travel authorities as one of the world’s ten best beaches. Famous features of the park include its red and pink granite formations and a series of jagged granite peaks in a line, called “The Hazards”. The area is home to the famous Tasmanian Devil (who has become less common due to the devil facial tumour disease), Bennett’s wallaby but also several whale species and the bottlenose dolphins, who are known to use the bay to feed, calve or rest. The region has more than 500 plants have been recorded within the park, with over 80 species of orchids being sighted.