I am not quite sure how it happened, but I found myself procrastinating the other day by looking through my New Zealand photo archives. And man, do I have a lot of photos from here! I’ve been on the lookout for ideas of new places to explore, old haunts to revisit, and ideas for future adventures.
As I scrolled through thousands (yes thousands) of images, one thing stuck with me above all – New Zealand is ridiculously pretty! Ok, yes we know that, I can’t shut up about it, I know. But something else stood out for me as well – New Zealand is overwhelmingly BLUE. All-caps, rarely any exceptions. If one color dominated my photos above all, it has to be blue.
Blue lakes, blue mountains, blue rivers, blue buildings, blue ice, blue reflections and the brightest blue skies you’ve ever seen. And not just any blue either, the purest, strongest shades of blue I’ve ever laid eyes on.
If you’ve followed me over the years, you already know I have an affinity for colors and when I travel I often associate different destinations with a color – hence my colors of the world series. Well, it’s high time New Zealand made the list. Here is my guide to blue New Zealand. Enjoy!
1. The seaside
New Zealand has about 15,000km of coastline, so it only makes sense that no matter where I travel, I am usually close to the sea. As much as I love living in Wanaka, nothing beats smelling the ocean and the fresh salty air of the beach.
What I love about New Zealand’s coastlines in particular are how they are all so different. There are clear little lagoons, white sandy tropical beaches, and craggy cliffs that tumble down to monster waves. It really has everything!
Not to mention New Zealand’s waters are a million shades of blue. Everywhere is different, every spot is unique. But they are all the most beautiful blue hues you’ve seen (great video here).
2. Franz and Fox Glaciers
While there are plenty of glaciers to be found around New Zealand’s mountains, none are quite so iconic, impressive or as icy blue as Franz Josef and Fox Glaciers.
Two of the only glaciers in the world that drop down to a rainforest, from the skies or from a distance they look like two icy blue rivers tumbling down from the mountains. They don’t look real. And when the sun hits the ice, man do they sparkle blue.
3. The Southern Alps
I don’t really know why but whenever I photograph New Zealand’s Southern Alps, the mountain range that bisects the South Island, they seem blue to me. In spite of the white snow or the green trees, for me it all blurs together into a million shades of blue.
I grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia so in some ways it feels like home to me. Well, let’s be honest, it has become home for me.
I don’t think I’ll ever tire of these mountains views.
Fiordland, Key Summit
4. Hobbit holes
New Zealand is Middle Earth after all, and while the Shire is as green as can be, there are plenty of iconic blue hobbit doors waiting for you at Hobbiton.
5. Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki
I don’t think there are two bluer lakes in New Zealand than Lake Tekapo or Lake Pukaki in Canterbury on the South Island.
Literally these lakes are so blue they reflect neon turquoise on the clouds. Because of suspended glacial flour in the water, they aren’t the clearest lakes in New Zealand, but man do they shine blue. Sometimes I even have to desaturate the color in photos because it looks so fake.
Sometimes I even take a day trip out to these lakes from Wanaka just because I can!
6. All the lakes for that matter
I grew up on the east coast of the US. Our lakes are brown and murky, none of this beautiful sparkling blue that permeates all of New Zealand. Seriously, is nothing ugly here?
There are so many beautiful blue lakes here I don’t know how to pick a favorite? Probably Lake Wanaka where I live but there are so many I can’t really chose. I’ve got a list on Trover of the best here.
In fact, did you know the clearest lake in the world is in New Zealand? Aptly named Blue Lake in the Nelson Lakes National Park, I’ve yet to go but it’s on the list!
Lake Wanaka from Treble Cone
Mou Waho Island
Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown
7. And all the rivers
Just like with the lakes, I grew up in a world of murky algae infested rivers that never looked blue no matter how sunny it was outside.
New Zealand has some of the bluest, clearest (and coldest) rivers I’ve ever seen, and that’s saying something.
I live just down the road from the Clutha River in Wanaka, and it’s one of my favorite spots in town to go wandering around.
Blue Pools, Haast
And as if New Zealand wasn’t cool enough (haven’t I convinced you yet?) would you believe me if I told you there are caves and caves all over the country filled with twinkling blue glowworms that shine like stars in the sky?
I can still remember the first time I saw a (heavily photoshopped) image of the famous glowworm caves on Pinterest, telling myself one day I would go there. And then last year I did! I spent the afternoon wiggling through the mud and rappelling down holes in the ground and climbing up waterfalls in the Waitomo Caves conquering my fears underground.
Sadly I only went down with my wetsuit but my friends Stoked For Saturday just put together an epic video in 4K of New Zealand’s glowworms that can give you a better idea here.
9. Wellington Harbor
I really miss living in Wellington sometimes. For a city, it’s pretty rad and I love it to pieces. Sometimes I even think about moving back, and considering I hate cities, that’s saying a lot!
If I had to put a finger on one of the reasons I was head over heels for Wellington, it would have to be its location along the coast. There are so many beautiful beaches and bays around town, it makes it feel like a little town instead of New Zealand’s capital.
On top of that the water is a beautiful turquoise here, and when it’s sunny (which is rare) it’s just spectacular, especially in summer!
They are flightless and look like something straight out of Jurassic Park, and they were believed to be extinct until they were rediscovered in the 40’s deep in the wilds of Fiordland.
Takahē are a beautiful shade of sapphire blue and one of the coolest birds in New Zealand.