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Unique Landscapes That Make New Zealand Feel Like A Different World

There’s a very good chance you’ve already seen some of New Zealand’s classic vistas.

From blockbuster movies, to some of the most-streamed TV shows, studios constantly return to New Zealand because we have the widest range of landscapes that feel like they could be on another world.

Tongariro Crossing

One of New Zealand’s most popular day-hikes, and among the top ten single-day treks in the world, is the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. It’s also one of the most dangerous if you’re unprepared for the elements. 

The Tongariro Crossing will take you through desert volcanic landscapes with emerald green lakes. Up steep snowy mountainsides, and down red craters. Unsurprisingly, Peter Jackson used many of these landscapes to depict Mordor in his Lord of the Rings trilogy.

But on a clear day, the views from the mountain tops are stunning.


You might think you’re under a starry sky. Instead, you’re underground, looking up at thousands of glowworms, native to New Zealand. 

You can ride on a rowboat, or the more adventurous can pull on a wetsuit and float in on an inflatable tube through the underground caves and streams.

These interconnected caves are a geological marvel, millions of years in the making. Plus, the Waitomo Caves are of great spiritual importance to the local Māori tribe or iwi. This area is filled with stories, spirituality and wonder.

Doubtful Sound

This remote section of New Zealand’s South Island is filled with steep cliffs populated with dense native rainforest.

Doubtful Sound is actually a fiord, and like Broken Shed is actually made up of a unique blend of two waters that rarely mix. The surface of the water is heavily diluted from the heavy rainfall, and the runoff from the surrounding mountains, which naturally stains the water brown. Underneath the surface layer is much warmer, natural seawater, and this blend of waters creates very unique conditions for plants to grow.

This is probably closer to the picture in your mind when you think of New Zealand. Expect to see humpback whales, pods of bottlenose dolphins, seals and penguins while cruising these fiords.

Unlike the nearby, and very popular tourist spot of Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound is inaccessible by road. The only way to get in is by a boat cruise, which helps to preserve the pristine beauty of this special place.  


Discover the very aptly named geological formation, Pancake Rocks, because… well, they look like a stack of pancakes.

Building up in layers of limestone and softer siltstone on the seafloor, major prehistoric earthquakes raised them up to the level we see today. Over time, wind and rain eroded away part of the siltstone layer, creating the easily identifiable ‘pancake’ shaped stack.


Over time, the ocean has carved underground tunnels in the rock. So when a big wave or swell hits the shore, water is forced through these channels until the sea spray erupts spectacularly above ground through blowholes.

Standing on the shore, it’s not unusual to see New Zealand Fur Seals, the native Hector’s Dolphin, or the ground-burrowing seabird tāiko (Westland petrel).

Wanaka & Central Otago

Of course, we had to mention Wānaka, the home of Broken Shed. You don’t have to venture far from the bustling Wānaka township to discover landscapes that feel like they could be from a different world.

The flat, tussock-filled plains in nearby Poolburn Reservoir in Ida Valley were used for many of the scenes featuring the Riders of Rohan. Skippers Canyon and the flowing Shotover River provided refuge for Arwen and a wounded Frodo Baggins who were being pursued by dark forces.

Beyond the Lord of the Rings, Mission: Impossible - Fallout pretended The Remarkables mountain-range were the location of a Kashmiri village. X-Men Origins used areas around Wānaka as Canada, while the vampire horror film 30 Days of Night would have you believe those same areas were the Alaskan outdoors. 

Disney used mountainous forests in Central Otago for the live remake of Pete’s Dragon as a lookalike for the American Pacific Northwest, plus a training camp in imperial China for Mulan.

So much more to discover...

Of course, if you’re looking for lush native bush to walk through, you’ll find it in New Zealand. But there are so many wildly different landscapes within this small country. Discover even more flat desert plains, jagged mountain outcrops, rolling green hills, or unique rock formations that make this land feel like a different world.

Ready to discover what makes Broken Shed so different?

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