New Zealand is on many travellers’ must-visit list, and with good reason. Beautiful beaches, stunning scenic spots, unique flora and fauna, a burgeoning food and wine scene, and of course Lord of the Rings sites. But with so very many places to go and things to see, you could just end up missing out on some of the unique sights. Let us help you make the best of your New Zealand travels, with our curated top eight hidden gems all across the country that you really should not miss out visiting.
1. Mount Stokes, Marlborough Sounds, South Island
Topping off at over 1200 metres makes Mount Stokes the Marlborough Sounds’ highest point. This means that visitors get a view like no other of the 4000 square kms of peninsulas, sounds, and islands that make up Marlborough Sounds. As you make the climb, keep your eyes peeled for a Powelliphanta, a giant snail that is carnivorous and native only to New Zealand.
Travel Tip: One of the best ways to discover New Zealand is by motorhome or campervan. For more information or to book visit Wilderness Motorhomes.
2. Putangirua Pinnacles, Wairarapa, North Island
Drive a couple hours from Wairarapa and you’ll reach the Putangirua Pinnacles, the result of erosion and centuries of rain and flooding of the Aorangi Range. Start from the streambed and head to the lookout for stunning views of Palliser Bay and Lake Onoke. These extraordinary and rugged peaks were the location for the Paths of the Dead scene in the third of the Lord of the Rings films.
3. Marokopa Falls, Waikato, North Island
You are likely to be visiting the Waitomo Caves when you’re touring New Zealand, and just a short drive away is the hidden gem of Marokopa Falls, arguably one of the most striking falls in a country dotted with spectacular waterfalls.
4. Cape Brett, Northland, North Island
New Zealand is known for its great walks, and many avid trampers enjoy the challenge of hiking some of the more difficult trails. One such hidden gem is the Cape Brett Track, an eight hour (and possible overnight) walk on an advanced hiking trail. It runs 16kms one way, across the length of Cape Brett. Experience the native bush and the sights from the lighthouse at the end of the cape.
5. Castlepoint, Wairarapa, North Island
Another spot with a gorgeous lighthouse, head to the Castlepoint Scenic Reserve and walk the short Lighthouse Walk or the longer Deliverance Cove Track to see the lagoon, reef and sand dunes that are in the area. Keep a lookout on the shoreline for the adorable and playful dolphins and fur seals who visit the beach.
6. Motueka Salt Water Baths, Nelson Tasman, South Island
If you are visiting the South Island, then a trip to Abel Tasman National Park will be on the cards. With so many things to see and do there, one of the lesser known but worthwhile ones is a visit to the Motueka Salt Water Baths. Located in Motueka, the gateway town for the park, the tidal salt water baths have been called the world’s first infinity pool. We recommend stopping in at high tide and having someone take a picture for you as you mimic walking on water.
7. Oparara Arches, West Coast, South Island
Located in Kahurangi National Park, the Oparara Arches are indeed a sight to behold, the gigantic limestone arch casting a shadow over the waters of the Oparara Basin. A series of caves, arches and channels for you to hike or kayak around make this a not to be missed spot when in the South Island.
8. Stewart Island, Rakiura
Stewart Island, New Zealand’s third main island, does not get as much attention as the North and South Islands, but this remote island has plenty to offer the adventurous traveller. 85% of this isolated and remote area is the Rakiura National Park. This is where you will find Rakiura Track, one of the country’s Great Walks. Stewart Island also has the moniker ‘land of the glowing skies’ (Rakiura) bestowed upon it by the local Māori. It recently received international Dark Sky Sanctuary status, which helps keep light pollution down on this sparsely populated land, and affords some breathtaking night sky vistas.