New Zealand is jam packed full of exciting activities and awe inspiring locations which see countless tourists visit the Islands year after year. Its diverse and unique geography makes for landscapes that are famous across the globe, from its huge volcanic mountains to the black sand beaches along the coast.
However, there’s more than meets the eye with this backpackers' hotspot. Locations that are free of the snap-happy tourist might be exactly what you’re looking for. Here are some of the best kept secret locations of New Zealand.
‘The Spiritual Centre of the Universe’ is what the Dalai Lama named Castle Hill in 2002, so it should be clear why these boulders are worth a visit. The South Island location was so named because of the arrangement of the huge limestone boulders, which look something like a ruined ancient castle. Castle Hill occupies a large private farm and can be visited along the Great Alpine Highway which will also provide amazing views of the Southern Alps.
New Chums Beach
New Chums Beach is largely untouched because it's accessible only by foot or boat. The rough track can be found at the Northern end of Whangapua Beach, but you will have to move across boulders and through native bushland to be rewarded with this secluded beach. Trekking to the white sandy beach will take between 30 to 60 minutes.
Forgotten World Highway 43
If you’re road tripping around New Zealand, especially with a campervan, this is one for you. One of the best road trip routes, possibly in the world, the Forgotten World Highway 43 will take you deep into the heart of rural New Zealand. Don’t expect to find a phone signal up here, instead check out the amazing views. The best place to stop is Nevins Lookout where you have a panorama view of the landscape from King Country to the mountains of Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe and Tongariro.
Waitomo Glow-worm Caves
This underground system might not be such a huge secret but we couldn’t leave it off the list! We can’t deny it’s a place that tourists will visit, but who can deny the magical beauty of underground glow-worm caves? The caves are over 30 million years old and can be explored via boat, abseiling, or float through on a tube. There’s a range of guided tours offering a number of ways to see the glow-worms and explore the caves.
The second beach on our list has a secret tunnel leading to an untouched sanctuary. The beach is just a short drive from the South Island town of Dunedin and a 1-hour return walk which takes you past some great coastal sights and rock forms. The tunnel was hand carved in the 1870’s giving access to the secluded beach.
To make the most of your time enjoying the white sands and blue waters beneath huge cliffs at Tunnel Beach, it’s best to coincide your walk with the low tide.
Fiordland National Park – Lake Marian
Situated near the Darran Mountains in the Fiordland National Park sits one of the most iconic Alpine lakes in the world - Lake Marian. The Fiordland National Park is the largest of the 14 national parks in New Zealand and is a UNESCO World Heritage Listed area. The lake can be reached by a 3 hour round bush walk trip which begins at a car park along Hollyford Road.
If some of these are a little too off the beaten track for you and your travelling companions there’s still countless places to visit in New Zealand. Nelson Lakes National Park, in the South Island, has some of the best walking tracks in the country, with two alpine lakes, mountains and forests to explore.
If you’re looking for a hot spring, try to find a local hotspot! Well known tourist hot springs will cost a few dollars. Finding a completely natural spring will be free and can often mean a hot spring to yourself!
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