With its incredible mountain scenery, amazing coastal landscapes, and gorgeous lush bush, New Zealand is home to some of the most stunning locations in the world. Everywhere you look is like a postcard, and the place is full of hidden gems. In fact, New Zealand is one of the best countries to get off the beaten path. So I thought I would share 10 of my favorite secret locations that I definitely recommend visiting on your next trip to New Zealand.
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1. Sandfly Bay
With its breathtaking views of the coast, Sandfly Bay is a fantastic place to visit when in Otago. This beautiful bay with large dunes is located only 15km from central Dunedin. It’s also a great spot to see sea lions lying on the rocks or snoozing on the beach. Sandfly Bay is the most amazing beach we saw in the Otago Peninsula and is one of the most beautiful wild beaches of the South Island.
2. Pupu Springs
The Te Waikoropupu Springs (“Pupu Springs”) are the largest freshwater springs in the southern hemisphere. Located in Golden Bay, they are well-known for the clarity of their water. There is a beautiful short walk through a forest to reach the stunningly clear spring, and you’ll find information boards at the entrance that explain the significance and history of the site. Unfortunately, you cannot touch or drink the water, as it is sacred to the Maoris.
3. Nugget Point
Nugget Point is actually a quite popular spot in New Zealand, but I’ve put it in this list because it’s totally worth visiting. Located in the Catlins region, this beautiful 20 minutes walk leads to a lighthouse overlooking nugget rocks. It’s a breathtaking and very photogenic place, where you can spot seals, birds or yellow-eyed penguins. This place was definitely one of the highlights of our trip, so don’t miss it!
4. Ship Creek
Visiting Ship Creek wasn’t in our plans, but it turned out to be an amazing stop. Located on the west coast of the South Island, just outside of Haast, Ship Creek is a gorgeous beach surrounded with a Dune Lake and a Kahikatea swamp forest. We did the Dune Lake walk, which offers stunning views of the mountain range, the beach, and the lake. The only negative about this spot is the huge amount of sandflies, so bring repellent with you.
5. Wharariki Beach
Wharariki is a stunning beach located near Cape Farewell. This incredibly beautiful, long and wild beach has wonderful sand dunes, rocks, and caves. This hidden gem can be reached after a 20 minutes walk through beautiful farmlands. If you’re lucky, you might spot seal pups playing in the rock pools.
6. Hokitika Gorge
This scenic granite gorge with milky blue-green pools is located along the Hokitika river. Backed by cliffs and a beautiful forest, Hokitika gorge is a must see if you are on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. The upstream views from the swing bridge are simply stunning, and the color of the water is so amazing, it doesn’t look real!
7. Tama Lakes
Found in the Tongariro National Park, the Tama Lakes are two crater lakes surrounded by magnificent volcanos. Starting and finishing in Whakapapa Village, the track is a reasonably easy walk up to the Lower Tama Lake. The open views and the landscape are incredible. The steepest part is the climb to reach the Upper Tama Lake, but the views are definitely worth it! This track is a great alternative to the famous Tongariro Alpine Crossing, as it is less crowded.
8. Paku Summit
If you’re looking for the best viewpoint in Coromandel, the Paku summit is for you. From the top of Mount Paku, the view on Tairua township and the Coromandel coast is absolutely outstanding. The walk to the summit is a 20-minute steep climb, but it’s totally worth the effort!
9. Farewell Spit
This 35km long natural sandbar is the longest in New Zealand and can be found at the northern end of the Golden Bay. Farewell Spit is a beautiful secluded beach and is home to a huge variety of seabirds. Trust me, you won’t be bothered by the crowd on this beach. It’s a fantastic place to spend a relaxing and quiet afternoon away from everything.
10. Castle Hill
Castle Hill is a high country station in New Zealand’s South Island. This amazing spot offers fantastic views on the nearby mountain range and is characterized by its distinctive limestone rock formation. It’s also known as the spiritual center of the universe. I totally recommend going to Castle Hill if you’re into photography, as the place is extremely photogenic on a clear day.
If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, you should definitely consider visiting some of these hidden gems! New Zealand’s incredible beauty is simply amazing. Let me know in the comments if you know any other beautiful hidden spot!
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