Alex O'Brien

Domestic Travel

10 lesser-known New Zealand holiday spots

10 lesser-known New Zealand holiday spots

There’s so much more to New Zealand than just the tourist-brochure hotspots like Auckland, Queenstown and Milford Sound. These are the best off the radar spots to visit.

1. Kapiti Island

Sitting just off the coast of the Wellington region, Kapiti is one of the country’s oldest and most important nature reserves. You’ll need to visit as part of an approved tour group so only a small number of people are on the island each day. Camp over night for the chance to see the NZ national emblem, the kiwi, in the wild.

2. Little Kaiteriteri

The seaside resort of Kaiteriteri is quite well known and often referred to as the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park. This means it’s can also be quite crowded. A bit further down the coast, Little Kaiteriteri is a hidden gem, an absolutely stunning stretch of beach that is completely deserted most of the time.

3. East Cape

Covering the easternmost point of New Zealand’s North Island, the East Cape is ruggedly beautiful and yet receives hardly any visitors – just 1% of tourists make it this far. That means deserted beaches, coastal jungle, scenic roads and a fascinating Maori culture just for you.

4. Te Mata Peak

The Hawke’s Bay region is known for its food and wine, so work up an appetite with a hike to the top of Te Mata Peak. Standing nearly 400 metres above sea level there are incredible views of the Ruahine, Kaweka and Maungaharuru Ranges, Cape Kidnapper, and even the volcano Ruapehu on a clear day. It’s also a significant place in Maori history and is said to be formed from the body of the giant Te Mata.

5. New Plymouth Coastal Walkway

NZ is a great walking destination and New Plymouth is one of the lesser known trails. The 10-kilometre promenade runs along the coast with ever changing views of the city, beaches, forests and mountains. There’s even outdoor sculptures along the way.

6. Ohau Waterfall

This picturesque waterfall along the Ohau Stream is a popular spot for playful young fur seal pups from the nearby colony to take a dip. You’ll need to stay calm and quiet so as not to scare them, and hopefully you’ll be able to see a happy band of them frolicking under the falls.

7. Waipapa Point

Another one for the animal lovers, this secluded point in the Catlins, on the southeast corner of the South Island, is home to one of the rarest species of seal in the world, the critically endangered New Zealand sea lion. Watch for them just hanging out on the beach.

8. Raglan

This lively coastal town has managed to stay off the tourist radar, though it can’t stay that way forever. Nearby Manu Bay has what many believe to be the longest, most accessible and consistent left-hand break in the world and, if you’re skilled enough, you can catch a wave and surf it for up to two kilometres.

9. Arrowtown

Think of it as Queenstown without the hype. It’s a charming, gold rush-era town with many of its colonial buildings still standing and easily one of New Zealand’s most picturesque settlements. Plus it’s right next to the adventure playground of Coronet Peak.

10. Forgotten World Highway

This winding stretch of road runs through King Country in the North Island and is one of the world’s great drives (even if it is a little ‘up and down’ as the locals say). Gorgeous vistas look over remote, untouched wilderness in a forgotten corner of New Zealand. Just don’t expect phone service.

Have you been to any of the locations mentioned above? Where’s your favourite place to go on holidays in New Zealand? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Related links:

10 breathtaking photos of New Zealand’s beautiful roads

Why you need to visit New Zealand’s spectacular Otago Central Rail Trail

Wine, wonder and Lord of the Rings – New Zealand by cruise ship