New Zealand has many beautiful places, the Abel Tasman Coast Track, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves, and the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. But what about the Hidden gems of New Zealand?
Here are some of our favourite destinations for breathtaking natural beauty and unique experiences.
Off State Highway 85 between Alexandra and Ranfurly in Otago you will find St Bathans. This former gold and coal-mining town was once the centre of the Otago gold rush and may be just a one-horse town now, but it’s a perfect ode to history, with a restored pub, tiny bank and post office.
Better still, on scorching hot days, you can swim in the stunning Blue Lake, formed during gold-sluicing, or walk the 2km loop track beside it. It’s a delicious slice of our mining past and it should be a crime not to take that turn-off, but be warned: there are two of them and the longer, sealed road is definitely the way to go – and sometimes there’s a coffee cart on it.
Wellington Bird Sanctuary
Tucked away in a bushy valley between the city and Karori, Wellington’s Zealandia puts the “sanctuary” in “eco-sanctuary”. This 255ha conservation project brings some birds back to life. You can stand and watch kākā feed for hours or put your eyes on stalks to spot tīeke, tūī, hihi and those big old flappers, kererū, among many others.
Located at the southern tip of the South Island, the Catlins proves a rugged drawcard for penguins, dolphins and sea lions. Due to its exposed position, the Catlins’ coastline sees some of the country’s largest ocean swells, raising impressive waves which nowadays attract big-wave surfers from across the globe.
As with many an Aotearoa gem, if you fail to take a crucial turn as you swoop into Ōamaru, an hour and a half north of Dunedin, you’ll miss the staggering genius of this stunning east coast Otago town. A wonderful world awaits: an untouched historic quarter, a steampunk museum, an apothecary, a craft brewery, another craft brewery, gorgeous galleries and, to top it all off, the Pacific Ocean.
Keep walking west past the bars and restaurants of Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter, the kids’ play area and the lookout gantry and you’ll usually find yourself staring at a Picton ferry-sized super yacht moored at Silo Marina.
However, turn away from these expressions of eye-watering wealth and you will be treated to quite the opposite – Heritage Landing, home to 14 lovingly restored classic New Zealand yachts. You might not find too much champagne and caviar aboard these elegant vessels, showcased here for anyone to see. But you can feel the love that’s gone into them – and that goes into them still.