The most beautiful unknown places in New Zealand
Let’s be honest here, only few other places in the world can beat New Zealand for its natural beauty. Without having to drive for days, you will find yourself surrounded by glaciers one day, in the middle of Fiordland the next and on white sandy beaches the day after. Ever since my first visit to New Zealand in 2002 I have been deeply in love with the country. Most people think they ‘can do New Zealand’ in a couple of weeks. Which is of course possible but it’s not ideal, especially if you want to get off the beaten path and see more than just the regular tourist spots. If you have just a little more time, make sure to visit the places below, they receive far less visitors than the well trodden places and are equally beautiful, or maybe even better! Here are my favorite unknown places in New Zealand:
OK to actually get here you will have to walk a bit but oh my, Lake Daniell is gorgeous. We were advised to do this hiking track by a Kiwi who lives in Holland and he promised us that it would be awesome. Well it sure was! Although I think this one will be popular in weekends and holidays, we didn’t see anyone on the track and we visited early December. The track from the parking lot is 8.4 km one way and will take you some 3 hours to complete. The Manson Nicholls Memorial Hut is at the lakeside and a great spot for lunch before you head back. Or do as we did and camp overnight, even better! More information about this track can be found on the DOC website or on our blog about Lake Daniell and its sandflies…
Omarama Clay Cliffs
Although they are mentioned in Lonely Planet, the Omarama Clay Cliffs don’t get too much visitors so I’d still call them one of the most amazing unknown places in New Zealand. You’ll need a car to get here so the herds of backpackers will not make it most lilely. So, what are the Clay Cliffs about? Well, they are some incredible rock formations that were formed some 2 million years ago and are made out of various layers of silt and gravel, brought here by rivers running through the area long ago. We were the only ones there (and it was nearly end of December) and had a blast. The lupins were in full bloom and it was incredibly photogenic. Really, if you have a vehicle and some spare time, make this a number one priority. A full blog on how to get there can be found here.
Te Waikoropupu Springs
We only heard about Te Waikoropupu (Pupu) Springs from a local while visiting Takaka up north on New Zealand’s Southern Island and she told us we couldn’t leave the area without admiring the clear water of the Pupu Springs. It is said the be the clearest water in the world and I was stunned by the beauty and colors in it. Even though we were short on time as we planned on doing the Abel Tasman Coastal Track, we were happy that we dedicated some time to this unique piece of nature! Go to the DOC website to find out how to get here and where you can walk and find the water.
Nelson Lakes National Park
One of the most gorgeous but relatively unknown places in New Zealand, is Nelson Lakes National Park. Most busses don’t go here and few people make the detour to go here while driving from Abel Tasman further down south. Which is a shame because it is one of the most amazing national parks there are in New Zealand. Unspoiled, quiet en with lots of great hikes. Not up for hiking? Both Lake Rotoiti and Lake Rotoroa can be reached by car and the view from the parking lot is already incredible. We hiked to Bushline Hut and stayed overnight but you can also easily do this in a long day hike. There are various lakeshore tracks too so you will not be disappointed visiting. The number one hike to do for my next visit to New Zealand would be the Travers Sabine Circuit that runs through this park. Just gotta find some time and money for it … Oh and the cover pick of me sitting on one of the docks was made at Lake Rotoroa, it’s that stunning!
Taranaki Falls and Tama Lakes
You’ve probably not heard of Taranaki Falls and Tama Lakes, but when I mention they are in Tongariro National Park, you may know. Most people here head out to hike the Tongariro Alpine Crossing but other than that, there is so much more to see in this desolate place! When hiking from Whakapapa towards Taranaki Falls and Tama Lakes you definitely get away from the crowds who are all wanting to see those emerald lakes. Which is perfectly fine, but if you have another day to spend here, make sure to also head to this other side of the park! We hiked here as a part of the Tongariro Northern Circuit, an amazing four day trek.
Stewart Island is actually New Zealand’s 3rd island and when here, you can’t get down south much further. Tourism is limited here because the crossing over does take time and cost money. We loved its isolation however and we actually hiked the 3-day Rakiura Track, one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. We were amazed by the silence on the trail and birdlife here. If you make it all the way down to Invercargill, just consider visiting Stewart Island too, you will not regret it!
This was my list of best unknown places in New Zealand. I’m secretly hoping I can go back sometime soon to discover more because it’s gorgeous and even though I spent nearly three months there, you can never see it all… Which places should I put on my list for next time? Let me know!
Want to read more about our trips to New Zealand? You may also like the following posts:
– How to spend 24 hours in Mount Cook National Park
– Things to do in New Zealand that don’t involve hiking
– The ultimate guide to New Zealand for outdoor fans
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