New Zealand’s Best-Kept Secret Spots

It’s hard not to be swept up by New Zealand’s sensational scenery. New Zealand is known for its stunning natural beauty, but some of its best spots are still relatively unknown to tourists. From secluded beaches to hidden bush walks, these secret gems offer a chance to escape the crowds and enjoy the country’s pristine landscapes in peace. Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to relax or an adventure off the beaten path, New Zealand’s hidden treasures are waiting to be discovered. So why not take a chance and explore the road less traveled? You might just find your own little piece of paradise. For postcard-perfect views (minus the crowds), make your way to these wonderful hidden gems.

Related article: Enjoy a short break in New Zealand’s stunning Southern Island

Waitaki, South Island

Waitaki, South Island
Waitaki is a must-see – image by Miles Holden and courtesy of Tourism New Zealand

New Zealand’s famed natural beauty is everywhere in Waitaki. A ninety-minute drive north of Dunedin takes you to a land of diverse landscapes – think huge Paleolithic boulders scattered across quiet beaches, bright blue lakes and soaring fossil-covered limestone cliffs. Adventure-seekers will be in their element in Waitaki, with a range of bike and hiking trails offering a fantastic way to see the area. 

After seeing it all, head towards Waitaki’s Oamaru and check out its beautiful Victoria-era buildings, carved from local white stone. 

Maraetotara Falls, Hawke’s Bay

Courtesy Hawkes Bay Tourism

Nestled in the heart of Hawke’s Bay, Maraetotara Falls is a hidden gem that locals like to keep to themselves. Despite being just a short five-minute walk from the road, the falls are easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. Located near the former Havelock North Power Station, the falls are a popular spot for picnics and swimming among savvy locals. Visitors can follow the Maraetotara Historic Walk for about 10 minutes from the carpark on Maraetotara Road to reach the base of the waterfall. The falls offer a refreshing swimming hole, but jumping from the top is not recommended due to safety concerns. Maraetotara Falls is a must-visit destination for both locals and visitors looking to escape the summer heat.

Hokianga, North Island

Hokianga is home to the 'Lord of the Forest'
Hokianga is home to the ‘Lord of the Forest’ – image by Alistair Guthrie and courtesy of Tourism New Zealand

Hokianga, North Island
Hokianga, North Island

Wanting to ‘escape from the rest of the world’? Lose yourselves – and everyone else – in the beauty of Hokianga (three hours northwest of Auckland). One of the most remote and undeveloped parts of the north Island, this coastal gem is blessed with impressive 150m-high sand dunes, pristine rainforest and New Zealand’s largest kauri tree, the ‘Lord of the Forest’. 

For a spellbinding experience, join a twilight tour of the Waipoua Forest and learn about the Māori people, and their centuries-old connection to the land. 

The Catlins, South Island

Discover the Catlins for serious romance
Discover the Catlins for serious romance – image by Miles Holden and courtesy of Tourism New Zealand

Don’t leave New Zealand without discovering one its lesser-known beauties, The Catlins (90 minutes south of Dunedin). There’s dense forest, pristine waterfalls and spectacular wildlife to see here. And you really, really should.

Animal-lovers, visit rugged Nugget Point for fur seals, Hooker’s sea lions, blue penguins and Hector’s dolphins. Or for something totally unique, check out the 180-million-year-old petrified forest that’s visible at low tide. One word – amazing.

Slipper Island, The Coromandel

Slipper Island New Zealand
Slipper Island, courtesy Destination Coromandel

Located just a 15-minute boat ride from Tairua and Pauanui in The Coromandel, Slipper Island is a secluded paradise that some say rivals the beauty of tropical paradises like Fiji. With palm trees, white sand beaches, green hills, and crystal-clear blue waters, the feeling of isolation is immediate upon arrival. Visitors can explore the public reserve at the southern end of Home Bay on the western side of the island, which offers a large area of beach and sand dunes, as well as activities like mountain biking, watersports, and exploring shipwrecks and lighthouses. Slipper Island Resort is the main accommodation on the island, offering luxurious chalets and glamping tents, making it an excellent choice for couples or groups of friends looking for a summer getaway. And don’t forget to say hello to the cute pig who calls the island home!

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