Planning a visit to New Zealand? Well boy oh boy you are in for a treat! Despite New Zealand's significantly smaller size in comparison to neighbouring Australia, the country's diverse landscape is home to some of the most jaw droppingly, instagram worthy, mind blowingly beautiful locations that you may not read about in a travel blog or guide book. Luckily for you, many of the hop on hop off bus companies love to show travellers their local areas and hiring a Campervan is surprisingly a very cost effective means of getting around. As they say, to travel is to explore! So I thought I would share some of my favourite local hot spots that I definitely recommend venturing to.
Secret New Zealand
1. Lake Nerine & Crucible Lake
Canada? Nope. New Zealand! The icebergs and deep blue waters of Crucible Lake can be found in the heart of the south island's Mount Aspiring National Park. The stunning Lake Nerine can also be found in Mount Aspiring National Park but it will take you a while to get there. It's well worth the hike though!
2. Castle Hill
You probably didn't know this but Castle Hill was named by the Dalai Lama as the 'Spiritual Centre of the Universe' in 2002. Located in New Zealand's south island, the ruins look somewhat like an ancient castle and occupy a large, private farm. Nearby Flock Hill station was the filming location for a battle scene in 2005's "Chronicles of Narnia."
3. New Chums Beach
I LOVE New Chums Beach! New Zealand has many secret beaches (check out my Top 8 NZ Secret Beaches). Why I love it? New Chums is only accessible by boat or a 30 minute walk on an off beaten track. New Chums can be found in Wainuiototo Bay on the northern part of the Coromandel Peninsula.
4. Farewell Spit
This stretch of beach is the LONGEST natural sandbar in the world. You are guaranteed to find your own private beach for the day as Farewell Spit is way off the tourist radar. Located at the very end of Golden Bay on the north western coast of New Zealand's south island, the long (and I mean long) stretch of sand is 26km in length! It's like a desert in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
5. Waimangu Volcanic Valley
Located just a short drive from Rotorua, the volcanic valley is home to Lake Rotomahana, Frying Pan Lake (the largest hot spring in the world) and the light blue, steaming Inferno Crater.
6. Lake Marian
This little slice of New Zealand Heaven can be found in the Darran Mountains of the Fiordlands National Park in New Zealand's south island. The Fiordlands are a UNESCO World Heritage Listed area and is the largest of New Zealand's 14 national parks. I suggest hiring a campervan and embarking on a New Zealand Road Trip!
7. Putangirua Pinnacles
You may recognise this eerie place from LOTR or as the 'Paths of the Dead' in Return of the King. There are many walking trails and a few camping grounds around the scenic reserve which can be found at the bottom of the north island.
8. Anapai Bay
Yet another of New Zealand's secret beaches, Anapai Beach can be found in Abel Tasman National Park at the top of New Zealand's South Island. Like New Chums, this beach can only be reached by foot or boat, adding to its sense of secrecy! There is a very small campsite which I suggest booking for a night (in advance).
9. The Blue Pools
These ideal swimming lakes are not too much of a local's secret but they do tend be bypassed by many travellers visiting New Zealand. Located just a short drive from Wanaka, take the 20 minute walking track along the Haast Highway. A great spot for swimming or jumping from the bridge!
10. Tiritiri Matangi Island
Most visitors to Auckland will head to Rangitoto and Waiheke Islands (which are amazing), but if you are keen to venture beyond the tourist trail, Tiritiri Matangi Island is just a short ferry ride from Auckland. There is a secret Tunnel with freshwater running through it and a handmade Sea Shell path leading to a lookout. The island is frequented by birdwatchers and is well worth a day trip.