There is no doubt that New Zealand is one of the most unique countries to travel in the world. You could find yourself relaxing on a black sandy beach one day and exploring a mountainous volcanic crater the next. Its diverse landscape makes for a traveller's dream, allowing one to stumble upon some of the most unusual, strange and just plain weird places that are like nowhere else on earth.
15 unusual places in New Zealand you never knew existed
1. Tongariro Crossing
This World Heritage Listed site is home to one of the most popular day treks in New Zealand. The hike will take you almost an entire day and will lead through Emerald Lakes, Blue Lakes and Mount Ngauruhoe - AKA Mt Doom from Lord of the Rings! I recommend going on an organised hike of the Tongariro Crossing and finding out the best clothes to wear and what else to take with you. (Like water, snacks, maybe band aids for blisters!)
2. Wai-O-Tapu's Geothermal Wonderland
This volcanic wonderland is like nowhere else on the planet! At Wai-O-Tapu you will find luminous green, blue and orange crater lakes that will leave you pinching yourself to double check that you are in fact, still on Planet Earth. A truly stunning location.
3. The blue waters of Lake Pukaki
Located on the footsteps of New Zealand's tallest mountain, Mt Cook, Lake Pukaki is the largest of the country's Alpine Lakes and boasts a majestic Aqua blue colour all year round. Just take a look at the photo below, the place is unbelievable!
5. Doubtful Sound
Everybody has Milford Sound on their bucket list, and trust me, it's worthy of a top spot! But if you're wanting to explore a little off the beaten track, then the towering green mountains, waterfalls, walking trails and blue waters of the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Doubtful Sound is a must! The best way to get there? Hire a Car or a Campervan and embark on a NZ Road Trip!
7. The world's steepest street in Dunedin
Yes you read correctly! Dunedin is one of many things: the University mecca of New Zealand, home to the Cadbury Chocolate Factory, the birthplace of Speights Beer and... the place where you can take a not so easy walk up the world's steepest street* - Baldwin Street!
*Ok so there's some controversy about whether Baldwin Street is actually the steepest street in the world. For a while Ffordd Pen Llech in the medieval castle town of Harlech in Gwynedd claimed the Guinness World Record, but Baldwin Street regained it's title after an appeal. How does the steepness change? It doesn't, but the criteria for the record can!
8. Fox & Franz Josef Glaciers
Franz Josef Glacier and Fox Glacier can be found on the west coast of New Zealand's south island. These glaciers are HUGE and on a cloudy day it is impossible to see the top of these natural wonders from the base. There are many tours that offer guided glacier hikes along the glaciers - a definite must do!
9. Cathedral Cove
Also located along the Coromandel Peninsula (another reason to hire a van and go on a Coromandel road trip), Cathedral Cove can be accessed by foot, boat or by Kayak from the small town of Hahei (we recommend the latter). The white sands, turquoise waters and towering rocks of the cove will blow your mind. There is also a great snorkel trail laid out by the Department of Conversation where you may be able to spot a Stingray or two!
10. Waitomo's Underground Glowworm Caves
The Waitomo Caves system is home to the iconic Glowworms that draw tourists to the area year on year. The best way to explore the tour is by an underground Tubing or Abseiling tour. There are numerous tours to choose from with varying levels of mobility required. Well worth a visit and an opportunity to go 'blackwater rafting'.
11. The mysterious Moeraki Boulders
These eerie boulders can be found on the shores of Koekohe Beach on the east coast of New Zealand's south island. The circular rocks can reach heights of up to 1 metre tall (they also make for an impressive Instagram backdrop)!
12. The hidden shores of Tunnel Beach
There are many stunning secret beaches in New Zealand and Tunnel Beach is one of them! Located just a short drive from Dunedin in New Zealand's south island, Tunnel Beach boasts white sands, blue waters, towering cliffs and the best bit? An actual secret tunnel that leads you to this untouched paradise!
13. The towering sand dunes of Cape Reinga
Nicknamed the 'Edge of the Earth,' Cape Reinga is located at the very top of New Zealand and is the place where two seas meet - the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Not only are the views from Cape Reinga Lighthouse amazing, but there are nearby sand dunes where you can actually hire a board and scoot down! Tours to Cape Reinga depart from the Bay of Islands.
14. The West Coast's black sandy beaches
New Zealand is well known for its black sand beaches. Many of these, such as the most famous, Piha Beach, can be found on the West Coast of Auckland. If Canyoning or taking a tour is not on your to do list, then hire a car or campervan to check the beaches out.
15. Christchurch's post earthquake Restart Mall
In 2011 the bustling city of Christchurch in New Zealand's south island was hit by a devistating Earthquake. In true Kiwi spirit, the locals built a temporary mall made with shipping tins - this became known as Restart Mall or Container Mall.