Everybody already knew about New Zealand, obviously. But it really shot to fame after the whole Lord Of The Rings deal. And while I personally will 100% be visiting Hobbiton next time I’m in the country BUT I do recognise that some of you weirdos are over it so here’s a bunch of hidden, completely un-Hollywood gems that’ll prove there’s more to the country than magic rings.

Cape Brett

New Zealand is a hikers paradise, and sometimes it’s fun to be that traveller who hits a trail before many other people know about it. The overnight – yes there are cabins to book if you hate camping – Cape Brett Track might be for advanced hikers only, but if you’re up to the 32 km walk, this lesser-known treasure will gift you pretty native bush and killer coastal views.

Oparara Arch

If that sounds a little hectic, Oparara Arch might be more your jam. It’s a gentle 2km round track through ancient rainforest that leads you to this massive limestone arch that forms part of a larger network of 35 million-year-old limestone caves. It’s a popular spot for cavers too, and home to 7cm carnivorous snails known as Powelliphanta, so that’s fun.


Say hello to the (probably) the world’s first infinity pool. The Motueka Salt Water Baths were built in 1930, and yes that’s a glorified name for a beach pool, but history guys! Make sure you get there at high tide to actually get the infinity effect.


Jump on a cruise and head out to spot the world’s smallest and rarest (and TOTES ADORBS I mean just LOOK at the photo) Hector’s dolphins. You can actually jump in and swim with them in places too. There are also seals, penguins and sea birds in case you get sick of the dolphins, but why would you. The cruise will also take you around an extinct volcanic crater too, which is pretty rad.

Stewart Island

It’s small and hard to see on a map, which is probably why it often gets overlooked, but Stewart Island is actually the thirds island in the main chain of  New Zealand islands. As an International Dark Sky Sanctuary – ie they can’t have too many man-made lights – it’s remained remote, wild and beautiful. The Rakuira Track here is one of the best places there are to try and spot kiwis in the wild.

Kawhia Ocean Beach

Besides hikes, or often at the end of hikes, New Zealand has a damn impressive list of natural hot springs and mud baths to wallow in. But how about a whole hot beach? Just dig your own pool in the sand and jump right in.

Putangirua Pinnacles

Ok, this one is strange because really they’re just really odd rock structures, but they’re COOL you guys. Housed in the Wairarapa region of the lower North Island, you can keep on following the track past them to a lookout over Lake Onoke and Cape Palliser, which you should do because pretty.

Castlepoint Lighthouse

I know I know, people get so un-enthused about lighthouses but trust me, your Instagram needs this shot. It’s all very dramatic and rocky-ocean-cliffy (yes, that’s totally an actual was to describe something). Plus you can often spot fur seals, dolphin and occasionally small whales around.

Waitomo Caves

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A mile deep in 35 degree water was worth it

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Jump on a boat and roll through these subterranean limestone caves filled with glow worms. I know we’re not talking LOTR’s but this is VERY big epic quests areas to me, except that you don’t actually have to do any work or worry about saving the world.


Image: iStock Images / [travellinglight]