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6 Underrated Places in New Zealand

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With its snow-capped peaks which claw skyward from the sea, New Zealand is a nature lover’s dream. But have you ever thought of venturing outside of New Zealand’s travel hot spots? If you’re a traveler, you know how crowded the tourist attractions are, which takes away half of the beauty of the sites, and also makes it less fun at times when you’re hoping for a peaceful and tranquilizing experience. It’s guaranteed that you’ll pass through some underrated gems that should be getting your full recognition, no matter where your itinerary takes you. Here are 6 underrated yet the most beautiful destinations that you must visit in New Zealand.

1. Kapiti Island

A tranquil island bird sanctuary, Kapiti Island is one of New Zealand’s oldest and most important nature reserves, and also one of the most accessible ones. It provides a unique visitor experience in a predator-free paradise, sitting just off the coast of the Wellington region. The island is home to a number of native birds, providing them with a separate, safer habitat, even to the ones which used to be critically endangered, such as the short-tailed bat. You’ll need to visit the island as part of an approved tour group, so that only a small number of people are on the island each day. You can camp overnight and get a chance to see the kiwi, New Zealand’s national emblem in the wild.

kapiti island new zealand
By Pipe42 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
2. The Catlins

When traveling between Dunedin and Queenstown, the most sparsely populated part of New Zealand’s South Island is often skipped over. You are very likely to have many beautiful bays all to yourself once you take the Southern Scenic Route through the stony landscape. Yellow eyed penguins are often sighted near the Nugget Point lighthouse; you will also get a chance to find plenty of seals on the windswept beaches. You might also spot a Hector dolphin or two at the neighboring sandy beaches of Porpoise Bay.

3. Wairoa

Wairoa is a town located on the northern shore of Hawke’s Bay, at the mouth of the Wairoa River. It is the largest town in the district, and has been historically known as ‘Te Wairoa’. Wairoa is Māori for long water, which portrays the length of the serene river that runs throughout the whole town. The town is closest to Te Urewera National Park, which is known as housing one of New Zealand’s greatest walks, which encloses a stunning assortment of lakes, mountains, and native forests as well. The town is also home to other local attractions, including the Black Beach, the Coast Park Gardens, as well as the Old Portland Lighthouse.

old portland lighthouse wairoa
By Ulrich Lange, Dunedin, New Zealand (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons
4. Te Mata Peak

Rising up to 399m, Te Mata Peak is a peak south of Hastings in the Hawke’s Bay region. A sealed road leads to the lookout at the summit, as well as to trails for mountain bikers and hikers. Hike to the top of the peak and work up an appetite, as the Hawke’s Bay region is well known for its wine and food. Stand at the lookout summit from where you can get spectacular panoramic views of Kaweka and Maungaharuru Ranges, as well as Cape Kidnapper and the volcano Ruapehu on a clear day. The place is said to be very significant in Maori history, as they believe it is formed by the body of the giant Te Mata.

5. Golden Bay

Make the journey over the Takaka Hill to Golden Bay while you’re close to the popular Abel Tasman National Park. Located on the northern tip of the South Island, Golden Bay boasts gorgeous beaches, and is protected at the north by Farewell Spit, which is a long arm of fine gold sand and so the country’s longest sand spit. The towns at Golden Bay are great for a stroll, as they offer beautiful sights as well as unique shops and local cinemas. Te Wakoropupu Springs just outside of Takaka are some of the clearest in the world, the springs’ underwater colors being unbelievably vivid.

6. East Cape

Located to the north of Gisborne in the northeast of the North Island, East Cape is the easternmost point of the main islands of New Zealand. Offering a rich history, the region was the site of many major conflicts in the 1860s of the land wars of New Zealand. The East Cape is ruggedly beautiful but rarely receives any tourists, with only 1 percent of the tourists making it this far. That would mean that the deserted beaches, scenic roads, coastal jungles, and the fascinating and rich Maori culture are present just for you!

underrated places new zealand - east cape
Chakal assumed (based on copyright claims). [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Author: Emmeline Brown is a passionate travel blogger. She shares an uncanny love for food and travel and has been dreaming of exploring the world ever since she took a trip to the Grand Canyon with her parents when she was 13. You can read more of her work in her blogs written for a Dubai travel agency Travelex Travels & Tours.

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