Are you looking to find some of the most beautiful locations in New Zealand that only locals know about? Then you have landed on the right page and have found your locals! In this article we will share with you some of the most beautiful hidden parts of New Zealand so that you can experience off the beaten track New Zealand.
New Zealand has a reputation for its natural beauty and vast landscapes, and if you love the outdoors and love nature, then New Zealand is the right travel destination for you. We refer to New Zealand as our bubble of paradise and after many years travelling we still think New Zealand is hard to beat!
Being proud kiwis we want visitors to New Zealand to have the best time and see the most incredible places. We are always dishing out advice and sharing our travel secrets to people we meet, so we thought why not write an article and share our knowledge of New Zealand with like minded travellers.
The great thing about travelling New Zealand is that it is super easy to get off the beaten path, we have so many beautiful and remote locations to be explored and discovered. You just gotta know how to find them, so without further ado, here is our list of secret off the beaten track New Zealand places that only locals will know about!
Off the beaten track New Zealand: The ultimate list
Orokawa Bay – Coromandel
Serene and picturesque, Orokawa Bay is a stunning white sandy beach cut off from the rest of the world. Surrounded by natural bush and no signs of civilisation, this beautiful beach is only accessible via a 1hour hike. The hike is pleasant with epic coastal views and you won’t be disappointed with the destination, a truly untouched New Zealand beach. Located near Waihi Beach in the Coromandel Peninsula in the North island of New Zealand, Orokawa Bay is an epic off the beaten path adventure that few have ever seen.
Omanawanui Track – Auckland
When we did the Omanawanui Track we were treated to spectacular views of New Zealand’s wild and rugged west coast. Think jurassic park meets iceland and that’s what you will experience. The track is located surprisingly close to Auckland (about 1 hour drive) but is definitely off the beaten track New Zealand, with very few locals and even fewer tourist making the trip to do the walk. But just because the track is not popular does not mean it’s not epic, we think it’s truly one of Auckland best kept secrets.
Blue Pools – Southland
The blue pools look as though they have been pulled straight of of a fairy tale. Located along the Haast Pass near Makarora in the South Island of New Zealand, they are a sight not to be missed. Take an easy 20min walk through stunning native bush and arrive at the crystal clear, bright blue river pools which can be admired from above on a swing bridge. You might be tempted to take a dip in the inviting waters (we did), but the water is icy cold all year around, you have been warned.
Paradise – Glenorchy Queenstown
Many people don’t realise but just 40mins south of Queenstown is the tiny town of Glenorchy and a further 40mins onwards is the picturesque region of Paradise. Don’t expect a bustling town, cafes and shops, all you will find in Paradise is panoramic views and natural beauty. Part of the Mt Aspiring National Park, Paradise is actually where many of the Lord of the Rings scenes were filmed. What’s best is there are no entrance fees and no people, so you can take in the sites for free and have the place to yourself.
Wairere Falls – Waikato
This hidden gem is located in Waikato region of the North Island. Waikato happens to be our home and many travellers disregard the Waikato as a travel destination. But we have many secret wonders here in the Mighty Waikato and Wairere falls is one of them. The Wairere falls track takes about 1.5hours one way and leads you to the tallest waterfall in the North Island towering 153m tall. The track weaves its way through lush native forest, epic rushing rivers, swing bridge crossings and beautiful stone gardens. When you reach the top of the falls you can walk onto a platform which leans over the epic falls and reveals panoramic views of the the plains below.
Great Barrier Island – Auckland
We have explored Great Barrier Island a few times and it’s definitely an adventurers paradise. Great Barrier is a fairly large island located 90km off the coast of Auckland which has a very small local community, a truly off the beaten track New Zealand location. This beautiful and unique island seems to have stood still in time and people have described this place being like New Zealand was 20 years ago. If you are after an authentic kiwi experience with stunning beaches, beautiful sunsets, natural hot pools, picturesque harbours, epic star gazing and forest walks then great Barrier island is the place to come.
Tiritiri Matangi Island – Auckland
Tiritiri Matangi is a bird and wildlife sanctuary off the coast of Auckland that can be reached by ferry. The island is home to many native birds species including 12 species of endemic native birds. Exploring this island is a great way to spend a day, especially if you get a good day weather wise. When we explored Tiritiri Matangi we walked across the island admiring all the birds and the the stunning coastal views and had a blast swimming in the crystal waters. The island was actually previously used as farmland between the 1850s & 1970s and as a result over 94% of the native forest was lost. In the early 80’s volunteers spent over 10 years restoring the forest and planted over 300,000 native trees. Today the island is a thriving habitat and wildlife sanctuary.
Kawhia – Waikato
Kawhia is a quiet coastal village that is way off the beaten path, you won’t meet many others in the world who have been to Kawhia. Hardly any New Zealanders have been to Kawhia let alone visitors, so it is truly a hidden gem. Located on the west coast in the Waikato region of the North Island, Kawhia is a sleepy, unassuming town. One which we would call a very typical kiwi village where you will notice its remoteness and authenticity. What will really impress you about this place is the stunning natural beauty it has to offer. Rugged and wild black sand beaches, vast sand dunes, peaceful harbour inlets and even a hot water beach! So when you visit be sure to bring a shovel so you can dig a hot water pool in the sand and watch the sunset!
Totaranui – Abel Tasman
Totaranui is perhaps one of New Zealand most stunning beaches, a wild and fairly remote place that should definitely be on your new Zealand bucket list!. Located in Abel Tasman National Park, this bay glimmers with golden sand and calm turquoise waters. To reach Totaranui you must travel down a long, windy gravel road, but the trip is well worth it. Although it’s quite a popular camping spot, it’s much less developed and less visited than other beaches in the Nelson Bay area. Totaranui has a well set up camping ground and quite a few hiking trails to explore. If you are visiting in December or January be sure to book your camping spot ahead, as the camping ground can pack out during these months. For the best balance of weather and low crowds we recommend the months of November, February and March.
Oamaru – Otago
Oamaru is a quirky and fun coastal town located in the Otago region of the South Island. Famous for its steampunk culture, Victorian architecture, op shops and New Zealand breweries there is a eclectic vibe here that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. A truly unique and interesting town that’s worth a day or two’s stay. Oamaru with its rich sense of heritage is even home to one of New Zealand oldest public gardens and a wild blue penguin colony where you can watch the world’s smallest penguins. Every time we leave Oamaru we think, that place is so cool! A great time to visit Oamaru would be during the annual steampunk festival in May/June or in November during Oamaru’s Victorian Heritage Celebrations.
Whataroa River – West Coast
Unlike famous rivers such as the Shotover or the Wanganui, The Whataroa River is easily missed. You won’t hear much about it on tripadvisor or other travel blogs and many New Zealanders won’t have heard of it either. However, this river is one of the most stunning natural places I have ever seen. Located in southern West Coast region of New Zealand’s South Island, this river boasts crystal blue untouched water that is 100% drinkable, with the southern alps as its grand backdrop. We experienced the Whataroa river with an eco heli rafting adventure (that us on the raft) which was pricey, but well worth every penny. If we had to suggest just one adventure activity in New Zealand, this would be it!
So there you have it, this is our locals lists of epic off the beaten track New Zealand locations. We hope our article has inspired you to venture past Hobbiton and Queenstown and experience a slice of authentic and rugged New Zealand. If you have any question or even suggestions for fellow travellers, let us know in the comments section below.
What are your favourite off the beaten track New Zealand place to visit?
Off the beaten track New Zealand
About the Author
We are two kiwi’s from the bottom of the earth, Aotearoa New Zealand who live to travel and love to create. We go by the names of Reti & Bianca and we just completed a one year adventure around Asia! Discovering culture, food and connecting with locals are the things that keep us under the travel bugs thumb! For travel inspiration and guides you can check out our blog & vlog here: Native Travellers
Thanks for the guest post guys!
Thanks to Reti & Bianca for this incredible guest post showing us a real local perspective on a country we’ve been lucky enough to call home for a year!
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