Although small in land mass, New Zealand is filled to the brim with a vast array of hidden gems only known to local Kiwi’s. To pique your interest, we’ve rounded up our top five favourites for you to add to your Kiwana bucket list.
New Chums Beach, Coromandel
Only accessible by boat or foot, New Chums Beach is a must-visit if you’re in the Coromandel area. Most visitors make the trek to it, an intrepid 30-minute walk that takes you from the adjacent Whangapoua Beach, over rocks and along a partly unformed walking track. Reach the crest of a small hill and the view across New Chums is spectacular, giving you a wee taster of what’s to come!
Handy tip: make a day of it and pack a picnic lunch.
Photo credit: @terence.osmena
Blue Lake, Nelson Lakes
Scientific tests carried out in 2011 by New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research showed Blue Lake to be the clearest natural body of water known to man, with recorded visibility of up to 80 metres! It’s fitting that its Māori name is Lake Rotomairewhenua, meaning ‘land of peaceful waters’.
Handy tip: plan your visit well in advance as the Blue Lake can only be experienced as part of a multi-day hike through the Nelson Lakes National Park.
Whale Bay, Matapouri
Whale Bay was named for its ideal point for Māori to launch their early whaling missions. Nowadays, it is one of Northland’s most picturesque bays. A short walk through native bush (dotted with glimpses of the sea throughout) takes you down to the softest white sand beach. Lined with pohutakawa trees, soak in the sunshine before taking a dip in the clear blue water.
Handy tip: add on the walk to nearby Matapouri with the path found around the halfway point on the hill down to Whale Bay.
Omarama Clay Cliffs, Waitaki
We wouldn’t be surprised if you thought you were walking through the hoodoos of Bryce Canyon National Park while exploring the Omarama Clay Cliffs! These natural rock formations are similarly shaped, originally formed by the silt and gravel flow-on from glaciers over a million years ago. The cliffs are on private land so don’t forget to pay the $5 vehicle admission fee at the honesty box on the gate.
Handy tip: visit in early summer and you’ll be treated to a sea of lupins along the riverbed.
Castle Hill, Canterbury
Castle Hill is comprised of a sea of limestone boulders (whose appearances lend itself to its name) and is popular with local climbers who can be seen bouldering on any given day. Follow the track that loops around the rocks or explore every nook and cranny that you wish to! You might find some 500-year old charcoal drawings drawn by the Waitaha people who were the first to travel through this area.
Handy tip: Think this landscape looks familiar? The final battle scene of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was filmed at nearby Flock Hill.
Photo credit: @indiacable