New Zealand has fascinating areas Off the Beaten Track for the intrepid traveller to explore. Off the beaten track you will discover some of New Zealand's most beautiful, untouched and rugged areas. See why New Zealand is renowned as an outdoor paradise when you step away from the crowds and into the rugged beauty of what New Zealand's off track areas have to offer.
We devote this section to "Intrepid Travellers", those of you who are bold, brave, adventurous and curious.
If your passion is for hiking and you fancy taking on a challenging hike that goes down a very muddy beaten track, then why not follow the Hillary Trail? This four-day trail across the Waitakere Ranges epitomises the sense of adventure and personal achievement of Sir Edmund Hillary, and though it's not exactly Everest, hikers be warned, it's not easy.
It's well worth driving to the Aorangi Forest Park in the Wairarapa (east of Wellington on the North Island). This park features some of New Zealand's most striking landforms and spectacular views which can enjoyed after a short walk. These landforms include: the Putangirua Pinnacles, high slabs of rock known as Kupe's Sail and the coastal Whatarangi Bluff
As you head north towards the Bay of Islands region on New Zealand's North Island, make a detour to Cape Brett. This is a place of outstanding scenic beauty offering views over the Bay of Islands including the 'hole in the rock' and beyond. It is also home to the Cape Brett lighthouse.
Head to the southernmost point of the North Island to Cape Palliser, where you can climb the Cape Palliser lighthouse for spectacular views of the coast and South Island, see a breeding colony of fur seals and spend time exploring Aorangi Forest Park.
Castlepoint is located on the east coast of the Wairarapa (North Island) about one hour's drive from Masterton. The Castlepoint Scenic Reserve is probably one of the most photogenic (and windiest) locations in the North Island. Aside from the spectacular views, you may also see the Castlepoint daisy, brachyglottis compactus, found only on the crumbled limestone of the reef.
This beautiful little iceberg-studded lake lies in the heart of Mt Aspiring National Park, in the south-west of New Zealand's South Island. It can be accessed during a 3-4 day hike by experienced hikers only – a truly off the beaten track destination surrounded by some of the most beautiful and most dramatic scenery in the country.
Head south, as far south as you can on New Zealand's South Island and start exploring the South Catlins region. As you travel the Southern Scenic Route, you'll come across Curio Bay - a place full of unique wildlife and natural attractions including a petrified forest, Yellow-eyed penguin colony, Hector's dolphins and Southern Right whales.
The Driving Creek Railway is a unique set of tracks about three kilometres from the town of Coromandel on the beautiful, rugged and mysterious Coromandel Peninsula. The Peninsula has a host of attractions and activities, of which the Driving Creek Railway is just one. It's a great day out for families and railway enthusiasts.
When you're visiting Queenstown, why not detour off the beaten track for a few hours and follow in the footsteps of dwarves and hobbits and take the track to Earnslaw Burn glacier. One of the most magical locations in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Earnslaw Burn is a glacier that has created a number of cascading waterfalls.
Farewell Spit is the longest natural sandbar in the world and can be found at the wild and windswept northernmost point of New Zealand's South Island. The Spit is regarded as a Wetland of International Importance and as such is protected by New Zealand's Department of Conservation. No private access is permitted, although you can join organised tours.
George Sound is accessible by boat, float plane and helicopter - several boat operators take groups from the track end on the Middle Fiord and provide boat transport on Lake Hankinson. Once there, hikers (or trampers as they are more commonly called in New Zealand) can take between 2-3 days to complete the George Sound track.
If summer means sunshine, sands and sunsets to you, then take a trip to the peaceful, quiet and sandy expanses of Himatangi Beach. Located in the Manawatu district in the North Island - about 30 minutes drive west from the city of Palmerston North - this west coast beach is home to New Zealand's largest sand dunes.
Heading down to the southern 'wop-wops' gives you the opportunity to explore Invercargill and the Southland region on New Zealand's South Island. A truly exceptional region of New Zealand for travellers with particular interests in bird-watching, nature, fishing, hunting and walking.
If you love hiking, or tramping as it's called in New Zealand, then you will definitely enjoy the Heaphy Track, one of the more remote Great Walks situated in the Kahurangi National Park. Located in the north-west corner of the South Island, the Heaphy Track is the longest of the Great Walks and takes between 4-6 days to complete.
Lying about 5 kilometres off the west coast of the southern North Island (not far from Wellington), Kapiti Island is one of few accessible island nature reserves in New Zealand. It gives visitors the opportunity to observe birds that are either rare, or absent on the mainland. Truly a bird-watcher's paradise, Kapiti Island is also of historical interest.
Well worth a visit for outdoor adventurists and keen hikers, Karamea is a small coastal town located 100 kilometres north of Westport on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island. The one and a half hour drive north from Westport includes stunning coastal scenery, rainforests and the Karamea Bluff, which offers spectacular views.
Kawakawa is a small town in the North Island of New Zealand. Located in Northland on the State Highway 1, it has a tiny population of just over 1,000. Originally a service town for the local coal mining industry, its economy is now based around farming.
Think 1950s and go back in time when you visit Kawhia, a sleepy, quiet and isolated coastal town on the North Island’s east coast (about two hours drive from Auckland). The local population of about 650 increases by up to 10,000 people who come to the annual Kai Fest held in February, but for the most of the year, Kawhia is
If you are on the North Island, then a side-trip to the Kororipo-Kerikeri Basin will satisfy the curious historian within you. To find the Basin, you will need to locate Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands and head approximately 30 minutes away from Paihia towards the Kerikeri Inlet.
Described as the 'loveliest of all lakes' in New Zealand, Lake Manapouri is a haven of seclusion and beauty and located in Fiordland in the south-west of the South Island. This pristine lake is the second deepest in New Zealand and is the gateway for trips to Doubtful Sound.
Lake Sumner is a lake located about 100 kilometres northwest of Christchurch in the Canterbury region of New Zealand's South Island (between the Lewis Pass and Arthur's Pass National Park). This area has fantastic opportunities for hiking, hunting, trout fishing, white water kayaking and mountain biking.
The Marlborough Sounds at the north of the South Island are a sinuous network of drowned river valleys, forming one of New Zealand's most distinctive land and seascapes. The Marlborough Sounds are made up by the Queen Charlotte, Kenepuru and Pelorus Sounds.
The Mavora Lakes are considered to be one of the treasures of Southland and part of Te Wāhipounamu/South-West New Zealand World Heritage Area. Located in the south-west corner of New Zealand's South Island, the landscape is dominated by mountains, lakes, forests and grasslands.
It's time to blow the lid on a little town called Methven in the Canterbury region of the South Island of New Zealand. It may only be a small town, but it offers travellers the perfect place to escape too whatever their budget may be. The Methven area offers some of the world's best heliskiing country.
Mokoia Island is the location of one of New Zealand's most famous love stories. It is considered sacred by the local Maori, the Arawa iwi and access to the island is limited to small boat tour groups only. The island's foreshores have geothermal springs such as the one forming the famous Hinemoa pool (known to locals as Waikimihia).
You'll find the Morere Springs Scenic Reserve on State Highway 2 in the North Island, roughly 3 kilometres north of Nuhaka, 40 kilometres north-east of Wairoa and 60 kilometres south-west of Gisborne. This lovely reserve offers visitors the opportunity to relax and rejuvenate in natural hot mineral pools and explore the native forest on either easy-walking or challenging tramping tracks.
New Zealand's highest non-volcanic peak (1,754 metres), Mount Hikurangi, is regarded as sacred by the Ngati Porou Maori of the region, who believe the mountain to be the resting place of Maui's waka (canoe). Traditionally the peak is regarded as the first land in the world to catch the dawn of the new day.
The track to New Zealand's highest mountain is a well-beaten one, but for many visitors to New Zealand the views of Aoraki/Mt Cook and the Southern Alps, whether seen from land or air, are some of the most memorable on their trip. Aoraki means 'Cloud Piercer' in the Maori language and on a clear day, you can get a wonderful...
Just north of the coastal town of Kaikoura in the South Island's north-east lies Mt Fyffe. This relatively unknown mountain is the only home of the Marlborough rock daisy and New Zealand lilac. It is an ideal area for hiking and walking, being suitable for family strolls as well as for overnight hiking.
Murihiku is the Māori name for the province of Southland which is located in New Zealand's South Island. The name means "the tail end of the land" and it's a tail that visitors can often overlook. The Southland region is home to stunning wetlands, cave formations, mountains, lakes, marine wildlife and the Catlins coastline and forests.
Just 10-minutes drive from the end of the North Western Motorway (42km northwest of Auckland and 17km west of Kumeu) - you'll find the small coastal community of Muriwai, also called Muriwa Beach. It's on the west coast of the Auckland region in the North Island and is best known for being the home of a large colony of gannets.
25km from Greymouth on the South Island’s West Coast, is Nelson Creek. A gold mining creek first established in 1895. Its fortunes have risen and fallen over the years; some areas were rich in gold, but historically findings were patchy. At the height of the gold rush over 1,200 miners were scattered throughout Try Again Terrace downstream from Nelson Creek.
You'll find St Arnaud, the gateway to the Nelson Lakes National Park at the north of New Zealand's South Island about one or two hours drive from Nelson or Blenheim. This park establised in 1956 consists of 102,000 hectares of the northern most Southern Alps including tranquil beech forest, craggy mountains, clear streams and lakes.
New Chums Beach is a beautiful stretch of pristine, golden beach that's not much visited mainly because it takes a little bit of effort to get there. You will have to walk 'off the beaten track' for about 40 minutes but it's definitely worth the effort.
Nugget Point is one of the most distinctive land formations along the coast of the Otago region of the South Island. Located at the northern end of the Catlins coast down the road from Kaka Point, this steep headland has a lighthouse at its tip and is surrounded by The Nuggets (a number of scattered rocky islets).
Oamaru is one of the South Island's most interesting towns from a cultural point of view and well worth an overnight stay. This small town, with a population of about 12,000, is often visited by travellers to see the colonies of blue and yellow-eyed penguins that make Oamaru their home. However, it is also of interest for other attractions.
Okains Bay is a small settlement, beach and bay on the Banks Peninsula on the South Island. The small bay has a camping ground which offers an idyllic and quiet camping spot for families especially. It has safe, sandy beaches for water sports and swimming and an excellent playground for the children.
Puheke Beach is a glorious surf beach which invites you in for a swim. If you walk along the stretch of beach, away from any other swimmers who have chanced upon it, there will nothing ahead of you but the great sweep of the coast, the white sand and the dunes. This idyllic beach offers you a truly blissful retreat.
The Rangitikei region is in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand - its gateway town, Taihape, can be found on State Highway 1. You'll know you are there when you see the giant gumboot – the town's icon. (A gumboot is also known as a Wellington or rubber boot).
Approximately 50km north-west from Gisborne is the small community of Rere. Heading down to the Wharekopae River will bring you to the Rere Falls and the Rere Rock Slide (we should mention that these are two different parts of the river just in case you're wondering if people really slide over the falls).
Making the journey to Southern Star Abbey Kopua is definitely a step off the well-trodden paths taken by other tourists and travellers in New Zealand. However, this journey should really only be considered by those travellers (from New Zealand and from overseas) on the path of seeking God and wishing to get closer to God.
For two years, the small township of Springfield in the Selwyn District of New Zealand was on the map for the enormous plastic pink doughnut situated on its boundaries to celebrate The Simpsons' Movie in 2007 (This was set in the fictional cartoon town of Springfield). The doughnut is no more, but there are still plenty of reasons to visit.
Stepping onto Stewart Island, literally the anchor stone of Maori mythology, is like arriving in another country. It's a place where you could (literally) lose yourself in rugged terrain of swamps, rainforest, rivers, peaks, valleys and wild beaches. With its population of less than 400 people, 20 kilometres of roads and 700 kilometres of coastline, Stewart Island provides a sense of
The Tawharanui Marine Reserve is the fifth marine reserve in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, New Zealand’s 'national park' of the sea. This area is a very special with over 50 species of fish recorded in its waters including stingray, eagle ray, moray, conger eels, red mullet, bigeye, red moki, blue maomao, spotty, koheru, snapper and spiny lobster.
Te Urewera National Park is remote, rugged and immense. It lies between the Bay of Plenty and Hawke's Bay in the North Island of New Zealand. The park is famous for its lakes and forests, as well as its stormy history and is home to Lake Waikaremoana and one of New Zealand's Great Walks (Lake Waikaremoana Track).
Ninety minutes north of Auckland, you will discover the beautiful, rugged and unspoilt beauty of the Kauri Coast. Along this stretch of coast in Northland, you can relax and spend time at some wild surf beaches, crystal clear lakes, spectacular sand dunes and view giant kauri forests.
The West Coast of New Zealand's South Island has a reputation for its wild side and is one of the most remote and sparsely populated regions in the country. Although the conditions and environment can be extreme, there are plenty of easy recreational opportunities for all abilities and ages offering access to the West Coast's mountains, rivers, lakes, podocarp forest
Tiritiri Matangi Island is one of the top 25 ecological restoration projects in Australasia and open to a limited number of visitors throughout the year. During its history it has been a forest, a settled pa, farming land and home to a lighthouse once housing the brightest light in the southern hemisphere.
Whilst not exactly taking you into the back of beyond, the World Heritage Tongariro National Park is well worth a visit, especially if you enjoy hiking, skiing, mountain biking and kayaking. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a famous one-day hike, described as one of the best in New Zealand, which crosses alpine meadows, lunar landscapes, emerald lakes and active volcanoes.
If you enjoy diving and snorkelling, then a trip to the Volkner Rocks in the Te Paepae o Aotea marine reserve is a must-do. Visitors can only visit the marine reserve by boat, but there are numerous charter boat services in eastern Bay of Plenty. The underwater scenery and marine life in the marine reserve is truly spectacular.
If you like 'undeveloped, unguided and absolutely free' the Waipu Caves south of Whangarei (Northland) on the North Island are definitely worth a visit. The Waipu Caves area features a karst/limestone landscape and weathered rocks and is characterised by depressions, sinkholes, caves and underground drainage. Karst landscapes are significant in Maori culture and are enshrined in tikanga and kawa.
Waitomo is situated in the King Country of the southern Waikato region in New Zealand's North Island and whilst predominantly a dairy farming region, it is also known for its beautiful cave systems. The Waitomo caves are a popular destination for visitors because of their stunning stalactites and stalagmites, colonies of glowworms and caving activities. The Waitomo caves.
White Island is New Zealand's only live marine volcano and is situated 48 kilometres from the east coast of the North Island of New Zealand, in the Bay of Plenty. The nearest towns are Whakatane and Tauranga. It is one of the most fascinating and accessible volcanoes on earth and is constantly active. White Island breathes, roars, steams and hisses.
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