No-one likes to share their secret hideaways. But these 10 hidden gems really deserve to be seen by everyone. Here’s your chance to uncover some of New Zealand’s greatest hidden treasures!
Hidden NZ Gems – North Island New Zealand
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Matapouri Bay has long been one of Northland’s top beach destinations; it’s convenient to Whangarei city, it’s easy to access, and the water is completely family-friendly. If walking the pristine white sands of Matapouri Bay isn’t enough to keep you busy, then take a scenic track to either Whale Bay, Tane Moana, or the Mermaid Pool.
One of the few publicly accessible parts of the coastline between Marokopa and Awakino, which are almost 60 kilometres apart by road, is at Waikawau beach. Access is via a narrow tunnel through the sandstone cliffs, which was made in 1911 by three men armed only with picks and shovels.
It was constructed so cattle could be driven to and from Nukuhakare Station, on the hills above the tunnel. The farm is hilly and it was easier to drive the cattle along the beach than across the rough terrain. These days the tunnel is used by people rather than cows.
Tiritiri Matangi Island is a wildlife sanctuary and one of New Zealand’s most important and exciting conservation projects. It is located 30km north east of central Auckland and just 4km from the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula (located just north of Orewa). In Tiritiri Matangi’s small world, endangered species are again beginning to prosper.
Most of the translocated species – Little-Spotted Kiwi, Takahe, Kokako, Hihi (view our exclusive Hihi Beach Accommodation here!), Brown Teal, Saddleback, Kakariki, North Island Robin, Fernbird, Whitehead, Duvaucel’s Gecko and Tuatara – all appear to be doing well on the Island.
The 400-hectare Tāwharanui Marine Reserve was established in September 2011. The name Tāwharanui ties the marine reserve to the Tawharanui Peninsula and its English translation refers to the abundance of the climbing vine kiekie (freycinetia baueriana).
The Tāwharanui Marine Reserve is the fifth marine reserve in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park, New Zealand’s “National Park” of the sea. It lies on the northern coast of the Tawharanui Peninsula in the Rodney District about 90 kilometres north of Auckland on New Zealand’s North Island.
Aorangi Forest Park is a 194-square-kilometre protected area in the Wellington Region of New Zealand. By road the park is around 80 km south of Masterton and 100 km east of Wellington. Access into the rugged Aorangi Range and the network of tracks within Aorangi Forest Park is gained via several major streams.
You are utterly and undoubtedly spoiled for choice when it comes to things to do in Paihia. Take the boardwalk through the Mangrove forest – a whole ecosystem growing from the water. Up the Waitangi River in Paihia is a forest growing from the water.
New Zealand Hidden Gems South Island
Lake Quill fills a large, steep-sided basin and overflows into the Sutherland Falls, which drop 580 metres in three stages. Although it’s only accessible by helicopter, this would truly be a magical experience up in the Fiordland national park!
It also has the added bonus of having very few visitors during the year, so if you do make it up there, you’d have the whole lake to yourself.
Following the Earnslaw Burn through the bush to the tussock basin at the head of this valley will bring you to a viewpoint with impressive views of an icefall on Mt Earnslaw/Pikirakatahi. An overhanging rock just within the forest on the true right (looking downstream) of Earnslaw Burn can be used for shelter.
The track can be tricky to find in places and the river crossing to get to the bivvy is dangerous in heavy rain. This track is not recommended for young children.
Nestled among mature beech and podocarp forest, these pools of deep, clear water flowing into the Makarora River offer a moment of tranquillity. Walk through beech forest to a swing bridge over Makarora River. Along the way look out for large trout feeding in the pools and listen for the threatened yellowhead/mohua, which can often be heard in the canopy.
Continue on a boardwalk to the second swing bridge, which is the viewing platform over the Blue Pools. Cross this bridge for great views up the river gorge.