Any tourist destination stands out due to the following reasons – landscapes, culture, history and people. New Zealand has its travel hot spots to fill your itinerary, but it also has some underrated gems that deserve full recognition.
Let’s browse through eight such lesser-known places in New Zealand that are interesting in their own right, and worthy of a visit.
Lesser-known places in New Zealand
Located on New Zealand’s North Island, Napier is a city reconstructed after the 1931 earthquake and fire that destroyed it. This mishap never spoils the champion spirit of the city. Napier is known for its art deco architectural landmarks, for example, the Daily Telegraph building that has a zigzag pattern.
When you stroll around to admire the perfect architecture of Napier, you will also come across many wineries, bars, cafes, boutique shops, and marvellous restaurants. The Marine Parade is worth a stroll for the family. The city has a population of just 63,900. Shop local produce from Hawke’s Bay Farmers’ Market situated in the centre of Napier city every Saturday morning. The touch, smell and taste of the products directly sourced from the locals are divine. There is more to this city – waterfront promenade, botanical gardens, and the sunniest climate.
In 1875, the town of Inglewood came into existence in a dense forest close to Mount Taranaki. It serves as a base point before you step out for an expedition to the Egmont National Park. Inglewood has a range of essential shops and unique places – a toy museum called the Fun Ho! National Toy Museum which has all Fun Ho! Toy models produced between 1935-1982. The interactive displays include a car track, sandpit, figurines and machinery.
Then there is the wildlife park where you can catch a glimpse of rabbits, llama and other furry species. If you wish to go on a picnic outing, there is the Everett Park Scenic Reserve complete with a glow worm cave and swimming holes in a forest setting. Before leaving for the picnic, fill your car roof rack with ample outdoor baggage, so that you don’t have to halt mid-way.
This destination in New Zealand stands out for its snow-capped mountains and ice-cold lakes. Fairlie is a small little town in Canterbury with a population size of just 717. For heritage lovers, there is the Fairlie Heritage Museum, a local attraction that houses New Zealand’s treasured wagons and carriages.
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Come winters, and Fairlie evolves into a ski base for Mount Roundhill and Dobson. In summers, Fairlie turns out to be a fantastic spot for outdoor recreation – boating, fishing, hiking, horse riding and mountain biking.
If you wish to discover the sandy beaches and the coves of the Bay of Island, Paihia is your go-to destination. The quay offers plenty of cruise options and fishing expeditions. Swim with the dolphins or go exploring sea kayak tours. Seafood lovers will have a wide variety of fine-dining culinary options.
Paihia also has a touch of history. In 1840, the Maoris and the British signed a treaty at Waitangi, which gave the British Crown the rule and authority of New Zealand. Apart from soaking the sand and the cultural significance of Paihia, you can also halt at the historical towns of Kerikeri which has the oldest building of New Zealand and Russell, the oldest church and the first permanent European settlement.
Masterton is the main shopping centre for the rural Wairarapa region in New Zealand. In this town, sheep shearing becomes an annual event every March. It is hailed as a form of art by some.
There is the sheep and shearing museum, the Wool Shed in Masterton and the Queen Elizabeth Park which will stun you with its beautiful-looking paddle boats, swing bridge, miniature train, flying fox and other attractions.
History connoisseurs will praise the Aratol: Wairarapa Museum of Art & History. Exhibitions of national significance are held at this Museum to help you discover the region’s historical connection.
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Nelson that faces Tasman Bay has its ways to impress the local tourist. It has art galleries, local arts and crafts retailers, caving sites, wineries such as Waimea Estate, and the stunning Abel Tasman National Park where you can go kayaking and hiking.
Nelson was established by English settlers in 1841. Its richness of history comes alive at the Founders Heritage Park. Nelson annually hosts the Nelson Art Festival, which is about music, comedy, dance and theatre. It is also home to the international fashion event Wearable Art Awards where designers enter wearable works of art.
There are charming gardens to explore and breweries to enjoy in Nelson. Every Saturday in Montgomery Square, the Nelson Market starts brimming with vendors and visitors. A little over 30 years old, the market has had famous visitors – Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Know of the Blue Lake in Nelson? It is found in Nelson Lakes National Park and is said to have the clearest water in the world!
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As a peaceful and less commercialized resort town in New Zealand, Wanaka has many tourist attractions. Mount Aspiring National Park is one such destination where you can go hiking on glaciers and alpine lakes. Explore the pristine Lake Wanaka and waterfalls, and pursue over 750 km of trails meant for walking, hiking and mountain biking.
At Wanaka, the adventure-seekers have many ways to fulfil their quest for exploration – canoeing, skydiving, off-road tours, paddle-boarding, snowboarding. If you are in the mood for relaxation, then Wanaka has stunning vistas – boutique stores, art galleries and museums. Products made by local artisans, state-of-the-art vineyards and breweries keep you reasonably entertained.
8. Marlborough Sounds:
The joy of sipping aromatic and sparkling wines is priceless. Marlborough region is home to excellent wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir. Blenheim town in Marlborough helps you explore some of the best brands in the local vineyards by car.
Your car roof rack can be your perfect place to put up a container of the best wine labels you have shopped before you start your return journey. Reserve your spare time to visit a brewery to taste fruit brandies, liqueurs and beers.
The Omaka Aviation Heritage Center in Marlborough gives you a rare feast of the aircraft and collectables of World War I and II. A visit to local museums will inform you about the early history. Edwin Fox is the world’s ninth oldest ship on display in Picton Harbour. The Queen Charlotte Track makes an exclusive biking and walking experience.
So, these are the eight underrated destinations in New Zealand which are worth exploring this year. July is the coldest month in New Zealand. Remember to pack in ample woollens before you start for the journey by car or coach. Have a good time!