3 Places Rarely Seen on a New Zealand Vacation

For a true travel connoisseur, there are few things more rewarding than exploring a spectacular destination that is still unknown to other travellers. While New Zealand is already well known worldwide for its epic scenery, lush landscapes, and pure natural splendour, there are a few secret pockets of unspoiled – and unknown – territory in the “Land of the Long White Cloud”.

On secluded Stewart Island, Doubtful Sound, and Coromandel Peninsula, travellers can go beyond the typical tourist hotspots and get in touch with New Zealand at its most pure and untouched. These three New Zealand vacation gems are a true nature lover’s paradise, and they’re the best way to enjoy a real Kiwi escape.

Stewart Island
Connect with the rhythm of the sea on this sparkling island, accessible by a one hour ferry ride from the South Island. 85% of Stewart Island’s 1570 square kilometres is covered by the magnificent Rakiura National Park. Almost 300km of beautiful walking track leads adventurous travellers to spectacular panoramic views around the island. The air here is alive with the song of countless colourful birds, and even first-time birdwatchers will be mesmerized by the glorious, colourful feathery creatures that live happily on land and sea. Albatross, mollymawk, prion, petrel, and cormorants are seen here, along with herons, falcon, rare blue penguin, and kiwi.

Off Stewart Island’s pristine coastline, dolphins frolic in turquoise blue seas. Though it’s hard to find a kayaking destination that’s as magical as here, you can also take a larger boat cruise around Stewart Island. Disembark and relax on its pristine white sand beaches during your New Zealand vacation. You’ll find the tightly-knit community of just a few hundred Stewart Islanders easygoing and welcoming. Be sure to catch a famous Stewart Island sunrise or sunset – the island looks gorgeous bathed in soft southern light.

Suggested Itinerary:
4-Day Stewart Island

Stewart Island
Stewart Island

Doubtful Sound
Move over Milford Sound! Doubtful Sound, offers a more serene, less-visited fjord experience, and it’s located in the same region. With dramatic scenery and fascinating wildlife, this majestic sound (which is actually a fjord) will take your breath away. Sometimes called “The Sound of Silence” this fjord’s solitude is truly powerful. Most areas of the sound itself are accessible only by sea, and the road network in this area of New Zealand is as sparse as the human population. This is true nature, at its finest.

You can enjoy an epic New Zealand cruise overnight through Doubtful Sound. Escorted by an expert nature guide, enjoy enchanting views of waterfalls, vibrant wildlife, thriving rainforest, and majestic mountains. Watch dolphins riding the bow waves, and keep your eyes out for a glimpse of southern right whales, humpback whales, minke whales, sperm whales, giant beaked Orca whalesm and long-finned pilot whales that live here. The fjord is home to one of the southernmost populations of bottlenose dolphins. Just a few feet below the water’s surface, due to the unique makeup of the fjord water, catch a glimpse of beautiful black coral trees. In all other parts of the world these peculiar trees are hard to spot.

Suggested Itinerary:
2-Day Fiordland Navigator

MItre Peak in Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
MItre Peak in Fiordland National Park

Coromandel Peninsula
Just a short drive from Auckland, Coromandel Peninsula is where the locals come to holiday. The spectacular landscape here consists of a mountainous, forest-covered interior, with the Pacific Ocean on the east, and the gorgeous bays and coves of the Hauraki Gulf on the west.

The Coromandel Peninsula is dotted with quaint little towns, perfect for strolling around and shopping for antiques. Visit renowned potter Barry Brickell at his studio in Coromandel Township, and take a narrow-gauge railway ride through the area’s rich native forests and mountains.

Sink your toes into Coromandel’s dreamy coastal sands and watch orcas and dolphins frolicking off the coasts. At Coromandel’s legendary Hot Water Beach, you can see a hot spring in the middle of the sandy beach. You can rent a shovel, dig yourself a pool, and wallow in the piping hot water, while steam comes billowing from the sand around you. They say that the sand temperatures here are hot enough to cook an egg!

Suggested Itinerary:
3-Day Coromandel Peninsula

Hot Water Beach Stop in Coromandel Peninsula
Hot Water Beach Stop in Coromandel Peninsula
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Meg Boyd
Meg Boyd

Downunder Product and Marketing Manager - Melbourne-born Meg arrived in Canada in January with no winter coat, one suitcase, a one week booking at a youth hostel, and a sight-unseen job offer at Goway Travel. She thought she’d stay for a year – that was 12 years ago! Never one to shy away from adventure, Meg has been in the industry for 23 years and has journeyed extensively through Europe, Asia and North America. Meg’s heart however belongs to the South Pacific, including New Zealand, Fiji, and her native Australia.

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