Unusual Places in New Zealand

10 Charming Hidden Destinations You Need to Visit!

How does it sound to discover 10 hidden gems in New Zealand you may not have heard of before? It’s time for you to uncover these charming locations that will blow your mind away. These secret spots offer visitors a glimpse into New Zealand’s rich culture and stunning landscapes. This is your chance to find out why they should be on your NZ must-visit list. Don’t forget to hire a rental car from Pegasus to easily reach all of these interesting places!

1. Matapouri Bay

Photo Credit: https://jonistravelling.com/

Matapouri, located in the Whangarei District of Northland, is a typical Kiwi bach location. This is the perfect spot for a beach day, offering cool shelter, white sands, and endless relaxation. Matapouri Bay is one of the best-hidden getaways in NZ for lounging on the shore, and a short, scenic walk to Whale Bay will lead you to discover a paradise for anyone who loves swimming. After taking a dip in the calm, clear water, grab a book and get comfortable under one of the many pohutukawa trees. 

2. Takaka, Golden Bay 

Takaka is a small hidden town situated in Golden Bay, a region at the very top of New Zealand’s South Island. Here, you’ll find some lesser-known yet beautiful secret spots in NZ, including Te Waikoropupu Springs, the largest freshwater springs in the country. This spring contains some of the clearest water ever measured – just look at how visible everything is beneath the surface. The track is only a 1km loop, so it should take you about 45 minutes to observe the beautiful, clear water.

Photo Credit: Tourism New Zealand

Further north lies Farewell Spit, one of the largest natural sandspits in the world. This sandy region stretches 34km long, curling around the bay to give it its distinctive aerial view. To be completely honest, Farewell Spit isn’t as much of a hidden gem when it can be spotted from outer space! The spit is a native bird sanctuary, and if you’re lucky enough, you might even spot some seals and their pups. Easily reach these New Zealand hidden secrets with a rental car from Pegasus Nelson just a few hours away.

Photo Credit: https://www.farewellspit.com/

3. Kaikōura

When travellers consider a South Island adventure, Queenstown is often the first choice. However, for those seeking a similarly stunning but less crowded destination, Kaikōura is a fantastic alternative. This coastal town is best known as the crayfish capital, boasting great wildlife. If you are into beautiful scenic coastal walks or mountain biking, this is the place for you! Kaikōura is only a 2.5 drive away with a rental car from Pegasus Christchurch, making it a great place to visit in the early morning.

Photo Credit: Whale Watch NZ

Exploring Kaikōura is the perfect adventure for those passionate about witnessing wildlife up close, whether that be dolphins, whales, or albatrosses. You’ll find an amazing abundance of native fauna and incredible scenic views of snow-capped mountains right from the beach. Kaikōura Beach also features beautiful water for swimming, so if you need to cool off, just head down to the southern end of the beach.

Photo Credit: Tourism New Zealand

4. New Chums Beach

Listed as one of the world’s top deserted beaches, New Chums Beach is a quiet haven on the northeast coast of the Coromandel Peninsula in the North Island. Its pristine beauty is in large part thanks to its inaccessibility – there are no roads leading to the beach directly, so you’ll need to walk 30 minutes through rocky paths just to reach it (don’t worry, it’s suitable for all fitness levels). 

The walk is well worth the incredible pure white sand and picturesque teal water of the Pacific Ocean you’ll see once you’re there. Since there are no facilities at New Chums Beach, you’ll need to make sure you’re well prepared in advance. This hidden spot off the beaten track in NZ is a 3.5-hour drive away from the Auckland region in your Auckland Airport or Auckland South rental car.

5. Arrowtown 

Only a 20-minute drive from Queenstown, you’ll come across a charming town best known for its history of gold mining. This cute South Island village is located below majestic peaks and beside the amazing Arrow River. Arrowtown features beautiful heritage cottages, deciduous trees, and various iconic shops worth exploring. It was named the most beautiful small town in New Zealand, so it is a must for your travel bucket list!

Photo Credit: https://www.arrowtown.com/

Arrowtown is the perfect day trip to escape the busy Queenstown and experience a quiet location with beautiful scenery and a great selection of food options. You can treat yourself to a delightful cheese roll, enjoy a glass of wine, or sample any cuisine imaginable! We recommend visiting Arrowtown during autumn to witness the charming orange and golden leaves that have a countryside feel. Pick up a rental car from Pegasus Queenstown and get on your way to discovering one of the most endearing secret getaways in NZ.

6. Lake Rotomairewhenua (Blue Lake)

It would be rude not to recommend visiting the clearest lake in the world! Blue Lake is located in Nelson Lakes National Park. Tucked away in the heart of the alpine wilderness, this breathtaking ethereal lake view is a privilege experienced by very few. 

Photo Credit: https://www.newshub.co.nz/

Blue Lake holds great significance for the local Māori population and is considered sacred. Thus, it is crucial to refrain from touching the water to preserve its beauty and clarity. You can visit Blue Lake via a multi-day hike or, if you can’t resist getting there faster, catch a water taxi from the Lake Rotorua Jetty.

7. Stewart Island

Stewart Island / Rakiura is the third island in New Zealand’s main chain and one of its hidden gems. Its Māori name means “the land of glowing skies”, and true to its name, it’s one of the best places in the Southern Hemisphere to see the Aurora Australias at night. Stewart Island has even been designated a Dark Sky Sanctuary by the International Dark Sky Association, exemplifying just how clear its night sky is.

Photo Credit: Tourism New Zealand

Thanks to the lack of introduced predators, New Zealand’s third island is a paradise for the native flightless birds — especially the brown kiwi. 80% of the island is set aside for the Rakiura National Park, which visitors can explore through the three-day Rakiura Track or the many other routes which make up the island’s 280 km of walking tracks.

8. Castle Hill 

Photo Credit: https://www.stuff.co.nz/

At the edge of the Southern Alps lies Castle Hill, a conservation area named for its massive limestone boulders that resemble the rundown ruins of an old castle. The awe-inspiring scenery looks right out of a movie (fun fact: the nearby Flock Hill was featured in the Chronicles of Narnia!). The easy walk around Castle Hill is only 20 minutes long, well worth it to experience the immense scale of the boulders for yourself. The area is located at an altitude of 700 metres above sea level along State Highway 73, perfectly halfway between the West Coast and Christchurch.

9. Waitomo Glowworm Caves 

Photo Credit: Tourism New Zealand

Buried amongst a maze of underground chambers, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves may literally be one of the most hidden spots in New Zealand – but it’s far from unknown. The caves are world-famous for the endemic New Zealand glowworms, or Arachnocampa luminosa, that live inside and twinkle on the ceiling of the caves, resembling the night sky on a cloudless night.

The glowworm tour includes two levels of caves and an underground boat ride, and you’ll be guided by an expert throughout. It’s popular with tourists all year round, so if you’re looking for unusual things to do in New Zealand, be sure to book your tour well in advance.

10. Tunnel Beach

Head to Tunnel Beach for a short 1-hour return walk that rewards stunning views. As you stroll downhill, you’ll witness the rugged coastline of the South Island in all its glory, worn into shape by the Southern Ocean’s wind for thousands of years. As you continue along the path, you’ll go downhill through a tunnel that was hand-dug in 1876! At the very end, a beautiful beach with gargantuan sandstone cliffs awaits.

Photo Credit: https://dunedinattractions.nz/

Be sure to visit Tunnel Beach during low tide, as you will be able to fully explore the rocky arches and sea caves – and maybe even spot native sea lions sleeping inside! This shoreside attraction is a mere 10 minutes drive from Dunedin, making it convenient to visit whether you’re renting a car from the airport or the city centre.

Explore the best of New Zealand’s secret gems with a rental car from Pegasus 

From relaxing on sandy hideaways to touring the underground, there are plenty of unique things to do in New Zealand. Which secret spot in NZ will you visit first? No matter where you go, hire a rental car from Pegasus to take you. With a large fleet of cars of all sizes and 15 depots across the country, Pegasus is the easiest way to discover all the secret places in New Zealand!