When you need to get away but you don’t want to be just one in a crowd, you need a vacation with hidden gems. New Zealand is full of them, no matter what your typical style of travel is. Here are some of the best activities you can enjoy without feeling like you’re simply joining in with a throng of tourists.
1. Deserted Beaches
What’s better than sunbathing on vacation? Well, not much, but sunbathing without a crowd certainly counts, and New Zealand has a lot to offer in this regard. Whether you want to put in the effort of an intense hike to get to a secluded destination or have an easier time of it, there’s an option for you. If you’re going the hiking route, try New Chums Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula or Lake Crucible in a far-off corner of Mt. Aspiring National Park; for simpler journeys, seek out Allan’s Beach on Otago Peninsula or Kaitoke Beach on Great Barrier Island. At any of these destinations you’ll find beautiful coastal spots with few (if any) people there to share the sand with you.
2. Filming Locations
If you have further curiosity about New Zealand’s famously beautiful nature, you can also visit some stunning outdoor locations where famous films were made. Even though they’re in movies, they aren’t always big tourist attractions (with the exception of the real-life Hobbiton attraction), so you won’t have a lot of crowds to fight. Visit Paradise, also part of Mt. Aspiring National Park to see scenery from The Lord of the Rings. You can also find Elephant Rocks, giant formations used as Aslan’s camp in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe if you travel the Livington-Duntroon road. Add Earnslaw Burn to the list and you can walk in the footsteps of The Hobbit‘s Bilbo Baggins (on his journey from the fictional land of Rivendell). Even these are just a few of many filming locations around New Zealand you can enjoy – though some are more popular with tourists than others.
3. Petrified Forest
Landscapes aside, wildlife is also part of the natural beauty you can find in New Zealand – and in particular, yellow-eyed penguins can be spectacular to see. There are popular tourist locations to view the penguins from “hides” or spots where the penguins can’t see you. But Curio Bay’s “petrified forest” is one place where you can see these exotic animals without a lot of other people vying for a good spot. Just make sure you still stay a proper distance away, and avoid crowding the penguins.
If you’re ready to head inside for a little rest and relaxation, try one of the country’s many casinos for some fun. Typically these would be among top tourist offerings, really, but they almost seem to be overshadowed by the growing online gambling scene throughout the country. Online gaming sites with bonuses and extensive game and betting offerings are available nationwide, which may be drawing some of the spotlight away from the real places. That’s not to say New Zealand’s casinos aren’t popular – but they’re not exactly on the front pages of the brochures either. So again, if you’re looking for some indoor recreation or relaxation, keep these in mind. The four SkyCity casinos in particular – in Auckland, Queenstown, Hamilton, and Wharf – offer all the fun, excitement, and luxury you’d expect from a venue of this kind.
5. Wine Tasting
New Zealand is famous for its wine, but there are places you can go wine tasting where tourists don’t venture too frequently. For instance, Central Otago is perhaps the go-to spot for wine tasting – but he nearby Waipara Valley sees fewer visitors, and has every bit as good a product. Known for pinot noire (as is Otago), this valley also has excellent chardonnay and riesling, with vintages that have received international recognition. The local cuisine is also a wonderful perk, with organic produce, fresh meat, and local truffles all featuring on the menus. In fact, the valley has even been referred to as New Zealand’s pantry! Top it all off with gorgeous scenery and this is truly a special area to work into your trip.
Whether you’re hoping for typical vacation beach days, hiking in the most beautiful places in the world, or casino fun and wine tasting, New Zealand will provide. And with these recommendations that are at least somewhat off the beaten path, you can enjoy many of the country’s charms and activities without the crowds.