Returning to New Zealand? Discover these hidden gems

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A return visit to New Zealand is the perfect chance to hit all the spots you couldn't fit in the last time round - and a few you may not have known existed

Ohau Waterfall, Kaikoura

It's a short journey from Christchurch to Kaikoura (2.5 hours) and the Ohau waterfall, just north of Kaikoura.  This is a short walk to a stunning waterfall where you can encounter seals.  Follow SH1 and as the road descends towards the coast look out for the signpost indicating the Ohau Stream and Waterfall Walkway.

Te Waikoropupū (or Pupu Springs), Golden Bay, Nelson

Check out the largest freshwater springs in New Zealand and the largest cold water springs in the Southern Hemisphere – these amazing hidden gems of the northern South Island contain some of the clearest water ever measured.  To local Māori, Te Waikoropupū Springs are a taonga (treasure) and wāhi tapu, a place held in high cultural and spiritual regard. A great place to wander around and soak up the natural beauty. The springs are   well signposted from State Highway 60, near the town of Takaka.

Glowworm Caves in Charleston

Easily accessible from the West Coast you can experience an ancient wonderland of stalactites and stalagmites and galaxies of Glowworms - all in their natural unspoilt state, the way the cavers first discovered them. Just south of Westport, this is one of the largest such displays in New Zealand.

Mou Waho Island, Wanaka

Accessible only by boat from Wanaka, this is one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand.  Guided walks are available. You can walk to see a lake at the top of the beautiful island – a lake within an island within a lake within an island!

Bob’s Cove, Queenstown

Known by local Maori as Te Punatapo meaning ‘the sacred waters’.  Here you can discover stunning lakeshore walks, historic sites, swimming beaches and fantastic fishing.

Gemstone Beach, Orepuki, Western Southland

With some of the best surf New Zealand has to offer, this is known as Gemstone Beach because it is in a constant state of change, with the surface shifting from sand to stones with the storms and tides. 'Gems' have often been found on the beach, and your fossicking is guaranteed to uncover some very interesting stones and geological wonders. 

Tunnel Beach, Dunedin

Visit the stunning and evocative Tunnel Beach, where you will feel like you are in a Victorian novel. In the 1870s John Cargill, a son of Captain William Cargill, excavated a tunnel down to a secluded beach so that the Cargill families could bathe in privacy. It has been called the most romantic spot in Dunedin.

Moeraki Lighthouse, Waitaki

Sea birds are a feature of Katiki Point Wildlife Management Reserve, and none are more popular than the yellow-eyed penguin/hoiho and little penguin/kororā. The rock platforms below support a large colony of New Zealand fur seals/kekeno.

Hydro Canal Road, Lake Tekapo

Take a detour to the crystal clear waters of the canals - they reflect the dramatic mountain scenery and are home to a number of salmon farms - don't forget to catch a salmon for dinner!

Ancient Maori Rock Art, South Canterbury 

Ancient limestone caves and overhanging rock shelves have formed hundreds of ancient natural art galleries, used for centuries by local Maori to tell the stories of their lives.

Adventure & Adrenalin at Peel Forest, South Canterbury

An oasis of beauty and tranquillity set amid the dense virgin bush of Peel Forest Park, on the south bank of the Rangitata River.  Try white-water rafting with Rangitata Rafts, kayaking with Alps2Ocean or canyoning with Big Rock Canyons.

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