If you are planning a tour in New Zealand, you may have heard about some of the more well known attractions in New Zealand like Milford SoundFranz Josef Glacier, the Bay of IslandsRotorua and Queenstown.

All the tours travelling in those regions visit those iconic destinations.

As any experienced traveller knows, however, it's the less well known or visited places that are often the most memorable.

Check out these places, the experiences you will have there and the tours that will get you there in New Zealand.

 

AD189 Raglan Beach Waikato Paul Abbitt
Raglan

Raglan is a small coastal community on the west coast of the North Island with a fantastic surf break. The coastal scenery will certainly refresh you. Jumping into the ocean for an optional surf lesson will certainly refresh you. It's a great place to chill out in a really comfortable lodge for a few days. The nearby Mt. Karioi is a great lookout point for those keen on a walk. The town has a vibrant arts scene and the laidback surf vibe of those living in the town is endearing.

Lake Aniwhenua

Nestled on the slopes of the Urewera National Park mountains of the North Island is Lake Aniwhenua that was formed after the damming of the Rangitaiki River. It's an area rich in the Maori culture of the Tuhoe people. It's an overnight stop for the Hop On Hop Off tours here. You will stay in a lakefront lodge here with a maori family. It's a great way to have a more intimate and casual introduction into Maori culture. The scenery is invigorating as is what you will learn. There's a range of optional activities you can do like flax weaving, eeling and cooking classes.

See all the tours that go to Lake Aniwhenua here.

MC99 Hokianga Harbour Northland Becky Nunes3
Opononi

If you travel north of Auckland, chances are you will travel to the Bay of Islands. It's a beautiful place on the east coast with a lot of NZ history. Across on the west coast situated on the west coast is the Hokianga harbour and the small town of Opononi. The harbour is framed by huge sand dunes where the harbour opens to the open ocean. The historical buildings line the harbour edge creating a scene as if you've travelled back in time and nothing much has changed to take away from the inspiring vista.

See all the tours that go to Opononi here.

Whakahoro (Blue Duck Station)

Deep within the mountains west of Mt Ruapehu, not on any tourist trails, is a placed called Whakahoro where the working farm Blue Duck Station is situated. The rugged hills surround the farm, covered in bush and cleared. Running through the property is the Whanganui River creating deep gorges and unique habitats. It's a place where the rare endemic Whio (Blue Duck) lives on the river and is being actively supported in its survival by the conservation efforts of the good folks at Blue Duck Station. You'll go on a farm tour and there are options to go horse riding and do clay target shooting.

See all the tours that go to Whakahoro (Blue Duck Station) here.

Okarito

Most people travelling down the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand will probably go to the town of Franz Josef to see the nearby Franz Josef glacier. Most people will be in such a rush or just not make the effort to turn off the highway a short distance from Franz Josef to go down to the sea side to the tiny community of Okarito. The Okarito lagoon is a noted breeding area for a range of birdlife including the rare white heron. The hills around Okarito are prime wild kiwi habitat and if you walk up the hills in the evening or early morning you'll hear the calls of the kiwi and perhaps even see one. This is such a unique experience to have in NZ.

See all the tours that go to Okarito here.

 

Makarora

Blink and you'll miss it, Makarora is a collection of buildings and homes on the highway between Haast pass and Wanaka. Makarora sits in the Makarora River valley with steep sided hill sides covered in native bush. It's a great place to stay the night and enjoy the solitude. There's time for a scenic flight or jet boat ride on the wilderness river.

See all the tours that go to Makarora here.

4712 Otago Central Rail Trail Miles Holden
Central Otago

Central Otago was settled in the early days of European colonisation of New Zealand due to the gold rush that occurred in the area. The area is renowned for the barren looking tussock hills that create a very interesting contrast to the green forest clad environment on the west coast of New Zealand. A train line used to run through the valleys before road travel was made easier to service the farms. The trains have gone but the old rail line has now been turned into a bike trail. You can cycle some of the trail before staying the night in the old mining town of Naseby. It has an indoor ice rink and i9s a place where you can experience the unique sport of curling.

See all the tours that go to the Otago Central Rail Trail, Central Otago, here.

AC45 Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail Lake Pukaki Canterbury Miles Holden5
Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki

Not far from Aoraki / Mt Cook National Park, home of New Zealand's highest mountain, are Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki, man-made lakes with bright turquoise colour. The colour is caused by the refraction of light as it bounces off the fine glacial silt suspended in the water. Most South Island tours will drive past the lake and stop for a photo. Select camping tours will camp overnight beside Lake Pukaki.

See all the tours that overnight at Lake Pukaki here.

Tours to get you there



Bike rides along amazing landscapes

9 Day Southern Light Christchurch to Queenstown Tour

Explore the lesser known spots that other tour groups don't visit. Whether it's a secret glow-worm walk at night, a lush rainforest-fringed pool for a dip, a bike ride along deserted roads hugging the coast or a local cafe that serves quite possibly the best muffins in New Zealand.
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Explore more of NZ’s best National Parks

27 Day Ultimate Explorer Auckland to Auckland Tour

Quite possibly the best thing you can do in New Zealand. Grab life with both hands on this in depth, all-points covered action and adventure wilderness experience. This trip guarantees to show you the best of the North and South Island and the experience of a lifetime. .
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Scenic Tour and Jet Boat

Journey into a land of outstanding natural beauty rich in gold mining history and experience an exclusive tour or Winky’s Museum and the Sainsbury Gold Claim plus the jet boat ride.
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