Explore New Zealand destinations you’ve probably never heard of.
Take the unbeaten path to Hokianga Harbour, a deep inlet on Northland’s west coast and one of the first landing places for early Māori migration. Their creation story is told in the Waipoua Forest – soaring with kauri trees – and coexists with modern pursuits such as sandboarding, swimming and feasting on fish and chips.
The Matapouri Mermaid Pool on Northland’s south-east coast is as still as a bath at low tide but erupts into a frothy conniption when the waves roll in. It’s a steep trek through dense forest to get there but you won’t find hordes of people spoiling the view.
This privately owned marine volcano is less than 90 minutes from Rotorua. Book a tour that gets you there by boat before exploring the island on foot with a licensed guide or enjoy an aerial perspective with a 20-minute helicopter flight, landing dramatically in the sulphurous crater. Later, learn from Ngāti Awa tribe members how to prepare a traditional hāngi feast at Whakatāne, on the mainland opposite White Island.
South-east of Christchurch, on a peninsula comprising two volcanic cones, New Zealand’s only French settlement retains touches of Gallic flair: Colonial architecture, galleries, cafés and charming B&Bs. Dolphins frequent the harbour and hiking trails link the region’s many secluded bays.
It’s difficult to attract attention in a country already world-renowned for its wines but Waitaki, just north of Dunedin on the South Island, encompasses a valley of great vineyards, an art scene that includes Steampunk HQ and, most adorably, little blue penguins that waddle ashore every night.