You’ve probably already heard of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch – the largest cities in New Zealand. You might even know a few of the more touristy towns like Queenstown and Rotorua. While there is no denying that these places are great to visit sometimes it pays to get off the beaten track and stop off at some lesser known destinations.

Here’s a rundown of some amazing sounding places in New Zealand that you might not have heard of but should definitely add to your New Zealand bucket list.

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First Stop

Whakatane, known as ‘the Jewel of the North Island’s beautiful Bay of Plenty’, is a town in the eastern Bay of Plenty Region in the North Island of New Zealand.

The town of Whakatane is the artistic and cultural hub of the District, with regular art exhibitions at Te Kōputu a te whanga a Toi – the Whakatāne Exhibition Centre, and many sites of historical significance to Māori. Take some time out to visit the local Maori culture at Mataatua Wharenui, a 130-year-old Maori meeting house. The nearby White Island is also home to New Zealand’s only active marine volcano.


Stop 2

With the stunning Mount Aspiring National Park and two breathtaking alpine lakes nearby it’s not hard to see why this is a must visit destination for anyone wanting to explore the South Island’s eye-opening and untouched natural beauty. The staggering snow capped mountain peaks, the waterfalls and the glaciers that can be found in this area are all featured in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Need we say more?


Stop 3

If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand’s biggest city, Auckland, on your travels then don’t miss out on a day trip to nearby Mangawhai. This small town 100km north of Auckland is a short drive that feels like a world away. The Pacific beaches offer you the chance to surf, while the chilled out harbour provides the chance to swim and kayak.


Stop 4

The laid back town of Kaikoura, where rugged mountains meet the stunning South Pacific Ocean seascape, is only a couple of hours drive to the north of Christchurch . This picture perfect stop off is rich in Maori culture. In fact it’s name literally means, ‘eat crayfish’, in Maori. The name may give you a hint as to the fresh seafood and local produce on offer here. Pick up some local New Zealand cuisine at a local food truck or restaurant.

The Bay of Islands

Stop 5

To visit one of the most historically significant places in New Zealand head to Waitangi in the Bay of Islands. This is home to the  Waitangi Treaty Grounds and is where a treaty was signed between the Maori and the Europeans. It’s wealth of cultural history make this a distinctive and beautiful region to visit and helps to give you a deeper understanding of its complex past and give you insights into the importance of days like Waitangi Day

Whanganui National Park

Stop 6

Stay in the heart of this untouched and ancient forest for a totally unique experience. The national park is also home e to the mystical Whanganui River, New Zealand’s longest navigable waterway.

Opt to take a jet boat or embark on a canoe or Kayak safari from Taumaruni. Many of these tours are run by local Maori, a great experience to see local customs in action.

Explore New Zealand with Travellers Autobarn

If you’re looking to hire a campervan in New Zealand for your upcoming adventure then get in touch with the team or request a quote today.

If you are after other amazing road trip ideas check out our Other Road Trips Ideas section…

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