Where do I start? If I’ll have to capture all of New Zealand’s raw and unearthed beauty, I could go on for ages and still not be fully done. Glaciers, glacial rivers and glacial lakes. Mountains, mountainous towns, above earth treks and snow-capped peaks. Shorelines, backwater pools, fjords, creeks, seashore peaks, rocky coves and coral reefs. Rainforests, mangrove forests, mossy canopies and sea kissed woods. What do I talk about and what do I leave out? It seems as if, the makers of New Zealand meant it to be a grand set of a spectacular movie and left it for the travellers to explore, breathe and swoon over. There are so many hidden treasures in New Zealand that you would be spoilt for choice.
I’m sure by now you know The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit series were predominantly shot here. But if you think New Zealand is just an expansion of The Shire, you would be deeply in the wrong because the country of two islands, is one of the most breathtaking places on earth, perhaps in all of the universes too. The Maoris believed the land to be the centre of the earth and we at Pickyourtrail believe in no less.
A google images search on this beautiful lake will yield beautiful results and will make you want to go immediately. Being the clearest waters in the world comes with a lot of expectations. The lake checks off all the boxes immediately. With looming mountains in the background and the skies being reflected on the glassy water surface, the lake is a wonderful sight to behold and is something you’ll never forget all your life. You cannot swim in the lake because it’s sacred to the Maoris. But let me assure you, after the two-day trek into the Southern Alps, all you will want to do is to sit down and take every inch of nature in. It is still a largely unexplored area, so definitely get to The Blue Lake in Nelson Lakes National Park for solitude and belonging.
What is it with New Zealand and glacier fuelled lakes? Lake Quill is not only a top player in Glacier attached lakes but is an extremely lucky one because it has a country’s worth of mountains, waterfalls and valleys around. It is a chic little cutie of the Milford Sound. It is literally a hidden sight as it hides deep amongst the Fjordland mountains. Sutherland waterfall, a thin silvery streak trickles down a mountain starting from the lake. With ice floating on the stiff lake, needle dripping pine trees to mark boundaries and rocks to sit and contemplate life on, this lake is something of a treasure hidden away in plain sight. You could kayak, boat or take an air ride to explore it.
Hamurana Springs is a tiny unpopulated part of the Rotorua region. A small trial of 15 mins walk will bring you to the warmest and the rarest of springs. The colour of the water lures even the most uninspired persons in. There is also a wooden walkway that you could take to get a bird’s eye view of the entire region. The colour palettes of algae green and turquoise blue will surely hit you right in the feels.
The Forgotten World Highway 43:
Does the name itself do something to you? This is one of the oldest ever trails of New Zealand and the bike or car rides can definitely be marked as things to do in New Zealand. This is a legendary trip to take because it covers extreme long roads, tunnels, gold mines, volcanoes and other elements that make New Zealand a tourist country that it is. The Strathmore, Pohokura, Tohora and Whangamomona Saddles are expanses of pastures named after Maori chieftains that are embedded in these roads. You could always stop for a break and walk into these serene lands. Moki Tunnel also called the Hobbit’s tunnel is also put up on the way.
Situated in Northern Auckland is Waitakere Ranges, a chain of wilderness that is as colourful as its name. The Piha beach is right outside these ranges, so a dip after a long trek becomes a pleasing end. The coastline is full of cliffs and inlets which makes it an experience with a bit of everything- waterfalls, rainforests and volcanoes included. Do not forget to check out the Lion Rock in Piha. It is also rumoured that Maui’s boat is hidden in the mountains. More reasons to set foot here, amirite?
Matapouri Bay or the mermaid pools:
Matapouri is an estuary that is formed by natural rock formations with favours from low tides. Channel your inner mermaid and feel awesome right away. It is in close proximity to Whale Bay and Whangarei waterfalls. It is voted as New Zealand’s best beach and said to be ‘the place where God comes to retire’. Although extremely famous, it is relatively lesser crowded. There is also a bridge when you could safely dive cannonballs from. Located in front of the beach are cute and tiny food joints that sell fish’n chips, ice cream and coffee. You could lay off after a nice day of swimming.
In the olden times, Wanaka was the region the Maori came down to hunt and fish during the summers. Now it is a buzzing little town dedicated to resorts and tourist outdoor activities. The famous Puzzleworld is situated here. So is the titular Wanaka Lake. The place also has densely packed mountains that people take up to bring that adrenaline in. The green ecosystem surrounding this place has been preserved well to make sure you never want to go home again. Blue Pools, a brilliant teel coloured natural pools are situated close to the Wanaka Lake. Tourists haven’t discovered this little delight as of yet, so waste no time in booking a trip.
Named after the legendary Captain James Cook, this summit and the village at the foothills is a beauty. If I discovered and mapped out New Zealand, this is the place I’d name after me. In Maori circles, the mountain is called Aoraki, which translates into Cloud-Piercer. It consists of three summits and connects to the Tasman glacier and Hooker glacier. Stargazing and flight expeditions are some ways you could tap into the depth of this beauty. Alpine treks range from mild walks on the ower peaks to professional hands-on life-risking mountaineering. Avalanches and sudden storms from the Tasman sea frequent the region. There are at least 48 trails that are scattered throughout the mountains. Grand Traverse, as the locals call it, will take you through all the high peaks of the colossal ranges. Steely nerves are tested there too. But for the calm seekers, Mount Cook National park is also available for camping, hiking and chilling.
Franz Josef Glacier:
Franz Josef is the cherry that sits on top of the cake that is the New Zealand trip. The world celebrates this glacier for its innate and untouched beauty. It is geologically very significant as it is one of the fastest moving glaciers with as much as 7 meters per day. Tourists sometimes come all the way to just catch a glimpse of this glacier. Ice caves inside the lower belts will thrill you to the core. All the Ice Age vibes will come back to you. Heli hiking will give you great aerial views and add significantly to your Facebook. Cycle trails, walks and skiing along the glacier’s path are some activities you cannot miss.