Visitors are often drawn to New Zealand because of its breathtaking surroundings. But what about the one-of-a-kind locations and attractions that distinguish this country? From the downright bizarre to the wonderfully heavenly, here are 10 destinations that are sure to pique the interest of every traveler.
Boulders of Moeraki
These strange boulders can be found along a length of Koekohe Beach in the South Island’s Otago area, between the towns of Moeraki and Hampden. The Moeraki Boulders are fascinating not just because of their unusual spherical shapes, but also because of their magnitude – some of these boulders have diameters ranging from 1.5 to 2.2 metres (4.9 to 7.2 feet). According to Maori folklore, these boulders are the remains of an ancestral canoe’s eel baskets, calabashes, and kumara (sweet potato).
Durie Hill Elevator and Tower, Whanganui
The Durie Hill Elevator, which was erected in 1919, is one of only two earthbound elevators in the world. Step inside to conquer the hill without putting in any effort. You’ll then reach the summit of the tower, from which you’ll have spectacular views of Whanganui and its famed namesake river. The underground elevator emerges near the Durrie Hill War Memorial Tower and was designed to offer residents with quicker access to the city.
Wai-O-Tapu is New Zealand’s most well-known geothermal attraction. The springs, which are easily accessible from Rotorua, are famous for their unusual colors, which have been shaped by thousands of years of volcanic activity. The Champagne Pools are the most well-known sight in Wai-O-Tapu. The bubbling mud pools and the spouting Lady Knox Geyser are among noteworthy.
If you happen to be in the Catlins region, here’s a spot that will add some color to your sightseeing. Teapotland, as the name suggests, is an unusual house and garden with over a thousand teapots of every imaginable form, size, and variation. Former chef Graham Renwick, who (incidentally) exclusively drinks coffee, devised the eccentric attraction.
Tongariro National Park
Tongariro National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to some of the country’s most dramatic dormant volcanoes and hiking terrains. There’s enough to admire in this captivating alpine location, whether you want to ski on Mount Ruapehu, hike the multi-day Tongariro Northern Circuit, or wallow in the beauty of Mt Ngauruhoe (aka Mt Doom).
Wairarapa Stonehenge, Aotearoa
If you are unable to see the original Stonehenge, why not settle for a distinctly New Zealand replica? The Phoenix Astronomy Society created the full-scale adaption, which is located in the Wairarapa region. They hoped that the project will assist Kiwis in making the most of the information passed down to them by their forefathers. Whatever you think of this idea, don’t call it ‘tacky’: the Lonely Planet guidebook has already been chastised for doing so.
The Tunnel Beach
Tunnel Beach is located just south of Dunedin and is ideal for active families. A short walk along a lowering path will take you to a rocky beachfront that hides a very special treat: the beach’s name-giving tunnel. Walk down the tunnel’s steps to find a private beach with plenty of peace and quiet.
The Clapham National Clock Museum
The Claphams National Clock Museum is thought to have the greatest collection of historic clocks, watches, and animated timepieces in the Southern Hemisphere, with a collection going back to the 1700s. Archibald Clapham, an English migrant who quickly became an iconic local figure due to his odd clock collection and all-around nice personality, founded this museum in the Northland town of Whangarei.
According to legend, the Dalai Lama designated Castle Hill as one of the “energy centers of the universe.” These amazing rocky formations may be found in the eastern ranges of the Southern Alps, approximately an hour’s drive from Christchurch. The area has become a popular destination for ambitious rock climbers and skiers due to its bulging boulders, craggy outcrops, and alpine terrains.
Murchison’s natural flames
Murchison, in the upper South Island’s Tasman region, contains a not-so-hidden secret: a little open fire that, tradition has it, has been burning continuously since the 1920s. Visitors come from all over the world to view this captivating occurrence, and some even cook pancakes over the flaming flares to test their “authenticity.”
Glowworm Caves of Waitomo
These are a network of underground caves that can be explored by boat, black water rafts, or self-guided spelunking trips. If that isn’t enough to make the Waitomo Caves a must-see sight, the caves are also home to a native species of glowworms that illuminate the natural underground limestone formations. To put it simply, the location is hard to beat in terms of distinctiveness.