New Zealand offers such incredible beauty -- from snowcapped mountains, glacial lakes, sweeping forest skylines, lush-green rainforests, glorious white-sand beaches, to towering volcanoes, and has buckets of culture and charm.
It is a sparsely populated country and makes for the perfect destination to have an amazing trip of a lifetime. However, because of all these reasons New Zealand is also a tourist's dream.
For those of you who seek peacefulness and serenity, who seek an off-the-beaten-track adventure here are 10 of the best off-the-beaten-track places to visit in New Zealand.
Buried away on the South Island's Otago Peninsula, the road there is a little precarious -- even by New Zealand's standards. The beach is also a penguin nesting area; you may be lucky enough to meet them at dawn or dusk, but be careful not to take dogs onto the beach or to disturb them. A surfer's haven, its remote location still ensures peacefulness, and the beauty of this place will surprise you, I promise.
Easy to overlook, Clay Cliffs are often left off many an itinerary, but are very much worth the effort. Past the "4WD only from here" sign take the gravel road that leads to the spectacular Clay Cliffs. Lonely Planet calls it a "bizarre moonscape": an excellent description. You are likely to be the only ones here, so enjoy exploring amongst the impressive pinnacles and ravines.
Kaitoke Beach, Great Barrier Island
Wild, remote, untouched, Kaitoke beach is a breathtaking white-sand beach located on Great Barrier Island, 62 miles off the coast of Auckland. Close to the airstrip, a steep gravel track winds its way down to the beach. Framed by sand dunes on one side and the turquoise blue waters of the Pacific on the other, its isolation promises privacy. Enjoy and take it all in.
Taking a detour to see some weathered rocks might not be your idea of an adventure, but these extraordinarily shaped rock formations are not to be missed. Despite being used for Aslan's camp in first Chronicles of Narnia film many tourists do not go to the effort to locate them. They can be found on the Livington-Duntroon Road on New Zealand's South island. Take the detour. You will not be disappointed.
Petrified Forest at Curio Bay
Down on this beautiful fossilized forest is the best place in New Zealand to see the yellow-eyed penguins come ashore. Other places require you to watch from a hide, but here man-made steps lead down to the beach, so you can get closer to the penguins (as long as you keep the required distance away). Have patience and wait (sometimes in the wind and rain), and you will be rewarded. Watch as these beautiful creatures emerge from the water.
Probably New Zealand's most beautiful waterfall, this stunning cascading flow of water, reaches up to the skies, at 35 metres high. Visitors often go to the nearby Waitomo Caves, but many never venture further west to see this impressive waterfall.
The little brother of the more famous Kaiteriteri, the gateway to the stunningly beautiful Abel Tasman National Park, Little Kaiteriteri, with its golden sands and crystal clear waters, is a beautiful stretch of beach. Climb up to the lookout to view it in all its glory.
Deep in the wilderness a place called Paradise really does exist and it is even more off-the-beaten track than neighbouring Glenorchy. Venture into Mount Aspiring National park to the start of the Dart River track and you have found Paradise. Surrounding landscapes were used in The Lord of the Rings films and BBC series Top of the Lake. Whether you believe it got its name from its incredible scenery or the local paradise ducks, Paradise is a place you will never forget.
A truly peaceful spot to spend the day swimming or relaxing. Located off Queen Charlotte Drive in the Marlborough Sounds. With a scenic outlook towards the sounds from the beach, lie back and enjoy the peace and quiet.
Kea Point Walk, Mount Cook
This whole area is full of incredible vistas and some of the most amazing scenery you will ever see. The kea point walk is one of the best short walks in the area, and every step you take reveals more of the area's beauty. At the end of the track views down to the Muller glacier and up to Mount Wakefield and Mount Cook await. Stop as you walk and look all around and take it all in.
If you want to have an amazing adventure in New Zealand then go off-the-beaten-track, it is the perfect way to see the best that New Zealand has to offer.
All photographs are copyright of Nicola Barnard Photography.
Nicola works as a personal travel counsellor and specialises in bespoke off-the-beaten-track New Zealand itineraries, after running her own specialist New Zealand travel company for four years.