By Sabrina Loh
Did you know that The Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed entirely in New Zealand?
It’s not hard to believe, considering this mind blowingly beautiful country’s landscapes are just as beautiful on screen as they are in person.
Now that New Zealand has finally reopened its borders to international visitors, now’s your chance to travel off the beaten path and visit these five secret hideaways.
Best known as the site of a petrified forest dating back to the Jurrasic period, the tree fossils you’ll find here are approximately 170 million years old. A walk through the Living Forest walkway offers a fascinating perspective with the contrast between the petrified forest and its living counterpart. These days, you’ll find colonies of yellow-eyed penguins coming ashore after a day at sea, endangered Hector’s Dolphins and Southern Right Whales playing in the surf. Curio Bay is a curious place indeed.
Frying Pan Lake
Yes, you read that right! This scalding lake got its name for good reason. Frying Pan Lake is the largest hot spring in the world, located in the Echo Crater of the Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley. It was one of the results of New Zealand’s largest volcanic eruption in 1886, the same eruption that destroyed the famed Pink and White Terraces.
Photo credit: https://www.expedia.com.my
This mysterious island in the heart of Lake Rotorua is filled with cultural history and a sanctuary for many of New Zealand’s endangered wildlife. Viewed as sacred Maori heritage site by the local Arawa iwi tribe, Makoia Island is only accessible by restricted, small boat groups. Here you’ll also find geothermal springs and a mysterious lava dome that sparks geologists’ interests to this day.
Photo credit: www.vivaexpeditions.com
Unspoilt, tranquil, remote, and stunning are the words that come to mind when describing Stewart Island. It’s the third island in New Zealand’s main chain and is home to the beautiful Rakiura Track. This quiet island is one of the best places in the world to spot wild kiwi, and view spectacular starry night skies like you’ve never seen before. In fact, it received International Dark Sky Sanctuary status from the International Dark Sky Association (IDA).
The Blue Pools
The Blue Pools are a part of the Makarora River that run down from the mountains of Mount Aspiring National Park. The river gets its crystal blue colour from the glacier fed water reflected off small particles of rock flour, caused by centuries of rock erosion. Swimming in these pristine blue waters (or jumping from the bridge!) is an adventure you won’t want to miss.
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