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Updated by Grant Margison on Feb 06, 2014
Headline for New Zealand out of the way must-do's
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New Zealand out of the way must-do's

Here's a list of the best things to do "out in the wild" in NZ, for those with their own transport, even if its just hiring a car for the day

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Deer Flat, Eglinton Valley

Deer Flat, Eglinton Valley

The tour buses go straight past, but if you have a little more time and a campervan or car and a tent, this is a great DOC campsite. Right on the river and well back from the road. A nice walk upstream of the river for about 500m or so, and surrounded by mountains

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Doubtful Sound big day out

Doubtful Sound big day out

While you can do the Milford Sound boat trips, it can get really busy with lots of buses and people. I really like an alternative option:
- DRIVE to Milford Sound - hire a car for a day if you have to. The journey there and back , scenery from the road plus short and longer walks is wonderful
- From Te Anau area, take the combo boat across Lake Manapouri, road trip over the pass then amazing boat journey on the Sound. You are out longer and there is a real wilderness feel about it - plus kayaking if you want it

4

Green Lake walk, Lake Manapouri

Green Lake walk, Lake Manapouri

You need a reasonable car or campervan for this dirt road, south of Manapouri. It follows the old power pylon access road (Borland Road) and this is an amazing journey in its own right. There is a high walk before the Green Lake track with great views as it follows a ridge line from the highest point on the road. You can also rough camp just off the road around here. The Green Lake walk is 2-3 hours from the road through very very old groves of beech forest - think of the "Old Forest" in Lord of the Rings

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Christchurch coast walk... Godley Head half or full day

Christchurch coast walk... Godley Head half or full day

Head to the Sumner Village and then over the hill to Taylors Mistake beach - its like going back in time. The easy undulating track takes under an hour to the headlands, and you can keep on going to do a loop walk for 2-3 hours. The views are amazing up towards Pegasus Bay/Kaikouras plus to Banks Peninsula, as well as to Canterbury's stretch of the Southern Alps. You will also see lots of signs of the Christchurch earthquake out here...

There are good mountain bike tracks here as well.

6

Ahuriri Conservation Park - Walk to Hidden Valley

Ahuriri Conservation Park - Walk to Hidden Valley

A wondrous day trip, but you will need a sturdy car, preferably a 4WD to get there from the bottom of the north side of the Lindis Pass. The road journey from there is 1.5-2 hours on a bumpy gravel road, but you'll probably stop a lot for photos.

From where the road ends, you walk about an hour through tussock grass to a gorge, where its time to get wet feet. Out of flood, its easy but would be impossible on the wrong day to cross! The walk then ascends through a gap in the mountains and down into Hidden Valley. The beech seems very old and established and mountains sour around you in all directions. Walk as far up the valley (or not) as you like. A "big day" out :)

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North Temple cirque - from Lake Ohau

North Temple cirque - from Lake Ohau

About 45 minutes from the township, up the lake, you turn left to the Temple Valley DOC campsite. From there you cross the river and head north for about 2 hours. It then opens up to a great vista. Hardly anyone does this great well marked track!

1

Port Jackson - top of Corromandel

Port Jackson - top of Corromandel

This one's a bit harder to get to - about 2-3 hours north of Thames and the road gradually gets worse and worse, but still OK in most vehicles. You can stay on the beach at the campsite plus there are a couple of houses you can rent. The perfect horseshoe shaped bay looks out on Great Barrier. A great walk inland into the big farm there, plus taking your car up over the hills to walks and beach at Fletcher Bay. Only busy really over the 3 week kiwi summer break, at other times its a real gem!

8

Matai Bay and Karikari Vineyard

Matai Bay and Karikari Vineyard

About 1.5 hours north of Paihia on easy roads, time your visit for lunch and wine tasting at Karikari Estate. Great food, outrageous vista and excellent wines. they get many of their grapes from all over NZ, and so there whites and reds are brilliant. Then 10 minutes to some of the best beaches in Northland, complete with a DOC campground. Beachcombing at its best...

9

Lewis Pass Tops

Lewis Pass Tops

Stop at the Lewis pass carpark, then head over the main road to a well formed track that takes you above the bushline, in about an hour. From here you can enjoy the views or just walk up some more (the top is another 30mins or so). The views are 360" and awesome. From here either stay at Maruia Springs Hot Pools (and even if you don't their dinners are really good Japanese) or on the east side about 10mins down the road, camp at Deer Valley DOC campsite. Its about an hour from the carpark to Hamner Springs so that's another option, or its a good day trip from there...

10

Karekare beach, 45mins from Auckland

Karekare beach, 45mins from Auckland

I'm a born and breed Aucklander, but have lived Canterbury for over 15 years now. My favourite equal of Auckland's West Coast (the other is O'Neills at Bethels Beach). Lots to do here from walking south around the beaches headland, its meditative and forever - you can walk the line of where the surf and sand meet for around 10km.

There is a waterfall behind the carpark and numerous bush walks. There is a high loop walk to the cliffs to the north of the beach. To me the real appeal is how rugged and untouched it feels. You go there on its terms - it can be very hot, cold, fierce wind (you just have to look at how its shaped the exposed trees) or horribly sticky. Whatever, its always "Karekare"

Out of summer weekends, there is hardly anyone there... You can rent homes/batches here and there is camping at Piha.