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Experiencing hidden gems in New Zealand with Maddie Morrison

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Tourism New Zealand notes that before the pandemic up to 60 percent of the country’s tourism expenditure came from locals getting out and experiencing their own country. New Zealanders also previously spent $9 billion on overseas travel per year. New Zealand, known as the Land of the Long White Cloud by the locals, boasts an array of sanctuaries across the islands making it one of the most beautiful places on earth. Many of these sanctuaries, from lakes to glaciers to bays, are hidden treasures not even known to most locals. Join Maddie Morrison, a travel, beauty, fashion and lifestyle blogger, to discover these hidden oases.

Who is Maddie Morrison?

Maddie Morrison, a 29 year old New Zealand native, is a travel, beauty, fashion and lifestyle blogger and social media influencer. Maddie is also a graduate of The Wellington Institute of Technology, and obtained a Bachelor of Creative technologies majoring in Photography and Graphic Design. Maddie has used her love and passion for travelling to build a large following on social media, and seeing that she is a New Zealand native, we asked her to share her favorite hidden gems across New Zealand for travelers looking to travel off the beaten path.

New Zealand’s hidden gems

  • Mole Lake Viewpoint in Queenstown: According to Maddie, Queenstown is one of the most beautiful places she has been fortunate enough to have visited. Queenstown is located on the South Island and rests between Lake Wakatipu and the Southern Alps. This hidden gem, the Mole Lake Viewpoint, offers breathtaking views over Mole Lake and is not known to many. To reach the viewpoint, you would need to start the trail at the Mole Lake Campsite. This steep and rough trail is not for the faint of heart, but the 30 minute hike will lead you to the best seat in the house.
  • The Waikawau Beach Tunnel outside Coromandel Town: 40 kilometers outside of Coromandel Town, on the North Island, is Waikawau Beach. The beach became accessed in 1911 after three local laborers carved a tunnel, roughly 50m-60m long, through stone to reach a nearby station. The tunnel is oval shaped, meant to be high enough for a tall horseman and wide enough for animals such as horses to pass through.
  • Hamurana Springs in Rotorua: Rotorua, known for its geothermal activity and Maori culture, boasts the Hamurana Springs. 15-minutes along the Hamurana trail leads you through the Hamurana Springs Reserve to the picture perfect springs. The water in the springs takes roughly 70 years to travel through the underground aquifers and fill up the springs. Travelers are able to stop for a picnic and can even brave the high-level viewing platform that offers a birds eye view of the springs and reserve.
  • Earnslaw Burn in Glenorchy: Glenorchy, a town 40 kilometers outside of Queenstown on the South Island, boasts a rather special natural phenomenon. If you wander along the Earnslaw Burn Track, you will find Earnslaw Burn, a glacier that has been created by surrounding waterfalls. This glacier made its claim to fame in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. If you would like to follow in Bilbo’s footsteps after leaving Rivendell, we suggest visiting Earnslaw Burn.
  • Curio Bay: At the southernmost point of the South Island lies Curio Bay. The outgoing tide reveals a 180 million year old Jurassic fossil forest, one of three accessible fossil forests in the world. During the Jurassic period, Curio Bay formed a part of the eastern margin of the ancient supercontinent, Gondwanaland. The fossil forest, which was destroyed by volcanic debris, now shows exposed tree stumps, logs and other fascinating fossils. The bay is also home to Yellow-Eyed Penguins, the rare Hector’s Dolphin and Southern Right Whales.
  • Lake Quill in the Fiordland National Park: In Fiordland National Park, located in the southwest of the South Island, is the hidden Lake Quill. The lake is situated in the high mountains of the park and is only accessible via helicopter. It also creates the Sutherland Falls, towering at 580 meters tall. Although it’s not possible to reach the lake by foot, if you follow the track along the Milford Sound, you will be able to see this extraordinary lake.
  • Stewart’s Island, Southland: The island, also known as Rakiura, is the third island in New Zealand’s main chain. The remote oasis is home to brown kiwi or Tokoeka, who outnumber the humans on the island. The island is also home to Blue Penguins and the rare Yellow-Eyed Penguins. The island offers a beautiful walk on the Rakiura Track and is known for its breathtaking night skies. Travelers are also able to see the famous Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) from the island which has received International Dark Sky Sanctuary status by the International Dark Sky Association.

There’s a hidden gem for everyone

Whether travelers seek an adventure hiking, along the coast or alongside wildlife, New Zealand offers something for everyone. We suggest starting the adventure in Queenstown, and so does Maddie.

Story by Virginia Sagal