Despite being one of, if not the, most remote countries in the world, New Zealand has become such a popular tourist destination that many of its most beautiful natural sites like Milford Sound or the Church of the Little Shepard in Topeko have become crowded to say the least. But this country that’s way, way out in the Pacific Ocean is so geographically diverse that there are still some spots that you can intimately enjoy among its landscape of white sand beaches and lush rainforests, alpine lakes and snow covered mountains.

See some of the adrenaline packed adventures that we’ve found, some of which can only be had through small, exclusive private tours. And start planning a future trip to this ideal vacation destination that’ll be ecofriendly and satisfy your pent up wanderlust.  

See Auckland by Air

Image via Sucheta Rawal

One way to see some of New Zealand away from the crowds is to get high above it all. While many visitors get a glimpse of Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city (the capital is Wellington), when they fly into this hub for international flights, you can take a scenic 40-90 minute flight over it with Auckland Seaplanes. Taking a private flight for just the two of you or sharing a plane with a few other high flyin’ folks is one of the best, most intimate ways to see the scenic skyline and harbor. You can soar over Hauraki Gulf, Rangitoto crater, Waiheke Island, as well as the surrounding beaches and vineyards. It’s a great introduction to this cosmopolitan metropolis that’s filled with bars, restaurants, nightlife and skyscrapers.  

Hike in a Glow Cave in Waitomo

Waitomo is famous for its underground caving system where you can hike, walk, boat ride, abseil, zipline and raft. Book a guided tour with Glowing Adventures that takes you through New Zealand’s native forest into a private family farm cave, with no more than 8 people. There are no handrails, electric lights, concrete paths, or other modifications, and the tour involves climbing over boulders, hills and wading through streams, so it’s truly a secluded adventure. You will be rewarded with an underground galaxy of native glow worms that look like a star studded night sky. 

Visit Maori People at Mokoia Island

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At first glance, Rotorua appears to be a mini Las Vegas. But step away from the commercial areas and you will find small bubbling mud pools, pristine lakes and exclusive trails. This is also the seat of Maori culture, and instead of booking a show with thousands of other guests, experience a welcome Powhiri, cultural performance and tour at Mokoia Island. Be greeted by members of local Hapu of Ngati Whakaue, who own and manage the activities on the island. Guided tours include jet transfers, a visit to Hinemoa’s pool, walking through the bird sanctuary, and a song and dance performance.  

Swim in Lake Rotoiti or Its Hot Pools

There are many Polynesian pools in North Island that are often packed with tourists brought by cheap airline flights. The locals prefer to relax in smaller, lesser known thermal hot springs.  To discover these sandy coves, lake edge thermal hot springs, glow worm caves, and cultural sites rich in history and legend, take a sunset sail with Pure Cruise New Zealand on the calm waters of Lake Rotoiti. On board, you can also taste New Zealand wines and snack on local cheeses. 

Sail on a Luxury Yacht in the Marlborough Sounds

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The Marlborough Sounds encompass 1,500 km (over 900 miles) of coastline, bays, beaches and woods. You can spend days wine tasting, hiking, diving, fishing or cruising through the area, or you can spend a day aboard a scenic seafood cruise with Marlborough Tour Company, all outfitted with a private captain and a chef. Run by locals who grew up in the area, the luxurious voyage features nature walks, visit to mussel and salmon farms, as well as sampling of fresh local salmon, mussels and clams, crayfish and paua found in the area.  

Watch The Star Studded Sky at Mt Cook

Picturesque by day and dazzling by night, Lake Tekapo and Aoraki Mount Cook National Park are some of the most beautiful spots on the South Island for nature lover. Stay at the secluded family-run luxury lodge, Mt Cook Lakeside Retreat where you can see towering Mt Cook (New Zealand’s highest mountain) over the Southern Alps, and a turquoise colored alpine Lake Pukaki. As part of UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve, this is also an ideal spot for stargazing. There’s even a secret wine cellar that leads into an observatory on the property.  

Fly Over New Zealand’s Highest Peaks

Image via Sucheta Rawal

Skip the buzzing adventure capital of Queenstown and head to its relatively quieter neighbor, Wanaka. Book a photo shoot or an adventure heli ride with Aspiring Helicopters. Fly through glacial valleys of the Southern Alps, mountainous terrains of Mt Aspiring National Park, spectacular Milford Sound, and the rugged West Coast. Not only will you get the best Instagramable shots, you can also land on a glacier, play in the snow, and get up close to New Zealand’s highest peaks. 

Editor’s note: The author of this post may either have a relationship with or received other compensation from the product or service providers that are featured in this writing.

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About The Author

Sucheta is an award winning food and travel writer who has traveled to 70+ countries and is on a mission to see the entire world. She is also the founder of the nonprofit organization, Go Eat Give, which promotes cultural awareness through food, travel and volunteering. Sucheta is the author of a series of children's books on travel, "Beato Goes To" that teach kids about different countries and cultures.