Last updated: 09:00 PM ET, Tue October 04 2016

Opinion Home | The Adventures of Worldwide Scott

  • Worldwide Scott | October 4, 2016 9:00 PM ET

    4 Hidden Gems to See in New Zealand

    4 Hidden Gems to See in New Zealand

    Photos by Scott Hartbeck

    Tell someone you will be traveling to New Zealand, and you are bound to be showered with plenty of free travel advice. Among the most popular nuggets will be things like “skip Auckland, and head straight out to the countryside,” “you simply must go to Rotorua,” “whatever you do, don’t miss a chance to eat at Fergburger in Queenstown” and “ice climb Franz Josef Glacier if it’s the last thing you do!”

    Nobody will tell you to stop in a town called Taihape, though. Well, until now, because here are four slightly less famous places in New Zealand that I think are definitely worth a visit.    


    This town near the center of the North Island may typically be passed through on the way to glitzier locales, but those that heed the billboard that asks “the train stops in Taihape, so why don’t you?” will be richly rewarded. A colorful and quaint main street complete with gorgeous white-and-coral-green town hall sets the tone, but it’s the chucking of rubber boots that truly sets this town apart.

    Wait, what’s this about throwing galoshes? Well, around here, they are called gumboots, and Taihape is the undisputed “gumboot capital of the world” since it hosts an annual gumboot throwing contest and is home to a giant sculpture of a gumboot.

    The contest was cooked up in the 1980s as a fun way to help offset the area’s economic decline, and even if the contest isn’t on when you’re in town (it’s held the Tuesday after Easter), you are still more than welcome to try your hand at gumboot tossing at the town-run throwing lane. To truly feel like a local, grab a beer at the Gretna Hotel’s bar, gumboots optional.


    The most populated place on the list, Nelson - located near the top of the South Island - is the sunniest city in all of New Zealand and has become a mecca for both the creative and artistically inclined. The cityscape reminded me of a western town in the United States, but its proximity to the coastal paradise that is Abel Tasman National Park made it feel a million miles away from home.  While the town impressed me from the start, I fell in love with it at Morrison Street Cafe, which serves bodacious brunch and coffee and doubles as an art gallery - Nelson in a nutshell. 


    A surf town on the west coast of the North Island, Raglan feels like a bit of Southern California picked up and moved “down under.” Legendary for its “left-hand break” which is among the longest and most reliable in the entire world, the town has been abuzz with surfers since its black sands appeared in the iconic surfing film “Endless Summer.” Even if you don’t know what a left-hand break is (like me), you’ll still love the chilled-out vibe of the town and super cool cafes like The Shack


    Most people rush through Timaru to get to cosmopolitan Christchurch or Kaikoura and its world-famous whale-watching tours, but I say not so fast. No, Timaru offers more than enough fun to keep you entertained for a day or two, including, but certainly not limited to, Caroline Bay Park and its sweeping beachside boardwalk, the South Canterbury Museum - which details the history of this special region - and the Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden, which is home to over 10,000 roses. Even if you don’t hit any of the “big three” attractions, the town exemplifies coastal South Island life, and you’ll be glad you dropped in and got to experience it.    


You may use your Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook information, including your name, photo & any other personal data you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on Click here to learn more.

Worldwide Scott The Adventures of Worldwide Scott

Worldwide Scott Born in the U.S.A like Springsteen but trying to see the world like Pitbull, Worldwide Scott is the voice behind the hard-hitting travel site of the same name. Employing a groundbreaking strategy of visiting destinations, coming home, and then writing things about them on the internet, Worldwide Scott only tackles the tough questions that other writers wouldn't dare touch: Is travelling fun? Are there pretty places in the world? Do people in other countries wear clothes? Does Europe really exist? And if so, what's the beer like there? Stick around, he's going places.
Journey on an Avalon River Cruise

Cruise Lines & Cruise Ships