Mention New Zealand and people immediately think bungy jumping, wine drinking, hobbits, and amazing scenery.

      

But dig a little deeper, head off the beaten track, and you’ll discover much, much more – a secret New Zealand full of unique attractions and activities just waiting to be explored.

Here’s a sampling…

1. The Hokonui Moonshine Festival – New Zealand’s original boutique whisky festival, celebrating ‘Old Hokonui‘ whiskey, is held every February in the sleepy southern town of Gore . If you miss the festival, you can still discover the region’s colourful history at the Hokonui Moonshine .

But it’s not all prohibition and illicit stills. Culture, too, can be found in Gore at the Eastern Southland Art Gallery which, by featuring a diverse collection of primarily New Zealand and Australian works, attracts thousands of art lovers from around New Zealand and the world.

2. Driving Creek Railway & Potteries – New Zealand may not have Paris but it does have it’s own ‘Eyefull’ Tower, located on the outskirts of Coromandel Town a few hours drive east of Auckland. You can only get to the tower by taking a ride  on the country’s only narrow gauge mountain railway through Barry Brickell’s working pottery and wildlife sanctuary.

A rail enthusiast, Barry started building the narrow gauge rail tracks back in the 1970s as a way of transporting the clay and pine wood located high up the hill down to his pottery studio. These days, though, the train mainly transports tourists.

3. The Giant’s House  –  Hidden away in the small harbor town of Akaroa, just 85 kilometers outside Christchurch, the Giant’s House, with it’s innovative and extravagant horticultural displays and wacky mosaic sculptures, could easily be one of the most unusual B&B’s in the world.

The house wasn’t always like that. Built in the 1880’s for the local bank manager, this two storey French Style house had, for many years, a rather sedate existence. But then artist Josie Martin arrived on the scene and gave the house a rather extreme makeover, transforming it to reflect her imaginative and whimsical personality.

 4. Tasman Glacier Terminal Lake & Iceberg  –  Very few glaciers around the world terminate into a lake. And even fewer are accessible to the average traveler. The Tasman Glacier, located within the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park  just four hours from Christchurch, offers a chance to get up closer and personal with the glacier and it’s huge floating icebergs.

5. Stonehenge Aotearoa  –  You can find the world’s newest (opened in 2005) Stonehenge, a full-scale adaptation of the original Salisbury Plains Stonehenge, just an hour’s drive north of Wellington,  New Zealand’s capital city. This New Zealand ‘Stonehenge’ incorporates Maori lore and marks the stars and constellations that Polynesian navigators followed on their voyages across the Pacific Ocean.

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Liz Lewis is a New Zealand based writer who favors wine tasting and food markets over bungy jumping and mountain climbing.