Best secret New Zealand weekends

Wouldn't it be ace to spend a weekend in New Zealand, off the grid? Well, our local experts have come up with a bunch of great 'off-the-beaten-track' destinations where you can sidestep the crowds and enjoy a wonderful weekend at one with nature.

Waiheke Island, North Island

Jump on a ferry in Auckland and just 35 minutes later, you will arrive in holiday heaven. Waiheke Island has earned its title as one of New Zealand’s best holiday spots, due to its world-class wineries, sweeping palms and a bunch of great beach activities. Your days can be as calm or hectic as you like, either spent gazing over vine covered valleys or paddle boarding your way around the crystal blue bays.

Port Jackson Camping Ground, North Island

Located on the north bank of Port Jackson, this picturesque camping ground offers a tranquil weekend getaway for groups, couples and families. Only a 3 hour drive from Auckland, the campsite sits beside the stunning Coromandel State Park and offers a range of walking trails, including the coastal Muriwai walk. The area is also ideal for water activities, where visitors can swim, boat or kayak.

Tiritiri Matangi Island, North Island

Tiritiri Matangi Island is an open wildlife sanctuary and a must for bird watching enthusiasts. The island is home to 87 bird species and a range of native flora and fauna, making it one of the world’s most successful conservation projects.

Tiritiri Matangi is only accessible via boat, and only open to exclusive organised day trips. However, due to its close proximity to the mainland, there are a range of off-island accommodation options available, such as tent or vehicle camping at Te Haruhi Bay in the stunning Shakespear Regional Park.

New Zealand's South Island
New Zealand's South Island

Mosquito Bay, South Island

There aren’t many places more beautiful than the Abel Tasman National Park, and arguably none more exquisite than Mosquito Bay.

The bay is formed by several exclusive stretches of beach bordering crystal blue waters, offering a uniquely serene natural setting. This is a camping only location that is only accessible by boat, with only 20 non-powered sites for the ultimate ‘back-to-nature’ experience.

Activities are only limited to what your imagination can conjure, but paddle boarding is a popular way to take in the amazing scenery. One of the NZ Department of Conservation’s Great Walk campsites, Mosquito Bay is part of the world-renowned Abel Tasman Coast Track.

Lake Wakatipu, South Island

New Zealand’s longest lake also happens to be one of the country’s most beautiful scenic spectacles. An interesting fact about Lake Wakatipu is that it is second purest lake in the world.

Despite the purity of its waters, it is not ideal for swimming. Wakatipu’s water temperatures hover around 10 degrees Celsius all year round. The remarkable surroundings more than make up for it though.

If you’re thinking about accommodation options, don’t overlook glorious Glenorchy. The town is only 70km north-west of Queenstown, and is arguably one of the most photogenic spots in New Zealand. The YHA in Kinloch is a 5 minute boat ride from Glenorchy, and makes for the perfect weekend escape. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the wilderness rooms.

Momorangi Bay Campground, South Island

Momorangi Bay is a Kathmandu staff favourite. Visitors can either pitch a tent or park a campervan at this especially scenic spot.

The bay has activities to suit all tastes, including boating, fishing, walking and swimming. The sheltered bay makes Momorangi ideal for families who don’t want to venture too far from creature comforts, with the General Store offering ice cream by day and fish and chips at night. The glow worm grotto is also a fun spot to visit, just a short walk away.