Discover these 10 hidden holiday hotspots with a New Zealand rental car

New Zealand is a beautiful country with so much to see and do – and it’s easy to explore with a rental car. There’s the most popular places to visit, like the big cities of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, as well as the tourist towns of Rotorua and Queenstown. 

But in between those roads well travelled are some incredible locations that can easily be missed when putting together a travel itinerary. And the best way to discover them? With a NZ rental car of course! 

Here’s a few of the best hidden holiday hotspots that New Zealand has to offer. 


Mangōnui, Northland

In the ‘winterless north’ of New Zealand, you’ll find many incredible places that are worthy of a mention – and Mangōnui is most certainly one of them. This historic fishing village has beautiful heritage buildings to capture with your camera, quaint retailers to peruse and golden sand beaches that stretch for miles, and sometimes you may even be able to have one all to yourself.  

Leigh, Auckland

An hour and a half drive north of Auckland City you’ll come to the coastal settlement of Leigh. Famous for the Goat Island Marine Reserve, it has some of the very best snorkelling experiences on offer. Leigh is also great as a base, as the surrounding region is a hive of activity – from the gorgeous village of Matakana (a visit to the Sunday market is a must), to the beaches of Omaha and Pakiri. And if you’re up this way, make sure you catch the ferry from Sandspit to Kawau Island, this place is an adventure of its own.    

Ohope, Bay of Plenty

The Bay of Plenty is a long stretch of golden-sand coastline, running east to west. And right to the eastern end is Ohope, a peaceful beachside town where you can enjoy quintessential waterfront campsites, or a classic Kiwi bach. As one of New Zealand’s safest surf beaches, it’s the ideal place to learn to surf, and afterwards, grab a double scoop of ice cream from the dairy and enjoy it under the shade of the pohutukawas that line the bay.    

New Plymouth, Taranaki

New Plymouth is by no means hidden (with a population of more than 80,000), but perched on its own out on the western point of the North Island, it’s not always on everyone’s agenda to stop by. However, this city punches well above its weight when it comes to ‘what’s on’, with a vibrant, creative culture, as well as some remarkable natural scenery.  

Whangamōmona, Manawatu/Whanganui Region

Now this is one place that is a well kept secret, located on the Forgotten Highway no less and with only a mere 120 people calling the town ‘home’. Whangamōmona is famous for a few reasons, one is its rich frontier heritage and the other is that in 1989 it declared itself a republic and held presidential elections. Still to this day, the town biennially celebrates Republic Day in January – when thousands will come to town to celebrate.   

 St Arnaud, Tasman 

St Arnaud is a small alpine village and is the ideal place to visit if getting out amongst nature features high on your agenda. From stunning lakeside vistas, to canyoning adventures, mountain biking, trout fishing and skiing, no matter the time of the year, there is always something to do in this spectacular location. 

Twizel, Canterbury

The main highway skirts around the town of Twizel, but if you know what’s good for you – you’ll make sure you put it on your itinerary. Nestled amongst numerous lakes and rivers, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to watersports here. It’s also a great base to explore Mount Cook National Park, especially if mountain climbing and heli-biking are high on your holiday agenda. 

Akaroa, Canterbury

Many tourists will come to Christchurch, but not nearly as many will journey out to Akaroa, even though it is well worth the visit. This picturesque town has a strong British and French colonial history and you will want to stay a few days or more to make sure you can explore everything this region has to offer – from nature walks, to harbour cruises, artisan markets and boutique retailers. 

Punakaiki, West Coast

The west coast of the South Island can be wild, but its rawness is what makes it so unlike anywhere else in New Zealand (or perhaps even the world). Here you can explore places that feel untouched because it’s not where all the holiday makers flock – and that’s what makes it so special. Check out the famous pancake rocks and blowholes, go underground to visit glowworm caves, and end the day watching a spectacular west coast sunset from a deserted beach. 

Moeraki, Otago

Moeraki is one of those places you just have to see in person to truly experience nature in all her glory. On Koekoehe Beach you’ll find the incredible Moeraki Boulders – large, spherical stones formed 60 – 65 million years ago, scattered along the beach as though someone has simply thrown them there.  

For a small country, New Zealand certainly has a wide range of activities and scenic locations to visit. And we know it can be hard to know which are the best places to go! So check out our handy guide on the 10 top spots that can only be reached by car. They are well worth adding to your itinerary.

From our convenient locations throughout New Zealand to our wide range of rental vehicles, we have everything you need to make the most of your trip. if you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, make sure to book your rental car with NZ Rent A Car.


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If you have any questions or need help or advice about rental cars or your New Zealand travel plans we’re here to help you. Please contact us

New Zealand Free Phone: 0800 800 956

Australian Free Phone: 1800 771 302

Other international enquiries. Find your nearest New Zealand rental cars branch.


If you have any questions or need help or advice about rental cars or your New Zealand travel plans we’re here to help you. Please contact us


New Zealand Free Phone: 0800 800 956

Australian Free Phone: 1800 771 302

Other international enquiries. Find your nearest New Zealand rental cars branch.