Recommended places to travel to in New Zealand
Tunnel Beach, Dunedin
"The little beach with the little secret tunnel with the steps that you go down [Tunnel Beach, Dunedin] is amazing," Taika said. "I like the hidden-away places where you have to walk to get to them.”
Tunnel Beach, is a captivating coastal attraction celebrated for its dramatic cliffs, natural rock formations, and a hand-carved sea tunnel leading to a secluded crescent beach. The 72-meter-long tunnel was commissioned in the 19th century by John Cargill, providing private access for his family. The beach, surrounded by towering cliffs, offers stunning Pacific Ocean views and is perfect for photography and relaxation. Visitors can also explore a cliff-top walk for panoramic vistas of the Otago Peninsula.
“Fantastic Wellington, where I was raised, is always a special place to me," Taika also shared. "The south coast of Wellington was very dramatic, quite an intense place to go—it’s that beautiful."
"Then, of course, you have the North Island, and you work your way up the East Coast beaches, with nice and sunny golden sand," he continued.
"The West Coast beaches are more moody, and depending on the mood you're in, really you can get anything you want at the beaches in New Zealand."
In Wellington, New Zealand's vibrant capital city, tourists can experience a wide range of attractions and activities. They can explore the dynamic Te Papa Tongarewa Museum, showcasing the nation's art, history, and culture, or ride the iconic Wellington Cable Car for panoramic city views. Stroll along the picturesque waterfront promenade, visit the bustling Wellington Zoo, or hike through the nearby Zealandia eco-sanctuary to see native wildlife.
Tongariro National Park
Another favourite location of Taika's is Tongariro National Park - a place he visited when shooting Hunt for the Wilderpeople. “Desert Road (Tongariro National Park)... is another amazing place that I'm really happy that I got to go to," he explained, highlighting "the old, old ancient beech forests around there."
Tongariro National Park, located on New Zealand's North Island, offers tourists a truly immersive outdoor experience. Visitors can embark on one of the world's most famous day hikes, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, to witness stunning volcanic landscapes, emerald lakes, and dramatic vistas. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is home to three active volcanoes: Tongariro, Ngauruhoe (Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings trilogy), and Ruapehu. Aside from hiking, tourists can enjoy skiing and snowboarding in the winter months, mountain biking, and exploring the lush native forests.
Waihau Bay, on the East Coast and the East Cape
Taika also recommends "Waihau Bay on the East Coast; and the East Cape."
"I'm basically just naming all the places I've been to. But you know, they're all still my favourite places to go.”
“My favourite place of all time is probably Waihau Bay [Bay of Plenty] where I was brought up. This is home to me but it's very remote.”
Waihau Bay, nestled on the stunning East Coast of New Zealand's North Island, offers tourists a tranquil escape in a remote coastal paradise. Visitors can relish in the untouched beauty of the area, with its pristine beaches, lush native forests, and serene coastal waters. Fishing enthusiasts can cast a line in the bay, known for its abundant marine life. The East Cape region is renowned for its rich Maori culture, and tourists can explore historic sites, learn about traditional Maori customs, and engage in cultural experiences. The East Cape Lighthouse, perched atop a rugged cliff, offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and is a popular spot for photography.
“There’s nothing like the New Zealand landscape, especially the coastline, the west coast up here in the North Island is very unique," Taika explained, "You know, just that sand."
"I have a house out in Piha and it’s one of my favourite places. That very dark sand out there is very brooding and moody and it’s got a sort of heavy drama to it.”
Piha, located on New Zealand's North Island's west coast, is a picturesque beachside haven for tourists seeking natural beauty and outdoor adventures. The rugged black-sand beach is famous for its stunning surf and dramatic surroundings, including the iconic Lion Rock. The nearby Waitakere Ranges offer an array of hiking trails through lush rainforests, providing opportunities to explore cascading waterfalls and native flora and fauna.
New Zealand Food and Restaurant Recommendations
"The best thing that we've got is food and wine and the social scene," Taika also shared. "Being able to go out and be with people around food and dining and cafes, I think that's my favourite thing.”
“I'm really happy that New Zealand restaurants have just got better and better over the years. Some of my favourite ones at the moment, where I've eaten recently, are Lilian in Auckland, and Prego is great. Prego is an institution. Same with SPQR. Those are two solid choices. And Honey Bones, my favourite place.”
"Once I'm finished work, I don't want to go for a bush walk. I want to go home or go to a restaurant and eat awesome food with good people and have good conversation. But I am in my forties. "
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