web Musings of The Global Traveller

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Un(der)appreciated Travel Gems

The other day a couple visiting New Zealand asked me where I thought they may like to go. The first place that popped into my head was an unappreciated gem of a place called Wharariki. Very few tourists go there and even most New Zealanders do not know the place exists.

One reason few go there is because it is located at the end of the world - you have to go out of your way to go there.
  • New Zealand itself is a long way from most other countries.
  • Nelson at the top of the South Island is a tourist town, but not one of the top places those with short stays in New Zealand typically go to.
  • From Nelson it is an hour to Abel Tasman National Park (another stunning place to go with great seascapes and kaarst limestone cave systems, but this one is really appreciated especially in summer).
  • From Abel Tasman there is a moderate drive over Takaka Hill to the quiet rural valleys of Golden Bay. Golden Bay has just one significant town, Takaka.
  • From Takaka it is about an hour's drive to the base of Farewell Spit.
  • Farewell Spit as seen from Puponga
  • To get to Wharariki from the base of Farewell Spit, there is a short drive down a gravel road followed by a 20 minute walk across farmland and bush to reach the coast at the northwestern tip of the South Island.Wharariki beach looking to Archway Islands

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I love Wharariki because, despite the surrounding farmland, it is a wild place that fills my soul. The strong winds and seas have shaped the land into amazing forms, caves, dunes, archways and wetlands. The exposed trees are on a permanent lean while in sheltered valleys they stand tall.

This is but one of my unappreciated travel gems. While Wharariki is essentially hidden away from the rest of the world, others may be out in the open. Like the bridges of the Sumida River in Tokyo and how each has a different colour and look. Not as famous as the Tower Bridge in London or the Sydney Harbour Bridge, but I like it.

What are your un(der)appreciated travel gems?

1 comment:

jeffpatch said...

I have to admit, living in California I have not taken advantage of all that California has to offer.

People travel here in droves and visit places like Hollywood Blvd and Disneyland. They don't bother to enjoy all the beauty that California has to offer, from great mountains, beaches, and who can forget the amazing forests.

Sometimes the most unappreciated places are right in your backyard.