I’ve written before about all of the reasons the north island of New Zealand is amazing. It makes me so sad when people choose to skip it, or simply rush their way through. If you want to break my heart just tell me you’ve heard there’s nothing much to see. But do be aware that will initiate a good 45-minute lecture. With slides.
Of course, you might say I’m not one to talk as somehow we’ve gone full cliche and ended up living in Queenstown. But the reason we chose the south is because of our in-laws in the north – we know we’ll be spending plenty of time up there anyway. In fact, we’re going to be exploring the north island for the rest of our lives!
After spending a lovely few weeks up north before Christmas I found even more reasons to love New Zealand’s north island. And they don’t even involve wine!
I’ve waffled on before about how much I fell in love with Wellington. It’s unlike any capital city I’ve been to, feeling more like a big town than a bustling metropolis. Pair that with friendly locals, bright blue ocean and a quirky culture and you’ve got the recipe for a long and loving relationship.
Te Waihou walkway and The Blue Springs
One of the best things about new Zealand is how many hidden gems there are. Tucked around the corner from my in laws house is an unassuming looking little stream. Follow the path alongside it and you’ll soon see some of the clearest water in the world. The blue pools are becoming a lot more well known nowadays, but the Te Waihou walkway is not something to be missed either.
Gah, seriously guys the coastline around Raglan is just superb. All that black sand and blue ocean framed by some crazy beautiful cliffs. We only went for an afternoon but I could easily spend a week exploring the many coves and bays around the area.
The Desert road drive
When we were planning our drive down south Mikey had only one option when it came to our route. We were going to be driving the desert road. The south island tends to get all of the kudos when it comes to scenic drives, but there’s something to amazingly eerie about the volcanic landscape of the desert road. Add in the fact that you’re driving past mount doom and you’ve got the recipe for the perfect road trip.
So. many. waterfalls
I had no idea about how many waterfalls there were to discover in the North Island! Bridal veil falls piqued my interest slightly (under-exaggeration if I ever heard one) and now I’ve got a huge list of places to visit when we head back up. Huka and Bridal veil falls are the tip of a very large iceberg – Wairere falls is currently calling my name.
A second flying visit to Rotorua only reminded us of how much we still have to explore there. It’s the town that has everything – geothermal activity, amazing spas, crazy activities and that’s barely even scratching the surface! I think you could easily spend a week here and not spend a second feeling bored. Hopefully one day we will!
Camping in the Waikato
DOC campsites are a little thin on the ground in the Waikato, so we were pleasantly surprised to learn about a free council site on the banks of Lake Karapiro. The Little Waipa Reserve is free for the first two nights so you can pretend you’re living in a real life Hobbiton for a day or two. It has beautiful lake views and we spent a lovely evening there watching the sun set.
South Island Coastline
The interisland ferry is something of a must-do for road trippers. As in – you really must do it if you’re driving the length of the country! It must be one of the most spectacular ferry rides out there and felt more like a scenic boat trip than a form of transportation. I braved the ferocious winds and watched the coastline of the south island slip away with awe. Then shuddered as I realised I just added ‘road trip the coast around Wellington’ to my ever growing New Zealand to-do list.
There is still so much for me to see in the north island! I’m desperate to watch sunrise over Mt Taranaki, walk the Tongariro alpine crossing, drive to the tip of Cape Reinga, have a city break where I eat my way through Auckland, and drink all of the wine that Napier has to offer.
Skipping the north island when you visit New Zealand is down right crazy. Why on earth would you want to miss out on all of these amazing things, just to spend more time in the mountains?
Mountains schmountains I say!