13 Mar Our First Week in the North Island, New Zealand
I can hardly believe that we left the UK just a week ago; since we touched down in New Zealand we haven’t stopped exploring. Each day has been crammed with new sights and experiences; from night kayaking and fishing to bathing on a hot water beach and trekking to the top of a volcanic island. We’ve driven 1,100 Kilometres, slept in five different beds, cooked in three different kitchens, got injured (Amy) and sunburned (both of us) and overall, had an amazing time – here’s the story of our first week on the road in New Zeland’s North Island.
First Stop on the North Island New Zealand: Auckland
We flew into Auckland and spent a disorientating first day and night battling exhaustion and jet-lag. It was so strange to arrive in a country which on first glance looked so similar to England but yet was so far away from home. It definitely took a while to get our heads around the fact that this was it, we’d finally escaped the rat race and made it out onto the road; we took a walk into Auckland that first evening to try and let the reality sink in.
Paihia and the Bay of Islands
On day two we hopped straight in our rental car and headed up north to the beautiful but tiny sea-side town Paihia. On the way we got our first real taste of the famous New Zealand scenery and marvelled at the lush green forests, mountains and then the turquoise ocean as we drove along the coast. We didn’t have much time in Paihia before setting out on our Rock Boat Cruise.
After an action-packed trip on the Rock Boat we drove the short distance to Kerikeri, a beautiful area crammed with orchards, farms and vineyards. There we stayed in our nicest hostel yet, set on a farm and orange orchard it came complete with pet dogs, a cat and pigs and chickens. Our stay was peaceful and relaxing; we had fresh eggs for breakfast and spent our first day there visiting waterfalls and forests. Our second day we went to Rewa’s Village, which is a reconstruction of a traditional Maori settlement and stopped at a blueberry orchard for ice-cream on our way back down to Auckland.
Auckland Take 2
Back in Auckland the sun was well and truly shinning, with temperatures reaching up to 26 degrees. We took advantage of the clear skies to gaze at the awesome view of the city from Mount Eden before catching a Maori cultural performance at the museum, which included a very ferocious Haka. We discovered that Auckland has beautiful parks as we strolled around the Pasifika festival and caught the ferry out to Rangitoto island, which was formed only 600 years ago by a volcanic eruption. We took a steep, hot climb up to the summit and were rewarded by yet more fantastic views.
We spent the last part of our first week in Tairua, where we took a walk to Cathedral Cove and finally found time to relax on Hot Water Beach, where you could bathe in 60 degree water heated by carbon dioxide from the ground. We weren’t as impressed by this as we’d hoped; given that there were hundreds of other people digging all around us with spades it kind of ruined the mood!
So what’s next? We’ll be visiting Raglan, checking out the glowworm caves in Waitomo, chilling out at the thermal springs in Rotorua, hiking the Tongoriro crossing (aka Mount Doom) and heading down to windy Wellington – stay tuned!
Chris StocktonPosted at 11:13h, 13 March
Glad to hear its all going so well and you’re having fun! Hope you enjoy Raglan, and Matts place!
AmyPosted at 21:25h, 13 March
Thanks Chris, we popped into Raglan yesterday and it looks really nice, Matt’s place is amazing, the views are incredible and such a friendly family!
The GuyPosted at 12:35h, 13 March
Sounds like you’ve been very active in your first week and had lots of fun. The hot water beach sounds very interesting. Mind you the beach photos do look beautiful overall.
AmyPosted at 21:20h, 13 March
It’s really difficult to decide which places to stop at as everywhere looks like a postcard; it is so picturesque! We spend most of our driving time thinking – Wow, another amazing view!
The Hot Water Beach was interesting, the only drawback was the number of people, I expect it would be better during the winter.
CharliePosted at 14:48h, 13 March
Wow, you’ve had a busy week! You guys must be exhausted. Great to see you’re enjoying yourselves. New Zealand looks amazing as well!
AmyPosted at 21:12h, 13 March
We are pretty tired, haven’t slept this well in quite a long time. So much to see every day! We’re off to Waitomo today to see the glowworms!
PattiPosted at 05:55h, 16 March
AndrewPosted at 07:08h, 16 March
Thanks, but I have to say it was difficult to take a bad picture in that part of the world!
JoPosted at 20:43h, 19 March
Awestruck! I used to know someone who grew up in Kerikeri. You guys look so different already and glad you’re back on the icecream! I hope you didn’t injure yourself badly, Amy. The Hot Water Beach sounds interesting, if not very romantic! Were people digging out their own spas? Cathedral Cove looks very quiet considering how beautiful it is. Looking forward to hearing about the glowworms!
AmyPosted at 22:57h, 19 March
Wow – what a coincidence that you knew someone from Kerikeri; that has been one of our fave places so far. My injury was an insect bite inside my mouth which caused the whole side of my mouth and part of my face to swell up at least three times its normal size – I looked like the elephant man! Thankfully there was a nurse next door and the swelling went down within 24 hours. Yep, people were digging furiously with spades and competing for the best spots on Hot Water Beach, it was quite hectic! I’ll be posting about the glowworms soon x
Louisa KlimentosPosted at 02:49h, 07 January
What an amazing Mauori culture.We learned alot at school about New zealand and we had to sing the traditional song Por Karri karri Ana and had it recorded on record.When Australia played Rugby league against New Zealand ,the New Zealanders use to demonstrate the war chant.We all loved it.I didn’t realise that you did also the North island and I am glad you enjoyed it.It is a shame that people who did the South island first ,then the North Island ,were a little let down with the North.I think The north island would be similar to Wales in the UK in some ways and has an active Vocano that you would not find in the South Island ,plus the beaches are better for swimming ,as the waters are warmer to swim in.You will learn lots about the culture.There are only two countries in the world that have Glow Worms and they are New Zealand and Australia.,love always Louisa
AmyPosted at 12:27h, 07 January
We had such an amazing time in New Zealand and we loved the North Island but I do wish we’d spent more time in the South. We definitely need to go back one day, I can’t believe we were there almost three years ago now!
Louisa KlimentosPosted at 23:29h, 10 January
Yes ,time flies when you are having fun ,but you will return to the south island one day.If you return to Australia you can do a side trip to New Zealand because in the near future air fares will be cheap between New Zealand and Australia.So if you are able to ,do the South island againas most people do love it even more than the north island.God bless you ,love louisa
AmyPosted at 11:22h, 11 January
Oh, that sounds tempting! Hopefully we’ll return sometime during the next few year 🙂
SarahPosted at 14:52h, 03 January
Nice photos. Auckland never fails to amaze me. The city offers a lot of great places.
AmyPosted at 12:47h, 08 January
It sure does Sarah, we’d love to return one day 🙂