If you love nature, categorise yourself as an outdoorsy person, are easy going and enjoy exploring, New Zealand is your country. It has all sorts of landscapes from beaches to forests, mountains to lakes – even volcanoes! This beautiful land consists of two main islands – the North Island and the South Island.
I visited Auckland earlier last month, which is in the northern half and it was every bit of incredible. If you’re planning on visiting any time soon, here are a few places you absolutely must check out in North Island :
In/Around Auckland City :
- Hunua Falls : Popular falls, on the Wairoa river. Perfect place to take your picnic basket, beers and music – just relax and unwind. You can even take a swim in the falls, but let me warn you – the water is freezing cold and it is considered unsafe to swim in here so make sure you’re a good swimmer! Must visit, though.
- Mt Eden Summit: Mt Eden is the highest volcano in Auckland and the summit gives you a spectacular 360 degree view of the city. The volcano is dormant obviously and just looking at the hollow crater gives you goosebumps. Once you reach the summit, you can drive up although I recommend walking or cycling – using their pathway.
- In The City :
i. Sky Tower: The tallest building in the Southern Hemisphere, the Sky Tower again offers a fantastic view of the city. It has a rotating restaurant (Orbit 360), an observation deck, hotels and exciting nightlife with its casino and nightclub. Check out Cafe Midnight Express, a restaurant just down the road from Sky Tower for some great Turkish/Mediterranean food, once you’re done visiting the tower.
ii. Wynyard Quarter : Wynyard Quarter is a recently developed waterfront, overlooking the water at North Wharf. It has a variety of restaurants, markets and even an outdoor cinema in the summer! I recommend Marvel if you like grills – they also have great bar!
iv. Spend an evening at Mission Bay – they have some really nice restaurants and bars and well, overlooks the bay! What more do you want? Psst.. You will want to buy a house here once you see this place.
4. Muriwai Beach : This is a stunning black sand beach which attracts surfers with it’s pounding waves. It also has massive gannet colonies along it’s coast which is another reason tourists come here.
5. Kennedy Park Stairs : This place is gorgeous! They’re stairs that lead to Castor Bay and are also known as the “Stairs of Doom”. Why? Because it is a challenge to walk up and down these stairs and many people use them as a workout. Great idea, me thinks!
6. Spookers : This is a haunted attraction theme park. (It used to be a mental asylum! Yikes!) Definitely not for the faint hearted. You will relive every horror movie in one place. Deranged clowns come out of nowhere to scare you and a guy even chases you with a chainsaw in a corn maze, amongst other spooky things. Too much fun when you’re with a bunch of friends.
Other places to visit in North Island :
- Coromandel Peninsula : By far, the most beautiful place I’ve been to. Make sure you take a boat tour to Cathedral Cove, dive /snorkel in the vast marine reserves and just relax on the pristine beach of Hahei. It would be ideal to stay overnight and stay in the towns of either Whitianga or Whangamata. Do visit the Hot Water Beach – thermal pools can be dug out when the tide is low and you can have your very own spa at the beach. Wow right?
- Rotorua & Taupo : These are two different towns but I recommend you cover them in one go. Ideally go to Rotorua first where you can go to Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland and take a look at 25 different geysers/volcanic formations. A must-visit, for sure. Then you move on to Lake Taupo which is a beguiling little town with alluring views of the lake, where you can spend the night. Check out the powerful Huka falls here – these falls generate enough water to fill 20 Olympic sized pools in 1 minute – so you can imagine the intensity. Recommend sky-diving and tandem bungy jumping while you’re in Taupo!
- Waitamo : You must check out the world renowned Waitamo Glowworm Caves. (You can’t take pictures here so none to show!) Hundreds of glowworms light up these caves which you can admire on a short boat ride. A visual treat and thoroughly relaxing! While you’re in Waitamo, check out the Marokopa falls – which is a 30 minute drive from the cave.
I haven’t been to South Island (next trip for sure!) but I’ve heard it’s a lot more beautiful than North Island and trust me, North Island is magical. This country as a whole is just.. heavenly. You need to make a trip once in your lifetime, for sure.
Hope you enjoyed this post!
(PS : 90% of these pictures are unedited.)