For a little country New Zealand sure does have a lot to offer. I was lucky enough to take 6 weeks off to explore this beautiful country but when you’re on a tight time limit how do you decide where to go? Well to help here are my top 5 places to visit in the North Island.
The smelliest city in New Zealand, famous for that distinct eggy aroma that hits you when you arrive. It’s quite strong at first but honestly after a few hours you don’t really notice it as much. There are a few things that make Rotorua so special. They geysers and hot springs are a sight to see and they offer a range of outdoor activities like zorbing and luging. The highlight for me however was visiting a Maori village. It sounds like a touristy thing to do but for me I wanted to know more about the history of the people who make New Zealand so great. The way it was set up from how we were greeted when we arrived, to the performances and later, the food, was very well done. To find out more about this must do experience visit the Tamaki Maori Village page.
4. The Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands in New Zealand is just a beautiful part of the world to be in. Geographically, it is roughly in line with Sydney so the weather is quite warm. The one thing that would be a waste not to do if you’re there is to get on a boat and cruise around. To get a full appreciation of the beauty of the area you need to be on the sea and there are plenty of cruising options available to you from hiring a kayak for a few hours to swimming with the dolphins.
Waitomo is famous for its glow-worm caves and black water rafting and definitely worth a visit. I have a mild fear of enclosed spaces but I surprised myself with how excited I was to do the black water rafting I even volunteered to enter the cave first! Must have been the adrenaline. I did the 3 hour Black Labyrinth tour and absolutely loved it! There are a few different ways to view the caves though and you don’t have to go rafting. They have bigger, more open caves you can visit to see the glow worms. For more information on this bucket list item visit the Waitomo Caves website.
2. Hot Water Beach
This is probably one of the most unusual and fun beach experiences to be had. Hot Water Beach is located along the Coromandel Peninsula and the highlight of a visit here is the chance to dig your own hot pool in the sand. Most caravan parks in the area have spades for hire and at low tide you make your way on the beach, dig a hole in the sand, and watch the warm water rise up. If you dig your pool close to the shore line the cool ocean water can run in and create a nice warm temperature.
1. Tongariro National Park
This, for me, was one of the top travel experiences ever! The Tongariro Crossing is a 20km hike through volcanic active terrain. This was my first time hiking and some parts were hard and challenging but so worth it. The views are absolutely breathtaking like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The craters are still active too in some parts of my hike I could hear a rumbling. Usually this hike is a one way journey but when I went one of the crater had erupted only a few months before and the gases and flying rock were too dangerous for anyone to hike by so once we reached half way we turned around and headed back. I had the time of my life on this trip and I am keen to go back and complete the whole track. Just remember to pack plenty of food, water and sunscreen and to take regular breaks especially if you’re new to hiking. Find out more about my number one place to visit in the North Island here.