Twenty days, ten for the North Island and ten for the South Island. This was the time budget for our great escape to the opposite end of the world. The North Island itinerary was full of adventure, beautiful nature and modern cities.
By our I mean mine and Martin’s. It took me some emotional blackmailing to persuade him to fly about 30 hours, probably as far away from Sweden as you can go. But I knew that it was now or never and I knew we won’t regret (the time, the money, and mainly all the hours on a plane). And we don’t because New Zealand is just full of those places that leave you speechless and… I stop here before it gets too pathetic. But yeah, it was great :)
Our first destination was Auckland, where we were meeting our old friends Viktoria and Marek. They’ve been living on Waiheke Island near Auckland for a couple of months and the plan was to meet for a North Island road trip before we continue to the South Island and they go traveling to Australia. It was so much fun to travel with a group of people (I am really not a solo traveler) and it was great as they already had a lot of insight into the Kiwi world.
Here is a day-by-day itinerary of the North Island trip. Don’t be disappointed, this is not all. I plan to regularly deliver our New Zealand adventures one at a time. I will try not to overwhelm you, but I have to put all those photos somewhere, you know ;) I hope you will be half (or at least 10%) as happy looking at the pictures as I was taking them.
Day 1: Hobbiton Movie Set
Well, we are all huge The Lord of the Rings fans (and especially Martin) and a visit to the hobbit village was the first point in our program.
Day 2: Waitomo Glowworm Caves
We bought a package from Kiwi Cave Rafting and it was a breathtaking adventure. Abseiling, blackwater rafting, watching glowworms glow in the dark, caving and climbing. Many first times for me!
Day 3: Tongariro Alpine Crossing
Tongariro Crossing is a 19.4-kilometre track that is often labeled “the best one-day hike in New Zealand and one of the 10 best hikes in the world”. And I wouldn’t argue about it. Passing through the volcanic country offers far more than some moonlike views.
Days 4 and 5: Wellington
There were two main items on our schedule in Wellington – Weta Workshop studios, where they make cool stuff for the movie industry, and Te Papa museum, a big cultural, historical and natural history museum. Except for that, we spent most of the time enjoying Wellington’s food and coffee.
Day 6: Napier Art Deco Festival
We accidentally managed to plan our visit of Napier, a famous art-deco town, just during the Art-deco festival. It’s probably the biggest event in Napier every year and it was amazing how many people were enjoying this throwback to the beginning of the last century. Most women were wearing dresses from 1920s or 1930s, umbrellas, pearls and were accompanied by gentlemen in jazzbows, galluses and hats. You could hear live bands almost everywhere and I just regret that we didn’t have time to enjoy more of the program.
Day 7: Taupo and Huka Falls
You don’t have to visit a spa when you want a hot bath in Taupo. There are many hot springs that people can enjoy for free. We took a chance to relax a bit as well and joined about 30 other people sitting in a spot where hot springs join the Waikato River. All refreshed, we followed the path along the Waikato River until we came to the Huka Falls. These waterfalls have a flowthrough of about 220,000 litres per second and the colour of the water is pretty impressive.
Day 8: Rotorua
Rotorua is famous for geothermal activity in the area and it’s also a popular holiday destination. Two places that we wanted to visit were the Waiotapu geothermal area with colourful lakes and Te Puia, a skansen with thermal vents, geysirs and exhibitions of Maori culture and history.
In Rotorua, we said bye to Viktoria and Marek and got on a bus back to Wellington and from there on a ferry to the South Island. Ten days later we came back to Auckland by plane from Christchurch and stayed two days in Auckland.
Days 9 and 10: Auckland
Third of New Zealand’s population lives in Auckland in the far north of the North Island. It is a modern city with lots of skyscrapers, a big central shopping street with all the expensive brands and also with a charming harbour with a lively atmosphere.