New Zealand North Island

New Zealand in three weeks: The North Island itinerary

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.

We’ve managed to see a big part of the island.

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.

A hobbit hole in Hobbiton.

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!

Adventurous visit to Waitomo Caves.

 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.

Tongariro Crossing, one of the best one day hikes in the world.

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.

Te Papa is an impressive museum of New Zealands history, culture and nature.

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.

Visiting Napier during Art Deco Festival is an amazing experience.

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.

Huka Falls are famous for the extraordinary colour.

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.

Central part of the North Island has vulcanic origin and many thermal springs are found in the area.

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.

Auckland is a modern city that you can easily see from the top of the Sky Tower.




  • Reply Girl Gone Expat

    Amazing pictures! Haven’t been to NZ, but hopefully we get to go there some time. The Tongariro Alpine Crossing looks amazing, but fairly crowded judging from the picture? I was also not aware that they had hot spring in NZ, I obviously need to read up on the area:)

    March 13, 2015 at 01:35
    • Reply patriciatravelstheworld

      Yeah, it is an amazing country! I think they have got probably everything there :) And you are right, Tongariro is super crowded. That was the only bad thing about it, it felt a bit too turistic.

      March 13, 2015 at 07:51
  • Reply roamingpursuits

    Fabulous photos. Rotorua is so unique.

    March 13, 2015 at 07:57
    • Reply patriciatravelstheworld

      I completely agree, I was surprised by how much this town and its surroundings have to offer! :)

      March 13, 2015 at 08:04
  • Reply Drew

    Wow, Tongariro Alpine Crossing looks like a great hike!

    March 15, 2015 at 01:50
    • Reply patriciatravelstheworld

      It really is. The only bad thing about it is that it’s become pretty crowded and full of turists. But still, definitely worth a visit :)

      March 15, 2015 at 11:14
      • Reply Drew

        That can be a drag, but maybe getting there really early can avoid the huge crowds!

        March 16, 2015 at 21:38
        • Reply patriciatravelstheworld

          I guess that’s the only solution. However, we were limited by the times that a shuttle from National Park village leaves to the start of the trail as it is a one-way hike and you need somebody to get you there and back.

          March 17, 2015 at 08:01
  • Reply New Zealand in three weeks: The South Island itinerary | The Journey Journal

    […] If you want to see the North Island itinerary, take a look at New Zealand in three weeks: The North Island itinerary […]

    March 19, 2015 at 17:09
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