Waterfall in the middle of trees

The North Island of New Zealand – The Best Week

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Back in 2015 a friend and I set off for another road trip this time it was around New Zealand’s North Island. We had 1 week to see as much as possible. It was May so the winter was closing in on us. Also, after the North Island, we travelled around the South Island for 2 weeks.

Auckland, New Zealand’s North Island

Auckland was by far the busiest place we visited on this trip. We booked up all our activities with the travel desk at the hostel. Therefore, once we hit the road we didn’t have to worry about that. Our budget was very tight at this point. So, having one less expense to worry about made the trip more relaxing. We knew all we had to pay for on the road was food and petrol (gas).

Bay of Islands, New Zealand‘s North Island

Bay of Islands in he North Island of New Zealand
The Bay of Islands

As we drove north, the roads were empty. Every once in a while, you would see another vehicle mainly another traveller. Consequently, this made the drive all the more pleasant. So, singing badly kept us entertained on long drives. The first stop was the Bay of Islands which is North of Auckland.

The road’s surface was smooth. However, the road itself twists, turns, and winds through valleys. Trees and fields which are deep green in colours line the roadside. Basically, like the countryside in England but on steroids, everything stood out more.

Our first activity was the boat ride out to the hole in the wall. Having wrapped up in everything warm we had, we set off. The wind was blowing and the weather was against us. However, the captain tried and tried to get us to the hole in the wall. Yet, the waves were gaining momentum making it too choppy. Therefore, the captain made the decision not to attempt it. The weather played its part but this wouldn’t be the last time it stopped play.

Hot Water Beach, New Zealand’s North Island

The beatuiful Hot Water Beach in New Zealand
Finding the Hot Pools at Hot Water Beach

Hot water beach. Now, this was a cool stop on the North Island. It’s not a random name selection there is a meaning behind it. So, the thing with this beach is that you can dig your own hot tub. The tide has to be right and unfortunately, it was coming in for us. Yet, we still managed to get a feel of the hot water that comes up from the ground. Oh my… it was hot!!! Definitely living up to its name.

Black Water Rafting, Waitomo

Time for another pre-organised activity. This time we were in Waitomo where we went black water rafting. Something I have never done before. The excitement builds along with a little apprehension. Not knowing what to really expect. At the start, we were told we are on the hunt for glow worms.

All dressed and ready to go, we took the bus to the starting point. We had the inner tire tubes with us. We were going underground in water. Floating along in these tubes. Sounds like fun. Well… not only sounded like fun it was. We had to jump down at times, backwards, so that we could land in the ring.

Then before you leave you finally see the glow worms… very pretty all over the walls of the cave. However, guess what? The glow comes from their own faeces. Yes… turns out you come to see poo! But this activity was so much fun and I definitely recommend it.

After, you can shower which to us was a big deal. We were living in a van without this convenience. We had road tripped the East Coast of Australia where showers are available at beaches. However, in New Zealand, it is harder to find free showers. All-round happiness!!

Rotorua, New Zealand

Well, next we headed down to Rotorua. Rotorua is a geothermal town which means the underground is heated due to geothermal activity. Along the way, we picked up a hitchhiker. So, for the next 100 km, he laid in our bed. New Zealand was cold therefore we just left the van as a bed. I guess we were too lazy to keep putting it back and getting it out again. The guy was German and had sweets! As we covered the 100 km, singing was replaced by chatting and sharing stories. It was nice to meet another person. We didn’t get him all the way to his final destination but certainly covered a big chunk of it. Now hopefully we have got some good karma in the bank.

THe geothermal pools of sulphur around the town of Rotorua in the North Island
The Steam Coming from a Geothermal Pool

We crept into town at night under the cover of darkness so we just found somewhere to park on the road. What we didn’t realise was how smelly Rotorua was going to be. The stink of sulphur was everywhere. We did seriously wonder how people could live there. However, I guess you would get used to it. During the summer back home we get the smell of country air. I barely notice it now. Therefore, it must be the same for the residents of Rotorua.

Geothermal Pools…

Just by wandering around the main part of town, you will find geothermal pools dotted here there, and everywhere! It looks quite disgusting, the mud bubbling away, bringing you the ripe smell of sulphur. At the same time, it is crazy to think that all that bubbling is coming from the earth.

White Water Rafting…

Another pre-booked activity. We ring up the companies along the way to see when they can fit us in. It was wintertime, so we always got a place last minute. In Asia, we went white water rafting. However low water meant it was more of a float down the river. So, I was pumped for this fast pace grade 5 white water experience.

And it delivered, the adrenaline rush was just what I was looking for. The rapids were fierce and the drop down a 7 metre waterfall got the heart pumping a little faster. Two options when going down: you stay in or end up in the water. Luckily, we mastered it and we were all in the raft… the same couldn’t be said for all the other rafts. The guide was informative with the history of the area which was great. Also, he made us stand up and surf through the rapids. He did try really hard to make me lose balance… he failed!! I didn’t leave the raft.

Mital Maori Village…

Traditional Huka being performed by Maori Natives in New Zealand,
Enjoying Watching the Traditional Huka

This was a unique dining experience of the Mital Maori Village. Local Maori village hosted many for dinner. Here, we got to hear about some of the history of the Maori people. We wandered through a forest in the dark to watch a light show. This was a lovely walk along the stream. Also, dinner was cooked in the traditional way, and let’s say the food was perfect! The whole show they put on was fantastic. We even watched the Huka. This dance has always been mesmerising to me.

Our Final Stop in the North Island…

The powerful water falling over Huka Falls att Lake Taupo on the North Island
The Powerful Water at Huka Falls

So far New Zealand has been beautiful, with lots of greenery as we covered kilometre after kilometre. So, it was time to see a lake. This lake was very big. Lake Taupo. Just for fun, you can hit a golf ball off a ledge and into the lake… mine never made it over the rocks. It was nice to walk around and explore the lake.

Also, we went to Huka Falls. I didn’t know what to expect but the power of the water rushing through was insane. As well as the clear blue colour of the water. A true natural beauty.

Now It was Time to Get to the South Island

Pretty simple right? Book a ferry from one port to another. Yes. Done. So, in the queue, we waited and then someone checked our ticket… just to tell us I booked it the wrong way. Yes… I stupidly booked it from the South Island to the North Island. However, all was not lost as they had spaces on the one about to leave. Luckily, they changed the ticket at no extra cost. Phew. Mistakes like this do crop up when travelling. You are booking and moving so much that it’s hard to keep track sometimes. Got away with it this time. It was a great road trip driving around New Zealand’s North Island.

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