There are so many places to explore and see in this magical country. Here are five of my favorite spots in the North Island.
1. Cape Reinga and Te Paki Sand Dune
It is on the north end of the North Island. It takes about six hours drive from Auckland. It would be best to camp out at the beach near the light house to see the sunrise, sunset, and stargaze at night. I bet it would be a magical experience.
Tip: I would suggest to stop at the Bay of Islands and spend at least a night in one of the towns. I stayed in Paihia. There are lots of bush walks around. Horotutu Bay and Haruru Falls are the ones I explored. The Haruru falls is one of the kiwi habitats. You might get lucky and spot some kiwis at night. Kiwis are nocturnal birds.
The view from the hills were incredible. You can see the bay and the sparking fine sand from the top. Have fun surfing at the best sand dunes in the island!
Tip: Spend the night at Cape Reinga’s campground and spend the whole day to explore the dunes. There is so much to see around the area. There are a few places where you could sand surf in the island. It would be best to buy a boogie board and sell/give it to others when you are done.
2. Huka Falls
The very first blue waterfalls I have ever seen in my life. The water that flows in this fall comes from Lake Taupo. There is a track that goes to Spa Thermal pool which is approximately two hours return trip.
Tip: Be prepared. Wear your swimsuit under your hiking clothes, invest in a nice little waterproof bag -- do not leave any valuables in the car or unattended while you are taking a dip.
It truly is a gem. The emerald lagoons and the Blue Lake were stunning. I was not too crazy about the lava fields but once you get to the lookout, it will sure take your breath away.
Tip: If you have a car, I would suggest to start from the north entrance instead of starting with the other tour groups from the South. Bring extra water (at least three liters), food, wear extra sunscreen, and do not forget your sunglasses. You will be walking in a field of lava for a while.
4. Waiheke Island
The whole island itself is incredible. Here are my favorites: West and Central (Park Point, Palm Beach, Herekua Beach, Oneroa Beach), Central (Onetangi Beach, Onetangi Reserve), East Waiheke (Stony Batter, Man o War -- try their ginger beer and tamarind dip!)
Tip: Rent a scooter to explore the west part of the island. You cannot take the scooter on the east side -- you will need a car or a four wheeler vehicle.
If you want to experience hitching a ride, this is the best place to do that. Take the bus to go to Onetangi (that is the closest town where the public transportation runs), Hike on Onetangi Reserve and take the short cut to get to the Waiheke Road which is the main road to the east side. Try your luck and hitch a ride, otherwise, you will be walking for a while. Do not forget to bring your phone to call for a rescue -- the reception is quite spotty. Be careful and have a blast!
Per the sign, the sanctuary integrates recreation, conservation and farm activities -- it pretty much has everything in that little area. A very romantic place to explore.
Tip: I would suggest to stay in Whangaparoa for at least a night to watch the sunset or sunrise from the park’s platform.
Tips to get used to driving on the left side of the road.
1. Sit in front of the bus and pay attention with the driving rules.
2. Rent a scooter -- I would suggest to do this in Waiheke but make sure you call them in advanced as they have very limited number of scooters.
3. You will probably pass through a few one way traffic bridge and wonder what it was for. Well, I do believe that is to control the traffic on windy roads to avoid collision.
I found this if you still need more information on the NZ driving rules and regulations: http://www.newzealand.com/int/driving-in-new-zealand/?cid=p:soc:nz:driving:fb:ppp:windycoastal
Recommended Books: NZ Frenzy by Scott Cook from Portland, Oregon
I also recommend to visit the South Island gems!
** You can get a couple of free books on Audible when you sign up using this link! Keep Learning. Keep having #funventures!
World Traveler | Business Owner | Mentor
Sharing her life experiences, passion for art, and technology.