Mountains and sheep – New Zealands North

Following along with the route we took, it is time to cross the ocean and start exploring New Zealands Northern Island.
Just in case you missed them, I did two posts on the Southern Island before (Part 1 here, Part 2 here).

The white tree in Russell. Do you too see people in there?

But before we start, let me tell you in advance: We were doing it all wrong.
When visiting New Zealand, start up north and slowly travel south.
Why?

Because even though both parts are beautiful, the southern landscape is just a touch more. More breathtaking, more unique, more awe-inspiring.
Don’t get me wrong, the Northern Island was incredible to see, but I was so spoilt by the things I had seen that I don’t think I appreciated it as I would have before.

1. Wellington
We arrived in Wellington early and spend the whole day exploring this beautiful city. Despite being the capital city of New Zealand it is actually smaller than Auckland or Christchurch, but offers a variety of things to do. Food, shopping and Te Papa (the national museum) will keep you entertained.
For all my fellow LOTR-lovers: If you visit Te Papa, not only will you be able to learn a lot about Maori culture, but you will be able to take a selfie with Azog. Which I obviously did (see here).

Lots of pretty places to see.

2. Patea
After enjoying a little city break we drove up the Westcoast to Patea, famous for it´s black beaches and marvelous coast line.

Black Beach at Patea

 

Macro of the beach. Isn’t it pretty?

3. Forgotten World Highway
In order to cross from the Westcoat and it´s pretty beaches and surf spots to the East, we took the „Forgotten World Highway“. Such an aptly named route! I expected dinosaurs to step out on the road any minute while we were slowly making our way through a forest of fern.

Forgotten World Highway

We really drove for hours without meeting anyone else.
And of course, somewhere along our journey through the center to the east coast, we encountered Mount Doom aka Mt Ngaurohoe, looking a lot less intimidating in the bright sunshine as it had in the movies.

Much more pleasant in the sunshine, don’t you think?

4. Tongariro National Park and Taupo
If you are into hiking, Tongariro National Park will make your heart sing. Lots of short or longer walks through the forests on the slope of volcanic mountains and with the „Tongariro Alpine Crossing“ the self-proclaimed „Most beautiful day hike of the whole country“ will give you lot of options and you can easily spend days just roaming around and exploring.

Tongariro National Park

5. Rotorua
Leaving the mountains and forests and heading further up north, you will make sure to stop and experience another (literally) breathtaking adventure.
Along with volcanic activity come hot springs, geyser and lots of sulphuric gas. And while relaxing in a natural jacuzzi while admiring the colors around you certainly is great experience, I do not recommend staying to long if you are overly sensitive to smell!
Of course the mud and the waters are said to have several health benefits and be a great skin treatment, so I held my breath (not literally) and relaxed in a hot tub.

Rotorua Hot Spring. Look at these colors!

6. Bay of Plenty
To get some fresh air, it was the coast for our next stop. The Bay of Plenty has plenty of everything to be sure: Sun, Sea and lots of Maori Culture and Settlements, so we made sure to stay a little and learn about the Maori ways.

Bay of Plenty

7. Bay of Islands and Northland
Further up north we went, driving past Auckland and heading towards the Bay of Islands and Russell. While the Northern Island is much higher in population than the Southern, Northland is a little less crowded. Not that any part of New Zealand really is crowded, but you get what I am saying.
Many people living in Auckland spend their vacation there, so a relaxed spirit and beautiful beaches along with glorious food is what you can expect.

Hands down the best seafood chowder I have ever eaten

But there is something else up there that makes Northland a place you have to visit: The Kauri Forest. Kauri trees are a species unique to New Zealand, and they really are giants of the forest. Sadly, there are only a few places where many of them grow as they have been cut down quite a lot during the settlement.
Tane Mahuta, the biggest and oldest up there, is said to be more than 1500 years and reaches up for 51,1 m. Let me tell you, you feel very young and very small when standing in his shade.

Trees up on trees. Take Mahuta.

 

Macro of the moss growing on the Kauri Trees.

8. Auckland
Auckland was our last stop, so I have bitter sweet memories. I really didn’t want this trip to end. But this is not the city´s fault and we had a lovely time there.
Auckland is a big and busy city, but I felt safe there anytime and enjoyed the variety of culture and nature. Wherever you are, the sea is never far away, and just by taking a ferry you can leave the busy city centre behind and enjoy a mini.holiday on one if the surrounding islands, the best view on Auckland included.

Auckland, as seen from one of the surrounding islands

This marks the end of my New Zealand adventures.
And as I am sitting here all teary eyed and full of longing, I will let Chay Blyth have the final words:

 

MerkenMerken

MerkenMerken

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