With just one week to cover New Zealand’s North Island, our whirlwind road trip was a mere taster of the delights on offer. Yep, that meant early mornings! After looking through my pictures, there is such a jumble of ‘little’ activities that it could have filled a dozen mini posts. But instead – for your sanity and mine – I’ve created a highlights list of our zig-zag tour of the island.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Kicking things off with the activity that had me the most excited, the Waitomo Glowworm Caves does not disappoint! A short walking tour of the caves gave us some really interesting history about the area before boarding the boats for the grand finale. Unfortunately you aren’t allowed to take pictures inside due to the glowworms sensitivity to light (photo credit) but floating along under the glowing cave ceiling was something I’ll never forget.
I have already spoken at length about hiking the Tongariro Crossing so check out my blog post if you’d like to know more! But if you’re going to do one hike in New Zealand’s North Island, this should be it.
New Zealand’s capital city and famed for its windy weather, Wellington was an unexpected joy. The beachfront combined with beautiful parks and a compact city centre left me wanting more. Highlights include Cuba Street, Te Paupa Museum and Mt Victoria. If you’re a film buff, Weta Workshop create props and visual effects for a huge number of Hollywood blockbusters including Lord of the Rings, District 9, Planet of the Apes and more! The hour long studio tour is definitely worth taking the short bus ride to Miramar for.
Get steamy in Rotorua
There’s so much to do in Rotorua that spending a few days here is a great option. Famed for its geothermal activity, we spent hours exploring Wai-o-Tapu park. The brightly coloured Champagne Pools steam constantly while you spot bubbling mud and vivid sulphur lakes.
Rotorua is also a great place to kick back and relax thanks to the natural hot pools everywhere you go. Our relaxing evening at the outdoor Polynesian Spa felt incredibly indulgent as we lay for hours in the warm water.
A night of luxury
Staying in hostels and holiday parks is great for the budget but eventually, you crave comfort. A family friend generously booked us a room in the Crowne Plaza Auckland and it felt like heaven. The rainy weather gave us a great excuse to get into our complimentary dressing gowns and lounge around all day. I even had a bath with the amazing smelling Koha Spa toiletries. Thinking about it now from our sweltering Bangkok hotel room with no A/C and shared bathroom is almost painful.
And there you have it, the best bits of our North Island road trip! If I was to go back, the obligatory trip to Hobbiton would feature in my itinerary, alongside visiting more of the beaches. But as far as quickfire visits go, it was a fun ride.
What is your favourite part of New Zealand’s North Island?