North Island - New Zealand
Last month Adam and I flew to New Zealand to road trip around the North Island, from Auckland to Wellington passing through Rotorua, Tongariro National Park, and Taranaki.
Here's the breakdown of our itinerary:
We decided to drive down the west coast to spend the day at the beach with Courts, Beinn, and Pippa (three Instagram peeps) that happened to be around at the same time.
We checked out a couple of beaches along the coast, including Bethells, but spent most of the afternoon at Piha running around and taking photos of the surfers.
No need to say that this was probably one of my favourite days in Aotearoa.
Lion Rock climb, Piha beach.
*Wearing sunglasses by Oscar Wylee. They donate a pair of glasses to those in need with every purchase. Shop here.
On our third day, we picked up the car and started driving South towards Rotorua, our second destination.
A stop to join one of the tours that take you to the Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata is a must.
Hobbiton Movie Set - Matamata
We arrived late that afternoon, just in time for sunset, and decided to stay for three days.
Lots to see and do and the sulphur smell is bearable.
Blue Lake, Te Puia, & Lake Rotorua.
Waimangu Volcanic Valley
Only a short scenic drive from Rotorua.
Here, we sailed to the Maori Carvings with Sail Barbary...
... And we were hosted by the incredible Andrew and Jane at the Lakeview house, a stunning property sitting high above Lake Taupo in a private Estate at Acacia Bay.
The view from our room at sunrise.
Tongariro National Park
We left Taupo early in the morning and finally reached Tongariro. Unfortunately, we weren't able to complete the Alpine crossing due to bad weather, so I'm keeping it on the list for next time.
Still, it was one of my favourite places in the North Island.
To break down the long drive to Taranaki we decided to spend one night in Taumarunui. We were hosted by June, another incredible host, at The Inn at the Convent - we loved spending the night in this historic building!
June suggested we'd drive to Taranaki following the Forgotten World Highway, so we did! And anyone going in the same direction, should do the same. Prepare for a winding 3-hour drive with no reception and stunning views.
On the way, stop at the hotel of the Republic of Whangamomona for a pub feed. But that's not the only reason!
In 1989 this town declared itself a "republic", in protest at the government, so you can also get your passport stamped here.
*New Passport holder from Our Life In Transit. Join their mailing list here to be the first one to know when their products launch!
Once we reached Taranaki, we decided to keep driving around to find the best spots to view the volcano and stopped to check out Dawson Falls and a few surf beaches.
Waitomo & Raglan
Because of another long drive, we decided to stop in Waitomo for one night and visit the infamous caves.
The next day, we kept driving towards our seventh destination, the cute little surf town of Raglan (Byron Bay vibes!) for burritos, surfers, and an amazing sunset. No complaints here.
On Board on the Northern Explorer train.
After spending the night in Raglan, we finally made it back to Auckland to board the scenic train to Wellington with The Great Journeys of NZ.
We were a bit unlucky with the weather but the train ride is good fun and we pretty much spent the whole time eating and looking out the window.
*Bonus points! Choosing train rides over flying might take longer but it is more environmentally friendly, so try and always consider it as an option where possible.
Our last stop.
Here, we spent three days relaxing and eating pizza, as you do when your brother owns a bakery.
If you are hungry in Wellington, check it out!