I spent my holidays travelling around the North Island of New Zealand. From Wellington to Napier, Gisborne, Rotorua, Tauranga and the Coromandel.
After a lengthy drive through some classic NZ terrain, we had arrived in Napier. Napier is well known for the Art Deco architecture we saw walking around.
Holiday mode kicked in as we spent the next day meandering around the city and seaside.
Getting rather adventurous, we went on a tractor tour with Gannet Beach Adventures out to the Gannet colony at Cape Kidnappers. They loaded us on to trailers and drove tractors down the beach towards the colony. There were a couple of stops along the way, with a bit of history on the wildlife and landscape.
When we arrived at the end of the beach, there was a 20 minute walk up to the colony. The weather was taking a bad turn but we continued nonetheless. There were a decent number of birds up there and some spectacular views of the point.
On the way to Gisborne, we stopped in at the Morere Hot Springs, a site surrounded by a native rainforest. The pools were set at different temperatures, including a cold pool. It was hard to get back on the road but we managed in the end.
We stayed in Gisborne at a lovely spot next to the river. Rhythm and Vines was in full swing at the time, so it was a bit of a mad house around town. We spent the first day kayaking down the river and going to the beach.
We got a bit fancy and went for a wine tasting at the Millton Vineyards and Winery. The property was inviting and well maintained, and the wine was so good we decided to buy some.
For our last day in Gisborne, we drove over to Rere Falls. This area is home to an amazing waterfall and a naturally formed rock slide. The rock slide is a section of river running over about 100 metres of flat rock, ending in a pool of water. Standing at the top with a body board is a bit daunting, but worth it in the end.
With Gisborne behind us, we drove through a gorge and past lakes before arriving in Rotorua. It was New Year’s Eve, the town had fireworks and a small carnival down near the lake.
Rotorua is a haven for tourists, so we decided to hit up one of the popular attractions. We took a gondola up to the Luge, where we hurtled down a series of concrete tracks in plastic carts for half a day.
Rotorua is home to a lot of geothermal activity, and we wanted to see some of it. Kuirau Park is located near the city centre, and had more mud and steam than you could shake a stick at. We walked around a dozen or so areas with different features. There were steaming lakes and boiling mud pools of varying sizes.
Before we set off to the next destination, we spent a few hours down by the lake side. The lake was surprisingly colourful for a big body of water, and a number of swans, geese and seagulls were pecking about.
We arrived in Tauranga and took a look around the city. The sun was shining as we had coffee and lunch beside the water. After lunch we drove to where we were staying and set up camp. It was a good thing we did as it rained hard that night.
Morning broke and revealed a magnificent day. We spent it at the beach in Mount Maunganui.
We were staying in Papamoa and spent the evening walking along the beach. The sun was setting and pouring through the clouds. The air was warm and everything had a faint golden glow.
Running short on time, we had one last destination, the Coromandel. We decided to take a day trip and return to Tauranga that night.
We drove the winding road to Hot Water Beach. This special spot has a hot spring right on the beach. During low tide, digging holes in the sand will let the hot water pool. We started digging and after a while everyone banded together to help. The water was seriously hot.
After another short drive we arrived in Hahei, where we set off for Cathedral Cove. The walk down to the cove starts from the top of a hill, with spectacular views of beaches and scattered islands. The beach the end of the walk was alive with people. The cove is a massive arch of rock separating two sections of the beach.
We spent another the last night in Tauranga, packed up and drove back down to Wellington through Taupo. I had an amazing holiday and look forward to seeing more of this beautiful country I call home.