A Road Trip through the stunning Landscape at the oder end of the world.
Since my childhood, I was fascinated by this unique country on the other side of the world. When I was in kindergarten, I started to save money for a flight to New Zealand. Fourteen years later, I made this dream of reality. The beautiful landscapes, wildlife, culture, and people inspired me from the first moment on, and till today New Zealand is still one of my favorite countries.
I couldn't wait to explore this special place again for another seven weeks, this time together with Fabian.
When we arrived at Auckland Airport, the first thing we did was to pick up our camper van. I was pretty nervous about driving on the left side of the street for the first time, so we decided to leave the city behind us and drive up north.
Some of the oldest Kauri trees are in this area of New Zealand. We did some hikes to these giant trees and enjoyed all the fantastic views along the way.
The next day we arrived at Cape Reinga, the most northern part of New Zealand, where the Pacific and the Tasman Sea meet.
We had planned to come back to Cape Reinga to watch the sunrise the next morning. But when we woke up, everything was cloudy from the smoke that blew over from the massive wildfires in Australia, so that we couldn't see much of the sunrise.
At our next stop, we explored the Giant Sand Dunes and the 90 Miles Beach.
After that, we made our way to Paihia and the Bay of Islands. We decided spontaneously to book a dolphin tour. We have been super lucky and saw many dolphins that swam a race against our boat, and we even spotted a little Orca Whale family and some stingrays.
The landscape with the many little islands, white sand beaches, and crystal clear water was also a dream.
We enjoyed the beautiful lush jungle landscape on the walk to the Whangarei Falls. I love all the ferns here in New Zealand!
A local told us the insider tip to visit the Waipu Caves. When we followed our GPS to the place, we worried if it was a good idea to follow a stranger's advice. We drove almost one hour on a bumpy dirt road until we finally reached the parking lot.
We grabbed our headlamps, walked to the cave. Luckily the entrance was easy to find, but inside of the cave, we came soon to a place where we had to climb over slippery rocks or wade through water and a low tunnel. It was a bit scary in a completely dark cave, where we had never been before. After a few moments, we made it into the next chamber of the cave, and as soon as we switched off the lights, we could enjoy a stunning view. Little glow-worms covered the whole cave. It looked like thousand stars on a night sky.
Back in the daylight, we did a short hike through the forest, and then we spent the night in the parking lot by the cave.
Before we drove to the Coromandel Peninsula, we explored the Kerikeri waterfalls.
Cathedral Cove is one of the places you will find on almost every New Zealand itinerary. We knew that this place is famous and went early in the morning. Although we reached the beautiful cave before the first bus drove, it was already busy.
And all the other places we wanted to see on the Coromandel Peninsula have been pretty touristy too, so we decided to say goodbye and drive south.
The same touristy but worth seeing was Hobbiton. We did a guided tour through the set oft he Lord oft the Rings and Hobbit movies. Everything is so lovely arranged, with so many fascinating and exciting details. For instance wrote Tolkien in his books, that the hobbits were sitting under plum trees, the size of these trees was not how they wanted it to have, so they planted apple trees instead, and before they started to film, they removed all the leaves and replaced them with plums and plum tree leaves.
We hiked through the Redwood Forest in Rotorua and felt pretty small between all the giant trees.
The next morning we visited Te Puia. We saw a Geysir, watched a Haka dance and a real Kiwi bird, had a look at the art in the crafts workshop, and had eaten a traditional hangi meal for lunch. The Maori people cooked the food in the hot geothermal water for this.
Our next stop was Taupo.
Lake Taupo is a giant crater lake and was perfect for enjoying the beautiful warm weather that day.
We spent the next night in Tongariro Nationalpark. Our alarm clock was set at half-past four to get ready for the Tongariro Crossing hike. The weather forecast said that it should have been rainy in the morning and getting better in the afternoon, so we thought we would avoid the crowds if we start early. And our plan worked out quite well, we had the trail almost for ourselves, and even the weather was way better than we thought, and we could enjoy the beautiful sunrise light before we started the climb up to the crater of the Vulcano. Unfortunately, it got super cloudy after we reached the top and we could not see much of the famous turquoise lakes, which are one of the most famous pictures from this area. Altogether it was a super beautiful day!
We continued our journey to Wellington, which was our last stop on the North Island of New Zealand. We took the ferry to the south Island. We will tell you about our adventures down there in our next blog post.