New Zealand is an extraordinary place for an adventure. Between the lovely people and stunning landscapes, it is impossible not to fall in love with it. I did A LOT of travelling around both islands over the last few months, and there is so much to rave about! But, here are my top 5 highlights from the North Island (click on the photographs to enlarge them)
Defined by golden beaches, azure water, and bush-clad mountains, it is no wonder that the Coromandel Peninsular is top destination for those seeking some serious beauty and R&R. I stood on the beaches and just marvelled, and not just because The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian was filmed here! It was a little taste of paradise!
Visiting the Hobbiton set in Mata Mata was quite possibly the highlight of all highlights for me! As a major Lord of the Rings fan, I actually shed tears of joy as the first prospect of Hobbiton came into view around the corner. I never wanted to leave. It was exquisitely charming and beautiful, and I couldn’t get enough of it! The tour didn’t last nearly as long as I wanted it to, but I made the most of it! I have vowed to myself that I would one day make my own home as Hobbit-like as I can! The attention to detail in this place was wonderful: from the little Hobbit clothes hanging on washing lines to real vegetable patches, it was like walking around a real, albeit tiny, village.
The Bay of Islands
It was here that I cruised with a pod of wild bottlenose dolphins, and checked out some impressive Kiwi history. Russell, New Zealand’s first capital, and the Waitangi Treaty Grounds are nearby and it is so interesting to learn about how New Zealand as we know it came into being. Plus, the Bay of Islands is just stunning and a gorgeous place for a swim, or ordering a cocktail or two whilst admiring the view!
I am more of a nature gal but, as far as cities go, Auckland isn’t so bad! There are some lovely parks and buildings, and connections over to Devonport for some sea-side charm and impressive views of Rangitoto Island. Ponsonby, however, was my favourite part of the city. It is full of charm: beautiful colonial houses, funky shops and great places to eat make it an awesome area to stay in and explore.
Sunrise at Wainui Beach, Gisborne
I always wanted to see a sunrise over the ocean, watching the shimmering sun disc slowly peep over the horizon before fully emerging in all its glory. What an experience that was and definitely worth the very early wake up call and 8km round bike ride! It was quite a spiritual and moving experience to see the light emerge and feel so connected to the whole process of life. The colours were out of this world, and what a reminder of how beautiful our planet is!
I hope these have inspired you to pay a visit to New Zealand! Stay tuned for my South Island highlights coming up!