Rich with Maori culture, made famous by Lord of the Rings and our favourite big footed Hobbits, and not to mention beautiful AF, New Zealand’s North Island is a spectacle you have to see to believe.
We recently made the trek across to this breathtaking country, and honestly, pictures can’t even do this place justice. Everywhere you look there are rolling hills, lakes, rivers, dense forests, mountains – you name it, New Zealand’s go it!
Taken by the beach on Waiheke Island that sits right next to the main town, this beaut of a coastline is only a 20-minute walk from the island’s ferry port. You can get here on a ferry from downtown Auckland, or from Devonport, and the trip takes less than 45-minutes.
These next two shots were captured at Hamurana Springs, which is a picturesque haven only about 20-minutes out of the busy town of Rotorua, along the North Island’s Thermal Explorer Highway.
The recreation reserve costs $18 to enter, with all of the money going back into the park’s maintenance (trust me, it’s well worth the coin). Apparently, the park used to be free, and there are a lot of online reviews that show a lot of tourists are pretty unhappy about having to pay to enter a park of this nature, however, you can see where new walkways and bridges are being constructed with the money, so the small fee hardly seems like an unreasonable request.
If you look really closely, you can see little shiny bits in this deep cavern of water. Those are coins, as people have taken to treating this clear water as a wishing well.
Hamilton Gardens isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when people think of New Zealand. In fact, a lot of tourists barely stop in Hamilton. To locals, the main benefit of Hamilton’s bustling hub is its proximity to Auckland and other surrounding suburbs, however, Hamilton Gardens is definitely worthy of a little more attention from tourists.
The gardens are huge and completely free to visit! You can see a greenhouse, rose gardens and a number of themed manicured gardens, including an Indian one, Italian Renaissance, English, Japanese and much more. Plus, there are plenty of walking tracks and open grasslands making it perfect for pets and the whole family.
In South Waikato, just outside of the small town of Putaruru lies this natural spring that’s known for its clear blue water, walkway and scenic, albeit strenuous hiking. The Blue Spring can be accessed directly from Leslie Road, with the springs only being a short 15-minute walk from the carpark, or you can reach it via a three-hour hike.
Te Puia sits on the outskirts of Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island and is home to some serious geothermal activity. The above picture was taken from the beginning of a walkway that takes you past a number of natural geysers, including a bubbling mud pit that is equally disgusting as it is fascinating.
The park will set you back $51 for general entry, and even more, if you want to enjoy any of their Maori activities, including dining and cultural performances.
Jump back on the Thermal Explorer Highway and drive about 30-minutes out of Rotorua in the direction of Lake Taupo and you’ll find Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. Tickets are $32.50 for adults and you could easily spend a full day walking around the park that has countless geysers, including this one that runs at about 175 degrees Celsius. Put on your walking shoes because you’ll work up a sweat walking around these natural geysers.
Remember how we mentioned Hamurana Springs before? Well, there’s also a redwood forest, and boy is it stunning!
Also located in Hamurana Springs is Lake Rotorua, which is a hub of activity in the summer for boaters and lovers of watersports alike. We easily could have dwindled the day away just sitting on its shores – it’s just that peaceful.
We’ve been talking a lot about geothermal hot spots, but sadly, most of the places you come across you can’t swim in, unless you have a death wish! However, if you do want to take a dip in a natural spring, Kerosene Creek is a local’s secret that you’ll quickly fall in love with!
Drive out of Rotorua towards Lake Taupo, and after about 20-minutes you’ll see a tiny sign pointing down a dirt track. Follow the dirt road until the end, and then push your way into the bushes, where you’ll find a well-worn albeit tiny track to the creek. The water is about 40 degrees and is super relaxing – the perfect way to unwind after a long day of exploring!
Finally, Lake Taupo. This incredible town is definitely deserving of a mention for more than one reason, but its boat cruises out to the Maori carvings are one of the best ones we can think of. We took a leisurely cruise on a sailboat out to the carvings and on a good day, the boats will drop their anchor and give you a chance to jump in and take a swim!
If you still can’t see what all the fuss is about New Zealand, well, you must be blind, because this islander country is about as scenic as it gets.