Travel: New Zealand – North Island

This is a continuation of our New Zealand trip! My husband and I started The Journey on the South Island (read about it here)…and eventually made our way to the North Island by way of ferry. We docked in Wellington late afternoon and immediately tried to locate our lodging for the evening. All of the camper van parks were booked, no rooms were available on airbnb, and just about every hotel we called giggled at the thought of us finding a room – apparently, there was a military tattoo convention in town that left all of the places booked solid. After about an hour of calling, we found a lead for a room at a hotel and booked it! Yay! Now that we had secured a place to rest our heads, we focused on food! Dinner was Tatsushi, which was a TINY spot that had some of the BEST sushi we’ve ever had. It was absolutely delicious and my mouth is watering just thinking about it! After we ate ourselves into a yummy sushi coma, we headed to the hotel to check-in. By this time, since everything was closed, we opted to read on the awesome patio before heading to bed. We were excited to get an early jump to the next day exploring the city!

Since we had only secured the room for one night, we spent about half an hour the next morning trying to locate where we could go next in Wellington. Luckily, the hotel we were staying in ended up having a cancellation, so we didn’t even have to move spots! We then ventured into the city to explore – record stores, vintage shops, anything that caught our eye – we wandered all over the place!

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On our drive to Tongariro National Park, we stopped along the way to visit any sightseeing spots. We had a pretty long detour in Wangaruri, where we explored that city for a bit. When we arrived to the lodge, it was getting pretty late so after we checked in (our lodging was on an alpaca farm!) we made our way to the National Park Village for dinner. We went to bed relatively early since the next day would be spent hiking the national park. Sure enough, after a delicious brekkie, we started off with two smaller hikes before doing a longer trek across a volcano!

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We woke up early to start our drive to Lake Taupo. Along the way, we noticed one of the volcanos was having a small eruption – that made for neat photos when we realized it wasn’t a serious eruption or anything. We arrived at our accommodation in Taupo early afternoon and upon pulling up, found a kitten in the bushes! Well, he wasn’t lost…his owner lived in the cabin next to ours. It was a sight for sore eyes that missed our own furbabies! After spending some time playing with Tinker (the kitten), we made our way into the city center. On our way, we stopped by the thermal hot springs – super cool! This was our first time visiting a hot spring and I have to admit it was a bit weird. There were pockets where the water was SO HOT and I couldn’t help but think of Dante’s Peak. We relaxed for a bit before school let out and this was obviously a hot spot (yuk yuk) for folks to visit. After all the walking, we treated ourselves to a delicious dinner at an Indian restaurant that had one of the best veggie korma I’ve ever tasted! Admittedly, we ate more than we could walk off and took a cab the 3 miles back to the cabin. We played with Tinker a bit before he went home and we fell asleep.

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Raglan was probably one of the places I was looking forward to most. It was described to me as “a surfing beach town stuck in the 80s” – YES! Since it was only 2.5 hours away from Lake Taupo, we arrived mid-afternoon, checked in to the hotel, then made our way to the beach!! There were surfers galore and we settled in a spot until sunset. We watched the sun fall behind the horizon and it created quite a glorious show!

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I definitely could have spent several more days in Raglan, but we squeezed in an exploration of the city center after breakfast and before we made our way to the final stop on our journey. Auckland was a couple of hours away and we arrived around 2pm. We checked into our amazing bed and breakfast (the Ponsonby Art Hotel) before making our way to Flying Out, a record shop that was on our “must visit” list. The camper van was due back to Jucy by 4pm, so after dropping it off, we explored the city on foot – sticking to the two streets that were most recommended. Since Andy and I had built up quite the collection of souvenirs, we ended up buying a suitcase to carry it all home (much cheaper than mailing everything to ourselves). After a delicious sushi dinner, we headed back to the hotel to re-pack everything. The next day, we had the majority of the day to finish exploring Auckland where we left off – SO MANY SHOPS! By the time we went to pick up our bags and head to the airport, we were exhausted. Which was great for the 13 hour flight we had ahead of us!

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After time traveling, we returned home the exact day and time as we left New Zealand. It was such an amazing experience. Although it takes a lot to get there, I can see why – that country is stunning! There are too many things to list as favorites, but I will say the two things I miss most: the sheep and the accent(s). The people were SO incredibly friendly. The landscapes were absolutely breathtaking. There were adventures around every corner. New Zealand is incredible!