Monday, April 13, 2015

Northland New Zealand: 10 days on the road

Northland New Zealand is something I've been looking forward to since my very brief visit to the country in 2013. We missed it back then due to a lack of time, and I've been dreaming about the Bay of Islands and Cape Reinga ever since.

We started with a quick visit down south before making our way up, and here are 10 highlights from my 10 days on the road:

1. The Waikato Balloon Festival

I first heard about this while living in Australia, and as a self-proclaimed lover of anything bright and beautiful, this felt like a bit of a no brainer. The weather was pretty questionable all day, but thanks to a lot of luck, we ended up with heaps of hot air balloons, a light show, and fireworks. And thanks to the hospitality of a sweet lady named Mary whom we'd met on a previous trip, we also had a free place to stay. Thank you!!! We so appreciated it and hope to cross paths again soon. 

And as an added bonus, I got to write Jerrica from America on something again. #winning. 

2. Raglan 

This hip little surfer town was everything I expected. Excellent coffee shops, beautiful beaches, and hippie-like surfer dudes and man-buns everywhere. I'm sorry, but I love it. And I'm not ashamed. 

Also.. fish and chips and double rainbows...

3. Poor Knight's Islands cruise

They promised paddle boarding, kayaking, snorkeling, and a trip through the largest sea cave in the world. And boy did they deliver. The snorkeling was better than any other snorkeling I've done in New Zealand (which isn't much), but compared to places like Exmouth, Western Australia and The Great Barrier Reef, it's pretty hard to impress me. Nonetheless though, there were a few pretty fish, a couple of stingrays, and I must admit, swimming through sea caves was pretty rad (and maybe a teeny bit scary). 

Paddle boarding as a first timer was also really exciting. I've had this on my list since I moved here, and it's finally been accomplished. 

#nailedit. #hashtag #hashtag #hashtag. 


I have never seen something so breathtakingly beautiful in my entire 27 years on this planet. NO JOKE. Like whale-watching in Kaikoura, this stood out as one of those moments I will forever remember. I don't know what it is about the ocean or marine life, but I was in awe. I've seen dolphins in the wild heaps of times while living on this side of the world, BUT this was a pod of around 30-40 dolphins... following our boat... for 30 minutes. It's safe to say that I'm in love. 

5. Camping

I become a bigger and bigger fan of camping every time I go. Maybe it's the excuse not to shower, the fresh air, or the sleeping under the stars on a beautifully clear night. And especially great, is finding that perfect spot on a beautiful beach for only $6 a night.

6. Sand Dune boarding

I've been looking forward to this one for months, and for the record, it is every bit as fun as it sounds. I think the pictures speak for themselves on this one. But just remember folks, be prepared for the climb up (so exhausting), to clean sand out of your hair (and everywhere) for days, and while I'm giving advice, it wouldn't hurt to bring the RIGHT kind of board from the beginning. Trust me on this one.

7. Cape Reinga

I love lighthouses and water and making my way to the end of any country. Watching the sunset here and catching the full moon all in one evening was truly a magical experience. This was the last major part of the country for me to visit, which means I'm making process, but also means that my time here is coming to a close. Talk about bittersweet.

8. Sunsets

I've seen heaps of amazing sunsets in this country, and this trip was no exception. There are few things so simple and so simultaneously beautiful. I'm a sucker for nature's magic so these little moments on the road were a wonderful excuse for peace, beauty, and reflection.

9. Flax flower weaving 

Hands down one of the coolest things I've done yet in this country. Common in Maori culture, we learned to weave flax into beautiful flowers on the beautiful Urupukapuka Island. #ididthis

10. Islands and beaches galore 

And speaking of Islands...

We were constantly surrounded by sandy beaches, cliff top walks, and spent a great deal of time looking for seashells, stumbling upon starfish, and swimming with no one around. No complaints here.

As my last big trip in this country, this was both special and equally heartbreaking. With perfect weather, good memories and endless beautiful scenery. 

As always New Zealand, thanks for being great. 

Thanks for being home.