New Zealand North Island Tour
After two weeks of incredible Nature in the south Island, we went to discover the North, from Wellington, passing by Taupo, Rotorua and finally Auckland.
What to do in Wellington
Despite being the capital of New Zealand, Wellington has the look and feel of a small city. It makes you feel home offering at the same time the social and cultural scene of a capital. We were not very lucky with the weather and had a rainy, windy stay. Nonetheless we made the best out of it.
Te Papa Tongarewa free museum features an extensive collection of artefacts, objects, art and historical information to understand better the Maori traditions as well as the history of the settlers. It’s an amazing space very well featured to make it easy and entertaining for the visitors. Most important this is a free museum which is based on donation. Old St Paul’s was built by the Anglican Church in 1865. One of the vestige of this century which despite several intents didn’t got dismantle. It’s a very beautiful wooden church with a unique architecture and furnitures. It’s definitively a must see. On your way you will pass by the Parliament and Cathedral which are also beautiful monuments to seek.
Wellington offers plenty of options for the fashionistas. From the big names to exclusive designers you will be delighted by the choice! Cuba Street as well as Lambton Quay Street offers te biggest choice with well known brands. But if you are looking for something slightly different and exclusive here are the two spots we really liked. Old Bank Shopping Arcade is a small shopping center made of pop up stores with designers brands. From retro, minimalist to young dynamic style you will surely find something you like. Aera 51 is a concept store offering exclusive design from well known brands as special editions but also from new designers. The style is mainly athletic chic with a large offer on jeans and t-shirts as well as jackets. A nice collection, you will certainly fall in love with one of their unique piece!
Wellington offers so many options for Cafés, bakery and restaurant that all the foodies will fall in love with this city. It reminded us a lot of San Francisco vibe. Cuban Street and Courtenay Place are the main area to find restaurants and bars. For brunch I went to Floriditas and Fidel’s Bar. Both of them offered delicious menu and food as well as a cosy atmosphere. While Andrea was in Queenstown for two days to attend a Highlander Rugby game, I had brunch at those two places after training at Les Mills Gym and this comfy food felt like heaven after Body Combat and Grit Cardio intense workouts! When Andrea came back we decided to have a night out and went to an Italian restaurant called Scopa Cafe Cucina. The quality of the food and the flavours were amazing! We eat like being in Italy.
What to do in Taupo
After Wellington we went direction Taupo located in the centre of the North Island. Taupo is a charming city situated at the edge of Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. We stayed one night there at the Haka Lodge Hostel which was extremely comfortable and very good value for price.
Taupo is also a centre of volcanic and geothermal activity and hot springs suitable for bathing are located at several places in the vicinity. The most famous is Waiotaupo located at the southern end of the Okataina Volcanic Centre and north of the Reporoa Caldera at 27km south of Rotorua. This area has many hot springs noted for their very colourful appearance. The geothermal area covers 18 square kilometres. We spent one day there on our way to Rotorua and we were impressed by the colours and smoke escaping from the different calderas. To go there it is very easy, we booked a bus ticket with Intercity Bus and they left us very close to the entrance of the park. As we finished our visit much earlier than we thought, we decided to hitch hiking until Rotorua as we had a couple of hours before our pick up would come. New Zealand is a wonderful place for hitch hiking and after no longer than 10 min we got our ride to Rotorua.
What to do in Rotorua
Rotorua is the heart of the Maori culture. Most seeked destination by tourists, Rotorua offers thermal activities as well as Maori traditional shows in the typical villages around the city centre. We didn’t think about it when we got there and luckily we could find a slot in one of the most popular shows the Te Puia which combined traditional welcoming ceremony (pōwhiri) and intimate concert performance of Maori dance, traditional diner (kai) prepared as Maori tradition and finally the caldera implosion at night. It was a beautiful moment and despite that this is a vey touristic attraction, they conserve the authenticity of the Maori culture. Maori live in this village and keep it real. As well as for the food it was cooked in the most traditional way and it was delicious.
What to do in Auckland
Auckland is the largest urban area of all New Zealand located at the very North. It’s a modern city divided in several districts but also two major islands Waieke and Chamberlins. We stayed again the Haka Lodge Hostel and it was a very pleasant stay. This hostel chain offers real comfortable accommodations pleasantly located in the centre. It’s a very good value considering the high prices of New Zealand.
Auckland city centre is very modern and offers millions of options for eating, going out, body jumping from the Sky Tower…. During our short stay we mainly went around the very centre part of the city and the districts of Ponseby and New Market.
It consists in a main city centre with millions of shops and restaurants. We particularly liked the Harbor sight and the Britomart market which offers pop up stores with a very good design fashion scene. We enjoyed a lovely brunch at Chuffed Coffee a nice place with an inside terrace. Lovely service and yummy eggs Benedict. But the most impressive was to see people body jumping from the Sky Tour at 192 mts high! A real rush based on the loud screaming of the participants!
One of our favourite activity has been to enjoy for free Les Mills Gym centre. Les Mills is the original creator of the body combat, body attack, Grit cardio… basically all the classes you can find at your Gym. As New Zealand is the home of Les Mills and more specifically Auckland, they have dedicated Gym centres and offer a one day trial in each centre. In order to enjoy free trainings we cheated a bit and provided a different name and email address in 3 of that their gym. Those Gym are incredible, classes are really challenging (in a good way) and equipment is brand new with areas dedicated to machine workouts, crossfit and box.
It is one of the trendy district with concept stores, foodie markets and plenty of restaurant and bars offering delicatessen cuisine. It is also an area with art galleries and co-working space. If you would like to spend an afternoon seeking around and enjoying coffee break, we recommend you to go through Ponseby Road, it is a lovely way to spend one afternoon in Auckland.