New Zealand truly is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on earth and is a definitive must on every nature lover´s travel list. After travelling and working my way through the country for almost a year I could write a 500-page essay on the subject. To make it easier for you, fellow travelers, I have managed to shorten it down to five places you absolutely cannot miss on New Zealand´s North Island.
1. Cape Reinga and 90 Mile Beach
On the northernmost point of New Zealand two oceans meet in an everlasting battle dating back thousands of years of earth´s history. According to Maori legend this is where the soul travels for its last journey into the afterlife. Whether you believe it or not, watching the Tasman Sea and The Pacific Ocean crash together in front of you is quiet the experience. When you´re finished gawking go crazy surfing the sand dunes of the close-by 90 Mile Beach.
New Zealand is one of only two countries on earth where you can find the famous glow worm. It gives off an eerie green glow as you rappel your way down waterfalls and crawl through narrow tunnels 80 meters underground on an epic four hour adrenaline-inducing tour through one of New Zealand´s largest cave systems. And don´t fret, the team at Waitomo Adventures is great at handling claustrophobic people!
3. The Coromandel Peninsula
There are two important reasons to go here – the Hot Water Beach being the first. It´s magic really. You drive to the beach, look for where the sand gives off steam and dig a pool for yourself right there, in the sand. After all that hard work it´s time to lean back and relax with a cold beer in hand and watch the sunset over the ocean slowly grow darker and the stars come out. The second is Cathedral Cove, famous for its appearance in Narnia. Just the walk out there along the high cliffs is special and the beach itself will take your breath away.
4. The Tongariro Crossing
Known as New Zealand´s best day hike the Tongariro crossing is a challenging but manageable hike that takes you past Mount Doom from Lord of the Rings (remember to bring a ring for crazy fan photos!) The views over National Park are awesome but you will probably find yourself more fascinated with the steam rising from the still-active volcanoes and the emerald colored lakes on the top. Be careful when you sit down or you might burn your bum!
If you only have time to visit one city while you´re here, this is the one you simply cannot miss. Rotorua is famous for its geothermal activity consisting of bubling mud pools and sulphurous stinky lakes. It is also the best place to experience Maori culture by watching the powerful warrior dance, the Haka, and trying their special meal cooked in the soil among hot stones, the Hangi. It is also the perfect location for day excursions to Hobbiton for those who are so inclined...
Did you like the guide? Keep an eye out for Top 5 New Zealand; South Island edition. Coming soon!