NZ Road Trip: Dashing through the North Island

After a dreamy wedding, we packed our bags and hit the road for two weeks traveling around Aotearoa.

After a dreamy wedding, we packed our bags and hit the road for two weeks traveling around Aotearoa with friends and family.

It had been so stressful leading up to the wedding, so heading out on a big adventure was the release we were looking forward to.


We escaped the grey smog of Auckland quickly, sped through Huntly and bypassed Hamilton until we were free of the heavy burdon of these traffic-indused places.

Embarrassingly, I barely took any photos of the North Island. However, in my defence we did get through the island very quickly.

The adventure began bright and early with a McDonald’s breakfast (which I later regretted).

NORTH ISLAND

Raglan.

Raglan is a quaint, touristy town that attracts surfers and bare-footed, dreadlocked travellers. It’s a safe town, decorated with old fashioned butcheries, supermarkets and bakeries – everything you need for a humble life outside of the big smoke.

Raglan is situated alongside stunning beaches, and a harbour that apparently attracts orca whales.

While I enjoyed relaxing in Raglan, not being a confident surfer renders you useless. Although, I did thoroughly enjoy watching the horses trotting up and down the beach.

On the way to Taupo, we visited a beautiful waterfall. I had my togs on underneath my clothes in case it was worthy of a swim, but the green slick on the surface of the water suggested otherwise. Nevertheless, the ‘Bridal Veil Falls’ was very fitting!

Taupo.

After a night here, we bundled ourselves back into the packed Hyundai Tucson (Tilly), and headed over to Taupo.

Taupo was never a region that appealed to me because I figured it was just a giant lake. But it was actually a buzzing town with lots of happy people in it. We were there at the time of the Iron Man competition so it may have been busier than usual. Nevertheless, their lake-side cafe culture is very enjoyable indeed. 

Napier.

One night there, and then off to Napier!

I’ve been to Napier twice before so I wasn’t too fussed about seeing it again. Don’t get me wrong, I’d 100% recommend this awesome 1920s art-deco town to everybody heading down that way; it’s stunning.

But I didn’t need to see it again, so we bypassed the town centre and headed to south Napier – Hastings really – to stay the night in a a small, isolated village called Waimarama. (Google translate says that Waimarama means ‘lightweight’…)

Now, I don’t want to offend anybody of Waimarama, but I did feel very much on edge here. To get there, you have to drive up and over a huge hill and wind down the other side.

On your way down to Waimarama you can see the sea, and the entire village from one end to the other. It seems to be the place where Napier residents go for their holidays; a real batch atmosphere.

But then you drive into the residential area and suddenly you’re all alone. It’s quiet except for a pitfall roaming the streets, and children teasing their little sister in a pram outside the house.

Silence, and not a breath of wind.

Still trees and empty cul-de-sacs with nothing but the twitching of curtains to catch your eye.

I Googled ‘Waimarama news’ to see if murders were common in the area, but except for the occasional drowning the news was only positive about the town. While that did put me at ease, with no emergency services on this side of the hill I didn’t want to take any chances.

We arrived late and left early to continue our trip south. 

Wellington.

This was my first time in the capital, so I was excited to go. All I’d heard about Wellington was that people wore nice shoes there.

We coincidently arrived at the same time as Eminem… The world-famous rapper. So the streets we rammed and the restaurants were booked out. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the atmosphere – it’s creative and full of young people. Wellington also has more character than Auckland.

We were only there for one night, but I’m please I have seen the city.

Cook Strait Ferry Crossing.

Early in the morning, we were up and waiting for the ferry to take us to the South Island. To pass the time, we sent photos between us and our fellow travellers.

The crossing is more than a way to get from A to B, it’s a tourist attraction in itself. On a fine day, you’ll enjoy the sounds as you wind into the South Island.

There’s beautiful photo opportunities, and the captain will be sure to point out any dolphins that appear. We did actually see dolphins on our crossing, which was nice… Here’s my pic of them:

We went on Bluebridge ferries on the way there and Interislander on the way back. While they were both pretty similar, I’d say Interislander is better equipped for rough weather, plus they had really cheap and delicious fish and chips. (They’re also a tad faster than Bluebridge.)

So we’re on our way to the South Island!

Unfortunately the two places I wanted to go to in the North Island – Whakatane and Taranaki – were too much out of the way on this occasion. But we’ll certainly pay those places another visit soon!

The South Island: This is where the real adventures begin… Stay tuned!