Memorable Places – The North Island

I have been blogging for a little over 18 months now. This is my 82nd post and in that time I have been to some truly magical places and done some pretty incredible things.

I haven’t done a lot of travel as of late. This is partly due to it being winter and finances ( or should I say over spending on trips in the Summer months!) And now of course, Covid will play a part in that. I am writing this post on day 1 of lockdown.

But even before I started blogging and sharing my adventures with the world, I loved travel and exploring New Zealand. So from the comfort (and safety) of my home, I thought today I would share some of the great places I have traveled to, before I started blogging. I certainly hope to get back to these places in the near future and be able to write about them for you in more detail, but for now, here is a little snapshot of some great places in the amazing land I get to call home.

1. Cathedral Cove, Waikato

You will find Cathedral Cove in the sunny Coromandel. Soaked in sunshine and famous for it’s beautiful beaches, it’s a great place to rest and unwind. It was a few years ago that we visited here, so I am a little forgetful on the details, but I do remember having to walk from a car park to access this beach. We were touring on our motorbike, so of course had to do the walk down in our motorbike gear, carrying our helmet and gloves. This is always hot work! But the cove, oh how gorgeous. Framed by a huge rock arch and edged with beautiful golden sand, this place is so worth the visit. It is very picturesque and a wonderful place to spend a day swimming, sun bathing and reading a book.

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2. Hot Water Beach, Waikato

Also located in the Coromandel, hot water beach is a unique experience. The best time to visit is 2 hours either side of low tide. Take a spade with you, dig a hole in the sand and enjoy soaking in your own natural thermal pool. When you get too hot, you can cool off in the ocean right next to you. You may want choose your site near the ocean so the waves can enter your pool and cool it down. I remember the water got pretty hot! We also made a rookie mistake of putting on the sunscreen, heading to the beach, then stripping down to our swimsuits and forgetting to put on more sun screen. It created some unusual sun burn marks and was rather uncomfortable wearing motorbike leathers for the next few days!

3. Cape Reinga, Northland

The very top of the Long White Cloud, Cape Reinga is the most northern part of New Zealand. I had heard that at Cape Reinga, you could see the Tasman Sea and the mighty Pacific Ocean collide. I really didn’t understand how you could see two bodies of water, that surely are only that by name, collide. But, believe me, you do and it is quite a sight to see. There is a lot of history in this area and could really sense the spirituality of this place, which is significant in Maori culture. We took a day trip here on a coach tour from Paihia, although it was a long day, it was well worth it. The tour also included a few other things like 90 Mile Beach, sand tobogganing and visiting a kauri museum.

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4. Waipoua Forest, Northland

Just a short walk from the road side, into Waipoua Forest is a tree. This isn’t just any tree though, it’s Tane Mahuta, a giant kauri tree, estimated to be around 1250 to 2500 years old. He holds a presence in the forest like none other and when you first set eyes on him, he will leave you breathless. I loved watching new visitors come around the corner and gasp. He really is the King of the Forest.

5. Kawau Island, Auckland

It’s one of the largest islands in the Hauraki Gulf and is full of history. Its an interesting place to explore for the day, or book some accommodation and stay a while. As you arrive into Mansion House Bay you are greeted by a stately home. This was the home of Sir George Grey, one of New Zealand’s first Governors who also owned the island for a period of time. While there, he created beautiful gardens full of exotic plants from around the world. Step back in time and take a wander through the old home experiencing a glimpse of mid 19th century New Zealand. Head out for a walk, spot some wallabies and peacocks or take a dip in the ocean to cool off.

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6. Rawene, Northland

I was only going to write about 5 places, but Rawene was too good to leave out. I didn’t really know anything about this place, it was just a convenient location for us to stop for the night. It’s a small, quiet town, the perfect place to slow down. And the sunsets – the best I have ever seen. They were incredible. I’d come here again just for them. We purchased simple food from the organic shop and cooked it on a BBQ while taking a dip in the pool and watching the firey red sun slip away into the night. Enjoying the simple things in life.

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So there you have it. 6 places you might like to check out on your next New Zealand adventure. Looking back at photos as I write this has brought back some lovely memories. It has also reminded me how lucky I am to have been able to do so much travelling and exploring. New Zealand is quite a gem.

Next week I will share some memories of South Island places I visited before I started blogging.

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