Coming straight from Sydney, I spent the first 5 days of my trip in New Zealand in the Northern Island. I loved discovering the Maori culture, the geysers and the surroundings of the Lake Taupo. Unfortunately the bad weather prevented me from doing the Tongariro Alpine crossing and gave me a bad cold. Nevermind: I’ll be back!
What to do in Auckland?
- Free tour: I love doing free tours as a first introduction to the city and Auckland Free Walking Tours was a pretty good one! We started in Queens Wharf Village, heading to Fort lane, Albert Park, walking around the University to end up in Emily Place Reserve.
- Mount Eden is the highest of the 50+ volcanoes all around Auckland. Super nice view fom up there, but quite windy.
- Coast to Coast walkway: On the way down from Mount Eden, we noticed that the path was part of the Coast to Coast walkway which I had originally bookmarked. We walked from Mount Eden to Auckland Domain that has several places to explore: the Auckland Museum as well as the wintergarden with its nice tropical house.
We spent 2 nights in a dorm at the Queen Street Backpackers: the location of this one was perfect but the dorm didn’t have any window, the kitchen was pretty dirty.
More pictures and more details about our visit to Auckland here.
We took an Intercity bus for 5 hours from Auckland to Taupo. Taupo is the largest lake in New-Zealand, it’s as big as Singapore! But the main reason why I wanted to go there was to do the famous Tongariro Alpine crossing. Unfortunately, once on the bus, I realised that the weather was terrible over there and the trek was not recommended at all (always check here before going). When arriving in Taupo, I wasn’t really in a good mood… but well I still tried to make the most out of my visit!
What to do in Taupo?
- Taupo Museum: on the first afternoon, we went to visit to small cute Taupo Museum to discover more about the history of the region from fishermen to peace and love enthusiasts. I really recommend going! The surrounding garden is also very nice.
- Walk along the Great Taupo Lake: as the weather was terrible, we couldn’t explore as much as we would have liked to but there’s a big nice sign for picture, a beautiful Maori carving and for those who likes challenges Hole in One Taupo
- Huka falls: my initial idea was to cycle until the Aratitia dam but my mountainbiking skills combined with the dreadful weather made us change our plans. We cycled until the Huka falls, then from the Huka falls to Aratiatia dam trail but only until the red bridge. We crossed the bridge to take the Red Bridge trail until KEFI at the hub, where we dried whilst eating super nice cakes. From there we had to go along the Huka Falls road and then on the Town to Redwoods trail. Nice but tiring!
- Spa: After an exhausting afternoon cycling in the rain and mud, time for a treat! Taupo is also famous for its spa waters. We went to Taupo De Bretts Hot springs (22$) although there are cheaper options.
I can’t recommend enough our hostel in Taupo: YHA Taupo Finlay Jack’s Backpackers !
For more detailed recommendations on Taupo, this is the way.
We arrived late morning in a busy city. We dropped our bags at the Rotorua Central Backpackers: a big house with many cheap rooms, nice common areas and a garden.
What to do in Rotorua?
- Government Gardens: The Rotorua museum (what a beautiful building!) was unfortunately closed but the gardens were very nice, with a soldiers memorial and a lovely Rose Garden.
- Sulphur Point: we walked towards the lake to reach Sulphur Point and walk until Sulphur bay and its noisy birds. You can guess it from the name… get ready for some ‘nice’ smells!
- Whakarewarewa: this was definitely one of the best visits I made in New Zealand! Whakarewarewa is a living Maori village unlike the Te Puia visitor opposite. The Maori cook their food, go to school and, enjoy thermal pools in this village. There are regular guided tours, cultural performance and beautiful nature walks.
For more info about Rotorua, it’s over here!
Next: bus 10 to Rotorua airport to fly to Christchurch! No need to arrive 2 hours before – it’s actually a tiny airport!