New Zealand has a few very interesting cities to explore but is mostly comprised of natural beauty and landscapes that will catch any eye. With so much to see it’s hard to list them all, here are a few of my thoughts on places I’ve visited whilst on a road trip through the north island.
Gisborne, New Zealand
If trendy shops and cute cafes are what you’re after than Wellington is the city for you. Being the capital of New Zealand, the city boasts many interesting and significant sights. The museum, ‘Te Papa’ is beautifully designed and shows the history of the country, as well as enlightening exhibits on the local indigenous population, ‘The Maori’. Make sure to also check out ‘Cuba street’ for “op shops” (which are second hand shops) and the local eateries in this part of town! (Travel tip: the whole city feels very open and accepting so if you identify with any specific minorities and want to go somewhere geared towards this, visit Wellington.)
Moving more northern up the island, one can visit the town of Napier. After being completely destroyed by New Zealand’s deadliest earthquake ever recorded that struck in 1931, the city was completely rebuilt in a art deco theme. The whole town still follows this trend to this day, with lots of unique buildings, vintage themed boutiques and classic cars driving down the historic streets. Make sure to check out the beach overlooking ‘Hawkes Bay’ for a beautifully coloured sunset. Finally make sure to notice the history and the fact that the Nazi’s actually made a visit to this coastal city during the second world war, something no one at the time was expecting.
Napier, New Zealand
The farthest north you can go in New Zealand is Cape Reinga. It is a historic Maori sight, (the indigenous population of New Zealand). In their culture they believe this is the final place that a spirit visits before entering into the next realm. The park itself has a nice short walk through the cliff sides and surrounding plant life with a lighthouse at the very end. It is at this section that you have a view of the interlocking meeting point of the two bodies of water, ‘The Tasman Sea’ and ‘The Pacific Ocean’. (Travel tip: make sure to recognize that this is a cultural sight, therefore follow and respect the rules posted.) Being one of my favourite spots in New Zealand, I highly recommend the drive up.
Cape Reinga, New Zealand
Travel along the coast to get here and you will have amazing views of the surrounding beaches and beautiful scenery of New Zealand. Gisborne is one of the farthest east cities in the country and boasts the first sunset one can see in the entire world. Make sure to wake up early enough and make your way up “Kaiti Hill’ for the best viewing spot which overlooks the city. The city centre consists of strips of shops to check out. The city is famous for its nightlife and good bars if that’s what you’re interested in. Have a visit for a surreal experience of witnessing the first sunrise of a new day in the world.Gisborne, New Zealand
Although not the capital of the country, it is the largest city, therefore providing one with lots to see and do. The city has lots of shops, restaurants, coffee shops, etc. to explore. You’ll notice a drastic change from the rest of the country in the sense of mindset as well as atmosphere of the locals. Check out the ‘Auckland art gallery’ for contemporary art and cool exhibits. If you’re looking for good asian themed food, Auckland is home to many of these. (Travel tip: my favourite was “Bian Sushi & Donburi”, definitely check it out if you’re in the city.) Auckland also has some of the best nightlife in the country so definitely plan your time here on a weekend if you can! (Travel tip: check out ‘Bar 101’ and ‘Family Bar’ for a good time out!). If you like big cities than Auckland is the place for you!
How we got around.
Whilst touring the North Island, we rented a car. It made it very easy to get around exactly when and how we wanted to, giving ourselves a lot of flexibility. Though if you want, you can also try bussing around as its cheaper, we met many people who were taking ‘Kiwi Experience”.
Auckland, New Zealand
-Realize that once you leave the big cities, there isn’t much around, lots of small farming towns.
-Make sure to budget well, food and accommodation can get very expensive so don’t be surprised by the prices once there.
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