It’s been close to a month since we’ve arrived on the North Island of New Zealand.
In this post I’ll be sharing our favorite to do’s and sees, so it’ll be more of a practical Part 1 of Kiwi country post.
We decided to land in Auckland and explore from there. Auckland itself is a pretty cool city with nice views from the Sky Tower, where you can dare to go on a sky walk or sky jump outside or just enjoy the views from up top.
Since a lot of our visits are planned with worldschooling our children in mind, we love finding new and interesting spots wherever we hit a new city or place.
It is so amazing to be able to explore and learn about the local culture, history and story.
Auckland has some quirky cool places to visit like Ponsonby. We loved the boho vibe and cute shops all around.
Our kiddos also really enjoyed our visit to MOTAT Museum of Transportation and Technology, where a whole day of cool stuff awaited our curious minds.
All kinds of transportation, including an old tram system and hangar full of pre and post war aircrafts. The tour guide there was so knowledgeable and engaged. We had a really good time.
Ok, now on to where we put our heads at night after full days of exploring and adventures: We used either Airbnb or BookaBach for our vacation rentals and it’s been great. Our first rental took us to Muriwai Beach which was an awesome spot to watch the Gannet Colony and to just indulge in some amazing pure nature walks. It’s about a 35 minute drive away from Auckland City.
From here, there are so many places to see and explore, but I highly recommend checking out the Waitakerere Range, a national regional park that boasts of amazing hikes, nature walks, waterfalls and exploring black sand beaches. Many are kid friendly, but still need mommys and daddies full attention as some trails come with more challenging inclines or cliffs.
The Te Henga Walkway captivated me so much that I did parts of it with my little family and then came back to do the entire trek by myself, which was just magical. I do recommend bringing hiking sticks and lots of water for this 14 k hike….wink wink! It ended in Bethells beach which is stunning spot just on its own.
Piha Beach is an amazing surfing beach and must see in my opinion. This area really reminded me of the best of the California’s coastline with its own beautiful signature and it’s own subtropical climate.
For an amazing waterfall adventure, it’ll have to be KiteKite Falls. The hike and the cascading waterfall took our breath away.
Now on to Rotorua, the adventure and geothermal capital. It is oh so easy to be super active here. New Zealand brings out all of your wild and adventurous side and it’s awesome. Mountain biking, hiking, kayaking, luge riding, orbing down a grass covered hill in a giant inflatable plastic ball (🤣), zip lining, bungee jumping….whatever your wild and crazy heart desires, it’s here.
If you are or if you’re not a Lord of the Rings fan, you can go see the Shire of the trilogy at Hobbiton. The two hour tour was a highlight and we would have loved to just move into this peaceful place.
The next day, we spend visiting the Waitamo marveling at the ancient caves. You can even go black water rafting where you’ll get a chance to abseil, weave, jump, climb, and float through a glowworm-studded subterranean wonderland.
We made our base at Lake Okareka, which is about 12km from Rotorua. It’s just enough of a distance to be close enough to all that Rotorua has to offer and being amidst lush nature and serene lake country.
Our place here came with kayaks too, which made it extra special.
Raphael and I embarked on a zip lining adventure with Rotorua Canopy Tours for our mommy and son date.
We hiked, zip lined and we’re lucky to learn so much about the beautiful ancient virgin forest where we were just engulfed in raw and wild nature for three hours. Raphael couldn’t stop squealing and smiling and wanted to go right back to do the whole thing again.
I have to say too, that it makes all the difference to have amazing guides and Kris and Scott didn’t disappoint.
So far though, my personal highlight was visiting Te Puia. A living Maori village and Place of geothermal wonder.
Not only is it home to Pōhutu (‘poor-hoo-too’), the largest active geyser in the southern hemisphere. She erupts once or twice every hour and sometimes reaches heights of 30 metres (100 feet). Pōhutu means ‘constant splashing’ in Māori.
It is also a living, expanding and educating Maori village. We decided to take part in a pōwhiri (‘poor-fee-dee’), which is a traditional Māori welcoming ceremony. It was originally used to challenge a visiting party and find out their intentions. Though the pōwhiri has a basic structure, there are variations, depending on the occasion. A pōwhiri usually involves a wero (challenge) from a warrior and a karanga (welcome call) from a female host. This is followed by whaikōrero (welcome speeches. Following the speeches, waiata (songs) are often sung and then visitors hongi – press noses together in a traditional Māori greeting.
It was an amazing experience for our entire family.
To be able to learn about the culture, history, architecture, spirituality and their active carving and weaving school was quite special.
In Maori language WHĀNAU means family and it was evident that visitors are greeted with respect and hospitality. At Te Puia, it’s part of their culture to welcome, guide, feed and entertain us and treat us like part of the family.
Very close to our base is Te Wairoa, The burried village. It is New Zealand’s most visited Archaeological Site, where stories of the 1886 Mt Tarawera Eruption come to life.
The eruption of Mount Tarawera in the early hours of June 10, 1886 was one of New Zealand’s greatest natural disasters. Just after midnight on June 10th, the people in Te Wairoa were woken by a sequence of earthquakes. Two hours later, a much larger earthquake was felt, followed by massive explosions. For more than four terrifying hours, rocks, ash and mud bombarded the peaceful village. The violent and unexpected eruption buried Te Wairoa and several smaller villages in the area under hot, heavy ash and mud. It completely destroyed the famous Pink and White Terraces, one of New Zealand’s first tourist attractions, and it changed the landscape dramatically. Around 150 people lost their lives.
The experience really came to live for our kids with the scavenger hunt at the village. They were super engaged and interested and learned a ton just following the clues through the village.
It ended in one of the most spectacular waterfalls I have seen.
Here are some photos we took of this stunning place.
After spending the last 4 months in beautiful Bali and doing so much work on the inner planes, we asked the universe for time to clear, integrate and balance. And there she was: Aotearoa!!
We are taking a slight break to venture to the Fiji Islands for a couple of weeks now and will fly back into Wellington to explore the south of the North Island and the South Island.
Stay tuned lovelies!
In love & light
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