New Zealand: My Must-See in NZ

February 1st, 2012 · Lisa · Travel · Comments
Aloha all!
It has now been three months since I’ve seen my apartment. I have one demo, four flights and nine days to go before I step back into my regular routine.It has been an amazing adventure, especially because I’ve had all of you reading and encouraging me along the way. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your comments, your kindness and your constant support. You have all proven that traveling alone is amazing as long as you are part of an incredible community of inspiring friends. Thank you.

Today, I’d like to continue to share the sights I enjoyed during my whirlwind tour through New Zealand.

After my event in Auckland I had less than a week to explore. If you find yourself in a similar predicament, I would suggest some serious prioritizing. New Zealand, like Canada, is a vast country. The landscape is diverse and stunning. You can’t see it all in six days – especially if you’re without a vehicle and afraid to navigate alone while driving on the opposite side of the street.

Here is my Top-Ten-Must-See-in-NZ (if you only have 6-8 days)

1. If you’re visiting during NZ’s summer (which means Canadian winter) then get thee to a beach. I took great pleasure in strolling barefoot on the beach in January. The area around Brown’s Bay is perfect for an afternoon outing.

On the beach you can watch families enjoying a picnic, dogs jumping in the waves and the beautiful peaks across the bay.

2. If the weather is fair, catch a ferry. Start in Devonport, stop at a cafe, wander through the boutiques and watch the skyline of Auckland disappear.

3. If you fancy an half-day hike, check out Waiheke Island.

You can traipse up the hillsides, through the vineyards (stop for a taste if you like), and across the beautiful beaches.

Tour through the little towns, pick up some local fruit and grab a seat by the sea.

3. Speaking of eating, I suggest a picnic at the beach. Long Bay, on Auckland’s north shore allows electric stoves. One of my favourite nights in NZ involved some vegan kebabs, a whole lot of salad and the company of my lovely hosts.

We covered a picnic table in plaid (a very Canadian pattern).

We filled our plates with nourishing food and then strolled along the sand as the sun drifted down to the horizon.

4. If you’re a coffee connoisseur test the Barristas. New Zealand is very proud of their cafe culture. If you’re from North America you have to try a Flat White at least once (with soy or almond milk of course).

5. Make time to learn about the Maori culture. The indigenous people of New Zealand welcome visitors to learn about how they adapted to live in a land full of volcanoes, thermal vents and warring tribes.

I spent an hour with a tour guide at the thermal village in Rotorua learning about how the families use the natural hots springs for bathing, cooking food and heating their homes.

In New Zealand Maori is an official language and the meeting houses, marae, can be seen spotted across the country’s landscape. Having a guide to explain the symbolism of the carvings made the visit a much richer experience. Participating in a haka, the warrior chant, provides some insight into the history and traditions of the culture.

6. If you want a unique experience, soak in the natural hot springs. Thanks to New Zealand’s density of volcanic activity hot springs and steam vents aren’t hard to find. One of the most popular spots to visit is Rotorua. Here you can visit the village I mentioned above, watch geysers, boiling mud and thermal activity everywhere.

During my visit, I stayed away from the open air baths in the Maori village but savoured every second in the Polynesian spa pools. We indulged ourselves with a soak in four different hot pools. My body appreciated the water rich in healing minerals and the muscle soothing temperatures.

7. Continue to celebrate the incredible natural attractions in New Zealand with a visit to Lake Taupo and Huka Falls. On a clear day you can see Mt. Tongariro from Taupo and then marvel at the crystal blue rapids of the falls.

8. If you’re a curious cat like me, spend some time at Te Papa. Wellington’s free museum has amazing interactive displays detailing the natural forces that formed New Zealand and the immigration patterns that have shaped the culture.

9. When you’re hungry, eat local. I drove through the Hawkes Bay area of New Zealand admiring the trees heavy with stone fruit and citrus. Roadside stalls sold corn, strawberries, peaches and cherries. During my 11 day stay I think I ate my weight in cherries. They were big, ripe and incredibly sweet. My breakfast below was enjoyed en route to Wellington. I had to compliment my New Zealand haul of cherries and grapefruit with a filling banana to carry me through the long car ride ahead.

10. If you’re ready to tackle 19.5 kms you must do the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. The one-day walk provides unforgettable views of New Zealand’s diverse volcanic landscape. You can read all about my experience here.

Although this is a fantastic list full of fun there was still more I wanted to do that the weather or my schedule just wouldn’t permit. Next time I will visit the Coromandel Penninsula and the Bay of Islands.  I still have the whole South Island to see. I’ll have to start saving up vacation days again (as soon as I get home that is).

One more tip: If you’re traveling on your own, I would suggest spending some time on the train. It isn’t fancy or fast but it is a really relaxing way to cover the miles while taking in the natural beauty of the country. I spent 12 hours on the train and I don’t regret a second.

Have any of you been to New Zealand? Do you have some must-sees that I’ve missed? I’m ready to start building my return itinerary 🙂


P.S. This Saturday I’ll be doing my last demo of this trip at Down to Earth in Kapolei, Oahu. If you’re in the area please come by, it’s FREE!
P.P.S. If you’re in the Toronto area this Saturday you must go to the Totally Fabulous Vegan Bake-Off. This event has been my pet project since moving to Toronto but this year it is all grown up and going on without me. It is going to be a fantastic celebration, full of sweet treats and fabulous friends. Don’t miss it.

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