Previously when we wrote about our Backpackneymoon in New Zealand, we went into great detail and posted a number of articles about our adventures… and that was just the South Island. This time, we’re doing one summary article about the entire North Island! Why? Well there are two reasons. Firstly, we spent longer in the South Island, but secondly we did many more things in the South Island. So here’s the wrap up of the North Island.
The capital of New Zealand, Wellington, is a small town by world standards, but is large enough to have a few things to keep visitors occupied. We visited the fantastic Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa, which is free to enter. The building itself is wonderful and the exhibits well worth strolling around for a few hours. We also checked out Weta Cave which is an information centre for those people wanting to check out the workshops of where many of the props, weapons and creatures were created for the Lord of the Rings movies. Free, free, free! (there’s a theme developing here…) Big thanks to Susan’s friend Lina who let us stay at her house for a night.
Lina put us onto Cape Palliser, an extremely remote corner of New Zealand which is famous for its massive seal colony. About 80km southeast of Wellington, the drive becomes slow as you reach the dirt road about 20km from your destination. But once you arrive at Cape Palliser, it all becomes worthwhile as the landscape is stunning. We walked up to the lighthouse where you really do get to enjoy what a fantastic piece of the world this place is. Just before the lighthouse is a massive colony of seals lying on the grass and snoozing on the rocks. We walked among them and took hundreds of photos. Cute! (and free…)
Waitomo is a fair way north of Wellington and is the famous home of the Waitomo Caves. Our friends Dina and Ryan went there and did cave rafting and we assumed it wouldn’t be operating when we were there because it was so cold! Well, it was operating and we had no intention of getting wet. So instead we took a tour of the main Waitomo Cave and we had an incredible experience despite it being expensive. We were able to access an area of the cave called the organwhich has apparently been closed for 20 years due to carbon dioxide buildup. They only let the last tour group of the day into this area and only if the group is less than 10 people. In this special area you get to see the most bizarre and special cave features we’ve ever seen. It looked like the entire caves was covered in melted candle wax — but it was solid rock. Weird. After a tour through the cave, we all hopped in a boat and took a ride along a cave river where we got to see glow worms once again — a scene reminscent of the night sky in the middle of the Australian desert.
Also around the Waitomo area is an impressive waterfall and a massive rock arch which once used to be a cave. We definitely recommend checking both of these things out when in the area.
There’s plenty of stuff to do in and around Rotorua. A favourite for most visitors is a vist to one of the thermal parks where bright coloured lakes, bubbling pits of mud and geyers all make an appearance.We went to the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Parkin the rain, but it was still pretty cool.
There’s also the Huka Falls which are pretty cool. At the end of the day, if you like all that geothermal stuff, you could spend ages cruising around to all the free and paid things in this area.
The North of the North Island
Further north of Rotorua and we really didn’t enjoy ourselves as much despite there being a few cool things to see. After weeks of travelling around, we were getting a bit weary and things needed to be spectacular for us to get excited and things just weren’t that great. Sure, the scenery was good, but it just didn’t do it for us like the rest of New Zealand did. Still, we did check out some massive trees, slide down huge sand dunes and… that’s about it.
Overall, we had a good time in the North Island. We hope you are enjoying our backpackneymoon adventures! We have more posts coming up about specific things in New Zealand such as where to see penguins for free and a series about Jucy Campervans. Plus, we will summarise our budget so you know exactly how much everything costs. Next stop Australia! If you want to see how much it costs to rent a campervan like we did, check the prices here on this price comparison website.