This is part 2 of a 3-part series because I have too many damn photos. You can check out part 1 here.
We arrived in rainy Auckland late at night after our three days in Sydney. We were exhausted and sunburned and ready for sleep. We were greeted by Alex’s friend Stefan, who, along with his girlfriend, Kate, would be hosting us for the next few days.
Our first morning in New Zealand was perfect and peaceful — a stark contrast to our time in Sydney. We walked along the beach near Stefan’s house and I got my first glimpse of the crystal clear water and beautiful New Zealand hills that seem to follow you everywhere. We were so happy to be there.
We spent the next four days exploring Auckland with Stefan and Kate. They showed us all of their favorite places, which we loved because it meant we didn’t have to think all the time. We ate amazing fish and chips, explored the city, climbed trees, visited Alex’s old study abroad stomping grounds, and spent plenty of time in the sun on a trip to Whatipu Beach.
On day four, we said our goodbyes and Kate and Stefan and beautiful Auckland, rented a car, and started the long 2,000 km journey to the southern end of the south island. Part 1: driving along the Coromandel Peninsula. We saw a lot of beautiful things on the rest of our drive, but experiencing the views on this particular leg of the drive was one of my favorite moments from our trip. We were finally on the road, blasting music and watching some of the most beautiful scenery in the world rush by.
We stopped driving once it got dark and spent the night in a teeny tiny town called Hahei before making our way toward Cathedral Cove the next morning, and then onto Tauranga. Tauranga isn’t necessarily anything to write home about, but the view from the top of Mt. Maunganui, which lies at the edge of the city, is certainly worth it.
After sunset on the beach and a particularly unpleasant hostel experience in Tauranga, we got on the road early the following day so we could see the hobbit holes and sheep and tourists in Hobbiton, and then make it to Wellington by sunset. We drove a lot this day, with one stop in Taupo, which is home to a beautiful sparkling lake, and one of my favorite stops on our trip – Huka Falls, which has the most crystal blue water I’ve ever seen.
And finally, after what seemed like the longest day of driving, we made it to Wellington. The cultural hub of New Zealand, and our port to the south island. Wellington was a lovely day and half spent relaxing and lying on the beach and eating ice cream — the perfect end to our north island experience. Our second morning there, we hopped on a ferry (with our car — which still amazes me), and made the three-hour trek to the south island where part 3 of our adventure began.
You can head to part three, featuring New Zealand’s south island, here.