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Recently I have returned to Germany, but in my mind I am still on the other side of the globe. It was one of the best ideas to visit the North Island New Zealand with my children. Whether volcanic landscapes, old Maori traditions, hobbitland or dream beaches. This part of Kiwiland can hardly be more exciting. Travel with me through the destination I long for ever since.
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CULTURAL STOP IN WELLINGTON ON THE NORTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND WITH CHILDREN
As we were already on the South Island of New Zealand, we visited Wellington by ferry. The capital of the small 4.8 million state is really pulsating.
And with a population of around 200,000, it gives us a real metropolitan feeling for the first time. Of course there are a lot of business people here, but there are also hip neighborhoods like Cuba Street.
ON THE TRACKS OF THE HOBBITS
In Windy Welly, as the New Zealanders call their seaside town, Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson has also shot many scenes from his successful trilogy. With the Movietours you can go to the original locations, which is a real hit and was of course a part of our tour around the North Island New Zealand.
Among other things it goes to the dreamlike Mount Victoria, where you have a wonderful view over the city. Through our guide Kate, who also had a special role in one of the Hobbit movies, we got great background information.
After that I had to watch the movies again immediately.
Since we were travelling by car, we decided to stay at the wonderful Gilmer apartment in the middle of the city – from there we could explore everything by foot.
I can highly recommend this place. It is clean, large, in the center and even equipped with a washing machine – a real luxury for us on this trip! And on top we had a parking place right in front of the house.
HISTORICAL OVERVIEW: TE PAPA MUSEUM
In order to better understand the country, which is somewhat “isolated” from the rest of the world, a visit to the TePapa Museum is definitely worthwhile.
The museum aims to tell the history of the country from its volcanic origins to contemporary times.
The entrance is for free! On top of that, TePapa is beautifully situated directly on the impressive harbour promenade.
NATURE IN THE MIDDLE OF THE CITY
For nature lovers there is Zealandia in the heart of the modern city. A 250 hectare reserve, home to rare birds and plants.
LAKE TAUPO – MOON CRATER AND WELLNESS for free
But after a few days in the rather windy and cool Wellington we were drawn further north to the hot springs.
Lake Taupo is New Zealand’s largest inland lake with 600,000 square kilometres and a real holiday paradise.
Because it is situated on volcanic territory – there are several hotspots, in the truest sense of the word. For example the “Craters of the Moon”.
We were very fascinated during our walk through the area with the thermal springs and got into a real Armstrong pioneer mood!
We didn’t make it to the volcano Taupo, but to the impressive Huka Falls, a rushing waterfall. And to the hot pools at the Omuheke Stream. My highlight here: in the cold lake there are hot, underground springs at the shore. Everything is completely natural, within walking distance and located in beautiful nature. We relaxed for an eternity in the warm water bathtub!
ROTORUA – MAORITRADITION AND HOBBITLAND
Just over an hour further north is Rotorua, known for its geothermal springs and rich Maori culture.
EXPERIENCE MAORI CULTURE ON THE NORTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND WITH CHILDREN
The Māori are the natives of New Zealand. More than 1000 years ago they came to the islands from their mythical Polynesian homeland Hawaiki.
To learn more about their culture, carving and weaving, we visited the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. And – very impressive – there is a geyser in the area, a hot spring that spits out its water as a fountain.
That was the first geyser we’ve ever seen. But the highlight of the whole trip for my daughter was the “Maori Show”, as she calls it. To watch that you need to drive about 20 min out of town into the middle of the forest.
In the Tamaki Maori village we learn how the Maori used to live. Whether through the special welcome ceremony, warrior training or Maori chants – we felt like we were in the middle of a different era. We also had a traditional Hangi meal. For that the Maori cook the meal in the hot earth. It was really tasty.
So the New Zealanders use their hot earth in many ways.
HEALING MUD FROM DEEP SPRINGS
The mud baths are a real tradition in this area. Of course I wanted to try them out. So in Hells’Gate Geothermal Park I ventured into the warm mud bath as I was told that it was relaxing and good for the skin. My neck tension was really less the next day. I swear!
About an hour north of Rotorua lies Matamata – and the Hobbitland!
HOBBITON – PILGRIMAGE CITIES FOR HOBBITFANS
Here on a huge sheep farm hides the dreamlike meadowland from the hobbit movies. The whole set is still original. It is taken care of and I felt a bit like Snow White in front of these little houses. Here you should definitely order your tickets online well in advance, as the tours through the fascinating Hobbitland are heavily booked! During my trip on the North Island of New Zealand withy children we had to experience it of course..
COROMANDEL – BEACH DELUXE ON THE NORTH ISLAND OF NEW ZEALAND
We went on to the probably most beautiful beaches, the Coromandel Peninsula.
The drive alone through the mountains, the lush nature is an unbelievable experience.
We stayed up in the north, my insider tip: Kaeppeli’s Bed & Breakfast. Situated on a farm you have a dream view of the bay.
My children were busy all the time with the many animals and as the name suggests, a Swiss family discovered and cultivated this beautiful spot many years ago.
From there we visited the many bays, including the famous Cathedral Cove, north of Hahei. After a one hour walk through wild nature we arrive at the cathedral cave. The large natural tunnel and the white sandy beach are a unique sight against the backdrop of the endless Pacific Ocean and the rock formations rising out of the water.
A bit further is the Hot Water Beach, the most popular beach in the country. Why? Here are underground hot springs. Totally crazy: here you dig a hole, let water run in and have built your own little whirlpool. Unfortunately, we were a little late, as shortly after or before the low tide is the best time for digging. But we really enjoyed it, even though our small pool was destroyed by the tide quite fast.
CAP REINGA – NORTHERNMOST Tip
With a stopover in Auckland we drove further to the northernmost tip.
Small and cute are the cities of Paihia and especially Russel with its old seaport and Victorian buildings.
A huge fun is the sand surfing in the very north at the TePaki sand dunes. If you can, you should rent a board beforehand, it’s quite expensive locally. Once one has trudged up through the sand, one should definitely leave the sunglasses on during the rapid downhill ride.
Because the sand is very dusty. A bit further is the Ninety Miles Beach, on which one is even allowed to drive.
A surfer and bathing paradise and almost endless! To the north is Cap Reinga, where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean. For the Maori this is a mystical place. Here the souls of the deceased begin their journey to Hawaiki, the distant land of their ancestors. I cannot explain exactly why. But this one moment here at the lighthouse was very special. And it touched me very much. It may be due to Maori mysticism, to my melancholy that I had to leave this fascinating country afterwards. Whatever! I will not forget this place, as well as the whole trip to the North Island New Zealand with children.