For the final part of our epic 2 week New Zealand road trip, we took a day out to explore the Northlands, located right at the tip of the North Island. Here we visited towns, waterfalls, and a particularly large tree…
The little town of Paihia was our first stop, and it pretty much had everything you could need all wrapped up in one place. Paihia is home to beautiful coastal walks, beaches, marinas and lots of places to eat, sleep and shop.
These beautiful hotels were situated right on the water’s edge, and had the coolest design features. I’d have loved to stay in one for an evening if we had time! Isn’t that rock arch amazing?
I’m sorry, I know it’s a toilet, but isn’t it just the cutest public toilet you’ve ever seen?? This for me just sums up the humour and positivity of New Zealand’s locals. The way of life here seems so laid back and optimistic, never taking anything too seriously. I think we learnt a lot during our little time here.
We had a good wander around Paihia, window shopping at independent stores, and salivating over the delicious smells wafting from the restaurants. This town really did feel like a proper tourist destination. We really liked it here in Paihia, but it definitely had the vibes of a holiday/tourist destination. I think a couple of hours was plenty of time to explore it if you’re short on time.
Haruru Falls is a spectacle found just off from the side of a main road. It’s amazing how many gorgeous natural wonders there are in New Zealand that are located in such accessible and easy to find areas! As with many other places we had visited, this area was deserted, giving us plenty of time and space to enjoy the beauty this area had to offer.
The waterfall forms a horseshoe shape, which is quite unusual, and definitely worth a stop. Haruru in Maori means ‘big noise’ – an apt name for these majestic and thunderous waters.
From one stunning waterfall to another, our next stop was Rainbow Falls in Kerikeri. There are several hikes available to allow for different viewpoints of the falls. The first is a hike along the top edge, allowing you to look down upon the falls as they plummet down into the water below. This is the shortest of the hikes, and has several viewing areas if it gets busy. Once you’ve taken it all in from above, you can hike down to the bottom of the falls for a totally different vantage point.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, we did spy two people attempting to hike behind the waterfall itself. Admittedly, they didn’t make it all the way round before deciding that it was probably too dangerous, but I can imagine that on a hot summer’s day it would be pretty refreshing!
We were pretty happy admiring it from afar.
If you’ve got plenty of time, there is a much longer walk which takes you along the Kerikeri river track. This leads to the Kerikeri basin, home to several old buildings, including a stone store and an old mission house.
Our journey onwards from the Eastern tip of the island to the Western side saw us following these classic beauties, aren’t they gorgeous??
Stopping off for a snack from a local convenience store, we took a few moments to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. I loved all of the sand dunes along this part of the island, scattered along the horizons. We also noticed plenty of secluded little beaches that would be perfect for a picnic during the summer months.
And last, but certainly by no means least… We couldn’t leave New Zealand without visiting the largest known living Kauri tree! Although no one knows for sure, it is estimated to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years old. I think that certainly allows it to deserve the title ‘Tane Mahuta’, meaning ‘Lord of the Forest’.
The tree is so loved by the local people and engrained into the culture, that during the drought in 2013, river waters were rerouted to the tree after it began to show signs of dehydration. I love how deeply connected to nature the people of New Zealand are, it is truly inspiring.
It was tricky to show just how large the tree really is in photos, so here’s a super cheesy, super touristy snapshot to brighten your day :-)
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about and watching our series on New Zealand as much as we’ve enjoyed making it. This country is truly remarkable, and we’ll never forget our time here – I really hope we’ll be able to return again someday.
Here’s our final vlog of the series. It includes some of the content that we wrote about in our Auckland post:
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