New Zealand – North Island

Being an ex-pat who has lived in the land of Down Under for over 15 years, New Zealand presented an experience which felt a little like Australia, and yet was a vastly different setting. The mix of beautiful landscapes, the omnipresent Māori culture, friendly, easygoing Kiwis, and delicious Sauvignon Blanc was both charming and disarming. I loved it.

Here’re some of the highlights of my short adventure trip with the boy to New Zealand – North Island region, which includes Auckland, Rotorua, and Lake Taupo.

Me and my Lowell backpack

Me and my Lowell backpack at the airport – ready to go

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Waiting to board the plane

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Māorian welcome sign at the airport

Moments after we touched down in Auckland, we headed straight to Countdown (the largest grocery store chain in New Zealand) and bought oats, bread, fruits, nuts and some snack carrots. We knew we wanted to make breakfast every day and have healthy snacks available all the time so it was a good move on our part. We stayed at Quest serviced apartments equipped with a kitchen which helped tremendously with our effort to maintain a somewhat healthy diet during our travels.

Quests Apartments
AUS 1800 334 033
NZ 0800 944 400
International +61 3 9645 8357

Our breakfast every morning looks a little like this.

Every morning looks a little like this


Wai-O-Tapu

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Stairs at Wai-o-tapu

We started our journey with a trip from Auckland to Rotorua via Wai-o-tapu. It’s a great spot for geothermal gazing complete with an extensive walking track and funky coloured bubbling thermal mud pools.

Wai-o-tapu - Dew on tree branches

Dew on tree branches

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One of the many thermal pools at Wai-o-tapu

Green smoothie coloured pool

Kryptonite coloured pool

Champagne Pool at Wai-o-tapu

The famous Champagne Pool

My favourite picture from Wai-o-tapu and NZ. A girl taking a photograph with her man supporting her. Hashtag love!

Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland
Open every day including all Public Holidays
April-October: 8:30am-5:00pm (last admission 3:45pm)
November-March: 8:30am-6:00pm (last admission 4:45pm)
Christmas Day: 8:30 am-5:00 pm (last admission 3:45pm)
Phone: +64 7 366 6333


Rotorua

When in Rotorua, one must visit the hot spring pool. Nothing is as pleasant, or potent, as a mineral-rich thermal spa (and a shivering cold rinse after) to ease one’s troubled mind and relax one’s tired body.

We went to the Polynesian Spa which was within walking distance from our Quest apartment and I must say, it was pure bliss. The spa encloses five shallow hot mineral pools with various degree of ‘hotness’ and a picturesque view of  Lake Rotorua.

Polynesian Spa
Address: Hinemoa St, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand
Hours: Monday – Sunday 8AM-11PM
Phone: +64 7-348 1328

Rotorua lake view from Polynesian spa

Rotorua lake view from Polynesian spa


Taupo

From Rotorua we drove to Lake Taupo where we stayed overnight at the largest and probably most scenic freshwater lake in New Zealand.

Lake Taupo

View from the balcony – Lake Taupo

View from the motel, can you see the steam coming off the surface of the lake?

Can you see the steam coming off the lake’s surface on the left hand side? It’s like a giant hot spring

For dinner we went to Bistro Lago, located at the Hilton Lake Taupo. It’s not the most vegan-friendly restaurant but we were quite happy with our fresh green salad and our simple yet delicious veggie roast featuring snow peas, green beans and potatoes.

Dinner at Bistro Lago - Taupo. Roasted vegetables featuring snow peas, green beans and potatoes

A simple roasted dinner at Bistro Lago

Bistro Lago at the Hilton Taupo
Hours: Restaurant 7am-9pm Bar 8am until late
Address: 80/100 State Highway 5, Taupo 3330, New Zealand
Phone:+64 7-378 708


Huka Falls

One highly recommended activity in Taupo is a visit to the Huka Falls and the Huka Falls Jet ride.  The ride offers a thrilling 30 minute ride along the Huka river while passing through bushes ‘so close you almost crash’ at high speed, and lots of 360° donut spins to keep your adrenaline rushing.

If that doesn’t appeal to you then this might: it’s the only water jet that can take you right in front the magnificent Huka Falls.

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Waiting for our boat ride

Huka Falls

Up close and personal with Huka Falls

Huka Falls Jet
Address: 200 Karetoto Rd, Taupo 3330, New Zealand
Hours: Monday to Sunday 9AM – 4:30PM
Phone:+64 7-374 8572


Auckland

We ended our trip where we started, in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, where we spent most of our time mmm.. eating.

Street Art in Auckland Street Art in Auckland

We made sure to visit The Unbakery at Little Bird Organics. It’s a raw, organic, vegan cafe which came highly recommended by a lot my vegan friend. It serves delicious salads, sumptuous raw cakes and dairy-free coffee. It was fabulous!

Little Bird Organics
Address: 385 New North Road, Kingsland, Auckland 1021, New Zealand
Phone:+64 9-550 7377
Hours: Monday – Friday 8AM-2:30PM Saturday – Sunday 8 AM-3PM

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Cold drip coffee at Little Bird Organics

Tea selection at Little Bird

Tea selection and sprouting kit at Little Bird Organics

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Superfoods and other goodness

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Bird Bowl from The Unbakery – A tasting bowl of delicious salads and dehydrated raw goodness

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Special of the day – Dosa pancake with slaw, corn and creamy avocado dressing

On our last night in New Zealand we treated ourselves with a lovely dinner at Eight at the Langham. They had buffet and à la carte menus available. We chose à la carte and managed to get a few dishes specially made vegan for us.

Eight Restaurant
Address: The Langham Hotel 83 Symonds St, Grafton, Auckland 1010
Hours: Friday to Wednesday 6AM-10PM
Phone:+64 9-300 2924

Veggie burger at Eight at the Langham

Veggie burger at Eight

Eight at the Langham

Digging into some deep fried tofu with peanut sauce

The following morning we managed to squeeze another organic vegan meal at Wise Cicada, thanks to Zarah from VegTravelGuide who told us about this gem. Their raw banoffee pie is to die for!

Wise Cicada Café
Hours: 8am – 6pm Monday to Friday & 9am – 6pm Sat & Sunday
Address: 23 Crowhurst, Newmarket, Auckland
Phone: +64 9-529-9529

Wise Cicada Cafe

Wise Cicada Cafe

Bits of everything lunch at Wise Cicada

Bits of everything lunch at Wise Cicada Cafe

And that’s a wrap.

E noho rā New Zealand. You’ve been awesome!

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