We had already spent 10 days exploring the unbelievably beautiful South Island (you can read that blog post here). The South Island had set my expectations high with what I knew New Zealand could offer and now it was time to roadtrip the North Island!

Day one (eleven of Roadtrip):

We arrived late in the evening from the South Island so camped (right in the centre of wellington!) in Cuba Street car park – it is literally a carpark in a back street that has campervan bays where you can pay $35 for a whole nights stay – you need to leave by 8am the following morning. There are limited spaces but I’m pretty sure they would be fine if you parked in the car spaces. 

We spent the morning exploring Wellington and having a walk around the beautiful (but windy! – apparently it’s nicknamed Windy Wellington!) city. This afternoon we drove to River Valley Lodge in Taihape for a nights stay outside of the camper! 

This lodge is absolutely beautiful – it’s situated on the riverfront with a waterfall and access to beautiful outside spa including Jacuzzi and Wood Fired Sauna. River Valley also offers campervan parking and hostel rooms.

Day Two: 

Today was my birthday! We had an adventure-filled morning of White Water Rafting from the River Valley Lodge – an absolutely amazing and well worth trip to do! The water levels determine what rafts you’re in but the guides are incredible and the trip was so so fun! 

After warming up in the jacuzzi we headed to Tongariro Springs Boutique Suites where we spent another night out of the camper! This place is incredible if you fancy treating yourself – it has almost 360 views of the surrounding mountains along with a hot pool that overlooks the beautiful landscape. 

Day Three:

We woke up fairly early to catch the pre-booked transport to the start of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing! Probably one of the best day hikes I’ve ever done. Although the actual hike was fairly busy, it’s well worth it – the views are insane and the terrain is something I’ve never witnessed before.

We booked our transport through – It cost $35 each. You drop and park your car off at one end of the hike where you then meet the transport and they drive you (30 minutes) to the start point where you walk the 20km back to your car.

The hike itself is absolutely incredible, you pass through 3 active volcanoes with dried lava land. You can read my full Tongariro Crossing Hike Guide here. The climb itself reaches 1886m to the tallest accessible point and the views DO NOT disappoint. Absolutely a must if you’re in this area.

You can read my full Tongariro Alpine Crossing Guide here

After the hike, we drove 3 hours to a surf town on the west coast called Raglan. Probably one of my favourite towns I’ve visited in New Zealand – if you’ve ever been the Byron Bay in Australia, it’s the New Zealand version of that. We stayed for 3 nights at Raglan Backpackers – they offer a carpark space out the front for $26 pp per night – this includes the camp spot and access to all facilities. It’s a great place to stay if you’re in Raglan – perfect location and the cleanest hostel I’ve been in! 

You can read my full Raglan guide here

Day Four:

We spent this morning surfing at Ngarunui Beach before heading to an AMAZING lunch at Rock-It and then spending the rest of the afternoon exploring around town and having a wander around the waterfront. The walk is so lovely to do when the tide is high but when the tide is low, they’ll often be locals jumping off the bridge!

For dinner this evening we decided to head to a local Japanese joint called Ulos and it did not disappoint! This place has a super quirky interior and a lovely front and back garden and the food is just to die for. We shared the vegetarian dumplings and Bao Buns – probably the best I’ve ever tasted! If you do head here, make sure you have the Ginger Wine – super tasty!!

Day Five:

This morning was a bit of a work morning for me as I had a fair amount to catch up on and I always feel better after I’ve caught up on it all! I worked from the back of Raglan Roast as there are super comfy sofas and of course a supply of coffee 😉 

After a work morning, it was time for adventure and this afternoon’s activity was Kayaking to Pancake rocks.

We rented our kayaks from the hostel we were staying in (Raglan Backpackers) for a super cheap rate of 30NZD for one hour. One hour is a perfect amount of time to kayak to the rocks and back. By this point, the sun was setting and we headed into the hostel kitchen to make some dinner and take some wine down to the waterfront to watch the sunset.

Day Six:

The weather turned for the worst today with the rain coming in so we decided it would be best to head to the East Coast of the North Island to a place called Coromandel – somewhere that i’ve heard a lot about so I was keen to explore! Around 20 minutes from Raglan is a waterfall called Bridal Veil Falls which is SO worth a visit – a short 10 minute walk from the carpark you are at top of the falls with the option of heading another 10 minutes down to hit the bottom!

After a little morning of exploring these falls, we headed straight for the East Coast! We found a super great Freedom Campspot for the night called Purangi Regional Reserve – it has toilets to use and is on the waterfront!

Day Seven:

We woke up for around 6am and drove 20 minutes to Cathedral Cove for sunrise. I really recommend getting here early as it gets very busy during the busy seasons! It’s an absolutely beautiful part of the East Coast and definitely worth visiting! You can’t park at the end of the road anymore, so you have the option of parking in town and then a 20/30 minute walk to the start of the track or there are several driveways near the start that offer parking for $10.

The walk itself is very beautiful, it’s a well pathed coastal walk which worms itself in and out of the woodland for around 40 minutes, before finishing at the top of the steps down to the beach, where the beautiful Cathedral Cove is situated. The beach is lovely to walk along at both high and low tide. The main beach has the Smiling Sphinx Rock and at high tide you can walk through the cove and into the next bay where Te Hoho Rock is situated. 

We stopped for a delicious lunch and coffee at Hahei Beach Cafe – I had the Superfood Bowl and it was amazing! Next stop was the Hot Water Beach!

Hot Water Beach is around a 10-minute drive south of Cathedral Cove and is 100% worth a visit! You need to head there when it’s low tide and warning – it can get VERY busy! We parked at the first car park option as you head into the road on the left – it’s free of charge and it’s about a 10-minute walk along the beach until you hit the area where you need to dig. Another option is to head their low tide at night for a spot all to yourself!

We decided to take the rest of the afternoon nice and slow but opting to stay at the Top 10 Campervan Park that’s near the Hot Water Beach and it was perfect. One of the best (paid) campsites we’ve stayed in along our trip. It has super new cooking facilities and even little camping logs you can stay in for the night if you fancy a night out of the camper! 

Day Eight

We headed to Auckland early this morning as Sammy had a meeting there – we only spent the morning there and had an option for exploring for the day but we actually headed straight back to Raglan for our last few days of relaxing! My housemates, Alec and Tara (who are actually from New Zealand) were over from London for a few weeks so we met up with them for a huge catch-up!

Raglan is such a wonderful place to stay and explore – we stayed our last three nights in the Raglan Holiday Park – perfect campsite to stay with lots of amenities. It’s just over the bridge from the main town and high street so such a great location!

We spent the next days relaxing, surfing and taking in the beautiful surroundings New Zealand has to offer before flying back home to London! 

New Zealand is one of my favourite countries I’ve ever visited. If you’re lucky enough to visit, you are in for an absolute treat.

If you’re planning a visit to Australia or New Zealand…

I booked my Campervan that I had the whole 3 weeks that I was here through Ratpack Travel – they are the absolute BEST in the business. They are a Australian and New Zealand focussed Travel Agency that book all trips and transport in both countries. They can undercut all the online rates meaning it’s the cheapest place to book any Campervan for your trip around Australia and New Zealand!

Lydia Collins

Author Lydia Collins

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