I spent the best part of February 2015 in New Zealand, travelling around the North and South islands with a friend from University. We saw so much in the brief time we spent there, including lots of Lord of the Rings sites and the major cities. However, there was so much I didn’t get to see. The friend I travelled with is currently back in New Zealand on his own and I’m insanely jealous as he’s doing all the things we didn’t have time for the first time around. This is a little list of the things I wish I’d done when I had the chance.
Just outside Auckland’s harbour is a volcano rising up from the seal: Rangitoto Island. It’s a popular hiking day trip from the city and has amazing views of the city and the Hauraki Gulf, as well as being one of New Zealand’s best nature reserves. We saw Rangitoto in the distance while on the ferry to Devonport, but with such a tight schedule we never made it out there to trek up the volcano.
Bay of Islands and the Coromandel Peninsula
I didn’t see a great deal of the North Island, only spending time in Auckland and Wellington. As such, I really want to see more of the island. Top of the list is the Bay of Islands and the Coromandel Peninsula. The diving in the Bay of Islands is supposed to be amazing and I’d love to visit the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, where the accords between the British and the Maori were signed. It’s an important piece of New Zealand history, and having been in Wellington for Waitangi Day in 2015 I’d love to learn more about it. As for the Coromandel Peninsula, the diving again is supposed to be fantastic, but the real attractions are Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach.
Zealandia Night Tour
Zealandia is an enclosed ecosanctuary, basically a huge area of bush that has been preserved, cared for and maintained for years. It’s part of a 500-year plan to return Wellington’s valleys to a pre-human state, and it contains species that aren’t found anywhere else in the world. I visited here the first time around and it was brilliant; I almost fell over one of the rarest birds in the world which was just chilling with some ducks, I accidentally broke part of the door on a ferry and I held a stick still for half an hour so my friend could get a good photo of a strange looking insect. It was an incredible experience, but what I really want to do next time is a night tour. Many of New Zealand’s native creatures are nocturnal, including the famous kiwi, and I think a tour at night with someone who can show you the good places to observe animals (from a distance) and actually knows what they’re seeing and hearing would make such a difference and be a really special experience.
Despite being in Nelson for a couple of days, we didn’t manage to squeeze in a visit to the Abel Tasman National Park. It would require a few days to see it properly and we’d blown our budget on a helicopter trip (which was incredible btw). However, it’s definitely something I want to see when I go back eventually. It’s a truly stunning part of the world, and I really want to go kayaking as well as hiking to truly experience it and meet some of the wildlife.
I wouldn’t say that I’m into extreme sports, but I’m still kind of gutted that I didn’t get chance to bungee jump or do the canyon swing last time I was in Queenstown. I had the canyon swing booked for my last day in New Zealand and it was cancelled due to bad weather, and despite being a tiny bit relieved at the time, I’m also a bit gutted. When I go back I’d love to go white water rafting after doing it in Australia and loving it, and I think I’d have to squeeze in a bungee jump somewhere. I reckon they’d probably have to push me off though!
Are any of these things on your New Zealand wish list?