Aotearoa, "Land of the long white cloud", or for people not from here, New Zealand. This is my home country, the country I was born in and raised in. This is the same for Rimaha. All of our children were born in New Zealand, but the older two mostly grew up in Australia, and Elijah is growing up on the road around the world. I'll do a brief overview here and then over time, I'll do more in-depth blogs of the individual towns/areas and regions - especially the ones I have lived in.
For now, here's our New Zealand Road Trip Itinerary.
Bay of Islands
This is a place close to my heart. I first visited at age 12 years old and fell in love with the town of Paihia. I dreamed of living in that beautiful place. For a long time my own limitations held me back. I thought it was only a place the rich could live. It was one of the first places my heart deeply desired to reside in. After separating from my oldest children's father, I took a coastal drive and stood back in Paihia. I made a life changing decision to move to this idyllic town and start our lives fresh. It was an amazing move, and one I look back on as something that changed our lives for the better. There are so many amazing places here, and I look forward to writing a deep blog on this beautiful part of the earth very soon!
This was home to my older half sister for a while. I was blessed to go up and visit a couple of times before moving to Bay of Islands. After I moved to Australia, I didn't re-visit this place. I don't have a lot to write on this place, but I will have a few spots worth mentioning when I go through my old photos!
Auckland is not my favourite part of New Zealand. As a travel agent, I used to only recommend this as a stop when flying in or out of the country. I always told my clients to get out of Auckland as quickly as possible, either up to Bay of Islands or Coromandel in the summer months, or Bay of Plenty for culture. I'd always recommend the South Island as the winter destination. I've spent a lot of time in the Auckland region, mostly on the North Shore, as that's where my mum lives. There are still some good spots in Auckland, and I'll share these in my Auckland blog posts coming soon.
This is another region I'm not a raving fan of (with the exception. of Coromandel Coast - a place I could definitely call home). But there are a lot of touristy areas you might want to explore. Namely Hobbiton, which is Matamata. It's actually a place I haven't yet visited, although I've driven through this little town so many times. When we return back to New Zealand again, I'm sure we will take the time to actually visit the Hobbiton village, but in this blog I'll cover the things I have done, like the Waitomo caves, Coromandel, Taupo, Mt Ruapehu, Hamilton and Raglan.
One of my favourite walks on the road between Tauranga and Auckland. This is the best stop if you need a rest from driving. Give yourself a couple of hours here. It's fantastic.
This is an area I quite like to visit. It has a big, beautiful lake and has a lovely vibe to it. I haven't stayed in the town that often, but it is a great location to explore some of the geothermal areas from.
Mount Ruapehu is one of the main ski areas on the North Island. It's not as big as the South Island Ski areas but this was my 'local' growing up, so I have a bit I can share about this part of the country.
Bay of Plenty
This is the area I was born and raised. I have so much to talk about for a lot of these areas!
I can say I have spent a lot of time in this area. Growing up, I visited Tauranga harbour most weekends to go fishing. Which is something I didn't really enjoy because I got quite seasick. I'll have a few family friendly places to visit in this section of the blog.
Mount Maunganui and Papamoa
I'll probably put The Mount and Papamoa together because they are both beachy and Papamoa doesn't have a lot to add to Mount Maunganui - yet.
This is our home town. I will go deep in this one, there will probably be more than one or two or even three posts here. We grew up in this place, so we have all the secret spots covered. There are lakes, forests and hot springs galore. This is a family friendly location to visit with lots of free activities, as well as some awesome paid places to visit.
Whakatane and Ohope
I'll see what I can find, I've spent time in both of these places but I don't know if there'll be much to justify a whole blog post. We'll see.
Pukehina, Maketu, Little Waihi and Matata
These are places I spent time at growing up. I'll leave these until a bit later on as I'm not sure if I have many/any images from around this area.
There are some amazing spots along the East Coast of the North Island. I will have a little content on this area, but I have only been out to the tip a couple of times. It's one of those raw, country New Zealand places that is outside of the main tourism loops so it is well worth a look if you are self driving and want to see something more untouched!
This is another area I haven't spent a lot of time in. I'll see what I can come up with here though because it is very beautiful. I had an opportunity to camp in Tolaga Bay, another one of these remote areas of New Zealand. This might take a bit of time, but I have friends in the area who might be able to help me put this part together!
Another beautiful part of New Zealand. Again, I've only done a brief road trip through this area (when I was about 16) so I may not have many photos of this area. It's starting to look like I need to get back to my home country to revisit a lot of places!
This is home to a beautiful mountain, Taranaki. There is also a river. The town here is called New Plymouth. They have a wonderful lights festival here each year. It's also rumoured to be a good surf spot (although I can't say I ever visited for the beaches here).
This area is home to Palmerston North. An area I have visited a few times on my way through the country. Most recently I visited in 2014 when I had my university graduation there. It's probably not high up a family travellers list, so my blogs from this area will come later!
I lived in Wellington for a couple of years before moving to Australia (the first time). When I was there I was a university student and in a relationship. I can think of a few neat places here to take kids, so I'll do a blog on this soon. It's a very neat city with so much to see and do. I like the vibe here much more than Auckland.
I visited parts of Tasman on our recent road trip from Queenstown to Auckland in February 2020. I'll write up these posts after I catch up on the rest of our Vietnam posts.
This is such a beautiful part of New Zealand that is often unseen by travellers. It is a place you could easily stay for two weeks, even more. We stayed only a couple of nights here but it was enough to make us certain we would return for longer when we go back.
I've spent time in Nelson a lot in my life. My older half sister grew up in this town so when I was old enough I'd go down to visit. There are a few things I can put in here from our recent trip (February 2020) even though we only stayed one night.
I'm not quite sure if I'll have much to go in a full blog. I'll pop what I can here.
This is an area we haven't explored, but it is filled with some amazing parts of New Zealand. This is home to both the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers. A couple of places I'd love to visit. Two roads that are well known here are Arthur's Pass and Haast Pass.
The Lewis Pass is a road we drove on between Hanmer Springs (Canterbury) and Kaiteriteri (Tasman).
I've spent time here as my mum lived here for a while. There are some beautiful places to hang out, like the Avon river and the parks. I'll put this together soon.
We loved our short time in Arrowtown. We visited the museum and the kids were interested to learn about the early settlers and gold mining. The Chinese settlement was a hit, the kids loved checking out all the old homes and running along the safe wide open spaces.
This is one of the few regions I haven't explored at all. When we return to New Zealand one day (maybe 2025), we will travel through the south Island for about six months. There is just so much to see in this part of New Zealand.