New Zealand; Exploring the North Island

A couple of months ago we went to New Zealand for a family vacation to the North Island.  Travelling to destinations by car, we managed to see quite a few of the sights but returned, I’m sure, having only scratched the surface!  It’s been rather a task sorting through over 1500 photos but finally have the edit.  Will keep this short and sweet and just say here’s where I’d recommend going.

MANGAWHAI HEADS

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THE PLACE:  After landing into Auckland, our first destination, Mangawhai, was about 2 hours drive North.  Life there was so laid back,  we couldn’t have planned for a more relaxing transition into Kiwi lifestyle.  There are two beaches, the fistula beach and the surf beach, both are naturally stunning!  The dunes surrounding the beaches provide much sand-surfing fun.

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STAY:  We stayed with family in their Bach from which these amazing sunrises and sunsets were captured – however there are plenty of Bach’s available to rent on Bachcare.

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VISIT:  A boat is an excellent way to explore the coastline.  We indulged in as many water sports as we could; would highly recommend snorkelling at Goat Island Marine Reserve.

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NAPIER & HAWKES BAY

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THE PLACE:  In contrast to Mangawhai, Napier is much more commercialised.  Known as the Art Deco capital, it’s a place that transports you back in time.  From the beautiful 1930’s architecture, to the shop fronts and signposts, everything has such a wistful charm.  We only had chance to visit the town itself for a few hours on one of the dullest days of the holiday, yet it still had wonderful character.

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STAY: The Colonial Lodge Motel.  They seem to like their Motels in Napier.  As such, accommodation was largely decided for  us owing to family on both sides of the wedding party staying here also.  Prior to arriving, I was not sure about this one as the website does not do it any favours!  However, The Colonial was absolutely spot on for what we needed.  Immaculate, excellent staff and the cutest of very well-kept grounds, we could not fault it and were genuinely impressed.  Would go back.

EAT:  On recommendation, we ate and drank at The Emporium.  Would in turn, recommend it.  Right on the edge of the town and the sea front – bags of character and great food.

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VISIT:  Whilst in New Zealand,  a trip to a vineyard is a must.  Mission Estate Winery is the place to go in Hawkes Bay.  New Zealand’s oldest vineyard and the birthplace of New Zealand wine.  We went for my sisters hen party and so ate there also, simply the most amazing food!  (There’d be more photos but it rained.)

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TAUPO

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THE PLACE:  A vibrant town situated round a lake the size of Singapore.  Lots to do here, great places to shop, eat and explore.

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STAY:  The family rented two villas found on Holiday Houses that were a great find and just 5 minutes drive from Taupo.  We stayed in Oriwa (below) a great base for all eating together on an evening – superb accommodation.

VISIT:  The Huka Falls. In short, the Waikato River (normally 100m wide), is squeezed through a 20 metre wide gorge and over a 20m drop thus creating New Zealand’s most visited natural attraction.  The 2 hour cruise was too long for me, but there is a jet boat tour available. Well worth visiting.

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VISIT: DeBretts Hot Springs.  A Water Park, Hot Spring Pools and Spa – quite literally something for everyone.  Kids were wildly happy, as were their Mom’s in Spa heaven!  Can be visited on cloudy days owing to the 40 degree outdoor pools.

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EAT:  Lake House.  Great family place; their specialty – food on the stone.  400 degree slabs cook the food in front of you.

That’s all for now, been an epic post but will be a while till we visit again so figured was worth making this one count!  See you next week when I’ll take you to the Coromandel Peninsula in Part 2.

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Heart My Tribe

~O~

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