Watching the Duke and Duchess of Sussex journey through New Zealand on their recent royal tour in October, reminded me of how beautiful this country is when I travelled to the North Island many years ago now.
There are countless words to describe New Zealand; yet for me, “breathtaking” tops them all! The land of the long white cloud is guaranteed to take your breath away, as it offers so much natural beauty and a fascinating Maori culture to behold.
On my journey from Auckland airport to Papamoa town visiting a friend and her family, I was mesmerised by the fresh turquoise lakes, vibrant-coloured gardens and magnificent snow-capped mountains that I passed.
It felt like I had died and gone to heaven!
So, if you’re travelling to the North Island, here are 7 breathtaking discoveries to enjoy:
NOTE: Some of these photos are my original pictures taken with a Kodak film.
- Explore the Ohinemutu Maori Village
The Maori village of Ohinemutu is home to members of the Ngati Whakaue tribe. It is permissible to wander through the village and explore how hot water vents are used for both cooking and bathing.
The most fascinating part is exploring the intricate carvings on the Marae, which is the village’s community house. More carvings can be found inside this building along with a picture of Jesus wearing a Maori cloak.
- Visit the Bubbling Mud Pools of Rotorua
The mud pools of Rotorua is a short drive from the Maori village. It’s worth a look to see the steaming pools of bubbling mud sprout out of the ground with the sound echoing like a never-ending pot of boiling water.
These mud pools form in high-temperature geothermal areas where water supply is scarce. The down-side to the mud pools is the rotten-egg type sulphur smell due to various gases found in the lake.
- Jump on a Skyline Rotorua Ride
To take in the panoramic view of Rotorua, try out the Skyline ride, which takes you up in an enclosed gondola nearly 500 metres above the city.
You will enjoy the beautiful landscape of Lake Rotorua on the way up before arriving on a viewing deck with a café serving brewed tea and scones. The wind tends to be a little crisp at the top, so don’t forget to wear a woollen jumper and take a jacket.
- Travel Back Down by Luge
If you are in for an adventure after taking in the view, then travel back down to ground level on a luge ride. The winding ride is about 4 kilometres long and you’ve got to be in complete control of the vehicle as it speeds down quite fast.
However, there is a brake pedal in the luge to help you slow down around those heart-pumping bends. If the adrenalin rush is not for you, the slower scenic track is a better choice or jump back on the enclosed gondola for a relaxing trip back to ground level.
- Have Some Fush ‘n’ Chups at Mount Maunganui
A day out in the relaxed town of Mount Maunganui is guaranteed to blow your mind with its idyllic scenery of the main beach, South Pacific ocean and the magnificient mountain as its backdrop.
There is so much to do around the Mount such as shopping, swimming or simply walking on the beach. Grab yourself some delicious fush ‘n’ chups [as the locals say it] and enjoy them amongst the bustle of the town.
- Take a Dip in the Natural Hot Pools
One of the many ways to totally unwind at Mount Maunganui is to take a nice long dip in one of their natural hot pools. The Mount Hot Pools, made up of heated salt water, is one of the best bathing pools in the area.
Salt water bathing is best for rebalancing and detoxifying the body; and for under $15NZD admission fee, your toes will thank you for the dip.
- Absorb the Heavenly Spectacle of North Island
To take it all in, hire yourself a car or take a bus and explore the beauty of this part of New Zealand. A scenic tour will provide a good glimpse of everything that is stunning about the North Island. You will be just as mesmerised as I was when I saw the most beautiful lakes, gorgeous gardens and snow-capped mountains in the background.
“I gotta say, God really outdid himself down here,” Bob Harper, The Biggest Loser’s personal trainer.
New Zealand in one word – breathtaking.