I’ve been slacking on my blog lately holding down two full-time jobs for the past few months and I’m more than thrilled that one of those is freelance travel writing, but I’ve let my personal writing suffer. It’s about time to catch up on my latest adventures.
The second week in April, Ryan and I took a little 6-day road trip to the northeast corner of NZ’s North Island. We’ve been dreaming of Coromandel’s beaches and Mount Maunganui views since we arrived in the country. A year and a half later we finally made the 5.5 hour drive from Welly to first stop Rotorua then onto Tauranga/Mount Maunganui and finished exploring the Coromandel.
Here are our favorite must-see spots from the journey:
The Redwoods – Whakarewarewa Forest, Rotorua
Stand among Californian giants in this stunning 5600 hectares [13,800 acres] forest. We enjoyed a long stroll looking up as the warm morning sun shone through the branches. It’s an impressive place and worth the visit.
The second largest lake on the North Island sits the edge of Rotorua’s downtown. Surrounded by grassy areas, it’s the perfect place to picnic and to catch a dreamy sunset.
Lake Tarawera, Bay of Plenty
The next morning we woke up for sunrise at Lake Tarawera.
There is a little slice of heaven hidden in between Rotorua and Tauranga. The most beautiful waterfall surrounded by NZ’s magical greenery.
But there’s one problem. It’s been a closed track for years for its dangerous climb down. But it’s too beautiful to keep people out. The way down is not easy. We don’t recommend going unless you are with someone who knows how to get down. It’s more of rock-climbing via tree roots and descending down questionable ladders, but the hard work is worth the reward.
Mount Maunganui, Bay of Plenty
We couldn’t wait to visit Mount Maunganui’s endless, pristine beaches and we weren’t disappointed. After coffees in the sand we headed up to the top of the mount to catch a colorful sunset.
Cathedral Cove, Coromandel
That night we drove to Coromandel to wake up on one of the most loved beaches in the country. And we had it all to ourselves.
We recommend heading to the beach for sunrise to beat the tourists. After more people showed up we decided to run to the other beach. It was high tide and we attempted to beat the waves crashing on the cove. We lost. But we didn’t care, the place was mesmerizing.
That night we slept in Whangapoua at a little caravan park called Earl’s Paradise. Earl’s little parking lot sat above the little town overlooking the ocean. He had a mini dorm room, outdoor showers and a kitchen plus two lovely dogs and a friendly kitty. For $10/pp it was more than worth it.
The next morning we headed down to the beach for a lovely, peaceful sunrise.
New Chums Beach, Coromandel
This hidden beach was once listed as one of the best in the world. It’s tucked away through a short trip through the bush. Easily accessible during low tide, but Ryan and I decided to attempt it for sunset. We stripped down to our swimmers carrying our backpacks high above the water. We underestimated the crossing. Laughing as we completely fell in, getting drenched up to our chests and as we made it to the other side it started to downpour. With nowhere to take cover we laughed and cursed our luck and crossed the river again. We made it the next day. It reminded me of the Thai islands. Beautiful white sand, covered in pink seaweed encircled by staggering moss-covered rocks.
Only a minute off Highway 2 is a magnificent waterfall cascading over a mountain of rocks. Although swarming with mosquitos, I happily sat here taking its strength and beauty in.
We woke up the next morning to catch our final sunrise, but Cyclone Cook decided to show up with torrential rain. After a few hours in Tauranga checking out Bansky’s exhibit at Tauranga Art Gallery we decided to start the long drive back to Welly.
If you’re heading to that area and need any advice on photo spots, where to park/camp/eat feel free to reach out with questions!
Cheers for reading,
(photos by Ryan – click on his name to see more of his work)