North Island New Zealand Travel Photography
Welcome to our next New Zealand venture: the North Island. If you have not already, please read Part 1 and Part 2 of our explorations of New Zealand’s South Island. Here you will see some amazing North Island New Zealand travel photography.
After a beautiful but wavy ferry ride we arrived on the North Island in Wellington. It was such a shame that it was already so late and dark and we were not able to explore around. But we could tell right away that Wellington is a really cool artistic town. After the ferry ride over, we were more than ready to just settle in though. So we checked into the Wellington Top 10 Holiday Park. There we made another yummy dinner in their community kitchen before tucking in to bed early. We had a busy and exciting day coming up.
In the morning we had a 4-hour drive to State Park. We were going to be doing a guided Sunset hike for a couple of hours at Tongariro so we needed to get to our camp site for the night and then to head over for that. We stayed at the Whakapa Holiday Park, which was the perfect location. This is the area many do the Tongariro Trek Alpine Crossing– but unfortunately we didn’t have enough time for that. This being where Mount Doom in Modor in Lord of the rings, we made sure to have time for a couple of different hikes to check it out.
Our guided Sunset trek was with Adrift Guided Outdoor Adventures. Bianca (our guide) was marvelous. She tailored the 2-hour trek to what we wanted to see. We hiked around the volcano before returning to the van to watch an AMAZING sunset and sip champagne. Of course we took this time to get some fun photos as well!!
The Next morning, Al and I got up to watch the sunrise behind the famous Chateau Tongariro. We actually had made a reservation there thinking we may enjoy a night in a hotel out of the camper van. But we really loved being in the camper van and decided to cancel it. We did one of the most beautiful hikes of the entire trip. The Taranaki Falls Track was a two hour loop. The Taranaki Falls was magnificent. I am glad we chose to start where we did and came up to the waterfall instead of coming down to it. This way we had the most spectacular view when it finally came in front of us.
The whole trek was beautiful. We started in open fields at the base of one of the volcanoes and then before long we were in a rain forest environment before opening up to the Falls. We spent some time there just enjoying the view and taking photos and video. When we first arrived we only passed one other group the entire track. But once we got to the Falls a couple other groups came through.
When we finished our hike we cleaned up ourselves and the camper, got a snack, and hit the road again. Our next destination was Waitomo. We arrived early afternoon at the Waitomo Top 10 Holiday Park. It was fantastic to just spend a couple hours relaxing there. That evening we were going to be doing the Spellbound glow worms cave photographers tour. This tour was fantastic. It was just us, our guide and two other photographers. One from New Zealand and one from Australia who were friends.
And the glowworm cave was one of the coolest experiences ever. The glowworms were so interesting and were everywhere. There had to be a million of them! At first we walked around and then set up some equipment so that we could photograph them. Then we took a small raft through one of the rivers in the cave. It was a little freaky being in complete darkness besides glowworms and hearing the rush of water in a distant waterfall. But we trusted our guides as they used a pully system to move us along the water and knew that we were safe. While I typically don’t photograph dark caves like these and this kind of environment, using a tripod was a fantastic experience. And I got some really cool shots.
The next day we headed out for Hobbiton. This had to be one of the things I was looking forward to this most on this trip. This is the area where the movie The Hobbit was filmed. The Hobbiton Movie Set Tour was FANTASTIC. You loaded onto a bus at the main entrance where there was also gift shop. When you get on the bus there is a film of Peter Jackson welcoming you and talking about filming on the land.
He found this farm because of how beautiful it was and how there was no power lines or anything going through it. When you get off the bus, you really are in the land of the hobbits in Middle Earth. So many adorable little hobbit houses. There’s one your even allowed to go into the doorway for pictures. And there’s so much detail. I loved all the little clothes and there is a real garden. The staff even takes home the food they grow.
You learn about all the details that were important to Peter Jackson. Including filling in the lines on one of the pine trees because he didn’t think it was full enough LOL!! At the end of the tour you go to the Green Dragon. There you can have either a beer or ginger beer, which was our choice. And it was fantastic ginger beer. We even got a couple bottles to take home.
After hanging out in Hobbiton we headed to our last destination, Auckland. We didn’t want to stay right in the city for our last night in the camper van. We would have one final night in the hotel right at the airport. So we stayed at Camp Takapuna Holiday Park. After checking in to the Holiday Park which was in a gorgeous location right at the base of the water, we then took a long walk along the waters edge and through the neighborhood.
There were so many beautiful homes but also so much traffic. After being around so few people for the last two weeks it was a bit overwhelming to be stuck in so much traffic. That night we ate at one of the best restaurants we have ever eaten at Tok Tok. Tok Tok is an Asian fusion restaurant that relied heavily on Cambodian flavors. It was absolutely fantastic. And it was nice to dress for dinner and have more than just one or two items as a meal!
After cleaning up the camper van and packing all our gear we headed for final full day in NZ. We headed into the heart of Auckland to explore the area. It seemed like a pretty typical city. We just wandered around, had fantastic and very fresh fish and chips right at the water. And then we enjoyed an awesome ice cream cone. We only had until mid-day before we had to return the camper van. It was time for our final destination in New Zealand.
The Jet Park Hotel was actually a very nice hotel. We were pretty surprised and thought it would be just some basic thing right at the airport. It was within walking distance for us to turn the van back in and had a decent restaurant for us to grab some dinner as well as a shuttle to get us to the airport for early morning flight.
We fell in love with New Zealand. Everything about this country is wonderful. We feel so blessed to have the opportunity to explore it as much as we did. We hope to return there some day. Meanwhile we hope folks can learn something from our blog post that will inspire you to travel to these gorgeous islands!