Image: flying across the Tasman - my view on either Air New Zealand or Virgin - both of whom can get you where you need to go between Australia and New Zealand / M Tukaki
Its no secret how much I travel whether it be around Australia of the rest of the world. In the last twelve months I have been quietly making my around the place I was born, New Zealand, and along the way I re-discovered some amazing childhood holiday spots as well as some I had never been to before. The Hokianga, Mt Maunganui, New Plymouth, Martinborough and Cuba Street in Wellington are my top five and don’t forget to check out my travel tips for packing light HERE or have a listen to my Lonely Planet podcast with Chris Zeiher for some other destinations!
The Hokianga - North Island
The Hokianga – a beautiful and mostly untouched part of New Zealand that doesn’t always appear on the tourist maps or on the radar for unseasoned travellers. But, when you head North of Auckland it’s like a touch of paradise. Whether you want to hitch the caravan, hire a camper or hang out at the Copthorne Hotel it’s a must-see destination. Talking about the Copthorne, if you happen to arrive in on an Air New Zealand plane then you might have seen the beach front on the safety video – and it really looks like that! The small township of Opononi is not too far down the road (famous for Opo the dolphin) and there are small towns dotted along the coastal fringe – take Rawene for example where you can grab a great coffee at the local Boatshed before heading across the bay on the Ferry.
Image: literally the front yard of the Copthorne Hotel in Hokianga - you can walk around the coast line, fish, surf the sand dunes and more / M Tukaki
Image: try the coffee and snacks at the Boatshed Café at Rawene! Well worth the stop! / M Tukaki
Mt Maunganui - North Island
Mt Maunganui – I have to admit I am biased having spent a great deal of my childhood here – but, forget the jokes about the City of Tauranga being one big rest home because its not. Mt Maunganui has amazing beaches, great cafes and lots of activities for the kids. Across the bridge you can hit Tauranga City and even climb the Mount (as its locally known). If you are ambitious, then try the surfing across Pilot Bay to Matakana Island – which is one of the most beautiful and untouched places you will find. Head up towards Auckland and hit the small town of Kati Kati – not bad for some great fish “n” chips.
Image: the view from top of Mt Maunganui - yes you can climb to the top!
Image: the barge and ferry terminals on Matakana Island - in order to access the Island make sure you have permission!
Image: make sure you stop off for Fish and Chips and Kati Kati and it wouldn't be New Zealand unless it came with Watties Tomato Sauce! / M Tukaki
New Plymouth - North Island
New Plymouth – Near the imposing Mt Taranaki, New Plymouth is a small regional city accessible by road or by air. It has undergone a huge transformation in recent years with new art installations and a beach wide side walk that at both dawn and dusk is fantastic. There are cafes and bars dotted across the coastal fringe and lots to do for the kids – but its also a great place to escape for adults! Rest up, disconnect and walk the bay.
Image: Mt Taranaki is both beautiful and imposing - New Plymouth is an outdoor paradise
Martinborough - North Island
Martinborough – There is a lot that is great about this beautiful part of the lower North Island of New Zealand. As a child we would cross the Rimutaka Hills and head for the local races, go fishing on the coast and more. It is wine country so if you are an adult then you need to hit the local trails and you will not be disappointed! There is the Palliser Estate, Poppies Martinborough, the Martinborough Brewery and one of my favourites Te Kairanga Wines. There is mountain biking and don’t forget to rummage around on those little arts and craft stores.
Image: Martinborough is wine country, old world charm and full of great food, arts and craft
Cuba Street, Wellington - North Island
Cuba Street, Wellington – I often tell people around the world that Wellington is the best little capital city out there – and once you visit you will agree! My must-see destination is Cuba Street where the day and nightlife is humming. Dotted with little coffee shops (and they serve the best), book shops and more – it is a real experience. Its located in the CBD so its pretty much close to everything and don’t forget to check out the street eats.
There are of course more must-see destinations in the South Island but they get a mention all of the time! My top five North Island destinations are all places I have travelled to and through this last twelve months and I cannot honestly say they are well worth the visit.
Image: Cuba Street Mall in Wellington / Anthony Kitchener
Oh and yes - its a country that really does have people who hang crayfish on washing lines....
Matthew travelled courtesy of NewsNow and EntreHub for our “traveller from a back pack” series. He is the host of Talking Lifestyle Second Career across Australia on the Macquarie Radio Network. He also travelled thanks to the support of the National Maori Authority, Ngangaru.
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