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Embarking on a Seven-Week Adventure in New Zealand

Imagine having seven consecutive weeks of leave from work. What would you do? For us, the answer was simple: travel! We decided to choose a destination that couldn’t be fully appreciated in just 2-3 weeks. We wanted a place that required at least a month to explore and was so far away that returning wouldn’t be an easy option. New Zealand had always been on our travel bucket list, and we felt this was the perfect opportunity to visit.

Soon, our coffee table was overflowing with Lonely Planet guides, maps, and various travel books. Google became our best friend as we searched for campers and activities in different locations. The anticipation was palpable. A few weeks later, we boarded the plane and embarked on our seven-week adventure through New Zealand. Let the journey begin!

Embarking on a 7-Week Journey Through New Zealand

Beginning Our Adventure in Auckland

We kick off our journey in Auckland, where we book a hotel room for three days to adjust to the new time zone. The long journey, especially for our young daughter, necessitates a slow start as we explore the city. While Auckland may not be the most thrilling city, it offers several enjoyable activities for children. Remember, road trips with kids can be challenging, so be sure to check out these road trip hacks to ensure you’re fully prepared.

There are several delightful parks perfect for children needing to expend energy after a long flight. Albert Park is a great choice, and if you’re up for a longer walk, the Coast to Coast walkway takes you through a variety of beautiful parks situated on extinct volcanoes. Another must-see is the Sky Tower. Kids will be thrilled to ride the speedy elevator to the top of the tower for a breathtaking view of Auckland.

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Exploring Northland, New Zealand

After three days of acclimatizing, we’re ready to kickstart our adventure. We pick up our spacious camper, affectionately named “Fat Berta”, and set our sights on Northland. Located north of Auckland, Northland is a region of New Zealand brimming with exciting sights and activities.

Exploring the Kauri Coast

Our journey begins along the Kauri Coast, home to some of the most impressively large trees you’ll ever see. We then venture to the 90-mile beach, a perfect spot for a leisurely walk and a picnic. Our day ends in Opononi, where we find a charming campsite with friendly goats roaming freely among the campers.

Heading North to Cape Reinga

Our adventure continues north to Cape Reinga, the most northern point of New Zealand. This place is a spectacle of large rocks, wild seas, and a lighthouse standing tall on a stretch of land. A signpost shows the distance to major world capitals and the southernmost point of New Zealand, our expected destination in a few weeks.

We spend the night at a beautiful seaside campsite near Cape Reinga, lulled to sleep by the soothing sounds of the sea. An early morning beach stroll and sandcastle building make for a perfect start to the day.

Sailing the Bay of Islands

Heading south, we come across the Bay of Islands. We embark on a boat excursion, sailing past beautiful islands and through the “hole in the rock” – a unique rock formation that can only be navigated in good weather. The highlight of the tour is spotting dolphins in the wild. Truly incredible!

Our journey in Northland concludes with a visit to the stunning Wangarei Falls. We leave thoroughly impressed by the beauty of this island, and we’ve only seen a tiny part of it. The anticipation builds as we look forward to exploring New Zealand for the next 7 weeks!

Discovering Coromandel

East of Auckland lies the Coromandel Peninsula, a place teeming with things to see and do. One of the highlights is the “Driving Creek Railway”, a small railroad that takes you through the forested mountains. The journey is a hit with kids and adults alike, offering beautiful views and an exciting ride.

Discovering the Beauty of Hahei

Our journey continues as we park our trusty vehicle, affectionately named “Fat Berta”, at the Hahei campsite. Nestled next to a stunning beach, it’s the perfect spot for a delightful day of classic beach fun with a shovel and bucket.

Exploring Cathedral Cove

From the Hahei campsite, a scenic walk leads to the breathtaking Cathedral Cove. Although the hike can be a bit challenging with a 12-kilo toddler in the carrier, the reward is well worth the effort. Upon arrival, you’re greeted with a pristine beach, awe-inspiring rock formations, and the majestic Cathedral Cove itself. During low tide, you can even walk across this natural wonder.

Exploring Glowworms and Lord of the Rings Locations in New Zealand

Continuing our journey on the Northern Island, we made a delightful stop at Hahei before heading to Waitomo, a place renowned for its glowworm caves. Waitomo is an ideal location for picturesque walks. However, it’s not buggy-friendly, so remember to bring a carrier. For older children who can walk independently, there are thrilling trails to explore, ensuring a successful adventure!

We decided to get a closer look at the fascinating glowworms and booked a tour through the glowworm caves. The tour involves a boat ride through the cave. Once the guide switches off the lights, the cave’s ceiling illuminates with thousands of tiny points of light, resembling a starry night sky. These are the glowworms, a sight of absolute beauty! This excursion is sure to captivate children.

Lord of the Rings Heaven

Our route took us through a location that is a dream come true for any Lord of the Rings fan. While my significant other wasn’t particularly interested, I, being a huge fan, was thrilled. Upon reaching Matama, we couldn’t resist the Hobbiton tour we had noted in our travel agenda. It was an incredible experience! Walking across the film set, recognizing the quaint hobbit houses from the movie, was surreal. Even for children unfamiliar with the movie, this tour is a lot of fun. The colorful houses, which you can enter, are sure to delight. We concluded the tour with a refreshing pint (and apple juice for the little one) at the “Green Dragon Inn” before setting off to meet the Maoris!

Exploring Maori Culture and Geysers in New Zealand

Our journey continues southward in “Fat Berta” towards Rotorua, where we encounter the indigenous Maori people of New Zealand. Our destination is the authentic Maori village of Whakarewarewa. Despite its tongue-twisting name, this village offers a genuine glimpse into Maori customs and rituals.

Immersing in Maori Traditions

We explore the village, learning about the Maori way of life, their traditions, and their rituals. The tour culminates in a powerful display of the haka dance, a traditional Maori ritual. The intense expressions, loud chants, and protruding tongues can be a bit intimidating, especially for our young daughter. However, it’s an experience that even the little ones find fascinating.

Discovering Wai-o-tapu National Park

Our adventure continues at Wai-o-tapu National Park, a geothermal wonderland where the earth bubbles and hisses, and large sulfur vapors linger in the air. It’s a stunning area to explore, with the “Champagne Pool” being the highlight. A carrier is highly recommended for this part of the trip!

Exploring Taupo and Tongariro

As you journey further south, you’ll find yourself in the charming town of Taupo, nestled by the stunning Lake Taupo. Traveling through New Zealand for seven weeks with a toddler can be quite an adventure, and by this point, we were ready for a bit of relaxation. Thankfully, Taupo provided the perfect setting for some downtime. With a playground, terrace, and the simple joy of throwing stones into the water, it was a welcome change of pace.

After two days of unwinding, we were ready to embark on another Lord of the Rings-inspired adventure. Our next stop was Tongariro National Park, also known as Mordor, the home of the villainous character from the famous trilogy. This is also where you’ll find Mount Doom, an exciting sight for any fan of the series.

Tongariro National Park is renowned for one of the most beautiful day walks in the world; the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. However, it’s important to note that this hike is not suitable for children. The challenging terrain makes it impossible to carry a child, and it’s too strenuous for young ones under 10 years old. Despite this, the walk remained on my bucket list, so we decided that I would tackle the hike while my husband and daughter enjoyed a day in the snow.

Also located within the National Park is Mount Ruapehu, the highest mountain on the Northern island. A chairlift provides easy access to the top, so while I was making my way up Mount Doom, the rest of the family ascended Mount Ruapehu. They enjoyed hot cocoa and played in the snow, proving that there’s plenty for kids to do in Tongariro too.

Discover the Hidden Gem of Wanganui

One of the most enjoyable experiences in the area is a visit to the coastal town of Wanganui. This charming village is a hidden gem, often overlooked by tourists, yet it offers a wealth of fun and excitement.

Experience Authentic Local Life

Wanganui is a place where you can truly immerse yourself in local life. With numerous playgrounds and a delightful beach, it’s a perfect spot for family fun. The locals often picnic here with their families, providing an opportunity for visitors to make new friends and experience the community spirit.

A Refreshing Change of Scenery

After an adventure in Mordor, a visit to Wanganui offers a refreshing change of scenery. The tranquil atmosphere, friendly locals, and beautiful landscapes make it a must-visit destination for any traveler.

Exploring New Zealand: From North to South Island

It’s time to embark on the grand journey from North to South Island in New Zealand. Our adventure begins in Wellington, where we board the ferry to the Southern Island. But before we set sail, we make a stop at the Te Papa Museum in Wellington. This interactive museum offers a fun and educational experience for all ages, providing insights into New Zealand’s history and its transformation into the country we know today.

The following morning, we drive our trusty vehicle, affectionately named “Fat Berta”, onto the ferry. As we set off, we eagerly anticipate the new experiences that await us on the South Island.

Ready to continue the journey? Click here to read part II of this amazing New Zealand road trip.

Kim, a regular guest blogger for Kids Love Travel, has turned her passion for travel into her profession. As a pilot for Transavia, she, along with her husband and three daughters, aims to explore as much of the world as possible.


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