19 Reasons Why New Zealand's North Island Is Bucket List AF
We went on an action-packed trip around New Zealand's north island and here's how it went...
New Zealand is every backpacker's must-visit destination.
Whether it's the mysterious allure of Hobbiton, the appeal of throwing yourself off anything remotely vertiginous (they did invent the Bungee Jump, after all), or just the sheer fact that it's stunningly beautiful and about as far from the rest of the world as is chuffing possible, there are numerous reasons why people flock there.
We travelled around Auckland, Northland and the Bay Of Islands - all in one week! - to create this list of must-do activities for anyone heading to NZ.
1. Devour All The Food At Burger Burger In Ponsonby
What: Burger Burger's unique range of amazing burgers were voted the best in Auckland, and after NOMing on these bad boys, we could reasonally argue best in THE WORLD. These incredible Instagrammable treats are to die for. A meal at Burger Burger wouldn't be complete without one of their creative sides, we highly recommend the charred broccoli and kumara chips.
Where: Ponsonby, Auckland.
2. Beer Tasting With Brothers Beer
What: One thing we know for sure is that New Zealand knows how to make beer. See Exhibit #782: Brothers Beer. These guys are a brewery, retailer and they have their very own tasting lounge where they serve 200+ beers. They have a 4,800 litre capacity brewery on-site so not only can you taste the beer, you can see where the magic happens.
Where: City Works Depot, West Aukland.
3. Fly Across Waiheke Island With EcoZip
What: The EcoZip experience is unique to its stunning location on Waiheke Island. Just a short, idyllic ferry trip from Auckland, tourists heading to the city should DEFINITELY make time to visit this beautiful island - and zipline over it! EcoZip's three ziplines cater for everyone and provide a thrilling experience with stunning views, finished with a walk through one of Waiheke's forests where an expert guide will go through some of the history behind New Zealand's wonderful fauna and flora.
Where: Onetangi, Waiheke Island.
4. Enjoy High Tea & Wine Tasting At Batch Winery
What: Another thing New Zealand is known for is its exceptional wines. While on Waiheke Island we visited Batch Winery for high tea and fizz. Not only did we taste their popular prosecco, we also tried their full range of wine, all made on site. To compliment the wine we sampled a selection of their lunch menu, including New Zealands' signature dessert, fresh fruit pavlova. It was such an amazing experience, especially as the New Zealand weather couldn't have been better.
Where: Thomas Estate Vineyard, Waiheke Island.
5. Explore The Waitakere Ranges & West Coach Beaches
What: You can find some of New Zealand's most stunning beaches in Piha, just a short drive from the hustle and bustle of Auckland's city centre. We visited Muriwai Beach and with its glistening black sand and rolling waves, it's a must see. Even more jaw-droppingly, a mere 200m up the road brings you to Karekare Waterfall. SO. BEAUTIFUL.
Where: Beach Valley Rd, Piha.
6. Get Spoilt For Choice At Elliott Stables
What: Elliott Stables is a unique marketplace in the centre of Auckland that provides a dining experience like no other. With 12 individual eateries to choose from, you'll be spoilt for choice. I personally went for the steak at Big Little Grill and it was amazing. Just make sure you've got your decision-making hat on before entering as their philosophy, "come in and sit anywhere: eat and drink from everywhere", can be pretty overwhelming.
Where: Elliott Street, Auckland City.
7. Have The Most Glamorous Dessert Of Your Life At Giapo Haute Ice Cream
What: Giapo's is the hottest ice cream parlour in the whole of New Zealand. All the ice cream served there is made on site daily, so it's as fresh as it gets. Amazingly, the staff don't allow you to see the ice cream to make your choice - you have to taste it instead. The ice creams look and taste incredible, with every type having a different haute decoration (some of which include a blow-torch meringue situation - as good as it sounds).
Where: Queen Street, Auckland City.
8. Jump Off Auckland's Sky Tower
What: If you fancy yourself as a bit of an adrenaline junkie, this activity is the one for you. Aukland's Sky Tower is notorious for its enormity and, if you're feeling brave enough, you can jump straight off the top of it - as you do. Doing the SkyJump will leave you buzzing with adreneline as you plummet 192 metres at 85km an hour on New Zealand's only Base Jump by wire. Not for the faint-hearted.
Where: Sky Tower, Auckland.
9. Walk Around Auckland's Sky Tower
***PHOTO MISSING ON ACCOUNT OF YOUR WRITER MILDLY POOPING THEMSELVES DURING SAID WALK***
What: If jumping off the Sky Tower isn't your thing, how about walking around it? Yep, one of the other activities offered is the chance to inch your way along the narrow walkway, 192m up in the air. Don't be fooled by a comparison with the SkyJump, this activity is still just as terrifying as the instructor gets you to lean over the ledge. For stunning 360° panoramic views of Auckland, you won't be disappointed.
Where: Sky Tower, Auckland.
10. Indulge At Depot Eatery And Oyster Bar
What: Depot Eatery And Oyster Bar is situated in the heart of Auckland, right underneath the Sky Tower. For group dining, their selection of share plates are to die for. When eating here, ask the waiters what is in season for the best of what they have to offer.
Where: Federal Street, Auckland.
11. Sea Kayak To Rangitoto Island For Sunset
What: Sea kayaking to Rangitoto Island was an amazing experience. From pulling your kayaks to the water's edge, right through to watching the sunset from the summit of this volcano island, this activity truly immerses you in New Zealand's natural habitat. Kayaking back to the mainland under the stars is an experience you'll never forget.
Where: Depart from St Heliers Bay, Auckland.
NORTHLAND & THE BAY OF ISLANDS
12. Carve Your Own Bone Necklace With The Hokianga Bonecarver
What: Jim Taranaki is a Maori artisan living in Hokianga Harbour, and invited us into his home to show us his craft - bone carving. Jim gave each of us our very own carving and taught us how to sand and file it into our very own necklace.
Where: Omapere, Northland.
13. Visit Tane Mahuta
What: Tane Mahuta ('Lord of the Forest') is New Zealand's largest known living Kauri tree, and believe us, it's pretty impressive. As you walk through the rainforest you learn the Maori mythology behind the tree. Tiny writer for scale.
Where: Waipoua Kauri Forest, Northland.
14. Surf At Ninety Mile Beach
What: Ninety Mile Beach is literally paradise. Renowned for stunning views and even better surf, when driving along the coast it is literally impossible not to pull over and take in the view (or take a dip!).
Where: Stretches from Ahipara to Scott Point in Northland, New Zealand.
14. Off-Road & Sandboarding
What: With such an action-packed trip it's difficult to pick a favourite activity but hurtling down a sand dune would definitely be up there. Sand Boarding is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon in the ridiculously picturesque Ahipara. As we piled into the sand buggies (some of us behind the steering wheel), we headed into the Maori sand dunes at the end of Ninety Mile Beach for some extreme off-roading and vertical-hurtling-down-a-sand-dune.
Where: Ahipara, Northland.
15. Relax On A Boat Tour Of Whangaroa Harbour
What: Discover the gorgeous Whangaroa Harbour on a boat tour - mainly because there's no road access. It's amazing how untouched and natural the harbour is with its impressive rock formations and bright turquoise waters.
Where: Whangaroa, Northland.
16. Stuff Your Face At Charlotte's Kitchen
What: Paihia is one the busiest places in the Bay Of Islands - and situated right in the heart of the hustle and bustle is Charlotte's Kitchen. Located at the end of the wharf, you can relax with amazing coastal views while tucking into some amazing food. We ordered pizza and be warned, they're HUGE!
Where: Paihia, Bay Of Islands.
17. Kayak Along The Waitangi River & Trek Back Through The Forest
What: Coastal Kayakers offer a selection of guided tours of the historic Waitangi River in the Bay Of Islands. We set off for an afternoon kayak to the stunning Haruru Falls. Along the way we learnt a lot about the history of the Waitangi River and the surrounding natural habitat from our guide.
Where: Waitangi, Bay Of Islands.
18. Learn About Maori History & Culture At The Waitangi Treaty Grounds
What: One of the country's most important historic sites is The Waitangi Treaty Grounds in the Bay Of Islands. We went on a guided tour where we learnt tons about the Maori history and its relationship to the British Empire. To finish the tour we were treated to a Maori cultural performance which was amazing and utterly terrifying in equal parts - a definite must-do for any trip to New Zealand.
Where: Waitangi, Bay Of Islands.
19. Skydive Over The Bay Of Islands
What: We ended our trip on a high by jumping out of a plane at 16,000ft - no biggy. Skydiving over the Bay Of Islands is a life highlight - if you're going to jump out of a plane you might as well do it in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Whilst plummeting, you can see the 144 islands that make up the region, and with 75 seconds of free fall it's an experience you'll never forget.
Where: Kerikeri, Bay Of Islands.
STA Travel offers a 24-day New Zealand Encompassed package from £2229 per person including activities, accommodation, meals, a local guide and all transport between destinations and to/from activities. Add on return economy flights from London Heathrow from just £575 per person. The tour starts in Auckland and finishes in Wellington. Book now and travel before 30 June or between 07 November and 08 December 2016. To book please visit www.statravel.com, call 0800 988 0390 or visit one of the STA Travel stores.
For more information check out www.newzealand.com.
MTV Does... New Zealand
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