Our Favorite New Zealand Hikes

New Zealand is an amazing place for hiking, and Kiwis are hard core trampers. We spent six months between the North and South Islands and did a lot of hiking, along beaches, up volcanoes, and to wineries and glaciers. Here are some of our favorite New Zealand hikes.

Hiking Volcanoes in New Zealand

Since New Zealand is known for its volcanoes, we had to walk some of them! It means a lot of vertical walking, but there’s usually a payoff of a good view. The North Island has nine active volcanoes, and much of the land features like in Rotorua, are results of volcanic activity.

Here are some of the volcanoes we hiked in New Zealand’s North Island:

Maungawhau/mount eden, auckland

Mount Eden is a great hike to do when you spend a couple of days in Auckland. It’s conveniently located to downtown, and an easy walk to do without any hiking gear. As a result, it’s popular and can be mobbed with tourists on a nice day. Still, it offers nice views and there’s good restaurants and bars to reward yourself after the volcano hike!

hiking Mount Eden NZ
Lots of people on the footpath at Mount Eden
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New Zealand’s Top Attractions

After six months exploring one of our favorite countries on earth, we have some recommendations. This is our list of New Zealand’s top attractions, so you know where to go when you visit.

New Zealand is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. The country has world class museums and attractions, but there’s also a lot of hype, and you can’t do everything! Hopefully this list of what we loved helps.

Best Museums

We couldn’t talk about New Zealand’s top tourist attractions without mentioning museums. On a rainy or cold day, or the day after a long hike or bike ride, a museum is a good option. Some of New Zealand’s museums are among the best we’ve ever visited.

auckland war museum

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Top Things to Do in Rotorua

A lot of visitors to New Zealand’s North Island go to Rotorua, known as the country’s geothermal headquarters. Centrally located with so many attractions, it’s a few hours south of Auckland and a big part of North Island itineraries. Known as “Sulphur City” for the smell produced by the geothermals, we spent a couple of days there ourselves, which is about the right amount of time. Here are our top things to do in Rotorua, New Zealand.

About Rotorua

Rotorua, pronounced Row – tuh – roo – uh, is a couple of hours south of Auckland, in the heart of the North Island’s volcanic valley. The Maori meaning is ‘Two” or “second” lake, and is named for the adjacent lake.

It reminded me of Iceland, with the bubbling hot springs, geysers, and colorful volcanic walkways. Rotorua felt like a cross between an adventure town and a family fun zone. So many of the tourists we saw there were with children. And a lot of the activities in Rotorua, like zip lines and mini golf, seemed catered to families. But there’s still a lot of cool things to do in Rotorua for adults without kids. Here are our favorites.

Mountain Bike Park

One of our top things to do in Rotorua is spend time at the mountain bike park. This place is amazing, and these two North Americans were shocked that it was completely free. We spent hours with our two dinky bikes on the easy trails, often being passed by tiny children on big wheeled mountain bikes, and we had a ball. Our bodies were sore the next day, but we’re always happy to get on our bikes and explore new places.

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Auckland Favorites

We don’t normally get to spend large chunks of time in big cities on the boat, so we tried to maximize every minute in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city. Our conclusion: we could live there! Auckland is a vibrant cosmopolitan city with a lot to offer, from museums to excursions to food. This post details our Auckland favorites.

About Auckland

I thought it was the capital, but that’s Wellington, at the southern end of the North Island. Instead, Auckland is New Zealand’s most populated city, with nearly 1.7 million people.

Located in the north of the North Island, Auckland is on a narrow isthmus between two large harbors and is known as The City of Sails. With it’s waterfront location, Auckland is home to beautiful beaches, waterfront trails, fish markets, and scores of sailboats. It’s also based around multiple volcanos, great for hiking.

Auckland Harbor
Auckland from the water
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Fiji Favorites

Fiji is an amazing South Pacific island country, full of friendly people, beautiful beaches, and more. We spent a few months there, dodging the rain, arguing with biosecurity, and buying a new boat. We also explored major islands and minor, witnessed music and dancing, and partied with the Fijians. Read on to learn about our Fiji favorites.

Visiting Fiji Villages

Our delayed cruising permit kept us from leaving Savusavu, and buying a new boat meant we didn’t get to explore Fiji much. Still, one of our highlights was visiting a village and experiencing their ceremonies.

Sevusevu

The custom when you visit a village in Fiji is called sevusevu. The protocol when arriving is to introduce yourself to the chief of the village and present a gift of kava. All the markets sell both kava powder and root, packaged nicely in ribbon for presenting to the chief. The giving of sevusevu is a longstanding tradition and shows respect for the people whose land we visit. Once we perform this gesture, the chief will welcome us into his village.

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