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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The Sail from New Zealand to Australia

I am still recovering from the sail from New Zealand to Australia. It was one of our longest passages and a challenging trip. The good news is we made it, and are now basking in the warm sun in Australia!

The Route from New Zealand to Australia

Our sail from New Zealand to Australia covered over 1200 nautical miles. We departed from Bay of Islands Marina in Opua, New Zealand aiming for Southport Yacht Club in Gold Coast, Australia.

Map sailing from New Zealand to Australia
Our route across the Tasman from New Zealand to Australia

Our route took us from the Pacific Ocean north up the east coast of New Zealand and then west along the north of New Zealand into the Tasman Sea to Australia. The Tasman Sea, known as “The Ditch” in sailing circles, is infamously rough due to the currents of the Southern Ocean colliding with those of the Pacific. So yes, we expected rough wind and waves and that’s what we got.

Rough Seas

From the first day until near the end of our passage, the waves were like a washing machine. Also known as confused seas, the waves came from every direction. To make it even more uncomfortable, there was no break between waves. The incessant confused waves made me sick a few times the first night and next morning, and I continued to feel sick for a couple more days. It wasn’t until late on the third day that I felt human enough to spend time inside the boat and to eat anything besides crackers.

A rainbow on the sail from New Zealand to Australia
We saw a few rainbows on the passage.
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Cycling in New Zealand

Soon after arriving in New Zealand, we bought a pair of used bikes for $50. It turned out to be an excellent deal, and we rode those bikes all over the country. Over six months, we did a lot of cycling in New Zealand. We cycled for exercise and to get around, from marinas and campsites. The bikes made life in New Zealand easier and better.

redwood forest, biking in New Zealand, Taupo
Our bikes on a bike path through a redwood forest in Taupo

Why walk when you can pedal, am I right? Nothing against walking, and the hiking in New Zealand is stellar, but you can cover so much more ground by bike. We love seeing the world from our bicycle seats: you get closer than a car, while much faster than walking. Still, we had to make some adjustments to cycling in New Zealand.

Getting Used to Cycling in New Zealand

We bought our bikes very soon after arriving in New Zealand, which helped get me used to using the other side of the road. After a few weeks of cycling in New Zealand, I was ready to drive on the left in the campervan. Overall, I found drivers in New Zealand pretty good with cyclists; I think they’re more aggressive towards pedestrians. We followed the rules and wore our helmets, stayed in bike lanes when possible, and everything went well for us.

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Boating The Bay of Islands

New Zealand’s Bay of Islands is renowned as a summer destination. The North Island’s water wonderland, we spent a month boating The Bay of Islands. We loved anchoring in cozy bays, hiking uninhabited islands, and visiting historic towns. It’s a great place to visit by sailboat.

About New Zealand’s Bay of Islands

New Zealand’s Bay of Islands is both beautiful and an important historical area. Captain Cook stopped here on his South Pacific voyages and gave it it’s name. Also, the Bay of Islands was the first part of the country to be inhabited by Europeans. Maybe more importantly, it’s the site of the signing of the 1840 Treaty of Waitingi between the British and Maoris.

beach, Boating the Bay of islands
Beach at Urupukapuka Island

Currently, The Bay of Islands is known for beautiful beaches, clear water, and gorgeous scenery. The entire region is called “The Winterless North” because the weather never gets freezing like in other parts of the country. It’s New Zealand’s top cruising ground in the summer. We visited in autumn and fell in love with the region.

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Street Art in New Zealand’s North Island

We love street art, and after travelling around New Zealand for months, by boat and campervan, enjoyed the varied street art in New Zealand. I found the best street art in New Zealand’s North Island.

Some cities are infinitely better than others for street art. It seems like you need a confluence of artists and unused building and enlightened sponsors. Like other places with excellent street art, many of the best towns for street art in New Zealand’s North Island host festivals devoted to the craft.

Street Art in New Zealand’s North Island: Subjects

The subjects of street art in New Zealand run the gamut, as they do in most places with good outdoor art. Here they range from beautiful fantasy women to real people to birds and fish to Maori mythology. Themes and subjects which are important to the culture get repeated more often.

Cowboy street art in New Zealand
“Alex and Carmilita” by LISA KING, Whangarei
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