Whether you're lucky enough to live here or if you’re just traveling around New Zealand, it's no surprise that the top reason to visit is to experience the breathtaking landscapes that we see in pretty much every Pinterest album labelled "Wanderlust". The rolling hills, powerful mountains, even the bustling cities are beautiful. It was a toughy, but I've narrowed it down to my top 5 places to visit in New Zealand that will stop you in your tracks.
If you plan to start/finish your Kiwi Experience tour in Auckland like myself, the "Bay & Cape" add on pass is must do. This will take you on an adventure up to Paihia in the North Island and once you reach the idyllic Bay of Islands you have the option to visit the most northerly point of New Zealand itself. At Cape Reinga you'll see the iconic white lighthouse where the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean and spot the merging of the different coloured waters. Not only is Cape Reinga stunning, it's also traditionally a very spiritual place so have not only your camera but your deep thinking cap ready.
Labelled in guides and blogs as the best beach in the world, Cathedral Cove is one to tick off the bucket list. Being a bit of a couch potato, I grumbled when I heard that there was a 40 minute hilly walk to the beach from the car park. Yes, it was hilly but damn the unspoilt views along the way are worth it. Surrounded by trees, in result the beach feels secluded and special even if it's a bit busy. I turned into a bit of a fangirl knowing I was stepping where Macklemore filmed his "Can't Hold Us" video in the famous giant rock arch way. Parts of the Narnia films were also filmed at Cathedral Cove.
If you haven't seen it, google it. It's awesome.
Some people are surprised to discover that the North Island and South Island are a little further apart than expected. The InterIslander Ferry takes just over 3 hours to travel from Wellington to Picton and that amount of time on the water can get a little nauseous so it's tempting to sit inside, eat ferry food and sleep. However, if you are blessed with a steady sea and shining sun then be sure to sit on the top deck and watch the world go by. It's a perfect time to plan for whichever island your travelling to. I also spotted a few posh remote houses, fancy boats and most importantly, got a sweet tan. The views were magical and traveling between the North and South Island really was one of my favourite experiences traveling around New Zealand.
As we departed Franz Josef onboard the Kiwi Experience sightseeing bus, we made a stop at Lake Matheson for an early morning walk and breakfast in a lovely cafe. If you're up for it, the walking track around the lake takes around 90 minutes to complete, however you can get the classic reflection shot just 15 minutes into the track. Photos just don't do New Zealand justice and especially don't show how overwhelming just looking at Mount Cook and Mount Tasman can be. This is of course why Lake Matheson is the most photographed lake in New Zealand.
Heading further South along the West Coast lies the Pancake Rocks. I loved this part of the journey so much I was genuinely happy just sitting looking out of the bus window for hours. Not only are the limestone rock formations fascinating to look at, it's the surrounding coast that took my breath away and made me feel so small in comparison to the huge cliff faces. The South Island has a totally different vibe to the North Island which I can only describe as epic. This is something you have to experience for yourself. See as much as you can, walk as much as you can, take in as much as you can.