A Trip to New Zealand’s Far North

The northern part of New Zealand’s North Island is known reverently as the Far North.  To those of us from the States, it is not, geographically speaking, that far (about 400 kilometers or so to the northern tip at Cape Reinga), but in a psychological sense, it feels very far.  In a country of only about 4 million people, with a third living in the South Island and another 1.2 million stuck in Auckland, the north is a place where few live and it feels far removed from the every day experience of most kiwis.  Additionally, given that going north in the southern hemisphere is equivalent to going south in the north, the far north boasts some beautfiul, warm vacation areas that are highly desirable as holiday destinations.

Coopers Beach_1280_for_WebHaving already spent a week in the City of Sails, we decided to rent a car and go up north to experience some of the North Island’s further reaches.  We headed out from the airport and headed up State Highway 1, headed for the Bay of Islands, an area full of, strangely enough, a large number of small islands (I never said the kiwis were creative with their naming).  Getting there late, we used the tried and true technique of sleeping in a car park in the back of our rented van.  Waking up in the morning, we sat by the ocean to enjoy the beautiful, sunny start to the day.


We left early to make it to our destination of Cape Reinga, one of the most northern points in New Zealand, by nightfall.  However, we couldn’t resist taking some time out and enjoying the natural wonders on our way.  We drove by Kerikeri, an area full of small boutiques, including two scrumptious confectionaries, Makana and, the winner in the best name department, Get Fudged!  Both offer free samples to passers by, and for two backpackers on a budget, that is most welcome.  Also in Kerikeri, we visited Rainbow Falls, a beautiful waterfall, wonderfully accompanied by the bleating of sheep from the farm next door.

Rainbow Falls_1280_for_WebNaoko Found Sheep_1280_for_Web

We then headed out again, but this was not the last we would see of sheep. As we drove, it was clear that one of the best attractions in New Zealand was the land itself.  It’s a country of endless rolling hills, which have been turned into huge fields for it’s livestock, both sheep and cows.  It’s easy to see how it was decided to film Lord of the Rings here, as the land has such great character and sweeping vistas.  We were blessed with a gorgeous day so we could enjoy all of the splendor as we drove along the winding roads headed north.

A lonely Tree 2_1280_for_Web

The residents of New Zealand_1280_for_Web

The drive up the northern most point of the island is absolutely stunning, with the road flanked on both sides by the ocean as you drive on, waiting for the world to end.  Then you see it, the end of the world, or at least as the Mauri knew it.  They believed Cape Reinga was the jumping off point for souls as they departed this world for the afterlife.  It is also the place where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea in a fuy of waves and churning waters.

Looking out from Cape Reinga_1280_for_WebThe meeting of the Oceans at Cape Reinga_1280_for_Web

The view from the lighthouse is amazing, and now picture I could post would capture the enormity or the oceans as they pound on the rocks of the island.  It was a moving and glorious moment, and it made the long drive up all worth it.  We sat, captivated by the moment, for a long while before the setting sun meant we needed to find a campsite for the night.

We enjoyed a beautiful rest by the ocean at one of the many Department of Conservation campsites, as the wind blew gently and the waves rolled in.  When day turned to night, the stores shone glorious in the sky, showing more than you could ever see in the bright Tokyo sky. We tried to remember what we had learned in our previous trip to the Planetarium, but our skills failed us utterly.  However, this didnt take away from the beautiful sights we beheld on the moonless night.

Beach near the camp_1280_for_WebBeach at sunset_1280_for_Web

Our drive back was less enjoyable than the ride up as we were deluged with rain for most of the day, but we did get a respite in the evening in enough time to enjoy our time at the beach and dunes at Uretiti, where we camped on our final night in the north.

Uretiti beach 2_1280_for_WebHoly Naoko_1280_for_Web

We had a wonderful time on our trip to the north as it really gave us a chance to enjoy the beauty of the land that is New Zealand.  It’s a great way to get out and see more that you ever would locked in one of the cities and is well worth it.  It’s easy to get around and the views alone are not to miss.

Posted on by Aaron in Aaron's Blog

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