Speedy North Island Road Trip

by Melissa on January 23, 2011 · 0 comments

Bradford and I made it to the airport just as Kate’s flight arrived, so we didn’t actually have to wait for too long before we were reunited! It was amazing to see Kate again, the last time I had seen her, we had parted ways in Brisbane almost two years ago. After saying our hellos and quick catch-ups on what had been happening, we were picked up by Kate’s friend Emma whom I had met briefly during my last stint in New Zealand. We packed everything into the back of her station wagon and made it back to her place, where we were treated to a great dinner courtesy of Emma and her husband, Dawson. They were very kind to put us up for the night, and before we knew it, we were hitting the road – commencing our whirwind North Island road trip from Auckland to Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula to Tauranga to Mount Maunganui to Rotorua to Hamilton to Auckland to Goat Island to Paihia and finally to Kate’s place in Ahipara in the Far North.


Our first day started out with a nice breakfast at a little place called Amy’s Kitchen, just 10 minutes or so from Emma and Dawson’s house — for $30 we got tons of food and were set for the 1000km 3-day journey ahead of us. Despite the rainy and overcast weather, we made our way to Hot Water Beach on the Coromandel Peninsula – about two hours from Auckland. The great novelty of this beach is that you hire a spade and dig yourself a hole in the sand – the water underneath is really hot in some areas. REALLY HOT. There was one area that we had to stop digging in because we were literally burning our feet just standing there. We soon jumped into an already pre-dug hot water pool with some other folks and it was like a giant natural hot tub. We hung out in the hot water pool until the tide came in and destroyed the walls of our hot tub. Then it was back on the road – to our couchsurfing host’s home, just outside of Tauranga.

hot water beach

Shane welcomed the three of us with open arms into his home. We made him dinner (the same homemade pan fried hamburgers that Bradford and I had made at the hostel) and relaxed for the rest of the evening while our host had some of his band members come over and practice. The next morning we woke up, had a quick breakfast and after I went out and helped feed the sheep, we were back out on the road.

NZ sheep

Our next stop was Mt Maunganui – a quaint little tourist town just outside of Tauranga. We stopped at an internet café to print off our vouchers for Zorbing and for dinner at Keystone for later that night, then had a lovely sushi lunch. Before we knew it, we were back on the road off to Rotorua to Zorb!

For those of you reading who are like “wtf is zorbing?”… think of a giant human hamster ball, that they put a little bit of water into and send down a bumpy hill. Hilariously fun! We had 4 vouchers so we each had a single go down the hill, and had agreed that I would take the 4th run. However, the super nice guy who worked at the place allowed all three of us to go on an additional run together down the hill. It was crazy fun!


After zorbing, we went into Rotorua and checked out the natural hot springs. The town reeks of sulfur. Not nice. Granted, it was really cool to see and I got some sweet pics.


After about an hour in Rotorua, we hopped back into the car and continued our North Island roadtrip, Hamilton bound. Kate had gotten vouchers for a swanky little restaurant called Keystone off of the deal website she uses and we had a fantastic steak dinner. So worth it. After wandering around the town there for a while, we jumped back into the car and were off to Auckland to spend the night at the Ibis hotel where we were able to have a nice real shower and a sleep in a nice king sized bed (granted it was a semi-tight squeeze for the 3 of us… but we managed).


We woke up bright and early the next morning and got back into the car for the final day of our whirlwind 1000km North Island road trip. Our day’s first stop took us to Goat Island, a marine reserve where we met up with Emma and Dawson and went snorkeling. We swam alongside schools of snapper and other strange looking fish – tres cool. Made me want to get my scuba certification THAT much more. After a couple hours, we were back on the road and commencing the final 3-4hr leg of the trip from Goat Island to Ahipara. The ride itself was rather uneventful – although we (Kate and I) did enjoy singing at the top of our lungs to Dixie Chicks, Spice Girls, Alanis Morisette, Shania Twain and Britney Spears… amongst other artists. This of course was done much to the chagrin of Bradford’s sanity.

Alas, we made it to Kate’s house in Ahipara and were treated to a fabulous dinner courtesy of Briar and Amy. We got to see an absolutely stunning sunset over the beach in the front yard…

ahipara sunset

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