Retirement Travels in the North Island
Our travels to New Zealand, have taken us to the North Island three times, and every time we have been to different places. This is just a quick highlight tour….
In 1931, the Hastings and Napier area were devastated by the Hawkes Bay Earthquake… This is quite topical, given the recent earthquake near Kaikoura. I have updated my earlier post, where a lot of the road and railway have been swept away, effectively cutting off the town, and totally disrupting north / south traffic. Sadly 2 people have lost their lives.
However as a result of the 1931 earthquake, Napier is effectively an art deco town. Also be aware it is very hilly…. We stayed in the Villa Vista, where we had a room right at the top of the house with the most amazing view over the town. You can see the TripAdvisor report here. A fantastic breakfast, and there is a pathway to the rear which saves you a bit of a walk if you are heading up to the top of the hill. Again glorious views from the park over the harbour, and you can see the Geodetic Survey Mark
As we walked down the hill, we encountered the most amazing house
Try out a wine tasting here, the wine is excellent. You may know it by the more generic name Hawkes Bay. We did a half day wine tasting with The Grape Escape including Black Barn and Ngatarawa . Because it was Anzac Day, lots of vineyards were on holiday. We still had a great day because we were joined on the tour by a winery owner and someone else who was running another winery, so we got some expert tuition, and also some great tastings.
Our travels took us to Mount Tongariro – this place was just amazing. This is where they filmed a lot of The Lord of The Rings. We didn’t do the Tongariro crossing, but did a short Hobbit walk instead. I can also recommend a meal at The Station Cafe. During the day it is a cafe in the evening, it is transformed into a top class restaurant, the food was amazing. We stayed in the National park at the Tongariro Crossing Lodge which was simple and all we needed
On the left is Mt Tongariro and on the right Mt Ngauruhoe
Everywhere in New Zealand, North or South Island there are endless photo opportunities. My blog just can’t do justice to it.
During our travels we also visited the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland which was just mind-blowing. We must have spent 3 hours here just wandering round the park. It must be one of the strangest landscapes in the world.
You get plenty of scenic opportunities as you’re driving along. We found this most amazing railway bridge – Makatote Viaduct. The bridge is 77m high, and 262m long, built in 1905!
Our travels on our second trip took us to Auckland, which is worth a post in its own right, but I’ll cover our highlights. Auckland we found very busy after the quieter roads driving north, taking in the tourist routes.
Given earlier comments about lots of previous travel in our working lives, we were able to use our Hilton points to stay in the Hilton in Auckland. This has a great location right on the harbour front. We had a room with a great view. Cruise ships also dock right alongside, so some nights even though you are on the 5th floor, you get a note through your door reminding you to close your blinds, because in the morning you will be looking into someone’s cabin on the cruise ship. It didn’t happen to us, but it did to our friends.
Try the Skytower, even if you don’t do the sky-jump or sky-walk (we didn’t). The views are super.
Take a ferry trip to Waikehe Island. It’s only 40 minutes, and if the day is nice, you will enjoy the trip and you can get some lovely walks while you are there. The picture is taken from the hillside overlooking where the ferry drops you. We were lucky and had a glorious day,
We haven’t yet gone to the Bay of Islands north of Auckland – but we will be there in January 2017, so watch out for the next article.