New Zealand: comparing Northern and Southern landscapes

  Marica&Sonia   |     02/04/2017

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New Zealand has always been on our bucket list. Therefore, once in Melbourne, we decide not to miss this opportunity taking a short-haul flight (3 ½  hours) to Auckland. 

If we think of New Zealand, we imagine landscapes like out of a movie full of mountains, lakes, sheep, cows and everything that can be connected to a wild and spectacular nature. Indeed it really is amazing, more than what we could ever imagine. 

In particular, one of the best places visited in the North Island is WAI-O-TAPU - Thermal Wonderland ( There are several organized tours to visit the park. We prefer to get there by car in about 45 min drive, 27km south of Rotorua. 

During the trip, we meet a nice French couple hitchhiking towards Taupo and we decide to pick them up. 

Wai-O-Tapu is a volcanic area famous for its geothermal activity. It is also an important place for local aboriginal population: The Maori. Indeed, it is considered an area of sacred water, as the translation of the name "Waiotapu" suggests. The park is accessible at a cost of 32.50 New Zealand dollars. It consists of well-defined paths that can last from 30 to 75 minutes; during the trekking, you will be able to admire several geothermal pools, which, in a completely natural way, take on truly surreal colours and shapes. 

Among the most emblematic pools, we remember the "Champagne Pool" with colours ranging from green to orange/red, "Artist's Palette", where yellow, green, orange and grey are highlighted, or the green "Devil's pool". Finally, at 10.15 am there is the "Lady Knox Geyser" eruption, caused on purpose, with water jets that can reach 20 meters in height up to 1 hour. It's really an amazing place! 

The South Island, on the other hand, offers one of the best natural park: Abel Tasman National Park. Although it is considered the smallest park in New Zealand, it contains a mix of ecosystems, animals, colours and landscapes so fascinating that make you want to live here forever. 

After spending the night in Nelson at The Custom House hostel (25 NZD per person in the dormitory), we leave in the early morning towards Marahau which is at the entrance of the park. 
We buy a tour by boat with Water Taxi company for 82 NZD per person at the tourist information centre. It includes a tour of the coast up to Totaranui (2 ½  hours).

We then get off at the beach of Berk Bay from where we start a trekking towards Anchorage (12.4 km in 3 hours), that is the end point where the boat is waiting for us.

We think that the park deserves from 3 to 4 days in order to explore all its paths and all the wonderful beaches. It is possible to stay in one of the campgrounds set up in the park but you must have food, water, tent and a heavy sleeping bag due to the thermal excursion during the night time. Since we have neither enough time nor the necessary equipment, we decide to spend just one day here. 

Despite the initial disappointment, we are really satisfied with the tour. The boat ride, in fact, gives you an idea of the vastness of the park and the moderate trekking is really enjoyable thanks to the breath-taking views and landscapes. Lovely place that we strongly recommend! 

In conclusion, if you are not short on time, we strongly suggest visiting both islands. You will be amazed by the stunning views, typical of a postcard and they will undoubtedly be part of your memories folder called "Dream Landscapes".  



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