The white long cloud and Aotearoa, how Maori people named New Zealand, are the first things I learnt about New Zealand from a friendly New Zealander on my flight to Auckland. It does not take long, in a couple of hours I can witness myself what I have learnt. By peering through my window I am rewarded with a magnificient aerial view. Thin layers of long white clouds stretching over the inlets of Auckland's harbour and the golden orange sunlight reflection makes it to a beautiful scenery.
KIA ORA NEW ZEALAND! I have reached a land of magic landscapes and natural phenomena.
My New Zealand Tour starts here in Auckland.
Auckland – New Zealand's modern and friendly capital city
Auckland with 1,5 million inhabitants is not only the core of finance and business in New Zealand it is a must see destination. With its unique relaxed character and its lovely suburbs Auckland spreads around its magnificient harbour which reminds me of Sydney. Our first stop is at Mount Eden, the highest volcano of the area, from where we enjoy a magnificient 360° view over the city and its surronding valleys. Memorial Gardens and Skyline are two more places to view the city from afar. In 36 hours I got to see Auckland from all angles and different perspectives.
A boat tour to Devenport on the southern site of the harbour rewards you with a lovely walk and view over the city. The afternoon is spiced up with an adrenaline experience abord a jet tour spinning down the harbour. To contrast this a relaxing dinner cruise is a fabulous way of completing our discovery day in Auckland.
New Zealand's natural phenomena
New Zealand is all about landscape and natural phenomena. Its ancient volcanic land has formed over thousands of years making it to one of the most spectacular and fertile landscape on earth. As we head north to Bay of Islands, winding through sweeping valleys, the rich and diverse vegetation creates a striking scenery which has no comparison. While I sea and look out of the window in awe I try to take photos swinging from one side to the other abord of our comfortable Leisure Time Tours coach. This photo was taken from the coach, although it looks beautiful, it cannot do justice to the stunning beauty of New Zealand's landscape.
The striking landscape lies in the variety of trees and vegetation growing together on a small stretch of land. From oaks, redwoods, cabbage trees, to a variety of ferns trees and palm trees. A canvas filled with dashes of green melting together and dotted by the lovely golden Toetoe. This iconic native grass grows literally everywhere in New Zealand. It sticks out of the ground with large plumes on long stems creating a unique contrast in the large green expanses.
The Kauri Tree
The main protagonist in the New Zealand's natural phenomena is the Kauri Tree. An ancient tree which is estimated to be thousands of years old, one of the most ancient trees in the world which has shaped the history, the culture and the life of the indigenous Maori population as well as the earlier pioneers of New Zealand. To learn about this fascintating history of the Kauri Tree we visited the Matakohe Kauri Museum, a very interesting museum showcasing the history of the pioneers till the present days.
We drive further north through the forest to meet a Maori Tour Guide and learn about the secrets and significance of the Kauri Tree to the Maori people. We are introduced to Tane Mahuta, the God of the Forest. As we take a 5 minutes walk to see Tane Mahuta, a majestic tree, 60meters high, 2000 years old we stand in awe for a few minutes listening to our Maori Guide’s emotional singing prey of welcome.
The Hokianga's Harbour
By driving further south east of the Waipou Forest we reach the spectacular harbou's inlets of Hokianga. A peaceful area with beautiful beaches, a less travelled area, the ideal place to stay away from crowds and relax at the beach surrounded by lovely hills, deep forest and the ocean. It's windy and the sun shines through the white long clouds…
The Bay of Islands
The Bay of Islands lies opposite Hokianga Harbour on the eastern coast. It is a huge area of inlets and home to a myriad of small to large rocky islands. As we depart from Paihia's ferry terminal the sight around us opens up on the blue ocean with tiny conic island silhouettes lining the far horizont. A sunny morning with a clear sky rewards us with deep blue light reflections on the water making it to a great cruise experience. The highlight of the day is the sight of dolphins swimming around out boat and wonderful blue fish close to the rocky formations. Another great day for photos!
The Maori Cultural Dance
Waitangi is located close to Paihia and it's the place where New Zealand was born as a country, where the treaty between the British and the Maori population was signed, 180 years ago. There we get an insight about this important historic event and also have the honour to witness a cultural Maori performance. It was very entertaining and educational at the same time to learn about the traditional meaning of gestures and tools Maori people use in their dance.
This is a short recap of the first 3 days of my famil tour in New Zealand. There are still plenty of places and activities to cover….our next destination for the following days is Rotorua. Stay tuned to read more about my experience in New Zealand.