Slowdown & Unwind In New Zealand's North Island With This Perfect Itinerary From @nutbrownrose_
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16th Jul | 6 min read

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    Pamela is a 27-year-old travel photographer and writer based in Wellington. She moved to New Zealand three years ago from the USA in search of a slower life to reconnect with nature and realign herself. Since then, she’s traveled all over New Zealand, becoming a bit of a camping/tramping expert. Be sure to check out Pamela’s blog Nut Brown Rose and her Instagram to follow along on all her adventures!

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    Inspiration For Moving To New Zealand

    Aside from being an avid Lord of the Rings fan, I knew New Zealand offered the type of life I wanted. Slow, mindful living. Nature galore. I was drawn to the dramatic landscapes and how adventurous New Zealanders are. The country is so diverse, from beaches to forests to mountains. They have everything here.

    How I Planned My Travels Around New Zealand

    I planned ahead and booked a bus three months before arrival. This is a genius way of avoiding exaggerated costs - a bus from Auckland to Wellington cost me $1. If you want to avoid high costs, always book in advance! If you want to buy a camper, they’re always cheaper in the off-season.

    My North Island Itinerary 

    I had an extensive itinerary for the North Island because I wanted to see everything! Here it is below:

    Auckland - 2 days

    Matapouri and Sandy Bay - 2 days

    Bay of Islands (base in Paihia) - 3 days

    Karikari Peninsula (base in Maitai Bay) - 3 days

    Spirits Bay - 1 day

    Cape Reinga - 1 day

    Ninety Mile Beach - 1 day

    The Coromandel - 3 days to visit Hot Water Beach, New Chums Beach, and Cathedral Cove

    Mount Maunganui - 2 days

    Rotorua - 2 days

    Matamata - 2 days to visit Hobbiton and Waitomo Caves

    Tongariro National Park - 2 days

    Napier and Te Mata Peak - 2 days

    Wellington - 5 days

    Read more: The Perfect 2 Week North Island Road Trip Itinerary

    Northland is a tropical beach paradise and a great place to hide away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. It’s dotted with small towns far in-between so it’s important to pack food and supplies accordingly. We did a 3-week camping trip across Northland on a budget, utilising freedom camping grounds. It’s completely free with a front-seat view of some incredible scenery. There are some great apps you can use to find Freedom Camping spots and make sure you’re not camping illegally - my favorite is CamperMate. When you camp, never litter and take all your rubbish with you. Never, ever damage the environment, treat nature with respect. And talk to the other people at the camp! This is an awesome way to make friends.

    Read more: South Island's 14 Best Freedom Camping Sites For Non Self Contained Vehicles

    I Met So Many Travelers & Locals 

    Yes! New Zealand is full of backpackers and travelers and everyone is so kind and keen on an adventure. The locals are more than happy to help with tips on where to eat and what to do. And travelers are always looking for people to adventure and carpool with. Once I met two girls at a hostel and we traveled together for about 4 days, this was super handy for me because one of the girls had a car which gave us free movement as I was relying on bus schedules at the time. The tourism infrastructure is very strong in New Zealand, which makes it an awesome place to explore and make lifelong friends

    Read more: How these Two Solo Travelers Saved $400 on a Multi-Day Road Trip

    Food You Need To Try

    If you’re in a fishing town, always grab some fish and chips! The best fish and chips in all of New Zealand can be found in a small shop just outside Paihia called Snapper Shack. Oh, and if you’re in Wellington, grab yourself a Lucky Burger… you won’t’ regret it.

    One Of My Favourite Memories Traveling In New Zealand

    One of my favorite memories is in Mount Maunganui. Not only is it the cutest little surf town, but the hike up the Mount is breathtaking. I spent 3 days here by myself. I climbed the Mount and spent hours taking photos and admiring the scenery. Hiking back down, I was delighted to find that the track takes you right onto the white sand beach. I took a dip in the water, watched surfers catch waves, and sunbathed. The town is so small that I easily walked back and grabbed a power bowl for lunch (lots of healthy cafes around here) then continued my day on the beach. Then I met up with another traveler and had pizza for dinner and a few drinks at the quirky pub, Social Club. Lots of laughs, good conversation, and fresh tan skin.

    Read more: Everything You Need To Know About Road Tripping South Island In A Campervan: Full Breakdown By @Voyageinstyle_

    How I Managed My Expenses

    It’s expensive for sure if you’re wanting a luxury experience or a hotel room every night. It can take a bit of digging to find an Airbnb or couples’ room at an affordable price. Our strategy is always to camp as much as we can, and perhaps book a single night at a nice place to shower and recharge. Adventures can be expensive as well (such as white-water rafting, bungee jumping, etc) but you’ll find many affordable options from smaller businesses, like kayaking or walking tours. Or make your own adventures! Hiking is free, beach hunting is free. I won’t deny New Zealand is expensive but it’s still very possible to travel on a budget.

    Read more: The Best Budget Travel Tips For Backpacking New Zealand

    Hikes And Sights You Can't-Miss

    Cathedral Cove is truly a stunner. And you can’t miss the Giant Sand Dunes… it’s tiring to climb but spend some time exploring and get some epic photos. And if you’re in the South Island, check out the epic peaks of Glenorchy and spend some time in Central Otago.

    Read more: Sealy Tarns, Hooker Valley, & Tasman Glacier: Here Is Sarah’s Perfect Weekend Itinerary For Mt Cook

    My Advice For People Traveling To New Zealand For The First Time

    A lot of people come to New Zealand and are shocked by the small cities and lack of sprawling resorts. But this isn’t what New Zealand is about. People come for nature, to slow down and unplug from their busy lives. Come with a good chunk of savings in case you do want luxury and paid adventures but also come with the expectation that life will be slow as you meander from one nature spot to the next. I find people struggle to slow down but it’s so important for our wellbeing and New Zealand will provide that for you. Having a car or a camper is a huge perk so you can travel all around. It’s not a big country so it’s quite easy to see everything.

    Looking for more New Zealand travel guides? Here are some of our guides worth checking! 

    Other cool solo female travel stories you might enjoy! 

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