Travel to New Zealand’s North Island – Episode 240

categories: pacific travel


Chris, the Amateur Traveler himself, talks about a two week New Zealand’s North Island itinerary including:

Chris drove around the North Island in New Zealand’s winter in an RV from Spaceships, staying in campgrounds.


right click here to download (mp3)
right click here to download (iTunes version with pictures)


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Show Notes

Sponsors of my trip:
Air New Zealand
Tourism New Zealand
New Zealand – Amateur Traveler Episode 104
Indie Travel Podcast
Waitangi Treaty Grounds
Dolphin Discoveries – Bay of Islands
Brick Bay Wine and Sculpture Trail
Te Puia – Geysers and Maori culture in Rotorua
Waimangu Volcanic Valley – “newest geothermal area in the world”
Te Papa Museum – Wellington
Tongariro National Park
Waitomo Caves – glow worms
MOTAT Museum – Auckland
Waitomo Lodge Motel


Auroria on Food in Auckland
Evelyn on Fort Tryon Park – Peaceful Places: New York City: 129 Tranquil Sites in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island
Tom – PEI too cold to swim


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Chris Christensen

by Chris Christensen

Chris Christensen is the creator of the Amateur Traveler blog and podcast. He has been a travel creator since 2005 and has won awards including being named the "Best Independent Travel Journalist" by Travel+Leisure Magazine.

9 Responses to “Travel to New Zealand’s North Island – Episode 240”

Puru Shah


I was waiting for your podcast on New Zealand. I have been here in New Zealand since 3 weeks and am absolutely loving it.

Auckland Musuem in Auckland Domain is also another cool place to check out. It has quite a rich history about Maori people. I did not go to a marae in Rotorua but instead had a chance to go another one an hour away from Auckland. The fact that it was not in Rotorua meant that it was not super touristy and we had a real chance to meet and talk to Maoris. I also learnt to introduce myself in their language using rivers and mountains from my country Nepal.

I also had a chance to go to Waitomo Caves and saw glowworms. We rented a car from Ace Rentals and it cost us like $20 per day, a little more because th driver was not 21 years old. But I did not go black water rafting. Obviously, on a student budget I could only choose one between the two. After listening to your podcast, seems like I made the wrong choice.

Around Waitomo cave area, there is also a black sand beach that one can go to. I felt that was the highlight of my trip to Waitomo Caves. There is also a waterfall and natural bridge that one can see in the area. They are all nearby. We were able to do all of this on Saturday alone.

If you are in Auckland, hiking up to Mt. Eden is a really good idea because from there you get an amazing view of Auckland city. And in the evening, you can see sunset on one side and Sky Tower on the other. It’s worth the climb.

Kayaking to Rangitoto (a volcanic crater) is also popular here and I am going to do it in a couple weeks.

Are you going to be covering South Island anytime soon? I know it’s winter time here and it’s very cold there but I have heard South Island is prettier than North Island.



I only went to the North Island on this trip so check out New Zealand – Amateur Traveler Episode 104 for info about the South Island.




I went to both islands in 2004 and my feelings are that the scenery in the South is vasty superior to that of the North. The North seems to have the culture and people. The South has the scenery and solitude.

Tongariro National Park – I had plans to do the one-way traverse across the park. The terrain is supposed to be “out of this world”, but apparently it’s also known for some of NZ’s worst weather as well. The hike was closed when I was there b/c of very high winds…a huge disappointment as this park is a huge highlight.

Waitomo Black water rafting – did this as well…very cool. It’s not quite as adventurous as it sounds, but certainly not something you can do just anywhere. The water was COLD.

Geothermal Features – Chris…I found these to be very, very disappointing. I would be interested to hear your personal comparisons with Yellowstone NP in Wyoming. I didn’t think the geothermal features could hold a candle to Yellowstone. I think it would be a very neat stop IF you had not been to Yellowstone before.

The Tongariro Crossing closing and the Rotorua geothermal letdown were both huge letdowns on an otherwise fantastic trip to NZ. If I had mine to do over again, I would have spend the entire trip on the South Island and started to consider the North if I had more time than 2 weeks. That said, I missed Auckland and spent no time in museums or on culturals items…pure scenery and activities.



I agree, unless you do the abseiling, which I did not, the Black water rafting is in the shallow end of adventure travel. The hardest thing was jumping off a small waterfall far enough to avoid the rocks.

I agree that what I saw in NZ was much less spectacular than Yellowstone or then seeing lava in Hawaii. Now, I did not actually see any of the geysers go off so that could make a difference.

I would have gone to the South Island if my trip had been in Summer. I really want to get to Queenstown.



Non-disclosure about Hobbiton is puzzling – do they do that to all visitors?



Yes, at this time all visitors to Hobbiton must sign a non-disclosure.



Liked your podcast on NZ North Island.
…and well done to Craig and Linda for setting an Itinerary that covered most of the North Island’s main highlights quite well – although quite a lot of driving involved I would say…?
Flights beween cities and towns in NZ can be affordable way to travel particularly if you are prepared to be a little spontaneous (see
I would also recommend seeing the South Island before the North as it is far more spectactular. The South Island is still a very visitable place in the winter, particularly if you are into Snow based sports. There weather is on the whole while colder is more settled in the south than the north in Winter. I would suggest you were very lucky with the weather during your trip. Most visitors to the NI in winter should expect to see a lot more rain and grey skies.
The best time of the year to visit NZ is mid February to the end of March (late summer). The weather is best then and it is outside the national holiday period.
Well done on your Maori pronounciation which was spot-on except Ngauruhoe which is more like Nar-roo-hoey.
Byt the way there are 3 not 2 mountains in the Tongariro National Park area – all separate volcanic peaks (Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe & Tongariro)

Just one more thing… shearing 600-800 sheep per hour? – that can’t be right. 200 sheep a DAY is considered pretty good. So perhaps 600-800 per day is right?

Keep up the good work. Your weekly podcast are providing inspiration for my future travel adventures. (Where to go… and sometimes where not to go too).



You are right. World records are one sheep sheared in 38 seconds and hhe world record for shearing sheep in a day is 839 lambs in 9 hours.

Paul Hurwitz


Hi Chris,
I just listened to this episode last night on my way home from work. I have to object about your comment on rappelling. I guess its to each his own, but I would much rather go rappelling than go through a small dark tunnel. I get a rush out of heights, but small spaces and I are not friends. I’ve gone rappelling in Israel, South Africa and here in the US.

Sounds like it was a great trip.


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