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New Zealand: discovering the North Island

Due to a massive jetlag I was awake after two hours of sleep and roaming the streets of Auckland at 6 A.M.... But on the other hand I was very happy to see the beautiful morning glow on the Auckland Ferry Terminal which was completed in 1912.

Auckland, New Zealand

To get rid of the jetlag and to recover from the 40+ hour journey it's good to start the day with a strong cup of coffee! ;-)

I discovered this cute coffee bar downtown Auckland with a great piece of art!

Coffee shop in Auckland, New Zealand

The Auckland Art Gallery is definitely worth a visit (which is free by the way). Their purpose is to be a place for art and a catalyst for ideas. Mojo is their spacious and sunny Café which is overlooking Albert Park.

The building is a typical example of 'old meets new'. Old part of the gallery:

Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand

New part of the gallery:

Auckland Art Gallery, New Zealand

Hotel DeBrett has got a cosy café with many old posters at the wall. It is a good place to sit at the window at the end of the day and drink a glass of wine while contemplating the day.

The hotel has a long and colourful history. Built as The Commercial Hotel in 1841 as one of Auckland’s first hotels. It survived two fires, and two rebuilds, before the current building was erected in 1925.

Hotel DeBrett, Auckland New Zealand

You can view the city from 220 metres above street level at the top of the Sky Tower.

I only looked at it from 1,74 metres above street level ;-)

Are you a daredevil and do you want to experience sky jumping? Then this is the place to be! You will fall 192 metres straight down (every day from 10 AM to 6 PM). I wish you luck!

Sky Tower Auckland, New Zealand

Albert Park is close to the Art Gallery and is a nice place to sit in the grass and relax a bit. There are beautiful old trees (dating from the 1880s) and views over the surrounding buildings.

Albert Park, Auckland New Zealand

What I liked the most about the Auckland Museum (25 NZ Dollar entrance fee) was the Maori collection. I was impressed by the wood carved sculptures.

Auckland Museum New Zealand

In Auckland there are many options to eat healthy food, Wise Cicada (closed) is one of them. The meals offered at the cafe are vegan, organic and always nourishing. Looking for raw, gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, egg free cakes and slices? Don't look any further!

Wise Cicada, Auckland New Zealand

Auckland has got many beautiful old buildings. And sometimes it felt a bit like I was in New York.

Building in Auckland New Zealand

Around Auckland

Close to Bethells Beach is Lake Wainamu (50 minutes drive from Auckland). You can follow the small Waiti stream or walk over the sand dunes. Be aware that the sand can be very hot in the afternoon, so we decided to walk back through the stream. It's refreshing and a great experience for children as well!

Lonnies Planet at Lake Wainamu, New Zealand

View from the top of the sand dunes over Lake Wainamu:

Lake Wainamu, New Zealand

Piha is one of the most popular beaches in the area of Waitakere Ranges and a major day-trip destination for Aucklanders throughout the year, and especially in summer for surfing. Piha has a well known black sand beach, due to the high iron content, which is of volcanic origin.

Lion Rock (in the back of the following picture) is a natural formation dividing North and South Piha beaches. From the beach near the Lion’s tail, there is a track which ascends up his back to a grassy lookout on his shoulders.

Lonnies Planet at Piha Beach in New Zealand

'Running water never grows stale, so you just have to keep on flowing' - Bruce Lee

Piha is surrounded by the Waitakere Regional Park so there are plenty of walks in all directions. You can pick up a map at either of the noticeboards at Glen Esk – which is the main entry point into the parkland – and at North Piha. They usually have some copies at the Library and West Coast Gallery too.

I stayed for two weeks in Piha because my sister lives there with her family. So we had lots of time to discover these beautiful hikes :-)

The Tasman Lookout Track is a steep track with some steps ascending cliffs at the southern end of Piha Beach. At the top, a short branch to the right leads to a lookout point over Piha and Taitomo Island. The track continues around the cliff-top to a second lookout overlooking The Gap.

Tasman Lookout Track, New Zealand

During the 45 minute walk you will see this beautiful bay as well. We walked down at low tide so we could take a look at the gap. Please be careful during high tide, it can be very dangerous.

Bay at Tasman Lookout Track, New Zealand

Golden hour... This is the view at Lion Rock from my sisters veranda. It almost took my breath away!

Piha New Zealand

Mercer Bay Loop Walk is a track which makes its way along the top of the highest sea cliffs in the Auckland region and provides great views north towards Muriwai and south to Whatipu.

Mercer Bay Loop Walk, New Zealand

Mercer Bay Loop Walk, New Zealand

There is also a great walk in the north of Piha with different vegetation.

Piha, New Zealand

Lonnies Planet in forest Piha, New Zealand

For me the first time ever 'inside' a tree!

Lonnies Planet in forest Piha, New Zealand

Walking my sisters dog in these magnificent surroundings never gets dull.

Lonnies Planet in forest Piha, New Zealand

The Piha Cafe serves fantastic pies, cakes, pizza and a lot more. It's a great place where many locals meet.

Piha Cafe, New Zealand

The coolest mailbox I have ever seen! :-)

Mailbox in Piha, New Zealand

The Coromandel Peninsula is located on the Pacific Coast Highway - on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island, and is within an hour and a half drive of the major centres of Auckland, Hamilton and Rotorua. The peninsula is steep and hilly, and is largely covered in temperate rainforest. It is renowned for its pristine beaches, misty forests and laid-back vibes. It is one of New Zealand's most popular holiday destinations.

Sweeping views while on the road to The Coromandel:

Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

We stayed in the area of Matarangi where you kan make a nice walk in the scenic reserve to the Vodafone tower. We had dinner at Luke's Kitchen where you can enjoy good food in a relaxed atmosphere.

Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

I ended my trip in a place that looked like paradise before I went home.....

Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand

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