Friday, May 20, 2016

New Zealand's best hikes | Waipoua Forest, Urupukapuka Island & Cathedral Cove Walk

Since I know I'll get asked for New Zealand tips a lot, I'm doing a series of posts about the best hikes, trails and walks you can do in this amazing country. New Zealand is world famous for its beautiful nature and scenery, and getting to see those stunning views usually requires hiking/walking. I saw the most incredible things during those hikes, so I wanted to share the ones that you should definitely do when you're in New Zealand. In this post I'll walk you through (pun intended..hah) three hikes I did on the North Island, and in the next post I'll tell you about three more before I move on to the South Island hikes. They're all very different and each one of them is truly unique. I hope you'll enjoy this little 'series'!
New Zealand's best hikes | Waipoua Forest, Urupukapuka Island & Cathedral Cove Walk


Waipoua Forest 
Located on the west coast of the Northern Island of New Zealand (a 3.5 hour drive from Auckland), this forest is one of the most famous Kauri forests in the country. Kauris are some of the most ancient trees in the world which are sadly being threatened by a fungus-type disease for which there is no cure. The scenic road to the tracks takes you straight through the 350 hectare forest, along the tree ferns and other native plants. There are several tracks, which are all quite short (15 minutes to 1 hour). To see the largest living kauri tree, Tane Mahute, it only takes a two minute walk from the main road. It's really quite a special experience to see these gigantic trees (their size doesn't translate on photo, they are HUGE), and you can walk all the tracks in a couple hours or less. 


New Zealand's best hikes | Waipoua Forest


New Zealand's best hikes | Waipoua Forest

New Zealand's best hikes | Waipoua Forest

New Zealand's best hikes | Waipoua Forest


New Zealand's best hikes | Waipoua Forest


New Zealand's best hikes | Waipoua Forest

New Zealand's best hikes | Waipoua Forest

New Zealand's best hikes | Waipoua Forest

New Zealand's best hikes | Waipoua Forest


Bay of Islands | Urapukapuka Island
Although there are many islands to see around the Bay of Islands, Urapukapuka is the largest one which also makes it the perfect place for a half-day hike. You'll have to take a boat from Paihia or Russell (best to book in advance), which also pick you up at a certain time later in the day. We had about 4 hours on the island, enough to do most of the trails if you're fit and have a fast pace. I got a real Hobbit/LOTR feeling while walking trough the greenest grass I've ever seen, with views over the beautiful turquoise bays and beaches around the island. The trails aren't too difficult, but steep enough to make your heart beat faster. You pass a couple of beaches and beautiful cliffs, and wherever you go, the views are breathtaking. 

New Zealand's best hikes | Urapukapuka Island

New Zealand's best hikes | Urapukapuka Island

New Zealand's best hikes | Urapukapuka Island


New Zealand's best hikes | Urapukapuka Island

New Zealand's best hikes | Urapukapuka Island


New Zealand's best hikes | Urapukapuka Island

New Zealand's best hikes | Urapukapuka Island

New Zealand's best hikes | Urapukapuka Island


New Zealand's best hikes | Urapukapuka Island

New Zealand's best hikes | Urapukapuka Island


Cathedral Cove Walk
Although this hike was much more popular than the previous two, it still really special. We started from the beautiful Hahei beach instead of the Cathedral Cove car park (which is an extra 20 minutes walk) on a cloudy but warm day. I would recommend wearing sneakers since the walk was longer than expected. They were building a new path when we were there, so there was a bit of construction going on. Because we missed a turn, we first made a stop at Stingray Bay where we were completely alone. Cathedral Cove on the other hand was really crowded (you might have seen it in one of the Narnia movies). Nonetheless, the cove and the rock formations are very special and you can also swim around them if you're feeling adventurous. I'd recommend going here early in the morning to avoid the crowds. If you do the hike, stop at the different bays and go for a swim it will take about 2-3 hours in total. There was something magical about the combination of grey skies and the emerald green water. This walk is definitely a must-do! 


New Zealand's best hikes | Cathedral Cove Walk

New Zealand's best hikes | Cathedral Cove Walk


New Zealand's best hikes | Cathedral Cove Walk

New Zealand's best hikes | Cathedral Cove Walk

New Zealand's best hikes | Cathedral Cove Walk


New Zealand's best hikes | Cathedral Cove Walk


New Zealand's best hikes | Cathedral Cove Walk

New Zealand's best hikes | Cathedral Cove Walk

New Zealand's best hikes | Cathedral Cove Walk

So this was part one of my New Zealand's Best Hike series. Pictures never really translate what the places are like 100% but I still want to give you a little preview of the hikes. I hope this will come to good use when you'll visit New Zealand one day or maybe through these posts I can convince you to put New Zealand on your travel list (if it wasn't already on there). Stay tuned for the next parts!

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