Exploring Coromandel and New Zealand’s Far North Region
Exploring New Zealand’s Far North region is a fun, but also very awe-inspiring experience if you’ve never been there before. If you happen to be studying abroad during the late spring or summer time (November-February), this trip is a must-do especially if you are at the nearby universities in Hamilton or Auckland. If you have a long break or time after finals, this trip is definitely worth taking.
Starting in Hamilton or Auckland, take a Naked Bus to Coromandel. (It’s called Naked Bus because they are “stripping the cost of travel.” Not the other thing.) You’ll probably want to spend two or three days here. You can rent a huge room with a kitchen, living room, and multiple bedrooms for you and your friends at a backpacker (hostel) here for a pretty inexpensive rate. (Be warned that they may stick you with a lone traveler. Make friends, it’s all part of the experience.) If you get to Coromandel in the very early summer time, the weather is very nice and you’ll find mostly deserted beaches. Take a trip to see Cathedral Cove, a beautiful beach just a short hike away that was actually featured in one of the Narnia movies. Yes, you can travel to Narnia. You will also want to spend some time at Hot Water Beach, where you can actually create your own hot tub on the beach. Check the tide times and grab some shovels with your friends. Head down to the beach and dig a large enough hole for all of you to sit in and enjoy the naturally hot water that emerges.
From Coromandel, take another Naked Bus to Paihia in the Bay of Islands. You’ll want to book a hostel well in advance since it is such a popular destination. There is a Base Backpakers here that would be an ideal place to stay at. This town is paradise. You’ll want to spend a few days exploring the other towns in the Bay of Islands and you’ll have plenty of opportunities for beachy activities (sailing, swimming with dolphins, etc.). From Paihia you can take a ferry to Russell- a cute town that would be a good place to eat lunch on the water. If you’re in to history, visit Waitangi where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed. There are tons of tour options available to take out of the Bay of Islands, but one that you absolutely should not miss out on is a visit to Cape Reinga.
You may be tempted to drive to Cape Reinga, but beware that much of this drive is actually on deserted beaches and could get a little tricky! The drive would be awesome, but is safest with a tour group. Your bus will pick you up right at your hostel and will take you all the way to the very top of New Zealand. Along the way, you will stop for lunch and at the Manginangina Kauri Walk, where you will see trees so large that you could drive a car through them. Your tour will also take you to massive sand dunes along 90 Mile Beach. (It’s called that because when first settlers came to the area, they were using the same estimate that their horses could travel 30 miles per day. They didn’t take into account that it takes longer to travel on sand and the beach is actually only about 55 miles long!) You have the option to sand board down the dunes, an awesome adrenaline pumping experience that you should not miss.
The last stop is Cape Reinga. As soon as you step out onto the overlook, this sense of calmness takes over you. There is a lighthouse at the tip of the cape, marking the most northern point of the whole country. Here is also where you can see the point where the Tasman Sean and the Pacific Ocean collide. It is here that the Maori people believe that their souls depart after they die. This trip is definitely one worth taking if you are studying in New Zealand. Its jam packed with beautiful beaches, history, and adventure and will certainly make leaving New Zealand difficult.