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North Island Road Trip

My Summer North Island Road Trip

A day after Christmas, four university friends and I went on a five day road trip around the North Island of New Zealand. Apart from having some fun times together, our main mission was to conquer one of New Zealand’s great walks – The Tongariro Alpine Crossing – and to see the famous Mount Doom (Mt Ruapehu) of ‘The Lord of the Rings’.

Day 1

With our spirits high, our journey started in the “Coolest Little Capital in the World” – Wellington. We took the opportunity to have an obligatory photo with the ‘Windy Wellington’ sign, New Zealand’s own version of the famous Hollywood sign.

Windy Welly Collage

Windy Wellington

We then travelled to the city of New Plymouth, where we visited two other friends who are locals of the area. New Plymouth is located in the Taranaki Region and is known as a ‘doorway’ to the almost perfect volcanic cone, Mount Taranaki.

Day 2

It was actually part of our plan to climb the iconic Mount Taranaki, however, due to unfavourable weather condition, we decided not to. Fortunately, our two local friends had some cool alternative plans.

They took us to Paritutu Rock, which takes more or less 15 minutes of walking and rock climbing to reach the peak. The top has a fantastic view of the city and, on a clear day, you can even see Mount Taranaki and Mount Ruapehu in the distance. 

blog travel paritau rock

View from the top of Paritutu Rock

Just a few minutes drive from Paritutu Rock is Back Beach which has a cool sand dune for some ‘duning’ antics. Of course, we experienced running down to the beach through the sand dunes!

We also visited the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, which is the region’s home of contemporary art and the collection of kinetic artist Len Lye.

blog travel Govett Brewster Art Gallery

Outside structure of Govett-Brewster Art Gallery

Another of New Plymouth’s best attraction is the Te Rewa Rewa Bridge, which is known for its spectacular shape which resembles the bone of a whale, giving it its alternative name, ‘Whalebone Bridge’.

blog travel Te Rewa Rewa Bridge

Fun jump shot on Te Rewa Rewa Bridge!

In the evening, we went to an amazing light show event in the park with a band that played some cool old Christmas songs.

Light Show New Plymouth

Amazing light show in New Plymouth

Day 3

This was the highlight of our road trip as we set out on our ultimate mission: to walk the Tongariro Crossing and see Mount Ruapehu close-up (known as Mount Doom in Lord of the Rings).

Tongariro Crossing

We began our Tongariro adventure at around 10:30am

Mount Doom

A pose with Mount Ruapehu (Mt. Doom)

Tongariro Crossing Crater

Walking in the middle of a crater

Tongariro crossing saddle

On the tops of the Tongariro Crossing

Emerald Lake

Beautiful Emerald Lake

Day 4

With an aching body and tired feet from the well-worth-it eight-hour Tongariro walk, we decided to stay overnight in Taupo. The next day we had a relaxing stroll around town and along Lake Taupo.

Lake Taupo

Relaxing by Lake Taupo

Day 5

Heading towards the end of our trip, we took time to wander around Wellington, which is known for its vibrant artsy-fartsy sights, world-class cafés and restaurant culture.

Speaking of food, we went to Capital Market to have our lunch. It’s a great place if you want to taste different kinds of food from different countries.

We also had a walk along the Capital’s waterfront where you can see some eclectic artworks installed by well-known Kiwi artists.

blog travel wellington waterfront

Definitely a must-have photo with this “Solace in the Wind” statue

We ended our road trip with so much joy in our hearts – it will forever be part of our happy memories as international students in New Zealand.

blog travel wellington farewell

We look forward to more road trips and adventures together...


By Meikko Jay ForonesFilipino Masters Student

Updated 4 years ago

Meikko Jay Forones is a New Zealand-ASEAN scholar from the Philippines. He has been in New Zealand since 2014 and has a BA Honours in Political Science from the University of Canterbury. Currently, he is in his final semester of a master’s degree in Political Science at the same university.

“One of the best things about studying in New Zealand is that it offers stunning and peaceful places waiting for you to discover. As a traveller who loves nature and a photography hobbyist, New Zealand is, seemingly, the perfect destination for me as this country is ridiculously beautiful! No matter where you are in the country, you are likely a stone’s throw away from a place that will give you “wow” moments. So you can be a full-time student on weekdays, and an adventurer over the weekend.”

Follow Meikko on Instagram: meikko.was.here


*Views expressed are the blogger's own
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