Papa M and I love to get away from the big smoke – in fact, we’re just in the process of locking in our honeymoon to one of our bucket list destinations. We didn’t want to wait until October to get away again and luckily we had a kind offer of some free accommodation in Kerikeri, up in Northland (funnily enough, the northern-most province of New Zealand). It wasn’t our first time in Northland so we skipped a lot of the touristy stuff, instead just using the time to relax and eat lots of delicious food (ah, yeah, about that losing weight thing??).
So there was lots of this…
And even a little bit of this…
Yes, we had a fabulous time! Even just curling up together on the couch felt like a novelty after the business of the last year or so! While most of our 48 hours away revolved around eating, strolling and sitting on the beach, there are definitely some things that we can recommend if you are heading to Northland for the first time.
Anywhere! We’ve had luck with both hotels and booking holiday homes up here. It is a competitive market up here, so service is usually fairly good! The weather is usually better up here than anywhere else in New Zealand (thus earning the moniker “the winterless north”) so a winter trip is definitely a way to get cheaper deals!
The Black Olive, Kerikeri: Gourmet pizzas – Papa M got one that included banana and greek yoghurt (yet was still savory, amazing!) – and delicious yet slightly quirky dinners. Eat in at the restaurant or take one of the pizzas home to snuggle in with!
35 Degrees South, Paihia: A perennial favorite of ours. Out on Paihia Wharf, overhanging the water, the views are only surpassed by the delicious food! If you can’t stretch to meet the dinner prices, lunch can be a more affordable option.
Plume the Vineyard Restaurant, Matakana: Our most expensive meal on holiday but with great reason. On our way back to Auckland, we ventured out on a limb to the cute village of Matakana (definitely a place we’ll go back and explore more) and stopped in at Plume. The food was a total mouth explosion – baked goat’s cheese salad and a tiramisu for me; Jamon Serrona, stuffed jalapeños and churros for him. It was the perfect place to end our relaxing weekend.
Oh my goodness, there is so much to do in Northland – will keep it to the top 5!
- Catch the ferry from Paihia to Russell, grabbing a free map on the boat. Meander around as many of the cultural sights as you feel like and then stop to refuel at the Duke of Malborough Hotel (the first one in NZ to own a liquor license, established in 1827) before cruising back to Paihia.
- Check out Haruru Falls – despite the desperate ministrations of Occupational Health and Safety workers, you can still walk out onto the rocks at the top of the falls and admire mother nature!
- Drive or take a tour up to Cape Reinga, the uppermost point of New Zealand. A place of cultural significance for the Maori people, you can also see where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea and look at the signposts to see how far you are from home!
- Drive down the Kauri Coast, stopping at Opononi to discover more of the tale of Opo, the friendly dolphin, before heading on to Waipoua Forest to see Tane Mahuta, the largest Kauri tree in New Zealand.
- Meander around Kerikeri, visiting Rewa’s Village to learn more about traditional Maori Villages, swinging by the Stone Store and stopping in at Cafe Zest for delicious coffee and scones!
There is so much more to see and do, so do make sure that you stop in at one of the information centers (Kerikeri and Paihia are the best) to find things to do at a range of different prices.
We were so sad to come back to the real world (and the freezing temperatures, and the rain) but think we’ll be able to tide ourselves over until October… need to behave ourselves so that we can live the high life on honeymoon!