In 2015 I bought a motorhome, packed up all my belongings and hit the road for 6 months for a full tour of my home country – New Zealand.
The goal was to move slowly, spending at least two weeks in each location, staying away from the major cities and following the coast as much as possible.
This style of travel allowed me to get into the rhythm of each small town and rural area I passed through, developing a deeper appreciation for life outside the cities.
Below are six of my favourite scenic locations, starting from the South Island and moving up towards the top.
Stunning mountain scenery, scenic walks and a peaceful tourist town with cafes, hot pools and adventure activities like heli-hiking on the glacier.
There is a campground here called the Rainforest Retreat – if you’re visiting in a camper or motorhome, you can literally park up in the rainforest.
The problem with many NZ tourists spots is that in the summer… there are too many tourists. The Catlins, south of Dunedin at the bottom of the South Island, doesn’t have this problem. It’s an excellent escape from civilisation where you can have an expansive beach to yourself in the afternoon, even during the busy season.
One of the South Island’s best wildlife experience locations, with a seal colony at the edge of town (if you visit around April-May you’ll see pups on the road) and several whale watching operations.
One of the least-visited parts of the country, even among locals, the East Cape region north of Gisborne is the part of NZ that most feels like a completely different country. This is one of the regions where traditional Maori culture is still visible in daily life. If you’re willing to climb about 600 steps in the dark to reach the East Cape Lighthouse, you can watch the “first sunrise in the world” come up over the international dateline in the Pacific Ocean.
Nestled at the centre of the Bay of Plenty on the North island, Ohope is one of NZ’s most famous holiday beaches. It’s a broad, shallow beach perfect for swimming, beach cricket and sunset photography. On the horizon you can spot White Island, one of New Zealand’s dormant volcanoes.
The Bay of Islands, at the northern end of the North Island, is a spot rich in culture and history as well as scenic beauty. Paihia is a stone’s throw from Waitangi, where the founding document that created modern New Zealand was signed between the British Crown and leading Maori chiefs. The area is perfect for cruises and kayaking.