Okay, onto the North Island. We only spent a week on the North Island as we were told by so many people that a week would be more than enough to see it all, and there was more to see on the South Island. We flew in to Auckland, picked up our rental Getz, and began the drive to Whitianga, where we would stay. On the way through Auckland, though, we saw a dinosaur themed park and Stardome — so we went to both of these later in that week.
Whitianga is insane. Lovely locals, beautiful scenery, a short drive from Hobbiton, the hot pocket beach, and Cathedral Cove. We went to the cove thinking it was, as a local had told us, “a lovely short walk down”. It was lovely, don’t get me wrong, but it is also a literal hike. So wear appropriate shoes and clothing.
After walking what seems to be a good hour (it probably isn’t) we went down the steps to the craziest, most beautiful beach I have ever seen. Cathedral Cove is magic, and you can kayak through it during high tide when the cave fills with water. You will see on social media that there are photos with nobody in them — the cove is (apparently) busy all year round, and getting a photo without anyone in it will require you to get up extremely early (check the tides before going down) or waiting until the late afternoon.
We went in the middle of Winter and it was still full of people, so I can’t even imagine how busy it would be in the Summer, or even Spring leading into the hotter months. The North Island is always warmer than the South, so you will get some lovely days there. The photo at the bottom of this post was the closest one that I got of the cove’s beach being “empty”. If you don’t like crowds, aim to go at the times specified above. Do still go, even if that is the case.
The cove is incredible and it is so relaxing. The (semi)hike that it took to reach the beach carved in two by the cave was entirely worth it, and the walk is honestly just as lovely as the view at the bottom — you walk along the coast carved out of cliffs, with a full view of the sapphire ocean in some sections, and lush rainforests in others. The water is lovely shades of blue and turquoise, and there aren’t monumental waves, so you can really enjoy the calm atmosphere. I would say that it is probably a good idea to take drinks and food, so that you don’t have to rush back when someone gets hungry.
Overall, the North Island is beautiful in itself, but Cathedral Cove is definitely the highlight for me. I recommend that you go, and that you go prepared, so that you can fully enjoy the experience. Maybe even hire a kayak!