Waitomo is only a small village but is a huge tourist attraction due to the extensive caves which are also home to glowworms. As we had the time we decided to spend two nights here but we got the impression that most people only spend one night or come for a day trip.

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One of the best things about visiting somewhere that is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire is that there are plenty of natural wonders to marvel at and geothermal activity to get excited about. One area where you can experience the benefits yourself is at Hot Water Beach which is based on the Coromandel Peninsula and is included in Lonely Planet’s book of the world’s best beaches.

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When you are travelling around to lots of different places sometimes you need somewhere to just relax for a couple of days, and what better place to relax than in a beautiful location with friends?! We spent a week in a remote spot located about 45 minutes from Whangarei staying in an old farmhouse with some of James’s very accommodating family friends.

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Throughout the time we’ve been planning our trip to New Zealand, there’s been something pretty special about telling people we were going to work our way up to the very top, right down to the bottom, and then back up the country. Unfortunately, it turns out that Cape Reinga is not the the most northern tip of New Zealand but it was close enough (we could see the tip from where we were), especially after an almost 500km round day trip.

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My first impressions of Paihia were that it was very much a tourist town and I’ll admit, I started to wonder if we were right to spend four nights there. The beach didn’t look as good as I expected and the town was very small and filled with souvenir shops. However, by the end of the four nights I was ready to leave but didn’t feel like we’d wasted our time there. In fact, we managed to cram quite a bit in including my highlight of the trip so far.

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