Goat island marine reserve and camp ground

Goat island beach is a marine reserve (note this means no dogs or fishing etc) located north east of Auckland . This is one of the very top spots to snorkel in NZ and you can do it for free if you have your own gear! Other activities including the glass bottom boat and glass kayaks are offered here.

The campground is located a bout a 15minute walk from the beach or a minutes drive. The grounds let you camp anywhere or the large lawn for $20 a night. Hot showers, cutlery/utensils, plates/bowls and cooking equipment are also supplied however when I have been here previously the dishes were not done, microwave and kettle we’re filthy so I would recommend bringing your own gear or camping somewhere and driving a bit further to the marine reserve.

Other things you can do in this area are eat at Leigh Fisheries, visit Matheson bay, surf/swim at Parkiri, pop down to Matakana, and plenty more.


Waipu Caves (glow worms)

With the caves only a short distance from the main road this is a great place to pit stop and explore or as day trip if you do both the caves and the waterfall 20minutes south of the caves. I was at the caves on Dec 29 2017, on this date when we entered the main cave you could follow straight and continue by walking through knee deep water and bending down under long, low rocks, this is the way to go to see the best glow worms, it is eventually a dead end and so is hard to get lost in. If you turn right after just entering the cave there is a very large, shoulder-deep stream you can swim through that will take you on a loop back out to the main grassy area. There is a Doc campsite here. If you follow a small track going left instead of entering the caves, you can follow it up the bank and explore massive rocks in an odd formation. Most people will say to wear gumboots or shoes to help with the slippery floors but I found it best to wear bare feet so I didn’t ruin any shoes and got more feel out of the experience.

‘The Cove’

The cove is a cave like natural phenomenon, you will find it between Red Beach and Orewa Beach on Auckland’s North Shore. To get to the cove from Orewa you will need to cross the bridge at the south side of the beach and follow the path and coastline walking towards Red Beach, it is best to do this at low tide so you don’t have to climb over too many rocks (the cove is also best seen at low tide). It is about a 10-15 minute walk from the bridge to the cove. If you are coming from Red Beach you will need to do a bit more navigating over tricky rocks however it will only take you a couple minutes to reach the cove. At the cove there is a large, semi-covered space as well as a medium sized cave to explore.

Ngawi and Cape Palliser

Ngawi and Cape Palliser will exceed even the highest of expectations. Imagine the bluest of waters, seal families posing amongst the rocks, a view from the light house that words cannot explain, a very small town with giant character.

The town’s character is shown by the painted bulldozers along the beach. You can see these from the road. The bulldozers are used to tow boats and boat trailers, often these boats are for crayfishing.

The light house and view from it. The climb up the stairs is very steep and long so be cautious if you have athsma or any injuries preventing you from being physically fit. From the light house you can see bays and bays away, sometimes even the south island on a clear day.

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These are some photos I got with the seals, remember do be very careful when going up close to these animals as they can be very dangerous.

Some photos of Ngawi township as seen from next to the beach.

On the drive to Ngawi I stopped into Putangirua Pinnacles, a beach view camping ground with clean toilets and walls of rock surrounding. The pinnacles are must-see for everyone but especially Lord of the Rings fans as some scenes were shot here.

Roadtripping New Zealand

My favorite thing to do in NZ is to get out on the road and explore, here are some tips on how to road trip ‘kiwi style’.

  • Ditch the GPS. Plan out your trip to a destination/area, look up and memorise the directions and area before you go, then follow the signs! This adds an extra element of adventure and gives you a large sense of accomplishment when you arrive at your destination.
  • Snack! Stop off for a steak and cheese pie, scoop ice cream or for a coffee. The best place to get these are at a local dairy and takeaway shop.
  • Make a road trip playlist. Grab ideas off my Spotify playlist HERE.
  • Learn the road rules. If you are new to driving on NZ roads just a quick Google can help you fit in with all the kiwi drivers e.g staying in the left lane when not over taking and pulling over if you are driving a slow vehicle or going more than 10kph under the speed limit( mainly on open roads). This will stop you from creating an avoidable traffic jam.
  • Make pit stops. New Zealand is a beautiful country and when driving long distances you will see plenty of pullover bays, lookouts and places to park on the side of the road where you can take in the scenery and snap some pictures.

Sanders Reserve

Sanders Reserve is 10 minutes out of Albany, Auckland. Here there is a large off-leash area for dogs with estuary access and some days there are filled water bowls( weather dependent). There is also a play ground for children, bike trails, horse trekking trails and further on-leash areas to walk your dog. After dusk there is a great view of the city lights.

Car parks are at the top of the hill by the playground however if you want to park closer to the dog off-leash area, you can park in the turn around at the end of the road.

Make sure to bring doggie bags!

Cascade Falls

On Aucklands west coast, out in ‘the wops’ you will find this very secluded waterfall.

The last stretch of the road is unsealed and you will park up emersed in the giant grassy area. From here it is a 40 minute round trip to the waterfall.

Reaching the waterfall at the end of the track requires you to navigate across a few large rocks, you will start to see the bottom of the waterfall however if you want to see it all you will need to hop into the pool and swim around the corner, making it a real adventure.

It is very uncommon for this waterfall to get busy so enjoy it while it lasts.

Kite Kite Falls

Kite Kite Falls is just a short drive from the well-known, New Zealand, surf beach Piha.

Here there is a car park that will get very busy in summer. Before you start The track there is a small picnic area and tap to wash your feet under. The track to the waterfall is 30minutes there and 30minutes back. Dogs are allowed so long as they are under control of the handler. Once you arrive at the waterfall there is very little space out of the water especially when it is packed in summer. However there is a medium sized pool under the waterfall that is suitable for swimming in.

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