New Year’s in New Zealand always comes with expectations of a music festival, a drunk kiss and a lot of substance abuse. This summer I was inspired to take a break from that and spend my favourite public holiday with my favourite people somewhere a little slower – the Bay of Islands.
Together we packed our bags and round towels into the car and headed North in search of sunshine and some much-needed R&R and wow the holiday really delivered. There are so many beautiful beaches, gorgeous walks and incredible roads we travelled but I was too caught up in our epically performed Lady Gaga x Bradley Cooper singalongs to capture them on camera. Here are the four iconic places we visited and loved (and photographed):
Matapouri Mermaid Pools
I may be Wellington in my heart and mind, but I was born in Whangarei and it is the home of my soul. There is a lot to Not Love about the strange sprawling city but I am happy that I can still navigate myself out to Ngunguru (my iwi land!) without a map and the Tutukaka Coast is my favourite in New Zealand.
I have wanted to revisit these iconic and very instagrammable pools for ages and could think of nothing better than taking my two best friends there with me. It was also just really special to show these people I loved very special parts of me; my first preschool, mums high school, the estuary my nanny rowed across to get to school, the house I spent every summer until high school etc etc etc. I have big memories of mum carrying me over to the mermaid pools on her back so was excited to take the trip myself – but Holy Heck what a climb???
The old pathway to the pools is closed (the rocks literally fell in on each other) so now you have to scramble up a steep incline and continue walking through a fair bit of bush before you clamber down the natural paths and steps on the other side to the pools. The actual water was freezing but there is still something v magical about being in this huge rockpool overlooking the ocean. In my opinion nothing makes New Zealand more kiwi than these special and free spots (though for real, I thought death was approaching trying to climb down the cliff on the walk back).
The Stone Store
I also have iconic childhood memories of visiting the stone store in my youth so I was pleased to go back. The Stone Store is the oldest stone building in New Zealand and is also the starting point of a lovely (but very long) walk to Rainbow Falls.
We stopped by for a quick walk around, enjoyed looking at some old artefacts and got the fright of our life when some kid let their yappy dog off its leash and it attempted to murder a nearby chicken.
Kerikeri’s darling. Rainbow Falls are beautiful and large and it is nice to take a stroll through the bush and listen to the water rushing and the birds chirping when you are still so close to a town. Some people like to swim at the base of the falls or at a series of waterfalls a bit further down the path – personally I am not that inspired by the brown froth of the water but I do like waterfalls and it was exciting chasing this one.
We found this in a Kerikeri guidebook and it was Big Win in my opinion. You pull off the side of the road next to this wholesome creek people swim in and take a funny little path down past some farms, through flowers and over rocks until you reach this cute round pool with cascading waterfalls crashing down into it. There is hardly any space on the side so you have to chuck your stuff up into rocks and trees and the water is dark and dense (classic fresh water NZ) but there are rocks around the edges to stand on and it is pretty magic to be in this place. If you keep following the path or swim across and climb up you can also jump off the waterfall from different parts – there are lower ledges for more reasonable humans and the very top for iconic legends. I think someone did Drown out there once so there is a need for caution and it is important to stick with the swimming rules (know your limits/don’t jump if you haven’t checked what’s below you/don’t swim alone) but it was such a magical find and I had some really lovely afternoons there.
Love an Iconic 3 xoxo