Planning a trip can be tough no matter where you’re heading, but it can be especially tough when the country in question has this weird rivalry between its two islands.
In that case, not only do you have an internal debate with yourself about which part you should visit, but you also find yourself having an external debate with the rest of the world about whether or not you’ve made the right choice.
You might be sat there right now scratching your head and thinking “What in the name of all things cheesy and delicious are you talking about?” If you are, I don’t blame you. That’s because I’m being intentionally elusive and mysterious to get you hooked and make you read beyond the first paragraph. And you’re still here, right? So my plan worked!
If the post title didn’t give it away already, I’m talking about New Zealand.
Apparently the most recently discovered habitable country on the planet (emphasis on the discovered – of course, newer countries have come into existence since New Zealand’s ‘discovery’ as the result of war and independence and in some rare cases amicably breaking up with their former partners), New Zealand is, for those of you who haven’t looked at a map in a while, in the middle of nowhere.
I mean, it definitely looks like it’s right next door to Australia and looking at the map (that is if New Zealand even shows up on the map, what with the worldwide conspiracy going on right now), you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a mere hop skip and a jump across the ocean, a few hours by catamaran or a speedy one-hour flight. I’d definitely forgive you for thinking that, anyway, mainly because I thought the same.
Much like sometimes very hardcore athletic people (and David Walliams) choose to swim from the UK to France, I thought swimming from Australia to New Zealand was a thing.
It is not. I’ve done my research and it’s definitely not a thing. Flying from New Zealand to Australia is at least three and a half hours, so it’s safe to say swimming would be suicide and I’m really glad I didn’t decide to give it a go.
Anyway, my point is that for such a big-ish country, New Zealand is far, far away from anything and anywhere. And it is beautiful.New Zealand is like Jurassic World and Lord of the Rings had a baby and they named Paradise its godmother. Click To Tweet
When my trip to New Zealand was in the initial planning stages, every man and their wife were asking me if I’d be heading North or South – so, to the North Island or the South Island. This is the most difficult part of planning an epic trip to New Zealand, apparently, deciding on how to split your time. Fortunately for me (or unfortunately, depends which side of the fence you’re sat on!) the main purpose of my trip aside from visiting Hobbiton was to visit my very best friend who lives in the North Island. So, as I only had little under three weeks, my mind was set – I’d be heading North.
Based on the reactions of the people I told, this is the wrong thing to do. Apparently, if you only have time to visit the North or South Island, you’re supposed to choose South. South is where the beauty is. South is where the unspoiled nature is. South is where you’ll find all of those jaw-droppingly stunning mountains and glaciers you see splashed all over the Instagram Explore page. In fact, my aunt is from the North Island and even she told me that the South is more beautiful.
To summarise in a way as commented on my Facebook page which really made me chuckle: South Island is better than the North Island – it’s real New Zealand, none of this faux green rolling hills made for the dairy industry.
I mean I totally get the whole rivalry thing! Trust me, I do. As a too-proud Welsh person, I burn up inside when I see people asking for recommendations on Facebook for places to visit in the UK but they only mention Scotland and England. Or saying “Hey, I’ve got a trip to London coming up but also want to take a day trip to either Scotland or Ireland…what do you think?” And EVEN BLOODY WORSE, when they say how they’re going to do a UK road trip but ‘don’t really think Wales is worth it’.
I’m telling y’all right now, Wales is the greatest nation in the UK. We have dragons – need I say more?!
So the whole North-South divide going on in New Zealand – from the bottom of my powered-by-welsh-cakes heart, I get it. And as a nice lady outside a cave in Waitomo told me about it: The grass is always greener. She, as a North Islander, thinks the South Island is an absolute beaut, but she also happens to know a lot of South Islanders who think the other way around.
One thing’s for sure, though, and that is that most foreign visitors to New Zealand prioritise the South Island above the North.
Sure, the South Island is all nature-y and adventure-y and fun, and you can throw yourself off really high bridges and trees and buildings and make your mama weep into her cornflakes back home, but the North Island also has some bloody incredible sights to see! And I’m talking beyond the main points of interest, beyond what you see in the guidebooks. Just driving from one town to another will have your friendships almost in tatters as you’ll keep insisting for your friend to STOP THE CAR, I HAVE TO TAKE A PHOTO OF THAT FIELD OF SHEEP.
Of course, I haven’t visited the South Island yet – that adventure is yet to come, and one I am very much looking forward to. But for now, I just have a bunch of photos to share from the North Island in an attempt to reach out to my fellow outsiders planning a trip to New Zealand and say to them to give the North Island a chance (spoiler: they’re mostly waterfalls and some chickens).
No, it doesn’t have a nice big glacier you can walk on. But it does have a giant corrugated iron ram, and COME ON what more do you need?!
If you’ve been to New Zealand’s North Island, let me know your favourite part! I’m heading back soon and want to explore all the places and see all the things.