New Zealand may call to all types of wanderlusters with a delightfully diverse set of experiences, but it's the abundance of outdoor fun across the North Island landscape that keeps me coming back. From the coastal beauty of soft sandy beaches to the rugged mountainous interiors, it's not only a visual feast but a veritable playground awaiting adventure seekers of all skill levels.
I was lucky enough to get into the thick of it on my latest stint to the North Island, with an itinerary that well and truly covered the lighter side of adventure travel. I was cycling historic Old Coach Road one day and skimming across the shimmering surface of Lake Taupo the next. And while I was easily beguiled by the stunning natural surrounds, my trip was not without a few learning experiences.
I gleaned a few helpful travel tips along the way, starting with these, the six things you should definitely pack for light adventure on New Zealand's North Island...
The majority of the North Island has a temperate climate, which means mild temperatures and moderate rain fall. Though, chilly evenings or the occasional downpour can put a damper on your plans if you're not sufficiently prepared. A good quality rain jacket will cover you in all situations. I threw one in my bag at the last minute and I was glad I did. It kept me dry as I cycled through the rain on Old Coach Road and it added an extra layer of warmth on some of our crisp early morning starts.
If your itinerary covers any kind of walking or hiking through the North Island's mountains, sturdy all-weather walking shoes are a must. I wrongfully assumed one pair of runners would suffice, a decision I immediately regretted after covering my shoes in mud and spent the better part of the next day with damp feet. The landscape definitely called for something more substantial. It wasn't anything a couple pairs of socks couldn't fix, but in the name of comfort, don't make the same mistake I did.
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When you're out and about having fun it's easy to forget how much time you're spending in the sun. That is until you shower off at your hotel after a long day of adventuring to be faced with a sunburnt face. It's a good idea to get lathered up before you go and toss a travel-size sunscreen in your day bag to reapply as the day goes on. This goes double if you're out in the snow on a clear day. The temperature may be low, but the glare off the white snow can cause a sunburn.
Speaking of glare, you're going to want to protect those peepers with a good pair of sunglasses. Go one step further and get them polarised to cut down on the sun reflecting off of the snow or water. Aside from shielding your eyes from the harsh sun, sunglasses can also pull double duty by protecting your eyes from water and wind when you're upping the adventure stakes. I can't tell you how happy I was to have mine on to shield the splash as we were pulling 360s at high speeds on the Hukka Falls Jet Boat.
This one depends on your season of travel. If you are heading to the North Island through the warm summer months, you can probably skip the gloves. I was travelling in the spring, which saw a bit of rainfall and some cooler temperatures. I realised that I forgot my gloves right before I boarded my flight and though it wasn't much of a concern at the time, there were a few instances when I was kicking myself for not tossing them in my bag. A pair of light, knit gloves will suffice in most situations.
Rain, snow or shine, a hat is a must if you're going to be outdoors for any part of the day. Through the autumn and winter, a beanie will keep your ears warm, while the spring and summer sunshine call for something with a visor to keep the sun off your head and face. It's worth doing some research on expected weather conditions before you go to ensure all your bases will be covered.