Taming The North Island With Li-Chi Pan

25 August 2015

What happens when precise style meets beautiful chaos? The results can be quite amazing as we discovered when we spoke to popular Aussie Instagrammer Li-Chi Pan about her recent trip to New Zealand's North Island. She tells us all about how she managed to find a certain photogenic order in these wild landscapes along with a few other tips and tricks for hitting the road across the North Island.

Have you been to the North Island before?

I have never been to New Zealand surprisingly! It has been on my bucket list for quite some time now and I am so glad that this trip finally materialised thanks to Tourism New Zealand and Flight Centre Australia.

What were you looking forward to the most on this particular itinerary?

Tonkaanu Wharf, Great Cathedral Cove, Floatplane flight with Volcanic Air and Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland.

Judging from your instagram feed, food plays a large part in your inspiration. Did you find any such food inspiration on this trip? What were your culinary highlights?

We made a quick stop at the Storehouse in Taupo. I loved this trendy eating establishment. It is on a rare occasion when I actually want to order everything on the menu! The waffles were adorned with blueberries, caramelised banana, crispy bacon and drenched in golden syrup. 

Great food and great coffee what more could you ask for? Another great culinary highlight was the steam box lunch in Rotorua! Loved having my hand picked lunch cooked in a natural steam vent!

Many of the shots on your feed reflect a crisp and organised, almost architectural style. How did you find meshing this style with the rugged landscapes of New Zealand? Was it a challenge to capture that same deceivingly simple beauty?

My minimalistic and clean style in photography was heavily influenced by my Architectural degree and initially when asked to capture the rugged beauty of New Zealand I was a little anxious that the rustic landscape would be hard to feed into my white grid.

However, soon after arriving in New Zealand I realised that there was nothing more rewarding than capturing the spirit and life of these landscapes.

I would love to hear more about sea kayaking to Cathedral Cove. What did you see going there as well as when you arrived? Would you recommend it for travellers of all fitness levels/ages?

Upon arrival we were greeted by a stingray! I had never kayaked before this trip and found the experience memorable. The guide was professional and informative and even managed to whip up a cappuccino once we pulled the kayaks onto shore.  I would definitely recommend this for travellers who have a thirst for adventure.

A photo posted by Li-Chi Pan ☁️ (@lichipan) on

Looking through some of your shots, I couldn't help but notice you got in the water at the Coromandels. Was it freezing?

It was cold but not that cold! New Zealand weather isn’t that bad during the Winter months.

What location stood out as being the most remarkable and why?  

Grand Cathedral Cove was personally the most memorable and magic moment for me. I remember distinctly walking out of the cove and was absolutely stunned by the pure scale of Te HoHo rock.

What was your favourite photo moment and why?

During my hike up Te Pare lookout I noticed a rope swing and was lucky enough to capture this magical moment during Golden hour.

A photo posted by Li-Chi Pan ☁️ (@lichipan) on

If you go back to New Zealand, what will be on your list of things to do/see?

The Hobbiton Movie Set, Fox glacier and kayaking through the Bay of Islands!

Do you have any travel tips for first timers to the North Island (from must-sees to helpful/practical advice for eating, staying, getting around, etc)?

Hiring a car is highly recommended! There are so many unplanned moments which you will stumble upon when driving through the beautiful landscapes. I would also recommend staying at the Hilton in Taupo! The view of the mountains, accommodating staff and spacious rooms truly made me feel at home! The Regent of Rotorua also do great breakfasts in bed!


Visit your local Flight Centre store or call 131 600 for more advice and the latest deals on travelling to the North Island.


Carlie Tucker

Travelling is for discovering the unexpected. From fantastic meals in ramshackle joints to stumbling upon a best kept secret, I love those fortuitous travel moments that couldn't be planned if I tried.