New Zealand Photo Diary | Part I | Auckland, North Island, Waiheke Island

Going to New Zealand has always been #1 on my bucket list. I remember being a teenager and telling my parents that one day I’ll move to NZ - and now more than ever I’m determined to get a little house there, once I'm tired from the whole London craziness. There's just something so magical about being so far away from the rest of the world. Being an introvert and a big nature lover, I felt right at home. 

Oh, and the crazy story of how I got to go there - last summer I started following the beautiful Melissa Chalmers and her husband Bill's amazing travels on Instagram. We were chatting online regularly and Mel said that if I ever travelled down that way I should go visit them. So, when I planned out my Australia trip, I messaged Mel and she so kindly invited me over to Auckland to stay with them for a while. Now - even though we knew each other through our mutual friend Internet.. it was a bit crazy of them to invite me, basically a complete stranger, and for me to say 'yes' and book my ticket to Auckland!! My dad wasn't a big fan of this plan, and thinking back it could have been the worst idea ever - committing to spend almost 2 weeks with someone I barely know. But from the moment I met Mel & Bill I knew it was gonna be amazing. They're so kind, caring, honest, fun and easy-going, and I am so grateful that our paths have crossed! Just a few days later it felt like I'd known them for years. Or maybe we were already friends in a past life :)

All these amazing places I got to see is all thanks to them, and they are the magic component that made this dream trip of mine even better than I ever imagined. So here are some photos of what I got to see in the beautiful Aotearoa - the land of the long white cloud! This time less of a guide but more of a photo diary - make sure to check the photo captions for all the details.

Stay tuned for Part II - South Island, Queenstown (& an epic helicopter ride)!

 dinner picnic with Bill & Mel

dinner picnic with Bill & Mel

 and their little Cookie <3

and their little Cookie <3

 first evening, watching the sun set over auckland

first evening, watching the sun set over auckland

Day #1 was spent exploring Auckland and just hanging out together! I loved how the city was so chilled out and in comparison with London it seemed like there were barely any people on the streets. The city reminded me of a mix between Sydney and something European.

I was incredibly lucky as Mel & Bill had organised and planned every little thing, all I did was tag along really! So the next day they took me around to see some stunning landscapes, and one of these was possibly the most incredible view I've ever seen in my life (scroll down to find out what it was).

 on our way to...

on our way to...

 ... this massive steep black sand dune!

... this massive steep black sand dune!

 hiking through the eucalyptus trees to reach a beautiful secluded beach

hiking through the eucalyptus trees to reach a beautiful secluded beach

 Bethell's beach

Bethell's beach

 the other side of Bethell's beach

the other side of Bethell's beach

After spending some time at Bethell's beach, we continued on to Muriwai beach. At this point I have to introduce you to Beast - aka Bill's 4x4 that he drove us in around the beach. That was probably the most Kiwi experience anyone could ever have - doing donuts on a black sand beach, laughing so hard yet holding on for dear life at the same time. I'm pretty sure I've brought back some of that volcanic sand in my shoes...

 are we on mars?

are we on mars?

 Bill and the Beast

Bill and the Beast

After the Beast experience, we headed over to the other side of the beach for a surprise I'll never forget. I was clueless as to where they were taking me - I expected to see just another gorgeous sea view but what I didn't expect was to see (and hear. and smell!) hundreds and hundreds of birds sitting on the cliff rocks & even more of them up in the sky. I found out then we were at the Muriwai gannet colony - a must do if you're in Auckland! 

 don't think i've ever seen anything quite like this view!

don't think i've ever seen anything quite like this view!

 stunning views on both sides&nbsp;

stunning views on both sides 

 looking back at muriwai where we drove in the beast

looking back at muriwai where we drove in the beast

 a sign read that gannets are monogamous and they stay together for years or even their whole lives. we got to witness this cute couple sittin' in a tree, and also a single guy trying his best to attract the ladies by shaking it like a polaroid picture

a sign read that gannets are monogamous and they stay together for years or even their whole lives. we got to witness this cute couple sittin' in a tree, and also a single guy trying his best to attract the ladies by shaking it like a polaroid picture

After this day filled with adventures, we were off to Waiheke island for some chill downtime. We visited so many beautiful vineyards (even though none of us really drink) and had amazing food, and definitely made the most of just being lazy and relaxing. 

 chilling in the sun at Cable Bay

chilling in the sun at Cable Bay

 Casita Miro - super delicious tapas place

Casita Miro - super delicious tapas place

 sunset from Batch winery

sunset from Batch winery

 Mel &amp; Bill enjoying the sunset from Batch winery terrace&nbsp;

Mel & Bill enjoying the sunset from Batch winery terrace 

 thanks to the kind stranger that offered to take a photo of us three! love these guys &lt;3&nbsp;

thanks to the kind stranger that offered to take a photo of us three! love these guys <3