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New Zealand

Aurora Australis

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Jess is a Wanderer chased the Southern Lights and found them in a variety of places across Canterbury. From Ikawai to Makakihi and Glenavy, here are the highlights from a tense time of 'will we, won't we' find them.

Morven Beach

When some friends invited me to a birthday breakfast barbecue on the beach, how could I resist? Especially when watching the sunrise was on the agenda. Here are the highlights from a beautiful wintry morning.

Taieri Gorge

Taieri Gorge is renowned for being one of the most scenic railway journeys in the world. And for around $100 you can experience this magical ride for yourself.


Wanaka is a lakeside town that has mountains, hikes, good food and shopping. There's something for everyone - especially on a clear summer's day where you can while away the hours splashing in the water or enjoy a frosty stroll around the lake on an autumn afternoon.

Moeraki Boulders

So much more than lumps of rock on a beach, the boulders at Moeraki are a geological wonder that has to be seen to be believed. Time it right with low-tide and sunrise or sunset for a really magical experience.

Stewart Island

Beautiful views and wildlife galore - New Zealand's tiny Stewart Island is the place to be for any nature enthusiast.

Doubtful Sound

When you meet two locals on top of a mountain and they tell you to book a trip to Doubtful Sound, don't ignore their advice! This was absolutely one of my favourite NZ experiences. 

Otago Central Rail Trail

Jess is a Wanderer took on the challenge of cycling 152km from Clyde to Middlemarch. Following the path of the original Otago Central Railway, this was a four day cycling adventure like no other. Should you do it? Absolutely!

Franz Josef Flight

It was going to be an ordinary road trip from Hokitika to Queenstown when we pulled over for breakfast and found ourselves at the base of a helipad being talked into a flight. With some hesitation we took the plunge and decided to take to the skies. One of the best decisions I've ever made.

Milford Sound


Jess is a Wanderer visited Milford Sound in the hope of seeing one of New Zealand's most beautiful spots. And that's exactly what happened!

Mount Tarawera

Mount Tarawera isn't accessible without being on a tour from Kaitiaki Adventures. Though pricey, it's absolutely worth it for the view. Some lucky ducks can go for free, click to see more about how you could end up on the colourful summit in exchange for a few hours hard yakka. 

Auckland's West Coast

The wild west coast surrounding Auckland is a sight to behold. It's rocky, it's dramatic and it's absolutely worth a visit on your way past.

Lake Waikaremoana

Jess is a Wanderer left civilisation and headed out into the sticks of Te Urewera forest. With caves, lakes and waterfalls galore - it's a stunning spot for some great views and hikes.

Cape Palliser

Jess is a Wanderer visited Cape Palliser to see New Zealand's self-proclaimed 'spiffiest lighthouse'. Whilst the lighthouse certainly was spiffy, it was the seals lying on the beach that stole the attention. A fabulous encounter and beautiful scenery. Also, the southernmost point on the north island so a must-visit location.

Putangirua Pinnacles

Jess is a Wanderer went to see the Putangirua Pinnacles. It was also the location for Lord of the Rings 'the way is shut'. These ancient columns are said to be 12-14 million years old. You can view from above or get up close and personal. Here are the highlights.

Tama Lakes

Tongariro National Park has much more to offer than a famous Alpine Crossing hike... there are two beautifully stunning lakes (along with waterfalls, mountains and much more) that can be reached along a well-maintained 7.2km track. These were my beautiful shots from a cloudy day. Just imagine what it would like like on a clear day! Be inspired!

Pouakai Hut

Jess is a Wanderer climbed the Mangorei Track Trailhead four times before seeing Taranaki in all its glory reflected in the Pouakai Tarns. As the tourism board for the area says - Taranaki, like no other - it really is like no other.

Hairy Feet, Waitomo

Jess is a Wanderer went to Hairy Feet, Waitomo and it was seriously an amazing experience - even for someone who isn't particularly a Hobbit or Lord of the Rings fan (but does find herself dressing up on occasion to suit those she's travelling with). If you're heading to Waitomo, don't just see the caves - visit Hairy Feet too.

Endeans Sawmill

Endeans Sawmill is New Zealand's last remaining native-timber sawmill. It's been abandoned for more than twenty years and lies untouched the middle of nowhere just off State Highway 30. It's a beautiful part of the country and was a privilege to photograph a little bit of recent history.

Waikato Cherry Tree Festival


Jess is a Wanderer visited the Waikato Cherry Tree Festival and it was a beautiful event. Blossom, dancing, alpacas and kung-fu. What more could you ask for! View the highlights here.


Jess is a Wanderer spent International Hobbit Day at Hobbiton and it was a fire-eating, cider-drinking, dancing filled extravaganza! View the gallery here.

Wai O Tapu

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Jess is a Wanderer explored the geothermal wonderland of Wai O Tapu. Here are the top pics to inspire your visit.

Timber Trail

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Jess is a Wanderer tried mountain biking for the first time on an 85km trail through the centre of New Zealand's north Island. Here are the highlights!

Waitomo Caves

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Jess is a Wanderer headed underground for a blackwater caving extravaganza. Abseiling, rock climbing, squeezing through some tight gaps, admiring some fascinating formations and searching for glow-worms. A wonderful day of adventure with Kiwi Cave Rafting - couldn't recommend it enough!


The Pinnacles Hut is located in Coromandel Forest Park at the foot of the Coromandel Peninsula. It takes around three hours to get to the hut and the idea is that you overnight there before heading up to the summit for sunrise. Well, as long as it doesn't rain and you're not kept awake all night by the loudest snorer in the world - it's a magical experience!

White Island

White Island is a volcano that lies around 50km off New Zealand's east coast. If you've got your sea-legs on it's absolutely worth visiting. The views are beautiful and the history of this active geothermal wonder is most fascinating.

St. Stephen's Boarding School

Jess is a Wanderer gained access to the condemned site of St. Stephen's Boarding School after a chance encounter with a friendly local. It was a moving experience and genuine privilege to walk around the abandoned complex.

HMSNZ Hinau Shipwreck

Jess is a Wanderer headed up the east coast of Auckland, around the Firth of Thames in search of a shipwreck that may or may not have been accessible! It was a risk worth taking as we raced against the sunset in search of the highly esteemed ruins.

Okere Falls

Okere Falls is a scenic reserve made of a track that follows the river and stumbles across four waterfalls, an old power station, historical hydroelectric ruins and a magnificent cave. It's an absolute must-see!

Burke Street Wharf

Built in 1927, the repayments couldn't be made so this once bustling wharf now stands in a severe state of disrepair. It makes for fabulous photo shoots, however.


A tiny gold-mining city with a big history. Pan for gold, admire the old-school architecture or enjoy a stroll along the colourful coastal walkway.

Te Mata Peak

Te Mata Peak offers stunning views of Hawkes Bay and surrounding areas. On a clear day you can see right out into the ocean and across to the mountain ranges. Drive to the top or enjoy one of the different hikes that are on offer. There are all different lengths to suit your ability. 


Castlepoint may not be more than a speck on the east coast, slightly north of Wellington, but with stunning lighthouse views and the Deliverance Cove track, it's more than worthy of taking a spot on your wander-list.

New Plymouth

New Plymouth sits on the west coast of New Zealand's north island. Surrounded by the sea and the mountain, it has its own (often treacherous) weather but I got really lucky with a recent visit and managed to capture the famous Te Rewa Rewa bridge with mountain view for myself. It's worth going to see simply for this sight!

Karangahake Gorge

Karangahake is a winding network of caves, tunnels, bridges and pathways leading along the old gold mining site that was operating between 1870 and 1950. Now it's maintained by the Department of Conservation and you can enjoy some stunning scenery on this historical walking track.

Rangitoto Island

Rangitoto erupted from beneath the ocean's surface a tiny 600 years ago. It now stands around 30 minutes by ferry from Auckland city centre and is almost a perfect cone. You can climb 296m to the summit and get some pretty incredible views. It's also been restored to native bush and is totally pest-free so it's exactly like it would have been all those years ago. Want to be a time traveller? Head to Rangitoto!

Tongariro National Park

Jess is a Wanderer survived the Tongariro Alpine Crossing... twice! The next task was to explore some of the rest of Tongariro National Park. With loads of tracks, waterfalls, views and places to explore - there is something for every interest and fitness level. 

Mount Egmont National Park

After reaching the summit of Mount Taranaki, Jess is a Wanderer returned to the area to discover more of this pocket of New Zealand's west coast. Despite the weather not being on form and many mountain views being missed, we still had a marvellous time in the Taranaki region. 



New Zealand's Northland is highly underrated and should be much more prominent on the tourist route. But then, part of me actually liked it because of the lack of tourists that were around! Here are my favourite (and less-known) Northland hotspots.


New Zealand is often revered for its lakes and mountains but it certainly has some impressive waterfalls to discover along the way. Here are my north island favourites.

Mount Taranaki

Jess is a Wanderer slipped, stumbled, sweated and scrambled to the summit of Mount Taranaki. Despite the challenge, the views were incredible and the photographs really don't do it justice!

Kaikoura Seal Colony

Jess is a Wanderer saw the seals at Kaikoura seal colony and it was a wonderful experience. So many rock-like lumps lounging around sunbathing as the tide was out. A highly recommended experience for everyone involved.

Waitangi Day

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Waitangi Day is New Zealand's infamous public holiday celebrating Maori life, culture and traditions as well as the country's young history.

Waipu Caves

Jess is a Wanderer visited Waipu Caves to escape from the rain. Little did she realise it would be a case of wading through thigh-depth water! Still, it was worth it for the photos. What do you think?

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Jess is a Wanderer headed out into the wilds of New Zealand in search of adventure. 19.4km later, we'd passed lakes, volcanoes, mountains and some incredible rock formations. Here are the highlights.

Coromandel Peninsula

Jess is a Wanderer drove up the west coast of Coromandel Peninsula through Thames, Coromandel and up to Fletcher Bay. The sealed road ends in Corville and gives way to a gravel path on the edge of some scary looking cliffs! There are beaches, trails and campsites galore. It's a beautiful spot and one I can't recommend enough if you're on the north island. Here are the best bits.


Jess is a Wanderer photographed the sunset over Auckland from the top of Mount Victoria. Click to see the best shots from an evening on a dormant volcano and where to get some wonderful city views. 

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