Welcome to this week’s “Where Is…?” – a weekly feature where I get to speak to fellow wanderers about where they are in the world. This week I have been chatting to Karen Warren from World Wide Writer – a blog which mainly focuses on independent travel and the quirkier and lesser known places around the world.
Karen tells me she has been writing and travelling for many years, but in 2012 she left her day job to concentrate on both; and since then she has travelled around the world, taking in North America, South America, the Middle East, and countless European trips to name but a few. Today she chats to me about her third trip to New Zealand – a country I am always happy to hear more about, as it’s one of my all-time favourite destinations.
Where in the world are you?
New Zealand is a must for anyone who enjoys the natural world, with fabulous countryside and lots of wildlife. This was my third time there, travelling with my husband to visit my daughter, son-in-law and new granddaughter in Auckland. Although it was a family visit we spent some time travelling around the North Island, and we had stopovers in North America in both directions (San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York)
What is the weather like at this time of year?
It was very hot, a welcome escape from the British weather. Although we did get caught in heavy rain once or twice.
Where did you stay?
We were based in Auckland but took trips to the Coromandel, Napier and Wellington. Although we only had one night there, Napier was probably my favourite: this is a whole town full of Art Deco buildings.
What activities did you get up to? What was your highlight?
We enjoyed the varied countryside and urban landscapes. There were two sightseeing highlights. The first was the Wai-O-Tapu hot springs, close to Napier. This is a big geothermal park where the minerals in the rocks have created some very strange colours in the water and the plants. The second was the Driving Creek Railway on the Coromandel Peninsula – a wonderfully eccentric mountainside railway made from reclaimed materials.
Can you recommend any quirky and fun things to do?
The sites I’ve mentioned are definitely recommended – I’d say go to Wai-O-Tapu rather than the more famous Rotarua. When you’re in the towns look out for street art and sculptures, and for interesting architecture – it’s not just Napier that has lots of Art Deco buildings.
Any other travel advice you would like to add for anyone visiting New Zealand?
It’s not really worth taking organised trips in New Zealand – for people from other English speaking countries it’s very easy to find your way around on your own.
Do you have any travel plans in the pipeline?
I’m off to Switzerland and Liechtenstein in June, trying to revisit a journey that my grandfather made in 1930. Then I’m going to the TBEX (Travel Bloggers’ Exchange) Conference in Stockholm in July.
And finally, what has been your favourite destination so far?
I suppose it must be Italy – I’ve been going there every year for a long time. Why? Because of the history, the architecture, the art, the countryside, the food…
If you’re a travel blogger and want to get involved with the feature, feel free to send me an email at email@example.com