I think it was around February 2015 when The Great Photo Escape came up in my Instagram newsfeed. Craving inspiration and adventure I followed along on their account to see all the pretty. At some point after seeing something pretty, or looking at the GPE website for the millionth time I sent the New Zealand trip link to Alexis with some kind of “this is such a great idea” text. Her almost immediate response was: you should go.
My almost immediate response was: Traveling to another country with a bunch of strangers? That is not the jam for this introvert.
But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. So I registered.
Full disclosure, my thought was since the trip wasn’t happening until January 2016 I had almost a year to not freak out about how hard it will be to introvert with a bunch of people I didn’t know. Thankfully the craving for adventure outweighed my crazy. 😉 Not only because New Zealand is outrageously beautiful but because the strangers I had the opportunity to travel with have become treasured friends.
One of the first places we visited was Piha Beach. How gorgeous, right? It’s about an hour West of Auckland. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing a mini styled shoot we did while at Piha, So excited for you to see those!
Hands down Cathedral Cove at The Coromandel is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. It’s hard to pick a favorite day from our time on the North Island because I want to say this was my favorite… but then I think about Piha and the shoot I’m going to share tomorrow and how much I adored that. So instead what I’ll say on the walk down to Cathedral Cove is when my favorite North Island conversations happened. We talked about dreaming and where we wanted our businesses to go and about being vulnerable and being burnt out and trying to remember why we fell in love with photography in the first place. I’d known these girls for 4 days but we talked about real life on the walk down to Cathedral Cove.
Because I know you’re curious my second favorite North Island conversation happened in our little rental house one night, probably after the wifi had gone out for the bazillionth time, sitting on the couch with Meghan fangirling over our love of Sarah Dessen and Harry Potter.
On one of our free days a group of us took the ferry from Auckland to Waiheke Island a teeny little island that is mostly vineyards and wineries… meaning it’s beautiful! We took the bus around the island stopping every so often to wander. It was the perfect way to relax but still see something new and exciting.
Some other North Island Highlights:
– We had a layover in Fiji on our way in to Auckland. More on that later but really OMG Fiji!
– Our first night together after we unloaded 16 peoples worth of luggage into our rental house we sat together in the living room going around the room introducing ourselves. Perfect start to an epic adventure.
– After Cathedral Cove we stopped at Hot Water Beach just in time for sunset. It is the most interesting beach, an underground river of hot water runs from the center of the earth into the Pacific Ocean so you can dig your own hot tub in the sand. Let me tell you the water is HOT. Like more than 140°. We were only at the beach for maybe 15 minutes but it’s another one of my North Island favorites. Our group of 16 all burning our feet off to get a picture together.
– Island Gelato Company on Waiheke. Yes.
– Expect the wifi to crash when 16 photographers try to check Instagram all at the same time. hahahaha memories. 😉