After a short delay in Melbourne, the flight over was surprisingly pleasant and quiet. In total, it took around 3 hrs to make it over the Tasman. We forgot how close New Zealand was to Australia.
At the airport in Auckland, we picked up a Spark data sim to go into our pocket wifi device which would allow internet for our phones, tablets and laptop. We had an amazing experience with these in Japan so Michael had bought one in preparation for this trip.
We checked into our Waldorf hotel, somewhere in the CBD and discovered they had upgraded our room to the top floor with plenty of space. It was super quiet which made catching up on sleep (something we lacked leading up to and out of our wedding) more easy.
Originally, we were to leave Auckland the following day but we decided to stay for another night. It was a bright move. Another slow day to recover from all that buzz of the previous week. We ended up staying in the same room for $151 when the going rate was $310 via the usual sites (wotif, etc). Michael was happy.
While researching Auckland, Michael found several mentions of Lucky Buddha, somewhat of a modern take on Asian cuisine. Overall, it was only average and we recommend you skip it. We ordered lamb ribs mixed with an asian style salad and a duck dish. After dinner, we went across the corner to Giapo to have icecream. Before ordering, you get to sample the 9 different flavours. Aside from the huge sugar content, we recommend it (just don’t have a large meal beforehand).
We visited this on our way to Rotorua. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in New Zealand. You get a guide that takes your group along paths with plenty of photo opportunities. The only artificial tree in Hobbiton was the one sitting on top of Bag End as it would have been hard to build a hobbit hole in amongst the roots. Once you reached the Green Dragon Inn, you were greeted with a drink (alcoholic or non) of your choice.
Robin warned us of the smell.
We didn’t know what hit us but it smelled like eggs. Luce thought it was Michael.
Rotorua is the smelliest city in New Zealand and is caused by the sulphuric hot springs and geysers littered all around the region.
We reached our motel and the smell lingered. Despite the smell, we couldn’t believe how touristy a city like this was with the many hotels, motels, eateries, fast internet, etc all along the main road. Rotorua was going to be our home for the next 3 nights.
Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
We visited this place to see Lady Knox geyser which erupts daily at 10.15am and then went for a stroll around the area.
Caving and glowworms
Next up was some caving in search for glow worms in Waitomo with Glowing Adventures. This was about 2 hours drive from Rotorua and well worth every moment. We had a lovely guide, Heath (whose family owned the farm the caves were located in for four generations), and only a small group of 6 people. As you can see from the pictures, we had the best time with our huge smiles and we got so close to the glowworms. Highly recommend it.
For our last day, we decided to go hug a tree before heading towards Taupo. Instead of a short 10 minute stop to see what all the fuss was about, we ended up doing an 11.5 km hike around the forest. It was majestic and relaxing.