Happy weekend friends! I apologize that I totally failed at getting this post up yesterday. It was cray!
Anywho, we got back from New Zealand 2 weeks ago and I still think about it everyday! We had such a wonderful time and seriously the north island was more beautiful than I even expected it would be! We took a direct flight from Houston to Auckland and spent 2 days in Auckland before we made our drive down to Lake Taupo where we stayed the remainder of the time. There is so much to do on the north island and I’ve been getting a lot of questions from you guys so I wanted to put together a list of my top ten recommendations on where to go and also some other fun facts that I learned while I was there!
1) Get up close and personal with glow worms at Waitomo Caves- The fact that these caves are one of the very few places you can see the glow worms in the world intrigued me so I agreed to go to the caves with the boys 🙂 I had no idea it would be that fascinating in real life! Side note- I never in my life thought I would ever say “this is amazing” as I stood in a cold cave surrounded by glow worms lol. Pigs were probably flying around that day folks! But seriously walking through a dark cave and then entering an area where there were thousands of glow worms lighting up the area was pretty awesome. I am sharing a picture below that Brandon took of me during the cave walking tour and then a picture of the glow worm area taken by a professional photographer. I could not capture the glow worms like they did.
2) Attempt the Hole in One Challenge in Lake Taupo- about 4 miles from our apartment there was a station set up offering $10,000 for anyone who can hit a hole in one. Are you up for it?? Maybe I should mention the hole is positioned on a floating pontoon in the middle of the lake. They say that they average a hole in one winner every 2 weeks. Needless to say I did not come home $10,000 richer.
3) Visiting Hobbiton- If you are a fan of Lord of the Rings you definitely want to go here! This was actually on our list to visit while we were there but our list of things to do was a very long one and we didn’t get a chance to visit here!
4) Experience Geothermal Activity- I have actually never been able to see this in real life. There’s a couple of places to see this in the world but I thought it was cool to experience it in New Zealand for the first time. There is places to see this all over New Zealand but we went to Craters of the Moon.
5) Enjoy some wine on Waiheke Island- Just a day trip from Auckland and known for their many vineyards. If you fly into Auckland you could take a ferry ride there.
6) Bay of Islands- Swim with the dolphins in the turquoise ocean. Need I say more?! New Zealand seasons are opposite of the U.S. so they were coming out of Winter into Spring. Sadly, it was unseasonably colder than usual so we didn’t take off our peacoats off to swim with the dolphins but if you go when it’s warmer I highly recommend this!
7) Visit Huka Falls- Huka Falls is actually in Lake Taupo so it literally was not even a 10 minute drive. I mean who doesn’t like a waterfall?! The water is the most pretty turquoise shade and you can even take a boat that will give you an even more spectacular view of the waterfall. They also have a jet boat that goes 50 mph. It gets really close to the rock cliffs and water falls taking sharp turns to get your adrenaline going and to give you whiplash 🙂 I’m not sure if you knew this but New Zealanders are big adrenaline junkies!
8) Take a trip to Rotorua- You can do all the things in Rotorua! From mineral pools to ziplining. Rotorua was about a 2 hour drive from Lake Taupo and we went to a place called Skyline with our church family where Brandon and I rode the Luge for the first time. You can see what a Luge is here but my version is you’re basically going down hill in a go cart trusting yourself and gravity to ensure you don’t crash! You are sitting in a cart with handle bars, when you hold them straight it releases and you let gravity take it away, when you pull back you break. Obvi I was on the “scenic” route with all the children who were still zooming by me LOL. But seriously you guys I couldn’t even let go with one hand to take a photo! The luge is a big thing in New Zealand and I ‘m glad we got to do it. When you get to the bottom of the hill (Brandon had to wait minutes for me every time. Slow poke over here lol) a ski lift takes you back up to the top and you see the most prettiest views. You can also zipline at Skyline but it started pouring down that afternoon so I didn’t get to go. Waaahh!
9) Drive the countryside- You can take a flight from Auckland to Lake Taupo but the 4 hour road trip is worth the views. Plus you can stop at cute bakeries or a beach along the way.
10) Hot Springs and/or a Beach- speaking of bodies of water. New Zealand is surrounded by beautiful beaches, hot springs and hot pools. I highly recommend taking advantage of this while you are there. We went to Raglan beach which was 2 hours out of our way but so worth it!! So funny/scary story, I wanted a picture right at the edge of the cliff over looking the beach and when I stepped on what I thought was part of the hill was actually a plant and I almost fell off! That wasn’t the first time I came face to face with the edge of a mountain. Yikes, I need to stop doing that! Oh and of course, Brandon had to get a photo with his Texas flag 🙂
Others Facts About New Zealand:
- How We Got There: I love a direct flight and was happy to hear Houston started flying direct to Auckland. It was 15 hours there and 13 hours back. Just a side note- we saw tickets up to $2,100 but with Brandon’s good deal stalking abilities we were able to snag some for $900! So my advice is to not pay $2,000 for them and start looking for flights a bit early and keep your eye out. Just wanted to note that because if it was me and saw tickets for $2,100 and then saw them a week later for $1,500 I would have thought I was getting a steal! Thank goodness for Brandon’s money savings skills!
2. Where we stayed: When we were in Auckland we stayed at the Waldorf Asotria Apartments. In Lake Taupo we stayed at Sacred Waters Apartments right on the lake.
3. Time: New Zealand is 18 hours ahead.
4. Locals are known as “Kiwis”.
5. Kiwi is the state bird.
6. They drive on the left side of the road.
7. Approximately 26,000 years ago Oruanui volcano eruption happened. It was one of the largest eruptions in history. The caldera filled with water and that brings us modern day Lake Taupo. I forget how many miles deep the lake is but at the bottom the water is like boiling hot because of the volcano activity.
8. It is not uncommon to see locals walking around barefoot. Even into nice restaurants.
9. I was surprised to see a wide variety of different nationalities there. Not just tourists but New Zealand residents from all over the world. There were a lot of Filipinos in the church there!
10. I asked Brandon for one fact that he wanted me to share with you all and he wanted you guys to know “go carts are a lot faster in New Zealand” lol.
Brandon said he was so surprised on how much faster these things were than the go carts in the US. This photo may look like he’s in first place but he said those guys had just lapped him lol.
I hope you guys enjoyed this post! Let me know if you have any other questions!