Spending 15 days in New Zealand, driving all the way from North Island to South Island made us realise how much this Kiwi land has got to offer for everyone who want to explore its unprecedented beauty.
Varying landscapes , beautiful mountains, sandy beaches, coastlines and cliffs , extensive vineyards, hot springs, geysers, glaciers , volcanoes , ferry rides, outdoor adventure activities, advanced farming techniques , therapeutic Manuka honey , dairy farms , tourism is all what New Zealand is about .
I will be covering New Zealand in 2 parts :
Part 1 – North Island – Auckland to Wellington
Part 2 – South Island – Picton to Queenstown ( in the next post )
NORTH ISLAND : Auckland to Wellington –
New Zealand is located in the south of Pacific Ocean. It comprises of 2 islands (north and south) and both islands are diverse with immense landscapes. We flew by Cathay Pacific airlines . After a long layover in HongKong and a long haul flight later , we reached Auckland International Airport. We hired a cab at the airport to our apartment. It was a 30min entertaining drive , driven by a Fiji man giving us travel goals to Fiji.
Day 1 – Touring the city :
We stayed at the Auckland Harbour Oaks serviced apartments. Our apartment was overlooking the harbour and it had stunning harbour views. It was just a few minutes walk to Auckland Central.After an exhausting flight we rested the whole day. In the evening we hopped around the city and then spent quite a good time in the SkyCity Casino. Auckland has a vibrant nightlife.
Day 2 – A day trip to Waiheke Island:
The next morning we bought our ferry tickets and headed towards the Waiheke island. It was just a 40 minute ferry ride from Auckland. If you prefer to stay back , you can rent a beach house at Waiheke.
Touring Waiheke Island –
After a short ferry ride we reached Waiheke island. We grabbed our tour map as it gets handy in getting around the island. This island had good transportation and also good restaurants in Oneroa. After a leisure lunch at one of the restaurants we headed towards the beach in a bus. We decided to get dropped off at the last point. Waiheke houses the best wineries , beaches and restaurants. So we were spoilt by the choices.
After spending a short while at the beach we made a quick move towards the Cablebay Vineyards . Most of the Vineyards close by 5pm so make sure you reach before that. After a short walk , we reached the Vineyards
Cablebay Vineyards :
- Cablebay is a boutique vineyard. The property was beautiful with two in-house restaurants. My husband loves wine and they served him the best wine which was hand-crafted at Cablebay. After soaking ourselves in the sunset views and indulging some good food we headed back to Auckland .
Day 3 : Skytower and Orbit 360 dining
The next morning we woke up to some beautiful harbour views. Auckland is a blend of urban life which is just few minutes away from beaches , trails and Islands.
In the evening we booked a table at the Orbit 360 dining, a restaurant located in the top floors of SkyCity offering panaromic views of Auckland City. We first visited Sky Tower which is an iconic skyline in Auckland. Later we dined at this amazing rotating restaurant. It was such a fabulous experience unleashing the best views with its every orbit , some good food and our never ending conversations.
The next morning we had a quick breakfast and headed towards the car rentals which was located in the vicinity. We pre-booked our car online in India. So it took us very less time to get started.
Budget for Auckland :
Serviced Apartment and food costs around NZ$ 600 – 650 per couple per night (for a one bedroom apartment ).
Ferry from Auckland to Waiheke round trip can cost around NZ$ 40 per person. So it’s NZ$ 80 per couple.
Tickets to Skytower viewing deck costs around NZ$ 30per person .
Any other attractions might cost you extra.
Day 4 – Road trip from Auckland to Rotorua :
Usually it takes around 4 hrs to reach Kawerau from Auckland. But it is always unpredictable in New Zealand as we can never hold ourselves back from having few pitstops in this effortlessly beautiful ,immense and diverse landscapes. It took us 6hrs approximately to reach Kawerau
One of my cousin stays in Kawerau which is 45mins drive from Rotorua. So we spent the next few days at my cousin’s place covering the local attractions. We had the rental car with us for the next five days.
Day 5 – Thermal geysers :
The next day we geared up to experience the geothermal reserves at Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland known for its unique , diverse and natural reserves , mud pools and geysers . You can smell sulphur everywhere. The gases emitted from the pools gave us a strange heavenly feeling. The walking tracks of the geothermal park were beautifully laid which adds up to the beauty of the park.We missed the Lady Knox Gyeser. It erupts around 10:15am everyday. So you should be early if you don’t want to miss this. The streaming waters was a feast to look at with their colours ranging from rich green , blues, orange and yellows.
The Champagne Pool was another interesting and spectacular pool with amalgamation of various chemical components. It’s bright orange ring and fuming gases creates an interesting palette. If you are visiting Rotorua don’t miss this colourful , volcanic and spectacular geothermal park.
The Wai-O-Tapu geothermal park is just 30minute drive from Rotorua. It took us an hour since we stayed at Kawerau.
The entry Costs around NZ$ 65 for 2 adults.
Day 6 – Waitamo Glow worm caves :
Gliding silently in a boat under the deep caves of crystal formations and experiencing some thousands (or may be more) of glow worms clinging to the roof of the caves seemed like a starry night affair. The glow worm caves is a natural wonder and we were amazed by the beauty of the caves.The worms radiate luminescence in their tails majorly to attract their counterparts.
Waitamo Glow worm caves is 1.5 hrs from Rotorua . It took us around 2.5 hrs to reach from Kawerau.
We were given a tour of the caves in a boat by a guide. Cameras were strictly not allowed inside. The flash emitted from the camera would disrupt the natural habitat of the glow worms. After experiencing the mesmerising caves you can buy some soverniers in the shop available onsite.
Day 7 – Polynesia spa :
Rotorua hosts the best geothermal spa. Soaking in the mineral water is said to heal muscle cramps, relieves stress and regular dips can heal skin problems. The water from natural springs is said to be rich in minerals which have therapeutic properties. There are various kinds of pools and mud baths . We chose a deluxe private pool. The warm water and the view of lake Rotorua felt luxurious and soothing after a long week of activities.
As an extension to the spa there is a shop where you can buy various skin care products and manuka honey.
After a luxurious spa , we passed our time at the Rotorua night market. The market displayed many food stalls and local crafts and it was quite entertaining .
Day 8 :
The next day we drove down to Rotorua again. Ten minutes away from Rotorua center we found Zorb. After some good fun we returned for a leisure lunch in Rotorua.
Roturua houses plenty of restaurants and a cluster of local eateries which you can choose from. We had our lunch at the BREW. This little place was cosy with some good music and food.
After a relaxing lunch we bound for our cable car ride and some Wine tasting at the Fairy springs.
Later in the evening, we had a good dinner with my cousin at Global Thai Resturant and bar.
Budget for Rotorua –
Im not including hotels here.
Food and activities per day can cost around NZ$300. Depending on the number of activities the price always varies.
Ford Territory 4*4 costed us NZ$200 approximately including navigation per day.
Day 9 : Rotorua to Wellington and Interislander Ferry details.
Later the next day we started early to Wellington to catch our Interislander ferry to Picton in the South Island. It took us 7hrs to reach Wellington.
Wellington ferry terminal connects the South Island through sea link. We returned our car at the Wellington Ferry terminal.The ferry cruises through the most scenic locations and it takes around 3hrs to reach Picton from Wellington.The interislander ferry costs around NZ$ 250 per couple for one way from Wellington to Picton.
Hope you enjoyed reading this post about the North Island.
Hold on to your breath for the most scenic drives of the South Island in my next post.
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