A jaunty POV on travel, living abroad in Australia, SCUBA diving and food.
Adventuring in New Zealand | Auckland, Hobbiton, Rotorua and Lake Taupo
Our very good friends, Jason & Josh, came to AU for two weeks in early July. We wanted to make the most of the time, so we hopped on a plane and spent a long weekend in New Zealand AKA Oz’s ‘backyard’! We drank with the gays in Auckland, pretended we were Hobbits in Hobbiton, bathed in sulfuric waters in Rotorua and enjoyed the natural beauty of Lake Taupo. What an incredible weekend exploring the North Island! Here’s what went down:
Friday 1 July:
The boys had just landed the prior morning but we had adventuring to do! We boarded a flight out of Sydney direct to Auckland, drove the painfully local roads from the airport to the harbour, checked in to the gorgeous Hilton Auckland and immediately hit the town for dinner & drinks.
Saturday 2 July
We were now officially in Jason’s birthday mode and had one heck of an awesome day planned. We woke early in Auckland, grabbed breakfast at the hotel and then hit the road for a 2+ hour drive south to Matamata and the Hobbiton movie set.
After we wrapped up at The Green Dragon, it was time to continue our North Island adventure another hour southeast to Rotorua, NZ. The area is known for its geo-thermal activity which gives way to geysers, mud pools and – most importantly for our visit – geo-thermal mineral baths to soak in! We arrived at the Polynesian Spa in the mid-afternoon and wasted no time plunging in (daintily, of course) to the various pools. We each started off with our own couple’s private pool and then all met back up in the large adult pool area where you venture around trying different temperatures of water. By and large, it was a super relaxing experience if you can get over the sulfur smell (which you do, very quickly). The only area I would give as a warning/heads-up is that the water is naturally fed so there’s a lot of particles floating about all around you. Just try to tell yourself it’s NOT rubbed off human skin and you’ll be ok.
Somehow, with waning energy and extremely relaxed from all the sulfuric soaking, we loaded back in the car for the final ride of the day: Rotorua to Taupo, NZ where we would be staying at the Hilton Lake Taupo. It was just an hour away but with the setting sun and the early start time that day, we were all very ready to check-in. Daniel managed to stay awake and get us there safely. We had just enough time to freshen up and head down to Bistro Lago right there in the hotel to have some pre-dinner drinks with some of my fantastic colleagues before tucking in to a delicious meal.
Sunday 3 July
After packing so much in to the prior day, we had all agreed in advance that we would just kind of ‘wing it’ for Sunday in Lake Taupo, and that ended up being the perfect decision.
We decided to take it easy for dinner this night, (admittedly) ordered Domino’s pizza while (shamelessly) watching Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring together. I mean ‘when in New Zealand’ right??
Monday 4 July
How weird to wake up on the 4th of July in New Zealand and not be surrounded by red, white and blue…first time in my entire life and a good reminder to think globally.
Today would mostly be a travel day for us all but we would sadly be going in different directions. Daniel and I were driving north back to Auckland for our return flight to Sydney, and the boys would be heading south to Wellington for their flight to Melbourne. We said our goodbyes in the AM and went our separate ways (and bravo to Josh for bravely taking the wheel on the ‘right’ side of his car! He got them safely to Wellington and survived all the round-a-bouts along the way woo hoo!).
Daniel and I took a different path back up to Auckland, which brought us through the interesting little roadside town of Tirau, NZ. Kind of artsy, kind of kitschy, kind of bizarre…it was the perfect spot to stretch our legs and have a quick little looksie.
We made it along to Auckland airport and a few hours later were safely back in Sydney. The NZ adventure with the boys was a spectacular weekend, full stop. No dramz, beautiful weather, incredible landscapes, lovely food…I simply cannot wait to get back to New Zealand and explore more of the North Island as well as the South Island in its entirety.
Come back soon, kittens, as I’ll be posting about the following long weekend with the boys where we explored Cairns together. Bye for now! XOXO -JW