To be completely honest, New Zealand was not our first choice of destination while planning our honeymoon. We were meant to go to South America (which we both have been desperately wanting to) but because of some health and security hazards, we decided not to.
I had heard a countless times just how beautiful New Zealand was but I wasn’t convinced before we really set foot into this awfully photogenic island nation. As I write this post on my flight back home, I realise, in the 3 days that we drove through North Island, New Zealand I saw collectively the most extra-ordinary moments of my life. Beautiful, is a mere understatement.
I am going to be explaining our road-trip itinerary in detail for anyone who might want tips or advice on exploring this incredible country. Attaching photos, as always, to support my repeated boastfulness of the incomparable beauty I witnessed. I carry evidence of my rants.
We flew into Auckland from Fiji and spent one night gorging on some delicious food overlooking the city and catching up with a few friends. We were staying the next two nights in Rotorua(treated this as our base) but had 3 days in hand to explore all of North Island by car.
DAY 1: AUCKLAND TO ROTORUA
We had initially planned to visit the Hobbiton park but ruled it out last minute when we realised the wonders New Zealand held and how little time we had to discover it all. Lord of the rings could wait till I got back home and curled up in bed.
We decided to make it a ‘town-hopping’ day and it was nothing short of epic. We planned spontaneously as and when we reached a particular town and here’s what we finally ended up doing!
1st Stop – Pokeno
Result of random google search’s later, we found ourselves heading for a quick brunch stop at Pekona. It was almost noon by the time we left Auckland but had had a late breakfast so we were good to go.
Pekona was one of the top 3 places in New Zealand to grab ice cream and we decided to make brunchout of it.
2nd Stop – Blueberry farms
We visit the cutest little blueberry farm tucked into a small road way off the highway of Cambridge. By the time we arrived, they had just stopped serving lunch, but they happily allowed us to pick a few berries, take a walk along the gardens and treat ourselves to fresh berries & juice while we engulfed the views of the New Zealand farm-life.
3rd Stop – Cambridge
Late lunch/evening pizza feast at Alpino Cucina. It was a small cute town with just about a few people walking around and restaurants willing to go every and any mile to make sure you enjoy your quick visit
4th Stop – Blue Springs
Blue Springs was recommended to us by one of the waitresses from Cambridge and I thank my stars that we decided to take her recommendation and instantly head over. It was an endless walk through the most breathtaking springs. We walked about 20minutes until it started to get dark and we were compelled to turn around – but the sights we saw were nothing short of absolutely breathataking. Unnaturally clear water with creature-like flora moving beneath the surface. I felt like I was watching a 3D movie with the slickest effects.
5th Stop – Rotorua
We finally reached our destination by late evening. We had been warned about a stink on arrival thanks to the active thermal region but it barely troubled me. We checked into our hotel, Wai Ora Lakeside Spa Resort, which although pretty gorgeous, I wouldn’t recommend due to its distance from town and lonely roads.
We went into town for dinner to Brew which was lucked into Rotorua’s busiest street, with outdoor seating, live music and dancing, and a scrumptious quinoa and mushroom burger.
DAY 2: ROTORUA TO LOADS OF PLACES & BACK TO ROTORUA
1st stop – Wai-O-Tapu
One of the reasons that North Island even made it to our honeymoon itinerary was Wai-O-Tapu. I had seen some photos online and I knew I wanted to have the once in a lifetime experience of watching these natural pools in their extraordinary color palettes. We reached just in time to watch the in-house Lady Knox geyser erupt and then began the 2hour trek around the thermal park to watch different natural pools, mud pools & tons of volcanic activity. My favourites were definitely the ‘Devils Bath’ which was the neon pool, a result of the sulphur flowing in from the Champagne pools (orange pool photo) & the play of sunlight with that sulphur (photo below). I’m genuinely not a sucker for sightseeing but this experience was out of this world. I felt like I was trudging along another planet.
Tip: Definitely wear sneakers! And make sure you do the entire walk and not miss anything!
2nd Stop – Lake Taupo/Huka Falls
Next, we drove down to Lake Taupo which is a beautiful little lake town and home to the majestic Huka falls. The jet ride, we heard, is super exciting, but we passed!
3rd Stop – Lake Taupo Wahipapi Bay
We visited Wagipapi Bay with some picnic food and relaxed on the stone beach with other holidayers. The water was mighty cold to enter but it was the perfect relaxing spot.
4th Stop – Waikete Thermal Spa
We took the private spa pool and then hopped around from one hot mineral pool to another. Pure BLISS. While our bodies absorbed the minerals and succumbed to the hot water, geysers erupted just a few metres below us, merging with the sunset as we patiently looked on. No big deal at all.
5th Stop – Rotorua
Dinner at Indian star restaurant – yummy Indian food.
DAY 3: WAITOMO TO AUCKLAND
1st Stop – Waitomo Caves
The famous glow-worm caves. Aka THE INSANEST EXPERIENCE. Separate blogpost coming up on this!!!
2nd Stop – Subway
Maybe I’m taking this travel diary a bit too seriously, but this was literally the best Subway of my life. THERE WAS AVOCADO IN MY SUB. Ahhhh. Take me back someone. Shailin you listening?
3rd Stop – Auckland
Spent the night cozied up in our hotel room. It was time to rest for our next adventure.
Had initially planned but didn’t end up going –
Kaimai Cheese for a lunch or snack to watch the cheese making process