New Zealand Travel Highlights (North Islands)
New Zealand is a beautiful travel destination with plenty to offer for both the people seeking rest and relaxation as well as for those wanting a more action fuelled adventure holiday.
Having been fortunate enough to grace the one of Nature's most well preserved scenic haven, I would like to share my experiences with you. Let me begin with taking you through the North Islands in this hub.
I began flying in to Auckland and was most delighted to have finally landed. Even though my stay in Auckland was shortlived as it was only for one night, I definitely recommend the Sky City Grand Hotel which is conveniently located in the Auckland CBD with access to plenty of restaurants and drinking establishments. There is also a restaurant within the hotel premises.
The rooms were both spacious and stylish. For those in needs of some pampering and recharging, why not try the spas within the hotel?
I had to continue my journey to the south very early the following morning and thus requested for a boxed breakfast to be sent to my room by 4.30 in the morning since the breakfast lounge did not open until 6am.
I was impressed by the selection provided considering that it was a cold breakfast after all. There was a Turkish sandwich made with plenty of ham, vegetables and the trimmings along with a juice, milk, yoghurt, cheese, crackers, a muffin just to name a few. Need I mention that it satisfied my hunger all right.
Waitomo Glow Worm Caves
Onboard the intercity coach tour to Rotorua, it was going to be a long road trip totalling about five hours approximately. Never been a fan of long haul trips so my suggestion would be to get a good night's sleep beforehand and to make sure you arm yourself with a non drowsy travel sickness pill like Travacalm Ginger tablets.
Lunch was included within the tour so that was one less thing to worry about. This trip to Waitomo is by far one of my favourite experiences in my travel and I shall tell you why. We were guided through the beginning parts of the caves as it steadily became darker as we proceeded deeper into the chasm. Waitomo means 'flowing water hole' and you literally can hear the flowing underground river whilst in the caves. The sounds to me is peaceful quite similar to the sounds you hear when you place a shell over your ear, absolute Zen.
We all had to be very quiet it the caves to prevent disturbing the community of glow worms that have resided there generation after generation. Plenty of naturalistic carved stalactites and stalagmites, each with their own unique beauty, courtesy of many years of limestone formations.
The next part was a simply surreal one. We were escorted into row boats to travel along the underground river into the deep dark Waitomo caves to admire what glow worms do best...glow!
Within the boat we all sat quietly as our tour guide expertly maneuvered us into darker and darker parts of the Waitomo caves, all of us looking around us to behold the thousands of lights enveloping left, right, in front of , behind us and above us. All I can describe and say is that it was like stars I was admiring within the darkness, such a magical and surreal display of aquamarine or turquoise-coloured dots of light flickering like they were never in the same spot at the same time, creating this fabric of wavering shimmery curtain surrounding us all...
It was truly a captivating magical experience not to be missed! Later on I realised that some others have seen white, green and even yellow illuminating lights which was surprising in itself.
Tell us what you think of your Waitomo caves experience
Tell us about your Waitomo Caves Experience
Agrodome at Ngongotaha
After the Waitomo, some people from the coach continued onto the Agrodome, 350 acres of lush farmland only ten minutes away from Rotorua's city centre. There's a world famous farm show featuring many talented animals and a nursery where you get to cuddle and take photos with the baby animals all year round. You can also handfeed the friendly animals and sample delicious kiwifruit juice and honey from the land. You can also visit the woolen mill and the Shearing museum too.
Hobbiton Movie Set
I am certain the Hobbit fans out there are more than ecstatic to visit this wondrous place. Discover the real Middle Earth at the Hobbiton Movie set near Matamata.
This is one of the most picturesque private farmland you can visit in a two-hour guided tour. Here we get to see where the Hobbit live and call home, not to mention the breathtaking views of the greenery itself.
During the tour, we were shown the Hobbit holes, The Green Dragon Inn, The Mill, the double arched bridge and other structures and scenes built for the movie. We also got to see a structurally built tree for the Hobbit set which costs over $750K to construct!
DVisit www.hobbitontours.com for moreinformation. Definitely not to be missed!
Te Puia at Rotorua
Sixty hectares of geothermal wonder located only five minutes from central Rotorua is a place called Te Puia, New Zealand's living Maori cultural centre. Situated in the Whakarewarewa Geothermal valley, Te Puia is also home to a live kiwi enclosure, the world-famous Pohutu Geyser and more geothermal wonders!
Prepare to immerse yourself in Maori culture that stretches back to the 1800s where you get to enjoy their hospitality, performances and learn their traditional dance for women and the Haka for Men that makes them warriors including their weapons, crafts, dance and music. Finish off with a scrumptuous Hangi feast cooked in the traditional way. And then sit along the warm natural seats by the Geysers to bask in the star lit sky and the company of the geothermal surrounds.
Be sure to explore the many products available at the souvenir shop such as cultural artefacts or carvings with symbolic meanings and amazing curative powers of the Rotorua mud cosmetic and other products that will benefit beauty and health alike.
The accomodation I would recommend is the Novotel at Rotorua. With access to free Wifi each day, great selection of breakfast in their very own restaurant and the friendly and helpful staff, this made our stay at Rotorua much more pleasurable. Only a walking distance to the lake, one has direct access to plenty of water sports and other activities including kayaking, pedalling, mana ball walking on water, helicopter tours and many more. Within walking distance to the Winter festival outdoor ice skating rink and to Eat Streat, one will never run out of eating and activity options for there is a great variety of multicultural food to choose from.
Novotel Rotorua is also situated within walking distance to many shops and malls so you will never get bored along with the countless Spa facilities that Rotorua has to offer, this is a ppaxe that you have to visit at least once in your lifetime.
Within the Novotel, you get to enjoy their very own geothermal spas, a heated pool and a variety of Spa services for your picking.