I can't believe that it's been more than a month since my trip to New Zealand. I've been sitting on these photos for a while now and I finally found the time to write about my experience during the trip. I was pretty excited about this trip since I've been wanting to go for a while now. Although I had to cancel a personal trip to accommodate this, it was definitely worth it. During my 5-stay here, I was able to experience a lot of new things! One of the things that was new to me was strict biosecurity check at the airport. After a 12-hour flight from Manila - Cairns -Auckland, on the plane, we were handed out declaration forms for entering New Zealand. At first I thought that it was your usual arrival card/form but upon reading everything on it, I saw that there were a few things that you had to declare (food was included). We were also advised by the plane's cabin crew to leave all food from the plane inside the plane which was something I'm not really used to since I'm guilty of taking food down sometimes ha! Anyway, enough with the boring stuff. After the long biosecurity check, we finally got out of the airport and into our coaster. The airport was about 45 minutes away from downtown Auckland.
Photos from the plane to Auckalnd
After dinner, we finally checked in our hotel. As much as I wanted to rest, my friend Hannah and I decided to explore a bit of Auckland at night. Sadly the weather wasn't as nice as we hoped and we just ended up eating at a nearby Burger King.
Trips like these, I was sure that we'd have to wake up at 6 or 7 am to eat breakfast and leave the hotel right after breakfast. We got a quick city tour inside our bus. From the ride around the city, I understand now why Auckland is called the city of sails. There were a lot of boats docked in the marina. Right after our tour, we headed to Mt. Eden. Mt. Eden is one of the many volcanoes (there are about 50!) in Auckland. Mt. Eden is very accessible and is free for anyone who wants to visit. The summit of Mt. Eden gives you a panoramic view of Auckland. The view was beautiful. Our tour guide, Annie, mentioned that the view from Mt. Eden is what made her fall in love with New Zealand.
Views from Mt. Eden
Funny moment when I wanted that "dramatic" photo and these two cute dogs decided they also want to be part of the photo. Haha!
Near Mt. Eden is the Wintergardens. If you're into flowers and plants, you'll definitely love this place. I'm not much of a fan of plants (since I've always tried to take care of one and they just die...) but I definitely enjoyed looking at all the colorful flora inside. This place also doesn't charge for entrance so you can just walk in if you want to check it out.
Inside one of the two houses
After that activity filled morning, we headed to our next destination, Waiheke Island. We had to take a 45-minute ferry ride to the island. It costs around nz$36 for a return ticket. Just make sure that you don't miss your boat cause they don't wait for anyone haha!
Views from the ferry ride
Before leaving Auckland, our guide told us that there will be another guide waiting for us with a sign with our name so we were pretty confident that we wouldn't get lost. When we arrived, we couldn't find anyone with our names but we eventually found our way to our bus and started the tour! The one we took was the Taste of Waiheke tour (nz$140 with return tickets and light lunch). We were brought to 3 different wine vineyards and 1 olive vineyard. We got to try most of their wines/products too!
Going around the vineyards
Mudbrick vineyard filled with lavenders at the entrance.
After a few glasses of wine later, it was time to head back to Auckland. On the way back, we saw these boats sailing sideways! Honestly, at first I thought it was going to tip over but when I took my camera and zoomed in, I saw that there were people drinking beer on the edge of the boat so I guess they were fine.
The next day, we woke up earlier to go to Rotorua. On the way to Rotorua, we passed by the Waitomo Glowworm Caves in Otorohanga. I was very about this visit because I've seen photos online and the caves looks magical! I reminded me of what our ceiling looked like when we were kids with all those glow-in-the-dark stars and planets that you get from cereal boxes. Upon entering, we were greeted by a big sign of No Photography inside which made me a bit sad since I've always wanted to take a photo of the cave itself but I'll leave it up to you to imagine (or you can just check google haha!) what the place looks like. -- Assuming you googled it, it's beautiful right?
Our pretty lunch venue -- Although we decided to eat inside because it was quite chilly outside.
I'm pretty sure that if you hear about New Zealand, the first thing that pops into your mind is that there are more cows/sheep than people here (or milk haha!). There are about 4.6 million people in New Zealand and 30~40 million sheep & cows (correct me if I'm wrong).
As much as I wanted to sleep during the ride to Rotorua, I just couldn't. I was so scared to miss anything gorgeous during the ride. Both sides of the road were gorgeous and green. Plus you get to spot animal farms!
Yup, those while dots in the photo are sheep.
The Shire / Hobbiton
Next stop before reaching Rotorua was Hobbiton. I don't think a trip to Auckland would be complete without visiting this place. Hobbit/LOTR fan or not, this place is gorgeous! I love their attention to every detail. And they added personality to each Hobbit Hole. We had such a great time going around the village and learning a little bit more about the history of the set.
Bilbo Baggins' house
Enjoying Ginger Beer inside the Green Dragon Inn. The Green Dragon wasn't part of the original set and was made soley for tourists. Our stay inside the Green Dragon was awesome. It actually felt like being inside a pub in "middle-earth"!
We said goodbye to Hobbiton and headed to our last stop for the day. One of the things that you'll notice when you arrive in Rotorua is the smell of sulfur in the air. We had dinner in one of the hotels in Rotorua where we were able to experience a traditional Maori hangi meal. Hangi is a method used by the Maori to cook their food by using heated rocks and putting them in a pit oven. After dinner, we got to watch a Maori performing a few songs and dances. Some even had the chance to learn the dance!
We got up early the next day to visit Te Puia, a geothermal reserve, which houses the famous Pohutu Geyser! One funny incident though is when we woke up, our watches didn't match the time on the wall clock which was weird. We later found out that on that day, daylight saving started which definitely confused everyone and got our schedules mixed up. Even our supposed tour guide for Te Puia got late because of the confusion haha.
The steam from the geyser made the bridge a bit more eerie. Great for photos like these ha!
The whole reserve was huge! Too bad we only had an hour to explore this place! I would've loved to stay and spend more time going around the reserve. I don't think I was even able to go around half of the reserve.
One of the things unique to New Zealand is the Kiwi bird (above) and the Tuatara (below)
Before heading back to Auckland, we had lunch in Skyline Rotoru. Our lunch view was a panoramic view of the town of Rotorua.
I've always wanted to see cherry blossoms but I've always expected to see them in Japan. But hey, I'm happy I got to see it in Rotorua
Last stop before we headed to the airport the next day was in Kelly Tarlton's Sea Life Aquarium
The 5 days I spent in Auckland - Rotorua, although short, was definitely one for the books! I am looking forward to my next visit in the future!
Big thanks to The Poor Traveler for giving me the opportunity to be able to visit this country.