Expect: Hobbits, Maori Monkey Carvings, Heart Stopping Sunsets and ADVENTURE!
Itinerary: We began this trip with one week exploring the glorious South Island, followed by five days exploring the North Island.
Visit Family in Auckland:
Brad’s family was not yet home from work when we arrived, so after flying in from the South Island, we picked up our rental car and went straight to the nearest beach! We stopped off for apps at a restaurant around the corner with an outdoor patio. It was great fun catching up with Brad’s family, hearing about their life in NZ, meeting their adorable girls/ pugs, watching rugby and snacking on apps and cocktails at a low-key open air restaurant across from the beach.
Matamata: AKA HOBBITON!!!
First stop – The Shire! I was basically raised on The Lord of the Rings, so of course, of course, I had long been dreaming of visiting Hobbiton and was wildly excited. It was an amazing, magical, day. We frolicked around pretending to be a part of Middle Earth the entire day. We chilled in front of Bilbo’s stoop, held Gandalf’s cane and even had a drink at The Green Dragon!
Taupo: (Toe-paw) Note: You are pretty much guaranteed to mispronounce every New Zealand City name on your first try. It’s a rite of passage.
We had great fun in this lakeside town. The sunsets over the lake were dazzling, bright bursts of fushia, fire orange and red.
Maori Monkey Sculpture: We rented kayaks for the afternoon and paddled to the Maori monkey sculpture, which was pretty fantastic. One note – this should be a fairly easy paddle, however it was super windy on the day we went, so we had to paddle extra hard to beat the wind before it really picked up and finished the three hour trip in half that amount of time. I thought I was going to collapse after and could not get warm. Paddling is not a sport for the faint of heart! Brad had to legit carry me into the bathtub at our hotel, where we proceeded to eat a cheese plate, in the bath. I highly recommend this.
ALSO – the McDonalds in Australia and NZ have frozen Fanta slushies for less then $1 and they are delightful! You can mix a choice of like 11 flavors and I was completely obsessed with them. I had that in the bath as well.
Eats: New Zealand has great Indian food, and we found a delicious place in Taupo for dinner, Master of India. By the last evening, we were pretty exhausted. We had been traveling for a month and just finished our grueling (well, at least for me) paddle. After the cheese plate bubble bath, we grabbed some fast food and feasted in bed while watching World War Z. (I am always in the mood for World War Z, BTW). It was a great, relaxed end to our trip 🙂
I loved, LOVED New Zealand and would return in a heartbeat. I often find my mind wandering to the majestic sprawling, New Zealand landscape, or hiking Mount Cook, or lounging on the shores of Lake Wanaka, or sipping rosé in the Queenstown harbour. New Zealand has a way of working itself into your heart and taking root. The next time, we will most likely spend a few days in Auckland to visit Brad’s family, and take some time to explore the beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula, then head to the South Island for heart stopping vistas, and hiking galore!