Day 10 – Christchurch

December 7, 2015

The morning was so bright because the sun was rising from our side of the bedroom and that woke us up by 6.30 am. I wish I could have slept more and my feet was so sore. I wanted to have a foot massage 😀 .

We decided to go around Christchurch today. It was a walking distance from our motel to the Tram station. We got the Christchurch Pass which had the Tram, Garden Tours, Punting on the Avon and Gondola ride. It was one of the best decisions because we got to see all the things which is touristy.

First we took the tram tour and got down at the Tram stop No.12 and then went to Punting. It was a beautiful, soothing ride on the boat with the ducks. It was so calm and quiet on the ride and I just loved that you sit in the boat and just watch people on both side of the river. There were so many ducks swimming in the river.

Then we took the Garden tour which was boring except for the Rose Garden. Then we took the shuttle to see Gondola. It took us about 25 minute ride to the edge of the mountain. It is a ride up the top of the mountain to see the entire Christchurch view.

I was dreading the ride up because of my Acrophobia and it wasn’t bad because half of the way is just the mountain and I could see them but when it started going on too high that I couldn’t see the ground that’s when I started panicking. I just closed my eyes and the worst thing is sometime the Gondola just shakes and I was convinced that it was going to drop and we were all going to die. But the view from the top is out of the world. I just wanted to sit there and just watch the view.

By the time we came back to the city, all the places started closing and we were so tired that we returned to the motel. On the way, we had a quick stop at New World and got some groceries. BIL made us some Vegetable rice and by the end of the day, my feet were killing me. I really needed a foot massage at the end of the day 😀 .

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Day 8 – Lake Taupo

December 5, 2015

Today we had place to visit Lake Taupo which was about 2 hours drive and we only started by 11 am. We were starting late in the morning because we slept little bit late, had a shower and had some breakfast.

Our first stop was Waimangu Volcanic Valley which was on the way. On our way, we also saw fight location for the movie Lord of the Rings. It was very scenic. The whole New Zealand is so green and lush. When we reached there, we realized that it was about 3 km walk but the view were amazing. We didn’t realize how beautiful the views would be until we walked about 10 minutes.

The views are very calming and we just sat and watched the view for sometime. The view of echo crater was beautiful and the cathedral rocks looked fantastic with steam coming out of them.

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Waimangu Volcanic Valley

We then walked to Inferno crater which was one of the stunning sights. The water was so blue and it looked like turquoise color. We could still see the steam coming off them. By this time, we were tired of the walk and decide to go back to the office by bus. I loved the fact that they have bus if you don’t want to walk all the way. We still finished only half of the views but we were tired and we still had a long day ahead.

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Inferno Crater

Our next stop was Huka falls and thank god, we didn’t have to walk a lot. The water was flowing fast and it was turquoise color as well. On the way back, we decided to stop at Craters of the moon. It had lots of different sizes of craters and we could see steam coming out on all of them. It took us about 45 minutes to complete the loop.

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Huka Falls

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Craters of the moon

We also decided to take a peek at Okare falls on our way back and was there just for 10 minutes and then we decided to return home because we were all so tired.

Day 7 – Waitomo Glow Caves

December 4, 2015

Today we decided to see Waitomo Glow Caves which was about 3 hours drive from the place we stayed. We didn’t even research about it and when we reached there we found that they have 3 caves in their tour. And it started at 1.30 pm.

Each tour was an hour and the last cave was about 2 hour tour. We decided to go for the first two and in-laws decided on all 3. The Glow worm cave was beautiful. We had to go inside the cave and then once you go inside they don’t have any lights because it disturbs the glow-worm. So you walk down stairs without light and we were told not to make noise as well. At the end of stairs, we went in a boat. There is a lake under the cave.

We were in a boat and they took us on a ride for about 30 minutes and all we could see up the cave was glow worms lighting up like a tiny green lights. There were millions of glow worm in the roof of the cave. And with that light from the worms, we could see clearly. It looks like when you go camping and after dark, you can still see around you with the moon light. It was beautiful, one of the things you definitely need to visit.

Next is the Aranui cave which had lots of stalactite. The formation is so beautiful and most of them were millions years old. That was an hour tour as well. After this we decided to spend our time relaxing in the nearest town which was 10 km  away called Otorohanga.

We walked around the town and I went inside a shop called Paper Plus. I bought some cutout embellishment for my planner girls. We then went into a pharmacy and then had a snack in a bakery. We went back at 6 pm to pick up the in-laws from their tour of the third cave.

By the time we reached home, it was 9.30 pm. BIL made dhal and rice for dinner and then we went to bed. I was so tired of road trip by that time.

Day 6 – Rotorua

December 3, 2015

After the previous day’s long trip, we decided to take it easy. We got up at about 8 am and then had a calm day. We went out to see the lake and by the time we left for Te Puia it was already 3 pm.

That was the view from the house where we stayed. And Yes, I took my travel journal with me.

By the time we reached there, it was 4 pm. Te Puia is where we can see the Maori Culture and it also has natural geyser. We joined the tour and the guide had some fantastic information about the Maori culture. First, we saw the natural geyser, the hot air coming between the rocks. It was beautiful and it also smelled. The smell is from the sulphur.

We then moved to one of the famous mud geyser and then we also saw some kiwi living the enclosed environment. There was a Moari Arts & Crafts Institute which trains people and the sculptures and the baskets were amazing. We then went into their gift shop and I got some mud mask and some soaps.

By the time we finished our tour, it was 6 pm. On our way back to the place we stayed, we stopped at the New World grocery store and I decided to make fajita’s for dinner. It was a relaxing day and we all slept by 9.30 pm.

Day 5 – Travel to Rotorua

December 2, 2015

It was going to be a busy day because we had a long drive from Paihia to Rotorua. My BIL & SIL decided to go on a half a day trip to Cape Reinga in a plane and we decided to stay put because of my daughter. I knew that she wouldn’t do well on a full busy day.

So we decided to stay in Paihia and have a quiet time till they return. We got up at 7.30 am and the reason we got up early was because the sun was out way early. Seriously by 6 am we have the sun out and if your windows face the sun then you will have a bright sun in your face in the morning  which end up waking Anya.

Moving on, we decide to spend the day in Paihia Town. The town center was just 5 min drive from the place we were staying. We checked out of the hotel and went to town. We saw an Art & Crafts show in the town and we decided to check it out. There were lots of talented local artist showing their wares. One of my favorite was the handbag shop , of course. It was hand-made and I loved the design of it but it was expensive say about NZ$200. I just drooled and moved on.

Next shop which impressed me was the natural skin care tent and I got a rose cream for my skin. I love the smell of roses. The cream is all natural ingredients and I just love how passionate they are about their products. Anya was fascinated by the Kaleidoscope tent. She was looking at all the different types and we ended getting a DIY Kaleidoscope kit which the owner told us how to make it.

We then walked along the main street and then had some ice cream. I went into the Pharmacy to check on their products. I found the Paw Paw ointment which was in my wish list and I didn’t realize that they sell them in NZ too. I also found some cute fridge magnets in the next shop. FYI, I collect fridge magnets from all our travels .

By they time In-laws returned from the trip, it was about 1.30 pm. We had our lunch at Amazing Thai Restaurant and then started our journey to Rotorua at about 3 pm. It was an 71/2 hour drive to our destination and it was bad because Anya got bored and cranky. She hated that long drive and by the time we reached there, we were at the end of our collective patience.

Note : Once you come out of major cities, keep in mind that the shops and cafe’s close at 4 pm .

And yes, I am not kidding. We thought we will stop when we are hungry but once we passed the 4.30 pm mark, we couldn’t find any shops. And since we took the fastest route to Rotorua which ended up following the back roads, We couldn’t even find a gas station. We finally found a gas station at about 9 pm and ended up getting Cheetos and drink. By the time, we reached the place we were staying, it was 10.30 pm.

The house we stayed in was about 20 km away from Rotorua city. It was in-front of the lake. The roads were very narrow like one car roads. Since we were so hungry, we had some ready-made briyani and just slept. We were so tired from the long journey and hoped that the next day would be better.

Day 3 – Paihia

November 30, 2015

We had a long day ahead. We had to drive to a place called Paihia which was North of Auckland and it was about 3 1/2 hours drive. We started early and left the hotel by 7.30 pm. Anya was getting bored in just 1 hour so we had a short stop over for breakfast and then continued our journey. Once you go outside of main cities, the New Zealand you see is beautiful. 95% of them were farms and Anya loved watching all the farm animals and horses. It is so green and so quiet. You feel this rush of calm when you see them. I loved it.

We reached Paihia by 11.30 and decided to check in at our hotel. The hotel was amazingly clean and very comfortable. We had a quick stop in our room before we continued to our Dolphin cruise. The cruise started at 1.30 and it was beautiful. The day started with Grey clouds and by the time we went into the ocean, it was so sunny that the ocean looked beautiful. The cruise was for 4 hours. We saw lot of Dolphins and we even say a baby Dolphin with their mother. They were very playful and was showing off to all the tourists.

 

Dolphins following our boat

Some part of the cruise was very bumpy which I hated but once it stopped moving, I felt better. There was a Hole in the Rock in the middle of the ocean and it was huge. Huge as in, we actually went inside the hole in the rock and came the other way. We also saw some Seals sunbathing. It was so cute.

We then stopped in Okehei bay to stretch our leg but I didn’t want to go out since I didn’t feel good with bumpy rides. Most likely I was seasick. So hubby and company went out and walked to the light house which was on the top of the mountain. The view was just amazing. By the time we returned from our cruise, it was 5.30 pm. We were so tired with all the travelling from morning.

Note : You will find me describing the New Zealand with the repetitive words like Amazing, Beautiful and Calming a lot because I couldn’t describe it any better. 

We then went to a Supermarket called Countdown to get some veggies and groceries. We decided to make dinner at home. My BIL is a very good cook and he took over the cooking on our trip. He made puliodarai and aloo gobi. We were very tired and by the time we went to bed, it was 10 pm.

And so it all started, the busy days.

Day 2 – Auckland

December 29, 2015

We missed a day because of the time zone change. We reached Auckland at about 5.15 am and I was looking forward to a warm weather coming from Seattle. And when we came out, It was cold  and I wasn’t expecting it at all. By the time we cleared the immigration and had our breakfast, it was almost 8 am. I still had to wear my spring jacket because it was chilly not warm as I thought.

We then got our rental car and drove to our hotel. We stayed in Waldrof St. Marting Apartments in the central Auckland. It was right in the city. We were too early in the morning for our check-in so after taking to the receptionist, we decided to go around the city.

Mt. Eden

We went straight to Mt. Eden where they have a fantastic view of Auckland and there was a crater as well. We had a good walk around the crater and took some amazing picture of Auckland. We then drove to the Supermarket called New World. I wanted to see what they have and I wasn’t expecting much. But I was fascinated by such a big supermarket. I went and checked our every aisle. The food aisle had more influence of Asian and British products.

I loved that they had such huge varieties of Noodles. We got Uncle Ben’s ready made food which was available in Dublin. We had that as a back up for Anya and she loved it. Since we had lot of time on our hands, I wanted to visit a stationary shop nearby . I have know about the stationary shop, Typo but I have never been to one. We don’t have them in Seattle. I loved looking at all the items. I decided to get some pens for my planner buddies and of course, for myself as well.

They were having a cultural even on the main street of Auckland so they shut down the whole street. We waited outside to see the event. Then hubby dropped us in the hotel by 1 pm and went on to pick up our BIL and SIL from the airport. We were tired by the time we went to our room. So I decided to bathe and have a short nap for sometime. I got up at about 3.30 pm. We still had some jet lag but Anya was very happy to see her uncle and aunt.

We decided to take it easy and went to the Farmer’s night market in Auckland. I loved it. They had amazing food stalls that I didn’t know what I wanted to eat. I had some awesome Gyoza and some fresh fruit ice cream. We reached there by 6 pm and came back to our room by 9 pm. And we decided to sleep by 11 pm because we had a long drive the next day.

The first day was very exciting and jet lagged but I wish I had more time in Auckland to see more sight seeing.