The boyf and i had all these plans for New Zealand but unfortunately had to forgo them all due to a couple of restraints. I figured we could still do at least one location (we were previously going to cover both the North and South Island) so i decided to surprise him with air tickets as his belated birthday present.
I chose Auckland because he has relatives there and its been a couple years since he last saw them, so i’m glad that i could give him at least that. It was a short getaway and what i really needed especially after a crazy few weeks at work (it was final due dates hence the typical drama that comes with it).
After all, there’s no better therapy than travel.
What We Did
Day 1: Auckland CBD
Due to the time difference with Sydney, we arrived Auckland late afternoon and by the time we got to our place, it was already dark outside. We had dinner plans with the boyf’s relatives and just took it easy the rest of the night.
Day 2: Auckland CBD
I was looking through brunch places in our area and found one that was pretty good, which turned out to be a 30-minute walk from our place. It was rather refreshing as it took us through local neighborhoods and cutting through a park that had some filming going on (i think we actually walked on their set haha). The cafe was called Bread & Butter in Grey Lynn.
We caught an Uber to the city and spent our time slowly walking around and exploring every corner. The shops are pretty much the same as Sydney so we didn’t bother going in any. And because the weather was being really temperamental, we decided to skip the Sky Tower. Instead, we ended the day early by indulging in the famous Giapo ice cream which turned out to be a little too sweet for our tastes.
Day 3: Rotorua
We were a little late getting the car and took a while to get used to the road. The drive to Rotorua would have taken us more than 4hrs since we were being model citizens and obeying all the speed limits, much to the locals’ dismay.
We finally arrived late afternoon and only managed to cover Te Puia and the Redwoods Forest before it became dark. We wanted to try stargazing on the way back (New Zealand is one of the best places to shoot stars) but the weather wasn’t being kind so we called it a night and passed out after dinner.
Day 4: Waitomo & Matamata
Second day of early morning wake-up calls. We had to return the car by 4.30pm that day so we were in a rush to cover both locations. We woke up before 5am and were out the door by 6. Our first stop was the Waitomo Glowworm Caves which was a 2.5 hour drive and we managed to get there before opening time. If you saw my Snapchat, you would’ve seen that it was still dark when we were on the road and being half-asleep, our mood wasn’t as hyped as the first day.
There are no pictures allowed in the cave, which is fine because your shots wouldn’t work without a tripod anyway. Towards the end, we got on a little boat which leads to the outer part of the cave and oh my, the glowworms just created this starry night sky above us! It was definitely a surreal moment, more surreal because there was absolute silence and you didn’t have to concentrate on taking pictures. We just sat there, moving along a pitch black cave with no light except from the glowworms. Definitely a special moment for the both of us.
Waitomo Glowworm Caves
39 Waitomo Caves Rd
Waitomo Caves, Otorohanga 3943
Open 7 days, 9am-5.30pm
Admission: Adult – NZD49, Children – NZD22 (combo packages with other caves available on website)
We arrived Hobbiton right when their next tour was starting. We were really worried that we wouldn’t be able to return the car on time so once we were done with the tour, we got straight into the car and headed back. I was packing all the stuff in the backseat and became a lousy watchdog when i fell asleep. I actually woke up midway, claimed it was a power nap and wasn’t sleepy anymore, only to fall back asleep a minute later haha. By the time i woke up, we were already back in Auckland.
Day 5: Flying back to Sydney
Our flight was at 7am and since it takes about half an hour to get there, we had to wake up at 2-ish. Which makes it the third consecutive day of waking up super early. The boyf and i were both walking zombies so its no surprise that we immediately passed out once we got into our seats on the plane. I actually woke up an hour later and saw that we were still on the runway haha.
Where We Stayed
Our past Airbnb experiences were all beyond expectations, so i was hoping Auckland wouldn’t be any different. Our previous stays involved renting out the entire apartment, but since our Auckland trip was a little last minute, we decided to go for a room in the hosts’ house instead.
We were pretty dissatisfied when we arrived and found out that the host was moving (she didn’t inform us beforehand) so throughout our stay, we watched everything in the house slowly vanish. We even had to “disappear” once when the agent came for inspection. On the upside, it had the initial homey feeling and we stayed in Grey Lynn which is pretty close to the city (we walked home once) and has all the necessities nearby ie. Woolworths (its called Countdown in New Zealand) and McDonalds haha.
How We Got Around
We were initially going to get bus cards (there’s a bus stop right outside our place) but since we were renting a car the next two days, thought it was rather pointless. We rented a RAV4 from Budget Car Rentals including a GPS which, all in, costs around NZD120 for two days. Not including the fuel which costs us quite a bit since we were driving rather far down. We made use of Uber when we didn’t have the car.
Many thanks to the boyf’s relatives for their wonderful hospitality and for going out of their way to entertain us, and to the boyf for being such a trooper and driving on both days.