In one months time, we will be on our way to New Zealand! It was a spur of the moment decision that led to this trip of a lifetime. We just couldn’t pass up the unbelievably low flight prices we found…like lower than they were on Black Friday AND Travel Tuesday!
Now that the holidays and Greta’s 4th Birthday are over, I’ve been planning our trip, which is one of my absolute favorite things to do! I’m just too excited to not share our itinerary and some things I’ve learned about this stunning country while planning! I hope you’ll follow along with our adventures on Instagram!
New Zealand is made up of two islands, the North and South Islands. We will be flying into Auckland, which is located on the North Island. Auckland is surrounded by over 50 dormant volcanos. On our first day, we will be exploring a few of them, namely Mt. Eden and One Tree Hill.
Mt. Eden is the highest natural point in the city, so it’s known for it’s great view! It’s also known for a huge grass covered crater that we are hoping will help get some of our kiddos energy out 😉
The main goal of our first day is to get as much of our kiddos pent up energy from the flight OUT! Once we get them all run out, we will hop in the car and drive South to the smaller city of Hamilton where we will spend our first night.
The most popular attraction in Hamilton is Hamilton Gardens. This public garden park is free to visit and is made up of 21 different gardens in varying styles. We will follow a free app that will take us on a self-guided tour of the gardens.
After getting some morning energy out on our walk around the gardens, we will go on a little drive to Waitomo Cave, which is known for its glow worms. This place is continually named on all of the “Places To Visit Before You Die” lists…can you see why?!
After this magical boat ride through the cave system, we will head to Rotorua, which is the area we plan to spend the most time in. Rotorua is known for its geothermal activity and its rich Maori culture, but this area is loaded with a number of other unique things to see and do! One of those being a Redwood Forest. We plan to end our day at the Redwoods Treewalk, which is made up of 28 suspension bridges connecting the trees. Keeping with our “glow” theme, we decided to do the night tour, with the trees being illuminated with different colored lights!
This is going to be our Geothermal Day! We will begin at Kuirau Park, New Zealand’s only public geothermal park. One of its main features is a bubbling, steaming hot lake.
This area is surrounded by mud pools and hot springs, but we will keep it safe and only indulge in the free thermal foot baths!
Next we will head to Wai-O-Tapu, which is known as a “Geothermal Wonderland”.
This photo of Wai-O-Tapu is courtesy of TripAdvisor
I’m not quite sure what that means, but we will be sure to get there before 10:15 AM, which is when the Lady Knox Geyser erupts each day! After we figure out just what a Geothermal Wonderland is, we plan to visit Kerosene Creek, where a hot spring and freshwater stream meet making it a unique little swimming hole!
To round out our geothermal day, we will visit the picturesque Government Gardens, making sure to check out Sulphur Point and the Blue Baths Bathhouse where the fresh water pool is heated geothermally! This was the first bathhouse in the country that scandalously allowed men and women to bathe together! In their bathing suits, of course!
Not far from Rotorua is the largest lake in New Zealand, Lake Taupo, which is home to one of the countries most visited attractions, Huka Falls!
Before hiking to this thundering waterfall, we are going to hit the water for a sailboat tour. The highlight of our tour will be seeing the famous Maori Rock Carvings which are only accessible by water!
This photo of the Maori Rock Carvings is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Our last day in Rotorua will be a fun one! First, we are going to go Rail Cruising.
I’ve never seen anything like this before! We will have our own private, self driving rail vehicle that will take us along an old abandoned rail road track! Patrick and I are so super excited for this experience!
Next, Patrick and I will take turns going Zorbing! I first saw Zorbing on The Amazing Race, and it immediately went on my bucket list! In order to Zorb, one is put into an inflated plastic ball. Once inside, the ball is then rolled down a giant hill! It sounds so silly, but y’all, it looks like so much fun!
I can’t wait to check this off my bucket list!! Zorbing actually originated in Rotorua, so it’s a definite must!
After our adventurous day, we will attend a traditional Maori dinner. Much of New Zealand’s population is made up of Maori people, whom are native Polynesians. Rotorua is known to have a very rich Maori culture and we are excited to take it all in at this interactive dinner! The meal will be a traditional Hangi feast, which is actually cooked in an underground oven!
Additionally, we will tour the Te Puia village by boat, and get to watch cultural performances of the poi and haka dances!
We will be heading back to Auckland for a flight to the South Island. On our way back we are going to stop in Hobbiton, otherwise known as “The Shire” from The Lord of the Rings movies!
All of the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies were filmed in New Zealand. The Shire is one of the sets that became a permanent fixture to the country. Additionally we will be having lunch there, feasting on whatever it is that hobbits would typically feast upon.
Most all of the flights between the islands are out of Auckland, which is why we have to travel back to fly to the South Island. It was ultimately the faster and cheaper option. By the end of the night we will be in Queenstown!
One of the must see places in New Zealand is Milford Sound, a fiord in Fiordland National Park.
We will be taking a bus tour there followed by a boat cruise on the fjord. This is an all day affair, so we are just going to kick back and take in all the sights of what Rudyard Kipling called the “8th Wonder of the World”.
Our last day in the country will be spent in Queenstown.
We didn’t see the need for renting a car in the South Island, so our time here will be pretty lax, for a city that is anything but. Queenstown is pretty much the adventure capital of the world! I mean it is the place where bungy jumping was originated! Many say a jump is a “must” if in Queenstown, but y’all, it’s just not my jam! I never say never, but I’d bet high stakes I will not be making any jumps!
We will however visit Skyline, where we will take a gondola ride up a mountain …
…followed by a Luge ride down! This was one of the few activities that Beau is old enough to do solo, allowing us enough arms to do as a family!
We will explore the area a little longer on foot before flying back to Auckland. The next day we will fly out of Auckland bright and early making the long journey home. We are going to spend a night in L.A. to break up our flights since we do have a layover in Sydney on the way back, tacking on some extra hours in a plane.
There is so much to see and do in this gorgeous country! I could have planned an entire month with all the things we wanted to experience! It’s funny, Patrick’s brother, James, his wife, Drew, and their two kiddos will be in New Zealand the same time as us, but we are essentially going on completely different vacations! They wanted to experience different things than us, so we chose to split up…there are THAT many cool things to see in New Zealand! We are going to share an apartment in Rotorua, so we will swap stories each night 🙂 I’m a little jealous we aren’t getting to experience the natural phenomenon that is Hot Water Beach, where you get to dig your own spa pool! Naturally heated mineral water just seeps up through the sand and fills the pit…it looks SO cool! We just couldn’t make it work sadly! James and Drew are also prioritizing a day hike in Tongariro, which is a UNESCO World Heritage location, so you know it’s going to be stunning! We just didn’t think our kids could hang on a long hike. Like I said, there is just SO.MUCH.TO.DO. in New Zealand! So looking forward to sharing our experiences with y’all!
Be Blessed + Be A Blessing