I had no expectations for this trip. It ended up being a pleasant surprise. I visited only two cities in the North Island. The South Island is suppose to be amazing. I didn’t go because I had just one week in New Zealand.
The New Zealand customs is super strick about what you bring into the country. Don’t think of lying on the customs forms, it’s not worth it. I saw them throughly search people’s luggage and take stuffs to examine.
I arrived late evening and took the Skybus (airport shuttle) to the Airbnb place I would be staying. I was dropped off right in front of the apartment. The apartment was comfortable and super clean. My host is amazing.
Day 2: I had prebooked a 24 hours pass Hop On Hop Off bus. I got to the pick up point around 12noon. I got off at the Mt. Eden and Skytower stop. Mt. Eden has an amazing view of Auckland and offcourse the skytower provides a 360 degree view of the city.
The Hop On Hop Off is very limited during the winter. They operate from 10am to 3pm and run only on hourly basis. You wouldn’t get to see more than 4 places if you start at 10am, making the 24 hours pass not worth it.
I explored Queens Street, lots of name brand stores, restaurants, parks, ice cream/pastry places. Simply so much to see and do.
Day 3: I was suppose to go on a tour with Grayline tour but they had some operational issues so they put me on a tour with Bush and Beach. The tour started in the morning with Auckland City Highlights – we stopped at Mt. Victoria – great view of the city, winter gardens at the Auckland Museum. The café has a lovely ambience.
In the Afternoon, we drove 30 minutes out of Auckland to Waitakere Ranges. We stopped at a bakery for quick lunch. We all got some type of pie (chicken, veggie, beef or fish) because they tour guides recommended it. I had the fish pie and it so good.
We proceeded to the rain forest where we had a great walking tour through the rainforest and saw a waterfall. It was an eventful day overall.
Day 4: I had a 1pm bus to Rotorua so I slept in. It was only a 15 minutes walk from my Airbnb to the bus station but I was too lazy to walk with my luggage so I got uber for NZ$6. The bus (Manabus) was so cheap, they are similar to Mega bus or Bolt bus in the US. There’s also wifi on the bus.
We arrived in Rotorua at 5.30pm, I walked to my hostel – a 20 minutes walk. The hostel – Crash Palace was great. I had a private room J. The toilet and bathroom was extremely clean J. I choose a great hostel J. I had dinner and just chilled. Rotorua was way colder than Auckland. I was okay staying indoors.
Day 5: I slept in. Explored Rotorua a bit and went to Te Puia. I had book the day and night pass here. I arrived very early because I didn’t read the time on the confirmation email L. Te Puia is a Maori cultural centre. The guides are all Maori or of Maori descent. The guided tour started at 4.30pm. We were shown a traditional house, we saw eruption from the geyser and sat on heated stairs. We learned some aspects of the Maori culture and traditions.
At 5.30pm, we were handed over to the guide for the night pass. After checking out the gift shop, we were shown were the dinner was being prepared. They used an underground oven just like in Fiji. We were given a welcoming ceremony (very similar to that in Fiji & Samoa). The ceremony offcourse ended with an Haka performance. The whole cultural performance was insightful and beautiful. I loved it. You can watch the part of the cultural performance here.
The tour ended with Maori story telling outdoor on natural heated stairs with a cup of hot chocolate. The stairs are naturally heated, some with steam gusting out of it. Not sure of the scientific explanation. We were dropped off to our respective accommodation around 8.45pm.
Day 6: My bus back to Auckland was at 11.55am but we didn’t leave until 12.30pm. Arrived in Auckland around 4.30pm and took an uber to my Airbnb. I used a different Airbnb this time around because it was closer to the airport. Big mistake. The Skybus (airport shuttle) doesn’t go to that area. I would have been better off staying in the city center like my first Airbnb. Oh well. Too late now.
Didn’t too anything after I arrived at the Airbnb because it was far away from the city center and I would have to take a taxi or uber.
Day 7: I slept in and decided to check out the Auckland Museum. Glad I did. They had great exhitibition on Maori culture, Polynesian arts among others. I also purchased the cultural performance. Amazing. You can watch a part of the cultural performance here and the Haka here.
After the museum, I walked 20 minutes to the city center. I was craving Mexican food and I remember seeing one by the Skytower. I went there. The tacos were decent. I later got an uber back to my Airbnb. I packed since my flight was at 6.45am.
Day 8: Throughout the night, I got emails and text from the airline. The flight was delayed to 8.20am so I didn’t go to the airport until 6.45am. When I got there, I was told I wouldn’t make my connecting flight so they rebook me on the 6.45am flight for the next day. They also gave me a breakfast vocher, hotel and food vocher for the hotel.
I took the shuttle to Hotel Grande and I took a long nap. I decided to simply chill and do nothing for the day. Relaxing is an understatement.
Day 9: Made it to the airport. Flight went smoothly without delays.
P.S, Kiwi is a nickname for people from New Zealand. The national bird is also a Kiwi – a flightless bird in danger of extinction. I saw one in Te Puia, Rotorua, we were not allowed to take pictures of it.
New Zealnad: 5 Things
- Definitely, if you have time in New Zealand, I’ve heard it is worth checking out the South Islands and other places in North island.
- Although renting a car will give you greater flexibility, you can take the bus. Manabus or Naked Bus have prices as low as $1 if purchased well in advance.
- Learn about the Maori culture. The Auckland museum and Te Puia in Rotorua are some of the places you can go to. Keep in mind that Rotorua has many options to learn about the Maori culture.
- Don’t miss out on Asian food. Varieties of Asian restaurants to choose from. You wouldn’t regret it.
- If you are around when the All Blacks are playing, do not miss it. Kiwis are super proud of their Rudgy team. Even if they are not playing, watch a live rudgy game if you can.