How to Spend a Week in New Zealand

After Australia, I spent a week in New Zealand.  It was easily one of my favorite parts of the entire trip.  I had originally planned to just travel to Auckland, but after being told that the mountain views I wanted were more on the South Island, I booked a flight to Queenstown as well.  As you’ll see, it was definitely the right choice!

Auckland

When I first arrived in Auckland, one thing struck me.  It looked a lot like Ireland.  It was a grey day, which only made the hills look more green.  When I got to the actual city, the comparisons continued.  Auckland reminded me of Limerick or Edinburgh in Scotland: nice, but lacking the energy that I like in a city.  However, I didn’t have time to truly explore Auckland, and maybe I would have liked it more had I seen more of it.

Instead of hanging out in the city, I took a tour of the surrounding area.  This included Hobbiton, Rotorua, and the Waitomo Caves.  The first stop on the tour was Hobbiton, and it was one of the cutest places I have ever been!  I’m not that big of a Lord of the Rings fan, but I am a big fan of all things quirky and adorable.  The little hobbit homes and surrounding gardens were stunning, and it was lovely to sip my complimentary beer by the water outside the little pub.

Next up was the thermal pools at Te Puia, Rotorua.  My tour group and I enjoyed some delicious New Zealand dishes and conversation on arrival.  As is typical while traveling, I met some lovely and interesting people from Australia, Japan, and Singapore.  When I finished eating, I headed out on my own to explore the area.  I was struck by the beauty of the crystal clear water.  My favorite part, though, was a bubbling mud patch that reminded me of the Bog of Eternal Stench from Labyrinth.

We finished the day at my favorite spot, Waitomo Caves.  Unfortunately you are not allowed to take pictures there, but let me assure you it was one of the most gorgeous places I have ever been! Waitomo Caves are the home of glowworms, who light up the cave roof like stars.  If you do one thing in New Zealand, I would make it a trip to the caves!

Queenstown

Queenstown fit much more closely with my expectations of New Zealand.  It’s an adorable mountain town, filled with lovely people.  The town itself is very small, but worth a few hours to walk around.  I spent my time shopping, then walking through the town’s gardens and around the lake.  It’s a really lovely place, and one I would love to visit again.

The next day I went on yet another day tour.  This one was to Milford Sound, and was just as enjoyable as my last tour!  The drive to Milford Sound takes quite a few hours, but it is well worth it.  Unfortunately, the day I went was grey, foggy, and rainy.  However, I still had a great time chatting with my new friend Matt, who taught me some Australian slang as we got wet from the rain and waterfalls on the boat tour.  Those waterfalls were the upside of all the rain, as the extra water made them truly breathtaking.

The next day I headed back to Auckland, and from there on to Los Angeles, my last stop before going home.  It was much too short of a trip, and I will definitely have to return to New Zealand one day!

All my love ❤

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