Hello everyone! I’m finally home from my whirlwind adventure and ready to share. I actually got home last week on Wednesday night but I needed a couple of days of rest to recover before I could really sit down and process my pictures, thoughts, etc in order to create some coherent content.

Recapping a vacation, especially one that’s 3.5 weeks long is tough! I’m going to be breaking it into a couple of different posts because otherwise you would be reading a novel. If you missed my previous posts while I was away check out:

My impressions of New Zealand

Adventures in New Zealand

New Zealand is split into two major islands, the North & South Islands. The International Airport is located in Auckland on the north island so we began our adventure there.

We arrived at the Auckland airport at 5 a.m. local time. The company we rented our motor homes from wasn’t open until 8 a.m. so we spent a few hours chilling at the airport awaiting our transfer to pick up our new home.

 

Up next we had to go grocery shopping to fill our motor homes. 8 people grocery shopping was something I was dreading. How could we possibly agree on what to buy but surprisingly it all went fairly well. We decided to eat our breakfasts & most lunches in the motor home and go out for most dinners. We kept it simple with breakfasts of fruit, yogurt & granola and sandwiches and veggies for lunch.

Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium

Then we checked out Kelly Tarlton’s Sea Life Aquarium.

The belt that goes under the aquarium was pretty cool. Having sharks swimming over your head was neat.

kelly tarltons sea life aquarium

kelly tarltons sea life aquarium

For our first night, we had decided to stay in hotel rooms so everyone could get a good rest and a shower before staying in our motorhomes. While it was a good idea, in theory, finding parking for motor homes in downtown Auckland proved to be quite a challenge!

For dinner, we headed out to check out Auckland. By this point I was so exhausted I didn’t even care if I ate. I followed the crowd to wherever they would take me. We saw this place and thought sure that looks okay. When we go there we realized it was a Canadian-themed pub. Seriously too funny that we traveled across the world and ate our first night in a Canadian-themed restaurant. As soon as we got back to our hotel I immediately passed out and had the most glorious 12-hour sleep.

First day on the road with the motor homes and we realized they are SO noisy and bumpy. Not exactly the calm ride I was expecting where I would be able to blog or play cards.

Ruakuri & Waitomo Caves

Our first stop of the day was the Ruakuri & Waitomo caves.

The Raukuri cave is a giant limestone cave you can walk or even black water raft through. It was an incredible experience checking out the stalagmite formations, which are hundreds to thousands of years old.

ruakari cave new zealand

ruakari cave new zealand

Our guide was fantastic. He had these dry jokes that barely anybody laughed at but I kind of loved it. He was also really knowledgeable about the cave and gave us time to take the photos that we wanted. The best part of the tour was probably as we were leaving we asked my nephew what he thought about the cave and he replied, “I’m not a fan.” Too funny!

Afterward, we went to the Waitomo cave where you get to see glowworms. We learned that technically glowworms are glow-maggots, but that doesn’t sound so nice. The maggots grow above water in caves and produce a light to attract bugs to eat which they catch in a sticky tail they produce.

During the tour you board a boat to view the glowworms. The guide instructed us that no photographs are allowed and asked everyone to be silent. The experience was incredible. The entire roof was lit up in these tiny blue lights and you felt like yo were in another world. Having the complete silence as you glided over the water was so peaceful. It was a journey I never wanted to end.

Hobbiton

The next day we were off to Hobbiton. New Zealand is a nerds Lord of the Ring lover’s paradise. With filming locations all throughout New Zealand, you could make your entire trip about Lord of the Rings and we had a few in our group who would have loved that.

I am personally not a fan of the movies but begrudgingly agreed to go to Hobbiton. I am so glad I did. Despite not being a fan of the movie, the tour was incredible. The rolling hills of green are so beautiful. Plus I really enjoyed hearing the stories behind the production of the movies and just how particular the director, Peter, Jackson, was about the tiniest details.

hobbiton

hobbiton

bilbo baggins house hobbiton

We wrapped up our day by having a drink a drink at the Green Dragon pub before heading to our next destination.

green dragon pub hobbiton

 Up next our tours to the thermal side of New Zealand and learning about Maori culture…

This is an excerpt from the article New Zealand Recap: Auckland, Waitomo Caves and Hobbiton which originally appeared on http://www.prettylittlegrub.com/.