“New Zealand is not a small country but a large village” – Peter Jackson.
I find this quote absolutely true after visiting New Zealand in Feb’2016.This small island in south western pacific ocean offers you unbelievable and one of the most enticing landscapes in the world.Its a dream destination for anybody who loves nature and who wants to see nature at its captivating best.
Though I lived in Australia for couple of years but never had chance to visit New Zealand.My wish finally came true after my marriage when me and my husband planned a road trip to New Zealand.It took me long time to convince my husband(as he started his new job) to go for this trip but ultimately he agreed.After all who can say no to the Kiwi Land:-)
We decided to go for 2 weeks and rest is a lifelong memory.Probably the best 2 weeks in nature I could have ever imagined.Sometimes I feel that visiting New Zealand so early in my life was a mistake.The problem is wherever I go now, I compare the landscapes with the landscapes of New Zealand and ultimately one sentence comes out of my mouth “Nah..Don’t like it.We have seen better places in NZ”.I have said this so many times, probably people now think that this is the only place I have ever visited in my entire life:-)So my advice would be if you got other places to cover in your bucket list, visit them first otherwise it will be hard to admire them.I have divided my blog into 2 parts – North Island and South Island.
Some Interesting facts about New Zealand which I learnt during my trip:
- There are more sheep than humans.
- Only 5% of the NZ’s population is human – rest are animals.
- World’s first commercial bungee jumping site – Kawarau George Suspension bridge near Queenstown.I did bungee jumping here.. yay!!!
- About one-third of the country is a protected national park.
- More people live in Auckland than whole of South Island.
- The only land mammals native to NZ were bats.The rest were introduced by humans.
- NZ was the last major landmass to be populated.
- The Sky Tower in Auckland is the tallest man made structure in the Southern Hemisphere.
- Still many birds in NZ are flightless because there were no land based predators to escape from.They never developed an ability to fly until human arrived.
- The three famous birds are Kea,Kaka and Kakapo.Kea is supposed to be the most intelligent and curious of all.It pulls windscreen wipers off cars because of which many tourists suffer damages. Kea can solve logical puzzles such as pushing and pulling things to get to food or work together to achieve certain objectives.
- There are no snakes in NZ.
- Milford Sound is the most visited tourist place in the world.
The Journey – North Island
The journey started from Auckland.It is the most populous city in the country.The city offers lot many things to do but we preferred to explore more of countryside.Sky Tower right in the middle of CBD is the tallest man made structure in Southern hemisphere which is a hub for adrenaline rush,dining and breathtaking views.For a little adrenaline rush, we decided to do Sky Walk.This walk is along the narrow pavement outside of the Sky tower, 192 meters high above the ground.No handrail,no support nothing but a thin air.You are hooked to a full body harness and get to see 360 degree panoramic view of the city,its hills,the harbour and the islands beyond.The instructor will ask you to do all kind of stunts using the harness which will make you feel like a superhero.
The walk along the harbour is another interesting thing to do.The food in Auckland is awesome.All local joints serve delicious and fresh food but its bit pricey. Take a tour to Waiheke island for another lazy day.Its an isolated island full of wineries and white sand beaches.The beautiful skyline of the Auckland CBD can be seen from the ferry on the way to Waiheke.
Hobbiton Movie Set – Matamata
It takes 2 hrs to reach Hobbiton from Auckland.The movie set is created by Sir Peter Jackson to portray home of the hobbits – The Shire.When he was searching places in New Zealand to shoot Lord of The Rings, he spotted Alexander farm and later the farm was transformed into a movie set.This place was chosen because no matter in what direction you look in, there are no tall buildings,power lines or roads.You can only see green hills and tall trees.New Zealand army was contracted to construct the road to this site.We got to know many small interesting facts about Lord of The Rings Trilogy and the movie set during this tour.Artificial leaves,fruits and plums were wired into the trees to give the place an English countryside look.All the hobbit holes are blank with no interiors.All the interior sets are shot at a studio in Wellington.The detailing done in the movie set was brilliant.At the end of the tour you get to taste the hobbit ales which are specifically made here and not found anywhere else in the world.
We continued our journey to Rotorua. This place always stinks like a rotten egg but soon you will find out why.This region is a highly thermo active region with hot bubbling mud pools,geysers,colourful lakes,hot springs and volcanic activities.Due to high hydrogen sulphide emission in the region, city is also called as “sulphur city”.Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Land is a must visit thermal park.The mineral deposits in the lake give the lake very strange colours.I have never seen such strange colours in nature anywhere before.
You can experience the Maori culture in the city.There are tours which can take you to the Tamaki Maori Village and you can experience an evening with them.We didn’t do the tour due to time constraint.Another place to look out for is Huka Falls.The roaring water flows through the narrow gorge with great speed crashing into a turbulent pool makes it a high energetic place.
Waitamo Glowworm Caves
This was the last spot for us in the North Island.We thought it to be another limestone cave and was not very interested in visiting the place but it turned out to be an unforgettable experience.The tour guide takes you inside the cave which is quite deep under ground.The guide talks you through the different limestone formations,their compositions and history behind the place.But the major attraction of the tour is the boat ride which gives the grandeur ending to the tour.While taking the boat tour, you will realize that the cave is inhabited by very unique worms found only in New Zealand called Glowworms.These insects spend most of their life as larvae growing to the size of a matchstick.These insects twinkle in the dark just like stars.The chemical they produce react with the oxygen in the air to generate light.The Caves are the perfect environment for the glowworms because they are dark and damp.The river flowing through cave gives the glowworm plenty of insects to trap.The caves are monitored to make sure glowworms have everything they need.We were not allowed to take pictures inside the cave, but the boat ride in the dark cave with glowworms twinkling above you is the unforgettable sight which will always be in my mind.Below is the professional photograph I got for you.
Though you can get to see different landscapes in different climates,summer is the perfect time to visit North Island & South Island.We chose to visit in February which marks the end of summer.We couldn’t explore everything in 1 week.It depends on you how much time you have in hand.You can spend days to months in New Zealand depending upon your schedule.
People in big cities of NZ are no different than people in other metropolitan cities in the world.Most of them are very helping except few exceptional ones.90% of Maori population(native to NZ) resides in urban and rural regions of North Island.
If you are taken aback by the beauty of North Island, you will fall in love with raw landscapes of South Island.
Stay Tuned !
North Island Route Map