Category Archives: Travel

{Travel} New Zealand, part 2

This is part 2 of our New Zealand trip, read part 1 for more!

Day 3 in Hahei and Hot Water Beach was as low key as possible due to Js food poisoning, but day 4 was jam packed with adventure!

Day 4: Hahei Beach, Rotorua & Lake Taupo

The Cathedral Cove Kayaks let us reschedule our trip for a morning session on day 4. So after cooking eggs on toast in the camp kitchen and packing up our campsite, we headed down the beach for our kayak adventure. It was overcast and the water was not as calm as the previous day but we were excited! The plan was to kayak from Hahei beach around the headlands to the stunning Cathedral Cove. We were debriefed and given waterproof tops to help keep us dry and warm. I hopped in the back as J was still nervous about his strength and I wanted control over the pedals.

Starting our kayak journey to Cathedral Cove
Starting our kayak journey to Cathedral Cove

The paddle around to Cathedral Cove was not overly challenging once I got a feel for the pedals. About halfway to the cove we linked with the 3 other kayaks in our group and put up a sail which have us a break from paddling! Once we arrived at the cove, the guide helped us into shore one at a time. We were given about 20 minutes to explore, stretch and use the restroom.  Cathedral Cove has a naturally forming archway linking two beaches.  Even in an overcast day the sight was beautiful.

Cathedral Cove archway
Cathedral Cove archway

When we arrived back to our kayaks, our guide had whipped up coffees, hot chocolates and hot teas served with chocolate chip cookies. The coffees and hot choc even had frothed milk! It was an amazing touch that allowed us to sit and chat on a stunning beach before kayaking for another hour.

Hot Chocolate on Cathedral Cove beach!
Hot Chocolate on Cathedral Cove beach!

We hopped back in the kayaks and waited as our guide assisted each with going back through the surf. J and I switched places in the kayak which we quickly found was the worst decision. Going out we were hit with a wave which I was not prepared to handle- rather than paddling through it, I let it wash over me making it harder to navigate and get water down my shirt (fail). The second issue was the foot pedals- they were small and set to the right position for my leg length. When J sat there his legs had to bend more to get his feet on the pedals which caused cramping in his legs and feet after 10 minutes. He gave up on the pedals so we had to use our paddles to steer which is a lot harder! Future reference when kayaking don’t assume the pedals will work for people with a 6 inch difference!

J and I going through the archway
J and I going through the archway

We spent the rest of the day driving to Rotorua. On the drive the rain decided to make an appearance in the drizzly miserable way. We had tentatively planned to camp in either Rotorua or Lake Taupo but once we arrived we decided to reward ourselves from surviving the sickness and check into the Hilton in Lake Taupo. (Plus with it raining our gear would get wet/muddy which could be an issue going back through customs).

This bed was like a cloud especially after camping!
This bed was like a cloud especially after camping!

Rotorua is known for its geothermal activity, through the hot springs, geysers and bubbling mud pools. We explored Kuirau Park for about an hour checking out the many bubbling mud pools. We then headed to Lake Taupo, which is an hours drive, for the night.

Kuirau Park geothermal bubbling mud pool
Kuirau Park geothermal bubbling mud pool

Day 5: Rotorua and Lake Taupo
This was our last full day in NZ so we got up early, enjoyed the breakfast buffet at the Hilton and drove 45 minutes towards Rotorua to the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland. We got there in time to watch the Lady Knox Geyser erupt and then walked around the thermal park. The park’a layout was fantastic with various options to extend or shorten the walk depending on ability.

Lady Knox Geyser showing off during her daily eruption
Lady Knox Geyser showing off during her daily eruption
The Champagne Pool in the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland
The Champagne Pool in the Wai-O-Tapu Geothermal Wonderland
J and I in the geothermal park
J and I in the geothermal park

After the geothermal park, we headed back to Lake Taupo to explore.  We stopped at a glass blowing studio, Lava Glass,  we saw on the side of the road and it was a beautiful shop and cafe.  We spent the NZ$ 10 to watch the glass blowers in their studio  and then picked up a gorgeous ornament.  Since we bought a piece the $10 went towards the price of the ornament which was $45. We have collected ornaments from all of our big trips since we’ve been married so this was the perfect addition!

Handblown glass ornament from Lava Glass
Handblown glass ornament from Lava Glass

The rest of the day was spent exploring rainy Lake Taupo, complete with some attempts at the hole in one game with a $10k reward.  Though he had some close attempts we did not walk away with the prize!

J trying to win the $10k with a hole in one
J trying to win the $10k with a hole in one

We loved New Zealand and look forward to exploring the South Island!

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{Travel} New Zealand

In December J and I decided to take a short holiday to the North Island of New Zealand.  A few months prior to the trip we were brainstorming mini trip ideas where we could camp, go somewhere new and fly reasonably cheap.  As our Christmas holiday plans were low key we thought an early December trip before the holidays would be perfect.  I was given (gifted) the task of coming up with a destination and itinerary for a 4-5 day holiday.  I focused my flight searches on Australian locations and after getting frustrated with prices I felt were too high for domestic I branched out and looked at islands.  This exercise was mainly where I floated into a dream world thinking of all the places we have on our travel to do list.   When I searched Sydney to Auckland flights though, Virgin Australia surprised me with a flight deal that was half the price of flying to Cairns.

Boarding the plane for New Zealand
Boarding the plane for New Zealand

Day 1: Auckland

We flew into Auckland mid-day and hired a car from the airport for the entire trip.  We knew from friends and google the airport was about 30 minutes out of town so though booking cars from airports tend to have a higher fee, they can be worth cost.  This was one of those times!  Auckland airport has free wi-fi for the first 30 minutes so I signed in and immediately loaded my map with the route from the airport to the hotel.  Tip – make sure you zoom in on the route and load the map of the entire route.  Once you leave wifi and have no service the route and map will remain and the gps will still display your location.Auckland

We stayed at The Langham Hotel in the CBD of Auckland.  I booked the room about 10 days before the trip through Wotif.com.  We have used the Wotif Mystery Deal and were very pleased with the hotel we were given.  If you are flexible with your travel itinerary and location, the Wotif Mystery Deal is a great way to score a deal on a highly rated hotel.

Enjoying the Auckland Harbour before a storm rolls in
Enjoying the Auckland Harbour before a storm rolls in

We spent the afternoon walking the hills of Auckland with no plans but to explore and enjoy the city.  Once the rain started late afternoon we headed to the hotel to enjoy the rooftop pool and hot tub before dinner.  We had dinner at The Federal Delicatessen, a NY inspired Jewish Deli.  We started with cocktails – a “Green Grocer” for me which was The Fed’s twist on a gin and tonic while J sipped on a dirty martini.  Both were delicious, crisp drinks which was a great start to our meals.  We split the matzo ball soup, Meatloaf on Rye Sandwich and ended with a slice of the NY Cheesecake.  The restaurant definitely had the NY deli vibe, right down to the bottomless drip coffee in diner mugs.

The Green Grocer and a Dirty Martini from The Fed
The Green Grocer and a Dirty Martini from The Fed

Day 2: Auckland to Hahei Drive

Our second day in Auckland was spent driving from Auckland out east to the Coromandel Peninsula for camping at Hahei Beach.  We drove to Thames and then across the Peninsula to Hahei Beach.

View from the drive into the Coromandel Peninsula
View from the drive into the Coromandel Peninsula

We camped at the Hahei Holiday Resort and scored the campsite along the beachfront.  This was a fantastic campground with full kitchen facilities, hot showers and great service.  We had picked up groceries for a few days but decided to try a local fish and chips shop and eat on the beach for dinner.  While eating J started feeling ill which turned into the worst case of food poisoning I’ve seen.  (This was not from dinner but we think from a little breakfast place on the drive) I enjoyed a gorgeous sunset from the tent before tucking in to what would be one of the longest nights!  Luckily he made it through the night and we were able to get meds and plenty of powerade in him the next day while I enjoyed the beautiful coastline.

Sunset from our tent
Sunset from our tent

Day 3: Hahei Beach

We were scheduled for a 5:45am kayak tour but when the 5am alarm went off we were still awake from Js sickness so I trekked down the beach in hopes the kayak tour would let us go later.  Cathedral Cove Kayaks were fantastic not only in rescheduling us for the next morning but also throughout the entire tour.  After getting a few hours’ sleep I packed J in the car and headed down to the Hot Water Beach.  Hot Water Beach was beautiful but J thought I was torturing him as we had to walk about 500 meters from the parking lot to the hot spot on the beach.  The water came boiling out of the sand and by digging little pools natural spas were created.

The view of Hot Water Beach from a sandbar.  If you look closely, J is sitting against a rock with a towel over his head napping!
The view of Hot Water Beach from a sandbar. If you look closely, J is sitting against a rock with a towel over his head napping!

The afternoon was spent relaxing on Hahei Beach and exploring the coast.  J spent the afternoon napping under the trees.  The beach is stunning with clear water and gorgeous views.

Panorama view of Hahei Beach
Panorama view of Hahei Beach