Glowworm Beauty in Waitomo and Quick Peek of Auckland


Waitomo is a 2 hours ride from Rotorua. It is a very small town with 1 road that lines up the houses and stores. There is a nice hiking trail at one end in case you want to have a quiet stroll.

We came here to see the glowworms. Up close and at daylight, they look like the usual larva hanging at the ceiling, but at night, they glow in a white-bluish color. Put a lot of them together in a dark, moist cave and they become stars of this small haven. They glow to attract food, actually, but the effect is mesmerizing. We booked our tour with Spellbound Glowworm Cave. They accept small group, which avoid us from having the claustrophobic tourist feeling. The tour includes a walk inside a stalagmite-stalactite cave as well. It was 150 NZD. Come with a steady hand and long exposure point for photo taking. Flash photography is not allowed to avoid scaring the worms.

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Rotten Eggs, Hobbiton and Mud Bath in Rotorua


From the capital city of Wellington, we head off on a 6 hour drive to Rotorua, the place where sulfur is in the air. It actually smells of rotting eggs and you will get use to it after an hour. On our road trip, we passed Mount Doom, another LOTR icon where the ring is to be destroyed. It is also called Mount Ngauruhoe.

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The Windy City of Wellington


Wellington, where wind blows and streets winding, has its charms of a bustling city without the chaos. We arrived at the ferry from Picton/Nelson visit (see blog) and took a shared shuttle, Super Shuttle, to our accommodation for the next 4 days. We didn’t know our Airbnb host, Hilary, was away on an emergency and we were surprised when no one answered to the doorbell or the phone when we tried to call her. We were in a dilemma as it was 11pm and in a residential area with no nearby hotel or motel. Continue reading

Franz Josef Glacier, Nelson Rings and Side Road Trips


Continuing our New Zealand journey from Queenstown, we made our way to Franz Josef via 5 hour road trip. Check out my Queenstown blog. We took a side trip to Pancake Rocks in Punakaiki, where rocks look like they are flatten and piled on top of each other, like pancakes. They are actually limestones that are slowly being chipped away by the crashing sea. The blowholes were quite cool, especially when the light touches and form a rainbow.

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Picturesque Alps in Queenstown


Francis and I started our New Zealand journey on Nov 6 as we head out to Auckland. We stayed overnight at Ibis Budget Auckland hotel, which is somewhat walkable from the airport, then fly off to Queenstown with Jetstar. We figured to start our trip at the south and make our way back up to counter the tourist flow. It was a good move since our road trip had fewer cars and we get to enjoy the mountain scenery longer. It was 95 NZD for the domestic plane ticket.

To know more about our New Zealand trip in general, check out my introductory post. Let’s go exploring!

Queenstown is where the adventure activities shine the best. It is a quaint town filled with nice shops and restaurants. We just walked most of the time. We only rented a car after our Queenstown trip so we can head on to Franz Josef ice glacier. The real beauty is the mountains and the lake that gives this place a peaceful, if not exciting, retreat from the urban life. We didn’t come here for the bungee jumping, kayaking or skiing. We came here to hike, admire the mountains and fulfill our LOTR bucket list. If I were to pick a favorite place in New Zealand, this would be it. It is beautiful.

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