We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Trip report - New Zealand 18 December to 15 January

Potchefstroom
Level Contributor
91 posts
82 reviews
Save Topic
Trip report - New Zealand 18 December to 15 January

I would like to post a detailed trip report to thank everyone on this forum for all the useful information while planning this trip.

A warning, this is going to be long and detailed :) At the end of the trip i will summarize everything and list favorites and disasters (hopefully none)

I am doing the trip report while travelling and everything is still fresh in my head, so i will add as we go along.

Here we go!

Potchefstroom
Level Contributor
91 posts
82 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Trip report - New Zealand 18 December to 15 January

Some background: The travelers are myself and my partner (DF) and we are in our early thirties and from South Africa. English is my second language so please forgive me if there is grammar mistakes :)

Saturday 18 December 2010

We arrived 07:00 at Auckland Airport after 31 hours of travelling from South Africa. We flown with Cathay Pacific and we were satisfied with their service.

We were impressed with the friendliness of the immigration officers and the thoroughness of the bio-security check where they ensure that no foreign seeds or other harmful material are brought into the country.

We stayed at my cousin in Auckland for the first night and although we were very tired we wanted to stay awake until the evening to minimize the jet lag and to adapt to NZ time.

My cousin took us to see the city and i was thoroughly impressed. It was overcast so we skipped the sky tower and instead walk around the viaducts and then drove to one of the many communities dotted around the coast where we enjoyed the most fabulous fish (snapper) and fries while sitting in a park enjoying the fabulous views over the ocean. It was a wonderful.

Auckland really impressed me and although it is a big city in my opinion it still have a soul :)

We returned home late afternoon and played cards with the family and turned in early.

Fell in love with NZ on that first day already and is so thankful for the opportunity to be here.

Potchefstroom
Level Contributor
91 posts
82 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Trip report - New Zealand 18 December to 15 January

Sunday 19 December

We started the day with a walk on the beach enjoying the fresh ocean air and the antics of all the dogs being taken for a walk.

Today is very overcast and it is raining on and off. We left after nine for Hamilton to visit my aunt and uncle.

We are renting a vehicle for Apex Car Rentals, they picked us up with their shuttle yesterday at the airport yesterday and we were fitted with our car and a GPS quickly and hassle free. The GPS by the way is a great help in finding the correct route in a foreign country :)

We stopped along the way for a take away coffee and muffin (yum) and very much enjoyed the scenery on the way to Hamilton. We find the roads easy to navigate with little traffic. We arrived just after 11 in Hamilton. After drinks we left to visit the local mall for me to buy a sim card for my cellphone. The friendly lady at Vodafone assisted me with a prepaid sim card for 30$, we then had coffee at Starbucks (no starbucks in South Africa, so great treat for us) and my aunt and uncle decided to show us Raglan.

We drove for about 40 minutes to this quaint seaside village where the seasand is almost black due to i think manganese deposits, very interesting.

Arriving back in Hamilton i took a nap, still struggling a bit with jetlag.

We spend the evening enjoying the excellent leg of lamb dinner my aunt prepared and catching up.

Tomorrow we are heading to Rotorua.

Potchefstroom
Level Contributor
91 posts
82 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Trip report - New Zealand 18 December to 15 January

Monday 20 December 2010

I didn't have a good night's sleep, being awake from 3:00. My system is still struggling to decipher when it is suppose to sleep. We decided to leave early to make most of the day ahead of us. We left Hamilton at about 7:00 and leisurely made our way through the pretty towns of Cambridge and Tirau. We had breakfast at the bakery across the I-site (The I-site is made from corrugated iron and looking like a dog, very original). We arrived in Rotorua just after 9:00.

What a amazing place. Everywhere in town steam is rising out of the earth. I have never seen anything like it before. The sulfur smell is not pleasant but it is part of the process that is happening here.

We are staying in Koura lodge. It is situated on Kahawa Point on the edge of the lake and is really a gem. The friendly lady booked us in (i emailed the previous week to ask if we can get a early check in) and the accommodation and facilities is of a high standard with a wonderful view over the lake.

We had a early lunch at Relish cafe, wonderful food and good service. I had a roast chicken breast with pineapple relish on couscous that was simply outstanding. Very satisfied we departed for our appointment with Wet 'n Wild Rafting. Our guide, Peter, picked us up at their base in Rotorua and we left for the 40min drive to their base camp. The rafting is on the Rangetaiki river and is 14km long and the rapids are grade 3 and 4. It was a super experience. The guide was wonderful, the route was gorgeous and it was great fun. Highly recommendable. Rating - 10/10

Polynesian Spa was next on our agenda, we chose the Adult Pools and the warm water was heavenly for our aching bodies :). There is different pools and we tried them all. Rating - 7/10

We had Thai take aways ( it is near the Polynesian spa, restaurant and take away outlet) for dinner. Spring rolls, sweet and sour beef and spicy noodles was enjoyed on our terrace overlooking the lake. Excellent.

We made a valiant effort to watch "Wedding Singer" on one of the TV channels but in vain, within 10 minutes of getting into bed i was in dreamland.

Tomorrow is the day of the "Squeeze" and of thermal explorations...

St. Augustine...
Level Contributor
387 posts
5 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Trip report - New Zealand 18 December to 15 January

I feel like I'm there, can't wait until tomorrow, thanks!

Brisbane
Level Contributor
78 posts
Save Reply
5. Re: Trip report - New Zealand 18 December to 15 January

Great report. Will read every installment.

Surrey England
Level Contributor
2,284 posts
85 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Trip report - New Zealand 18 December to 15 January

Sounds like you are having a great time.Thanks for taking the time and trouble to post daily reports.

Christchurch, New...
Destination Expert
for South Island
Level Contributor
7,062 posts
194 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Trip report - New Zealand 18 December to 15 January

A cracker report. whaty a writer, I cant wait for the next episode.

Dublin, Ireland
Level Contributor
18 posts
Save Reply
8. Re: Trip report - New Zealand 18 December to 15 January

Great reports Looking forward to the next ones as we are travelling to Nz beginning of Feb Only 6 wks to go Can't wait

New Zealand
Destination Expert
for South Island
Level Contributor
28,297 posts
74 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Trip report - New Zealand 18 December to 15 January

Great writing style Linda, and looking forward to more :)

Potchefstroom
Level Contributor
91 posts
82 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Trip report - New Zealand 18 December to 15 January

Thanks for all the replies, glad you enjoy our entrepid tale:)

Tuesday 21 December 2010

We started our day with a delightful breakfast at Koura Lodge, siting outside enjoying the views.

Our first activity for the day is the "Squeeze" at 11:00, it is a 40 minute drive on the way to Taupo. It consist of a gentle jetboat ride, then you get out of the boat in the water (not to cold luckily) and you follow a stream where you "squeeze" your way through tight crevasses in lukewarm water untill you get to a waterfall. The return journey is again on the jetboat and this time you get to experience twist and 360 degree turns.

Honestly, it was good fun but (and i know this is a cliche) I did expect more, the pool where the waterfall is, is so small that you have to make turns to allow everyone in your group a turn, i thought the goal was reaching a large pool where everyone can soak in for a while before going back. Instead the journey was the goal. But it was still a unique experience and i am glad we did it! Rating - 6/10.

After the "Squeeze" we were quite hungry and we enjoyed a picnic lunch along the river. The cherries that are now in season is fabulous and DF and i enjoyed it along with some fresh bread, cheese, pepper ham and of course the best bescuits in NZ - Tim Tams!!! :)

Lunch over, we moved on to Wai-O-Tapu thermal wonderland. This place is something else. We were amazed at all the different thermal activities that is going on here, different colour pools, sulpherous smells galore, bubbling mud, sillicon deposits, beautifull nature - all wrapped in one wonderland (hehehehe). Some places the ground was warm under our feet, it was a excellent experience and we did every one of the walking trails. Definetly a must do! Rating - 9/10

We were supposed to do the luge next, but while our minds screamed YES, our bodies simply had enough for one day and it was decided that a late late afternoon nap was in order.

We spend the rest of the day catching up with family back home and using the internet. We were not in the mood to go out for dinner and at the end had Burger King and Kentucky (!). Rating - 6/10 :)

After my earlier nap i was wide awake and only went to bed after 12:30.

Tomorrow was going to be a loooong day, driving to Wellington, being so tired after little sleep, and then there was the small matter of the Flying Fox...