“The journey not the arrival matters.” – T.S. Eliot
Arriving in Auckland, New Zealand, however, mattered a lot anyway. The Queen City welcomed us with a promise of an experience I would cherish for a lifetime; and over next couple of weeks of exploring the country, I would watch that promise come true. At the airport we were lucky to have a GoRental Self-Drive car waiting for us, a welcome third-wheel, that had four. After a quick stop at our hotel, we headed off towards the west coast to the surf beach of Muriwai. Watching its black-sand glitter under the Sun, was definitely the best part about it. From there we drove to Piha, a popular surf-spot and a beach with ruggedly beautiful scenery. Day two was reserved for a trip to the Sky Tower, an icon of Auckland skyline. The tallest freestanding structure in the Southern Hemisphere, the only fall possible from its height is falling in love with the view. It were the landscapes of New Zealand that gave life to the Lord Of The Rings movies. And to experience some of that magic ourselves, the next day we found ourselves one
hour drive away, at the Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata. Our next stop were the dreamy caves of Waitomo, lit-up by thousands of glowworms unique to New Zealand. Riding a boat, gazing at the galaxy of tiny living lights was probably the best sight I have ever experienced in my life. Our day ended with us driving for 2.5 hours to Rotorua.
In Rotorua, a trip to the world famous Rainbow Springs Nature Park and the Agrodome Farm Show was a delightful happening and the highlight of the day. Seeing the New Zealand wildlife up close full of excitement and kiwi-uteness! A city tour and shopping in the late night markets helped us have an authentic New Zealanders affair with the city.
The next day took a thrilling turn as we turned into the parking lot of Te Puia, a Māori cultural centre and a geothermal valley. To cool off after watching the active geysers erupt, we dedicated ourselves to experiencing the bright and energetic night life of the city.
The morning after called for a six hour long drive to Wellington. Anywhere else, the ride would have exhausted us, but the scenic views didn’t let us feel exhausted. An on-road trip gets even better when you take an off-road detour. We decided to take a two hour cruise ship to Huka Falls at Lake Taupo, turned out to be a great decision. Watching the majestic, thundering waterfall, we knew why it was the most photographed attraction in the country. We reached our hotel at nightfall and checked in. The dawn and the city both took our breaths away. We visited the famous Te Papa Museum to understand the indigenous New Zealand culture better and see for ourselves the ‘treasures it contains’. We made enough time to wander around the night flea market as well.
Week 2 in NZ started with us dropping off our GoRental car at the airport, to board a plane to Queenstown. Thanks to GoRental we were able to pick up another car from the airport, we drove into the sunset to our hotel to drop our luggage, and then continue our exploration of the city in the night. We returned soon after since we had to wake up
early the next day. We watched the sunrise from the car as we drove for four hours to Milford Sound. We had booked the cruise in advance, saving ourselves from the last minute hassles. As luck would have it, the weather could not have been better that day and we ended up enjoying the cruise between the high cliffs on the serene waters, immensely. It was at night that we finally returned to our comfy beds in the hotel.
The morning saw me pumped up and I myself could feel the adrenaline rushing through my veins. Skydiving had always been in my to-do list, and that day I was going to tick it off. We had had a session booked with Sky Dive South Alps. Falling from 15000 feet, I took in the awe inspiring scenery and the beauty of the creation.
By noon we had come back into town, and then found ourselves hungrily relishing the Best burger, “Ferg Burger”, in Queenstown. We strolled around the market deep into the night, the night life in NZ is vibrant and lively, unlike I have seen anywhere. Day four in Queenstown we spent sightseeing the architectural treats and the colorful streets of the city, awfully mesmerized by what we saw.
Another long drive the next day took us to Christchurch. En route we made a quick stop at the Lake Tepako taking in the picturesque view and strolling around the stone Church of the Good Shepherd. Exhausted from the previous days adventures, we decided to stay in at the hotel and relax for the remainder of the day. To enjoy the true beauty of spring we decided to drop by at the Hagley Park and then the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. Then we hopped on a Hop On – Hop Off Bus for a city tour on an awesome double-decker, perfect for touristy sightseeing. Here too the night life impressed us. The next day after a 3 hour drive, we found ourselves at the foot of Mount Cook and took in the splendor of the landscape. The next and the last day of our trip we decided to spend at the Hanmer Springs Village to indulge ourselves in visual beauty and experience physical comfort too.
After more than a fortnight of exploring and appreciating the brilliance of this land called New Zealand, we headed back to home, to Bangalore. New Zealand was exciting and refreshing and has left us wanting for more. I cannot wait to visit it again, but until then, adios!