Being an ex-pat who has lived in the land of Down Under for over 15 years, New Zealand presented an experience which felt a little like Australia, and yet was a vastly different setting. The mix of beautiful landscapes, the omnipresent Māori culture, friendly, easygoing Kiwis, and delicious Sauvignon Blanc was both charming and disarming. I loved it.
Here’re some of the highlights of my short adventure trip with the boy to New Zealand – North Island region, which includes Auckland, Rotorua, and Lake Taupo.
Moments after we touched down in Auckland, we headed straight to Countdown (the largest grocery store chain in New Zealand) and bought oats, bread, fruits, nuts and some snack carrots. We knew we wanted to make breakfast every day and have healthy snacks available all the time so it was a good move on our part. We stayed at Quest serviced apartments equipped with a kitchen which helped tremendously with our effort to maintain a somewhat healthy diet during our travels.
AUS 1800 334 033
NZ 0800 944 400
International +61 3 9645 8357
We started our journey with a trip from Auckland to Rotorua via Wai-o-tapu. It’s a great spot for geothermal gazing complete with an extensive walking track and funky coloured bubbling thermal mud pools.
Wai-o-tapu Thermal Wonderland
Open every day including all Public Holidays
April-October: 8:30am-5:00pm (last admission 3:45pm)
November-March: 8:30am-6:00pm (last admission 4:45pm)
Christmas Day: 8:30 am-5:00 pm (last admission 3:45pm)
Phone: +64 7 366 6333
When in Rotorua, one must visit the hot spring pool. Nothing is as pleasant, or potent, as a mineral-rich thermal spa (and a shivering cold rinse after) to ease one’s troubled mind and relax one’s tired body.
We went to the Polynesian Spa which was within walking distance from our Quest apartment and I must say, it was pure bliss. The spa encloses five shallow hot mineral pools with various degree of ‘hotness’ and a picturesque view of Lake Rotorua.
Address: Hinemoa St, Rotorua 3010, New Zealand
Hours: Monday – Sunday 8AM-11PM
Phone: +64 7-348 1328
From Rotorua we drove to Lake Taupo where we stayed overnight at the largest and probably most scenic freshwater lake in New Zealand.
For dinner we went to Bistro Lago, located at the Hilton Lake Taupo. It’s not the most vegan-friendly restaurant but we were quite happy with our fresh green salad and our simple yet delicious veggie roast featuring snow peas, green beans and potatoes.
Bistro Lago at the Hilton Taupo
Hours: Restaurant 7am-9pm Bar 8am until late
Address: 80/100 State Highway 5, Taupo 3330, New Zealand
Phone:+64 7-378 708
One highly recommended activity in Taupo is a visit to the Huka Falls and the Huka Falls Jet ride. The ride offers a thrilling 30 minute ride along the Huka river while passing through bushes ‘so close you almost crash’ at high speed, and lots of 360° donut spins to keep your adrenaline rushing.
If that doesn’t appeal to you then this might: it’s the only water jet that can take you right in front the magnificent Huka Falls.
Huka Falls Jet
Address: 200 Karetoto Rd, Taupo 3330, New Zealand
Hours: Monday to Sunday 9AM – 4:30PM
Phone:+64 7-374 8572
We ended our trip where we started, in Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, where we spent most of our time mmm.. eating.
Street Art in Auckland
We made sure to visit The Unbakery at Little Bird Organics. It’s a raw, organic, vegan cafe which came highly recommended by a lot my vegan friend. It serves delicious salads, sumptuous raw cakes and dairy-free coffee. It was fabulous!
Little Bird Organics
Address: 385 New North Road, Kingsland, Auckland 1021, New Zealand
Phone:+64 9-550 7377
Hours: Monday – Friday 8AM-2:30PM Saturday – Sunday 8 AM-3PM
On our last night in New Zealand we treated ourselves with a lovely dinner at Eight at the Langham. They had buffet and à la carte menus available. We chose à la carte and managed to get a few dishes specially made vegan for us.
Address: The Langham Hotel 83 Symonds St, Grafton, Auckland 1010
Hours: Friday to Wednesday 6AM-10PM
Phone:+64 9-300 2924
Wise Cicada Café
Hours: 8am – 6pm Monday to Friday & 9am – 6pm Sat & Sunday
Address: 23 Crowhurst, Newmarket, Auckland
Phone: +64 9-529-9529
And that’s a wrap.
E noho rā New Zealand. You’ve been awesome!