Someone once said that there is just one word for New Zealand – Epic. And epic it is, a gorgeous epic at that! We are Monali and Darshil Shah from Mumbai, and visited New Zealand recently for our honeymoon with PickYourTrail. This is our story of the most beautiful country on this planet, and of course our New Zealand honeymoon.
We expected beauty and a lot of it in New Zealand, but what we found was just astonishingly pure splendour. It seems like God had a beauty pageant and this country won the first place! We couldn’t hold our excitement at all the wonders that NZ held for us in the next two weeks.
Auckland: Throbbing with life
We landed in Auckland, a beautiful and superbly clean city. The skies were clear and the sun was bright, it was going to be a great trip! Auckland is a shoppers delight, foodie’s dream and wine lover’s paradise.
We were in Auckland for just a day, so we decided to visit its most iconic landmark – the Sky Tower. The tower has been part of the Auckland sky line for more than 2 decades and stands 328 meters high. The Sky Tower was our way of seeing most of Auckland from one vantage point – you can even spot volcanoes and some landmarks of the city from atop the tower. And talking of views, the tower has the best dining options, with the most fabulous views – we chose the Sky Cafe at the 62nd floor.
Insider’s tip: Orbit 360 is the Sky Tower’s own revolving restaurant. We missed this experience, maybe you shouldn’t!
Paihia: Beauty and History
Paihia in the Bay of Islands was our favourite destination among all of New Zealand.
The Bay of Islands is a part of NZ that consists of more than 100 little islands that are neighbours to the main North Island. The Bay area is scenic, with beautiful tropical beaches, colourful marine life and lots of Maori culture to be explored. These islands were also part of the biggest whaling territory in the 19th century New Zealand. With such history behind it we couldn’t wait to take up a cruise to Paihia’s Hole in the Rock. Our cameras were on continuous click mode throughout the four hour cruise. The halt on Otohei bay was just marvellous! We even spotted dolphins swimming along with us.
Insider’s tip: The Bay of Islands have a whole lot of activities to explore from kayaking to island tours. It is also a part of NZ that has rich Maori culture – sample some of their hospitality with a hangi meal. Take a few deep breaths of the air around the world’s largest Kauri Tree at Tane Mahuta.
Rotorua: all things Maori
A small and peaceful town, but with a whole lot of things to do and culture to experience. Roturua town is located on a lake with the same name in New Zealand’s North Island.
It is most frequented for its geothermal activity, especially the 30 meter tall Pohutu Geyser. The Te Puia region here is filled with many bubbling mud pools – nature’s own spa treatment! It is also where New Zealand’s Maori Arts and Crafts Institute is located – a chance to see how the Maoris sculpt and weave handcrafted products. How can we forget also the magnificent Waitamo gloworm caves – as the boat takes you in through murky waters, little did we expect the beauty of the gloworms lighting up the cave’s ceiling! A must do this one.
Insider’s tip: Check out the Polynesian Spa in Roturua town. It’s one of the rarest natural geothermal pools that is locally called ‘Te Pupunitanga’ or the Priest’s Bath. The acidic waters are believed to have therapeutic benefits for centuries now.
Christchurch: Contemporary NZ
Christchurch is the gateway to South Island and you can not but miss it! The first suggestion we would give for people visiting Christchurch is that spend more than a day if you want to see the town. We stopped over for just one night, but our casino visits took up most of the night. From what we saw the city was an elegant one, that highlighted contemporary New Zealand culture. If you are looking for malls and nightlife, Christchurch is it! Something unique at Christchurch is the Cardboard Cathedral – the transitional cathedral of the city. Designed after the 2011 earthquake, this structure is a must see for its unique architecture – reflects the spirit of the city that bounced back after two mighty earthquakes!
The Tranzalpine train: a seat-edge-thriller
The Tranzalpine is one of the most scenic train journeys in the world. A four hour journey, where we hardly knew time passing by, our faces glued to the window. The trip takes you through agricultural greens of Canterbury and along the happy Waimakariri River. The scenes are pretty akin to an English countryside and it’s only when you see the majestic Southern Alps do you realise that you are in New Zealand!
If you want to experience the varied NZ landscapes, then the Tranzalpine is a must for you. Greymouth is where you get see glaciers, rivers and the most famous Punakaiki pancake rocks.
The Franz Josef Glacier Walk
New Zealand proves to you time and again that it is a country that is an endless repository of beauty. Franz Josef was yet another reminder. This little town is named after the much visited Franz Josef glacier. We were there for our 3 hour adventure – the glacier walk and heli rides.
The flight up to the glacier in a helicoptor was an exciting one and takes you up through some awesome scenery. The glacier walk was guided by an experienced crew. The brilliant blue pinnacles of ice seemed to tower over you and seemed to almost merge with the bright blue of the sky. In a sudden contrast, the cold blue lead to a lush rain forest where the Glacier Hot Pools are located. These natural hot pools are probably the best way to unwind!
Ahh, the adrenaline rush we associate with Queenstown is something else! This is the adventure capital of the world with endless activities that range from thrilling to spine-chilling. This was our last destination in South Island and a fitting end to our beautiful New Zealand tour.
Here we took up the Milford Sound cruise, through Fiordland National Park, a designated World Heritage Site that is almost magical. We gasped as we saw cascading waterfalls, seals getting their suntans; the most idyllic picture that we could ever see! It was no wonder the Lord of the Rings was shot in this stunning place!
The Shotover Jet boat ride is an iconic Queenstown activity that you must not miss! The Big Red Jet Boat as the boat is called, takes you at more than 80kph speeds through the Shotover River. More than the speed, it is the dramatic spins that the driver takes you through rocks and canyons that gives you the adrenalin rush. The best ever adventure activity! Talking of the best, the Jet boat ride is in close competition to the Sky diving experience. This too became one of our lifetime best memories from our New Zealand honeymoon!
What this New Zealand trip meant to us
This was our New Zealand honeymoon trip and it did more than just bring us – Monali and Darshil, closer. That there exists a land so beautiful like New Zealand was an eye opener. That adventure can be of so many different types was a revelation to us. And yes, that a country can be so clean was something we all should take back from NZ.
When in New Zealand, we came across this Maori adage – He iti kahurangi which means, ‘A little jewel’. That is New Zealand for you – a little jewel, that we will remain close to our hearts forever.
Inspired enough to get packing to New Zealand? We are just a note away!