North Island – Auckland – Rotorua – Christchurch, New Zealand – 2023 – Day 8-11

By rosannau / On


Rotorua, New Zealand


We started off our morning heading back to Auckland airport to pick up our car rental. To our surprise, no cars were available even though we had booked ahead of time. We spent a good hour trying to find other places that have cars to rent.

All the car rental stalls were sold out of rentals. The lack of car inventory for rent was due to the recent flooding in Auckland. Luckily we waited around and had tried to book 2 other car rental bookings and by some strike of luck, a woman came in and dropped off keys to a car. The lady working said we can have that car but if we wanted it cleaned it would take an extra 2 hours. We opted against it and checked for any damages on the car and off we went. 

Back to driving in New Zealand on the other side of the road took a little recalibration. A Kia Sportage to get us to our next destination – Rotorua. 2hr34min on the road from Auckland Airport.

After we dropped off our things, we went straight to Patrick’s Pies Gold Star Bakery for meat pies – best meat pies in NZ. We grabbed a chicken vegetable and a pork belly with caramelized onions and creamy mushrooms & cheese (12.90NZD). We stayed at this wonderful Airbnb close to Whakarewarewa.

Our next stop was Kuirau Park. It’s a FREE park that has many geothermal areas and mud pools. Loads of signs warning to stay on the trails and not to touch the pools of water as they are 100°C. They even have a designated area where you can sit and soak your feet in foot baths.

We continued onto Mountain Jade. This store/studio also offers tours where you get the behind-the-scenes with the artist carvers who show you the process of carving jade. $35nzd for the full tour (you get to go in the studio and watch them carve a piece live and receive a piece of jade from what they create). They also a free educational information session once a day.

Ventured to Government Gardens and walked the grounds. Very well kept and pretty but not much else to it.

For dinner, we went Abracadbra Cafe. We had the Spicy Prawns (14NZD) and Moroccan Beef & apricot tagine (31NZD)

To end the day, we got ice cream at Lady Jane’s Ice Cream – fig & honey, blackberry & blackcurrent.


Rotorua, New Zealand

Getting to know and be one with the land where Rotorua resides. We started our day at Whakarewarewa – The Living Maori Village. A village home to the Tuhourangi & Ngati Wahiao People. They reside on a geothermal plateau and use the natural geothermal resources to cook, bathe and heat their homes.

We did the full day pass (90NZD – a few NZD cheaper than purchasing tickets separately) which gave us access to self guided walk, guided tour and cultural performance.

We got there for 9AM when it opened and off we went to explore the site ourselves. Perks of going early is the lack of others around so you have the place to yourself. Very doable to explore all of the self guided areas before the tour at 10AM if you move quickly. My favourite area was 15/16 (Te roto a tamaheke & Te puns waiariki poaka).

We had Philip as our tour guide and he was very informative. The pools range from 90-110°C waters. We got to taste the sweet corn straight out of the waters. No seasoning is added as the water is full of rich minerals.

Grabbed a Mince pie with cheese at Pataka Kai (7.50NZD) for lunch.

Our next adventure was with Kaitiaki Adventures. Mt Tarawera Volcanic Crater Experience half day tour with Daniel & Rocky as our Guides.

An absolutely amazing experience. 30min drive on normal roads then 30mins off roading. Daniel started us off with a blessing as Mt Tarawera is sacred lands for the Maori and we are guests.

Rotorua once housed the 8th wonder of the world – pink and white terraces which was destroyed when Mount Tarawera erupted June 10th 1886.

We started on top and walk on ridges and before you knew it, it was time to go down the crater in the scree (unstable steep mountain slope composed of rock fragments). You can run down if you’d like. The trick is to lean back (slightly) and dig your heels in and not lead with the toes, find the darker sections where the previous person had stepped – find your rhythm and you can fly down safely. About 10mins to get down at a moderate speed. We got down and well, you gotta get your way back up.

We were stoked that the day was cloudy as it would have been much more difficult to do this in the heat. We also were lucky as the previous tours in the week were not in good conditions with rain and wind.

After a long day, we headed over to Eat Streat for dinner – much deserved. We ate at Atticus Finch. We got the Ginger sesame fried chicken (15.5NZD), fries (8NZD), spice rubbed lamb rump (37NZD) & chargrilled angus sirloin (37NZD).


Christchurch, New Zealand

2.5hr drive from Rotorua back to Auckland Airport and onwards to Christchurch. We flew Air New Zealand and it was a smooth and quick flight over.

We arrived to weather that couldn’t make up its mind. Sunny for a hot minute then hits you hard with diagonal rain then all calm before a surprise attack of rain and sun.

With the weather acting the way it was, we took some time after checking-in to finish organizing another portion of our trip and booked the last flights for the entire trip.

We stayed at 239 on Lincoln Motel in the Addington area and walked through Hagley Park, Art Centre, Cathedral square (the church is under renovations), Turanga Library and New Regent Street Precinct.

We had dinner at Banh Mi Kitchen. We ordered beef noodle soup (16.90NZD), Fresh Spring rolls x3 (9.90NZD), Grilled Pork Banh Mi (10.50NZD)


Akaora, Christchurch, New Zealand

Grabbed breakfast at Addington Coffee Co-Op. I got a bagel with Akaroa salmon and capers (16.90NZD).

After breakfast, off we drove to Akaroa. Bev’s turn to drive.

Akaroa is a town about 1.5hrs outside of Christchurch that still carries the French and British influence/flair from colonial days. What makes this place even more special is that this area was once 1 of 3 ancient volcanoes that formed the Banks Peninsula and are shield volcanoes (built almost entirely of fluid lava flows)

It is now home to many water species such as Pohatu penguins, seals and Hector Dolphins. The main reason for our trip to Christchurch was to swim with dolphins in Akaroa with Black Cat Cruises. As we arrived to check in, we were told swimming with dolphins had been cancelled as they attempted to go out earlier in the day and it was impossible. 2 meter swells and 9 foot drops were definitely not safe conditions.

Bev was devastated but another offer was made – we could still go out and see wildlife but not swim with them via the Akaroa Nature cruise (99NZD) on a larger boat. We said yes since we had come this far already.

It was an absolutely great time. We were able to spot many “elusive and shy penguins”, seals and about 5-6 dolphins. Our new friend for the day Katharina from Munich, Germany who is an Osteopath. She was our dolphin spotter for this boat cruise. She was in Kaikoura and said she had seen probably 200-300 dolphins.

After about 2.5-3hrs onboard, our trip was done and off to find some food but also start making our way back to Christchurch. Stopped at Little River Cafe and grabbed a Carrot cake w/ice cream (10.50NZD), chicken bacon and mushroom filo (12.50NZD), chai latte and Bev got steamed oat milk (lactose intolerant life 🤷🏻‍♀️)(9NZD).

You would think our day was done there but NO!

Our evening event was the first match of the season for the DHL Super Rugby Pacific – Crusaders vs Chiefs. It was fun to watch it live and to be sitting amongst the fans of the home team – the Crusaders. Unfortunately, The Chiefs came out stronger winning 31-10. Thank you to the man sitting beside us who explained the rules to us.

With KFC being one of the huge sponsors for this league, we got pulled in and gave in to having it for dinner. Aloha bacon Burgers, popcorn chicken salad and fries (26.46NZD)

Leave a Reply