Travel

Glow Worms, Hot Springs and Hobbiton!

Glow Worms, Hot Springs and Hobbiton –

A New Zealand Holiday as told by our client, Megan.

When Megan said she wanted to plan a surprise trip to New Zealand for the kids we were so excited to help!

It was such a surprise for the kids that they didn’t know what was happening until the UBER picked them up and Megan said ‘International Airport’. There were more surprises in store – their Nana was waiting for them at the airport, ready to join them on their adventure, AND they were flying Business Class!

On arrival in Auckland, their pre-booked hire car was ready to go. The itinerary we had planned for them would take them south from Auckland to Woodlyn Park, on to Rotorua and then on to Matamata before heading back to Auckland to explore the city for a few days before heading home. They were lucky enough to experience some great weather, which meant that many an ice cream was enjoyed along the way.

One of Megan’s tips was to stay local after each day’s activity. The kids were tired by the evening as the days were packed full and there was plenty of driving along twisting roads. A local night’s accommodation after their sight-seeing or adventure was much appreciated.

Megan’s Trip Highlights

Waitomo

Their first stop was Waitomo, where we had arranged for them to stay at Woodlyn Park, just 2 minutes from the glow worm caves. It’s a fun and unique property offering Hobbit-style houses with grass roofs, casual suites in a converted WWII boat, a plane flown in the Vietnam War and a steam-era train carriage. 

The Ruakuri Cave walk in Waitomo is New Zealand’s longest guided underground walking tour and Megan said it was the best of her lifetime. This spectacular loop walk  showcases a forested gorge, natural sculpted cliffs and low limestone arches. At night, the glow worms illuminate the banks and from the viewing platform in the tunnel you can see stalactites and stalagmites – there’s just so much to keep the kids interested.

* A tip from Megan was to try out Huhu Café on Waitomo road. She said the breakfast was great and in warmer weather you could be lucky enough to enjoy views out over the village.

Ruatari cave

Rotorua

When it came to Rotorua, we booked them in at the Jet Park Hotel, 5 minutes from Rotorua’s town centre, a short walk to the Rotorua museum and only a few kilometers from Te Puia (The New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute). The kids enjoyed being able to cool off in the pool and they also had the best breakfast there!

In terms of sightseeing, don’t miss a visit to Te Puia to learn about traditional Maori art and culture. We recommend trying to coordinate your visit with their Haka show times. If you’re interested in hot springs and mud baths, don’t miss Hell’s Gate Geothermal Reserve. With boiling mud pools and erupting water, a walk around here is a must-do. You can also try your hand at Whakairo, the traditional Maori art of wood carving.

If you’re looking for child friendly activities, the Skyline Luge is a fantastic option. Megan and the kids had so much fun cruising down through the redwood forest after taking the gondola to the top. While you’re there you can also try out the SkySwing, Zoom Ziplines, visit the Jelly Belly Store, or enjoy some stargazing or mountain biking. Megan and the kids enjoyed the Redwoods tree walk and said it would be amazing to visit both night and day, and we agree!

 

Matamata

In Matamata we booked them to stay at the Matamata Central Hotel, a short drive from the Wairere Falls and the Hobbiton Movie Set (think The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings). Hobbiton was a big highlight of their trip – just as amazing and picturesque as it is in the movies!

Megan said they enjoyed the public swimming pool, another hot spring and the markets there on a Saturday. The only downside – they wished they had stayed another day!

 

 

Auckland

Back in Auckland, they stayed at The Oaks Auckland Harbour. It’s in a prime location, only a short walk to a bus stop, and close to both the bungee jumping at Sky Tower and the museum. Megan said this was a really good option for a two night stay, and it also had a great swimming pool which the kids loved.

The family purchased a 2-day pass on the local hop on/hop off bus which helped them navigate the city easily.  They enjoyed a lovely few days exploring Auckland.

Auckland

 

We were so pleased to hear that they enjoyed their trip so much. There was definitely a bit of wanderlust in the office while planning their itinerary and collating it all into our travel app for them to take away with them!

Thanks again Megan and family for sharing your travels with us!

*****

Want to plan your own New Zealand family getaway? Email us at sonia@soniajonestravel.com – we would love to help!

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