The drive to Taupo was pretty straight forward and uneventful… (bar a stop at a random cafe that felt like we’d walked in to someone’s house . . . in the 70’s … to be fair there were not many options on the route and – shock horror – no playgrounds).
We arrived at Gables Lakefront Motel reasonably early – G was excited that a) we had an upstairs in our apartment and b) an ice-cream vendor was parked at the bottom of the driveway overlooking the lake.
We decided to get out and about straight away… so headed to Huka Falls . . .
. . .then a ‘Thermal Walk’ (as recommended to Adam by the lady at reception – we are not planning very far in advance at the moment!). We had done so little research and knew very little about the area so our expectations were blown away by the fab set up. Outside were a multitude of chickens – with chicks, peacocks & pheasants all wandering happily around. We went on to the cafe & for $10 per adult were given a map and a red thermometer gun (there’s probably a technical name)… Adam and G both wanted to be in charge of this 😂😂 It was stunning, interesting… uncrowded and completely unexpected…. but all G wanted to know was when we would get back to the chicks 🐥 ‘Bloody chickens’ Adam and I mutter as we show G the incredible geothermal activity, steam rising from cracks in the earth and walking on paths and rocks measuring 43 degrees celsius! But for G it was all about the chicks.
The next day Adam got his long awaited Christmas present – A Jet Boat ride with ‘Rapids Jet’ . . .
. . you’d have to pay me big bucks to go on it but Adam seemed to think it was fun! 🚤 We had a yummy lunch at The Spoon & Paddle… which was of course chosen due to a lovely outdoor play area! Wacky Warehouse it was not!!
Before we headed to our final NZ destination – Auckland – we had one final stop in Waitomo… on the way we made a slight detour to Matamata – home of Hobbiton! It chucked it down for the entire tour…. and G kept asking where the rabbits were (as she had misheard/misunderstood our explanation 😂😂)… but for a couple of Tolkien geeks it was fabulous!!
The reason we were staying at Waitomo was because I had read about the famous glow worm caves… and I booked a farm stay… partly because it was cheap & partly because I thought G would love it (she did – especially being called for in the morning to go & feed the animals…. of course in particular the bloody chickens!!)
Adam & I did our usual TripAdvisor & internet research into the glow worm caves… found the best trip with 5 stars… and then went on an inferior trip as it was shorter & nearer & we were not confident on G being happy and (critically) quiet during the cool highly rated 3 hour version… so off we trotted for a 45min whirlwind tour. Have to say… it was perfect & the glowworms were beautiful (no photography allowed – so I’ll add a professional image so you can see!).
The last leg of our NZ adventure was Auckland for 5 nights. We had a cool 60’s apartment – a bit retro – a bit scandi – we felt pretty at home 😆 We spent significant amounts of time at the fantastic playground 2 minutes walk from the apartment (not sure whether Adam or G was more excited by the slides!).
This did mean we had to run the playground gauntlet any time we wanted to go elsewhere though! We had a wander along Ponsonby Road – bought G a new book (she is not bored of the few we have – but Adam & I are!).
We caught the bus in to the city & went up the sky tower where G decided to freak Averil out by not only walking on the glass floors of the 60th storey, but jumping up and down on them….
. . . went on a wild goose chase for ‘the best’ ice cream shop (in the process of moving so was closed)-… I will let you paint your own picture of us explaining this to a nearly 3 year old who has just walked for 20 minutes on the promise of ice cream! 😂😂.
Weirdly the top-rated things to do in Auckland were mainly ‘leave Auckland’ – so we did! We got a ferry to Waiheke Island then a hop on hop off bus to tour the Island (vineyards & beaches – perfect!).
We had a brilliant, but very tiring day… G went for slightly more of a splash in the sea than intended as she ran away from the waves. 🌊
Luckily we did have a spare outfit with us. We have no idea, however, where the wet outfit went… lost between beach, bus, ice cream shop, vineyard or ferry?
The next day we did very little as we had all hit the wall and were getting ready to move on to Australia!