Fun with Kiwis!

I am so excited! I am finally planning my dream trip to Australia and New Zealand. Both countries have been on the top of the list of places to visit for years but they seemed out of reach budget-wise for so long. Finally a flash airfare deal came along and now my dream vacation is within reach and also affordable!

One immediate problem is both counties have so much to do and see that I really have to narrow the focus down to a few main interests and cities.  I am going with a couple of friends so we all agree that beaches, hiking, caving, rainforests, bars and nightlife are a must for the agenda!  The initial thoughts on some of the attractions to see are the  Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest in Australia. Then for New Zealand we are focusing on the North island. Main highlights there are the Mud spas in Rotorua, hiking in Tongariro crossing, the Waitomo Cave tours and Auckland.

So going to two countries in one trip poses a number of challenges. There are too many cities and places to visit!  Narrowing down what we want to see in the time we have is essential. We decided to focus on beaches, hiking and some city breaks.

Here is the initial plan:


8-Leave Chicago!

9-Lose a day (where does this day go?)

10 Fly into Brisbane, Australia

11 Brisbane-Check out Brisbane

12 Fly to Cairns-One of the highlights for me is visiting the GBR!

13 Cairns – Head out to the Great Barrier Reef

14 Cairns – Visit to Daintree Rainforest

15 Cairns – Fitzroy Island-Night visit one of the Cairns Night Markets!

16 Fly to Auckland

17 Auckland-check out Britomart!

18 Drive to Coramandel; Visit Hot water beach and cove!

19 Coramandel- Pinnacles hike if we have time.

20 Drive to Hobbiton/Rorotua-Check out my post on my 9-day driving tour of New Zealand.

21 Rotorua -Hot Mud Spas and Hobbits!

22 Rotorua-Drive to Turangi, spend the night and rest up for the hike the following day.

23 Tongariro Hike-Do it 19 kilometers ….

Spend night in Waitomo

24 Waitomo Cave tour

Spend the night in Hamilton!

25 Drive to Auckland…It’s Kristen’s Birthday! Do something super fun!

26-29 Auckland- check out the beaches and islands around New Zealand!

If you are planning a trip to New Zealand or Queensland Australia too and have any questions or comments please feel free to email me!

Mud Spas, Hell’s Gate and Hobbits! 9 Day New Zealand Road Trip!

“Mud Spas, Hell’s Gate and Hobbits! My suggested itinerary for a 9 day road trip through New Zealand’s Northern island”

My friends and I are planning a three week trip to Australia and New Zealand! We are spending one week in Australia at the Great Barrier Reef and the the rest of the trip in New Zealand, based on the time constraints the focus for the driving portion of the trip is definitely will have to be on the North island of New Zealand. The South island looks amazing but we realistically will not have time to drive that far in the 3 weeks we will be on vacation, not to mention the earth quakes that have recently hit the South island making it a little risky. Maybe next time!

Here is the suggested tour we are taking:

Driving day 1-2; Pick up the rental car in Auckland and head to Coromandel Peninsula located about three and a half hour drive from Auckland.  One of the most popular beach destinations on the north island because of  the Hot Water beach, Cathedral Cove, and the Pinnacles Walk.  Spend two nights in Coromandel.


Days 3-5; Rotorua; Mud Spas, Hell’s gate, Maori Culture and Hobbits!

Rotorua is a Three and a half hour drive from Coramandel. But in Two and a half miles we are stopping at Hobbiton!  Experience the Middle-earth at Hobbiton, where you can step into the lush pastures of the Shire.  Learn the Hobbit language and meet real live Hobbits! Ok maybe not….all that.

Apparently you will see Hobbit Holes and step into the world-famous Green Dragon Inn, where you will be presented with a Hobbit Southfarthing beverage.


While in Rotorua for 2 nights we will visit one of the geothermal mud and volcanic spas:

Hells Gate Geothermal Park and Mud Bath Spa and Polynesian Spa


Day 5;  Plan on spending the day in Rotorua before the drive to Turangi . Why the late drive? Because there is not much to do in Turangi. Spend the night in Turangi.

Day 6; The next morning we wake up early to take a 40 minute shuttle to Tongariro National Park for the Tongariro Alpine Crossing Hike. Reminder to bring snacks as this is an all day hike!

Described as one of New Zealand’s greatest day hikes, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a challenging 19.4 km journey across volcanic landscapes past craters and lakes! Estimated to take about 7 hours.


Day 6; Right after the hike we drive about 2 hours to Waitomo Caves. and spend the night.


Day 7; Wake up in Waitomo and do the Gloworm Cave Tour! This looks amazing, right after the tour though we should drive to Hamilton which is only a one hour drive!


Day 8; Spend the night in Hamilton


Day 9 ;Head back to Auckland this should only take about one hour and thirty minutes. Check in at the hotel which is near the airport. After unloading the car we need to drive in Auckland and return the car.  The drive into the city is about twenty five minutes.

The last day of my friend’s vacation is also her birthday, so we need to do something amazing to celebrate! Can we top the birthday she had a couple years ago in Finland at the Icehotel? Can we top the carved from wood deer fur flask we got her? Maybe a Hobbit party might work out better this year.


Day 9; The driving portion of the tour is over!

Day 10: We are staying in Auckland, but will do some day trips to the beaches and islands nearby.