Auckland City Highlights Tour | New Zealand Travel Blog

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 10

After returning to my hotel last night (Part 9), I was too tired to wander around downtown near my hotel. I instead grabbed a quick combo at the Burger King next door. New Zealand is unlike Australia in that they keep the Burger King name; in Australia, Burger King is called Hungry Jack. It’s surprising how fast food chain restaurants can give you the same feeling in a foreign country as when you are dining in your hometown.

The name of my tour was Auckland City Highlights Tour with Harbour Cruise and Sky Tower Admission. Basically, this tour shows the main tourist attractions in Auckland, a boat cruise, and ends up at the Sky Tower.

The total tour lasts 5 hours. Sightseeing on the bus goes for 2.5 hours and the boat cruise which starts from Waitemata Harbour or simply Auckland Harbour in downtown runs for 1.5 hours. Finally, the tour company will bring you to the Sky Tower and from there you are on your own.

The tour starts by passing on Queen Street, which cuts through the main downtown business and shopping district known as the 'Golden Mile'. Then the tour bus passes the old buildings that date back to the 1880s, New Zealand’s largest university, and modern high-rise skyscrapers.

I also passed by Auckland Harbour and Auckland Harbour Bridge. There was a short photo opportunity stop overlooking the marina from the Harbour Bridge. I noticed 2 old and rusty gigantic iron wheels which provided very nice photo opportunities. Almost everyone on the tour bus wanted to take pictures with those wheels.

Next stop would be Parnell Road, where I will have time to wander around on my own for 15 minutes and have my coffee.

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 1

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 2

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 3

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 4

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 5

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 6

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 7

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 8

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 9

Inside The Waitomo Glowworm Caves | New Zealand Travel

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 9

Once I reached the waiting area before the entrance to the Glowworm caves in Waitomo, I lined up and waited with my group to enter the caves. There was a slight delay because the group before us had to finish before we entered.

The tour guides, all of them, looked like students but they all knew their stuff and were very well organised. After waiting about 20 minutes, it was our turn to enter the caves. What made me unhappy was that no sort of photo or video was allowed inside the caves. Not even without flash or with a video camera. They were selling their own high-priced photos inside, which I decided to not take advantage of.

The caves were cold and dark. There were lights to see the whole place and it was divided into sections. The ceilings were wet and the walls had water or moisture dripping. The limestone pillars and columns were wet too and their weird straight, bent, or twisted shapes felt like miracles of nature.

It felt unreal to see something that nature created in 30 million years, but could be broken by humans in seconds. And in many parts in the world, sites like these are not well preserved and humans are always destroying them.

To see the glowing of the caves, all lights had to be turned off and then another miracle unfolded. It felt like thousands of tiny lamps placed inside these rocks making them glow. The luminescent light these worms radiate is really fascinating.

We moved further underground where there was a jetty-like platform and there were cables and boats to ride and watch the glow from an even closer angle. While riding the boat on the underground Waitomo River, it felt like I was looking at a sky of living lights created by these tiny glowworms.

Tour guides used cables to hold and push the boat forward very slowly. The boat ride was not too long, but the experience was full of excitement and it felt like everyone forgot to breathe while trying to grasp the beauty of nature.

Once we made it to the meeting point outside, we went back to our tour bus. There was still about 15 minutes before the bus left for Auckland, so I took this opportunity to shoot some videos and pictures in front of the reception area.

This was the last item on the itinerary for that day. I will be heading back to Auckland from here, which will be approximately 2.5 to 3 hours on the tour coach.

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 1

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 2

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 3

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 4

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 5

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 6

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 7

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 8

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves | Waitomo, New Zealand

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 8

From Te Puia to Waitomo is about a 1 hour-50 minute drive. I was watching the scenery pass by out the window from the tour bus and the natural beauty of New Zealand felt like I was watching something from a movie. Sometimes I felt like I was having a dream because everything can’t be so unimaginably beautiful.

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves are located in Waitomo District, Waikato Region, North Island. If you are visiting New Zealand, these caves should be one of the must-see spots.

These caves glow because of a kind of glow warm called Arachnocampa luminosa. These glowing worms are unique to New Zealand and their luminescent light is what makes the caves glow. These caves are underground and connected to the Waitomo River.

The Waitomo Glowworm Caves withstand the test of time. It took 30 million years of geological and volcanic activity to create these caves. The limestone formation started when the area was under water 30 million years ago.

The limestone is made of small marine organisms, seashells, fish and other sea animal skeletons, corals, and much more. Over millions of years, the fossilized rocks layered and compressed to create the Waitomo region.

Earth movement and sea level rise formed these caves. Air exposure and seabed movement caused cracks in the limestone, allowing water to flow through them and forming the caves slowly over time.

Also, water dripping from the ceiling and dripping over the wall caused limestone to form something like pillars and columns. These pillars can be straight, bent, twisted around each other and so many other peculiar shapes that it’s hard to believe they can all be created by earth and ocean elements without human intervention.

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 1

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 2

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 3

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 4

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 5

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 6

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 7

Pohutu Geyser in Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley | New Zealand

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 7

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 1

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 2

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 3

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 4

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 5

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 6

After a quick lunch, I was heading towards the Te Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve sites. Te Whakarewarewa Valley is a huge area spreading more than 70 hectares and there were so many points to see, that it would be impossible to do in an hour. Also, I had to video and take pictures of whatever I was seeing and that adds more time.

So I decided not to go far and stay close to see nearby points. I was worried that if I got lost, I would be late to come back to catch my tour group. I will briefly describe some of the points of interest I visited.

Natural Steam Vent Cooker – Foods can be cooked just by placing a pot on hot soil via Mother Nature.

Pohutu Geyser – The largest geyser in the southern hemisphere. Erupts twice each hour and can reach 30 meters high.

Ngararatuatara Cooking Pool – Same as the vent cooker, but here you can cook food in water as the water is boiling by nature.

Lake Waikaukau – Named after ancestor Hatupatu. Very acidic water, but birds still swim in and around the waters. Another miracle by Mother Nature.

There was so much more I missed, but what I saw was more than enough to appreciate Mother Earth and nature. Miracles exist and they are just around the corner on this earth to see.

I noticed that for safety reasons, you can only walk in designated areas within fenced boundaries. But still, the vapour and hot steam from the geyser and hot spring water can reach you sometimes. Whenever I saw steam was coming my way, I had to run to avoid it to protect my cameras.

I was able to make it on time for the tour bus. The next destination was the world-renowned Waitomo Glowworm Caves.

Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley Natural Wonders

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 6

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 5

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 1

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 2

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 3

New Zealand Travel Blog: Part 4

After finishing my Hobbiton tour, I was heading for Te Puia, which is located within the historic Te Whakarewarewa Valley. Te Puia spans 70 hectares and sits on the edge of Rotorua. Travel time to reach Te Puia would be close to one hour.

On my way, again, I was mesmerized by the scenic beauties of New Zealand. It’s hard to describe, but I have captured them for you to watch on my YouTube channel and Instagram page. 

Upon arriving at Te Puia, I was given an hour and a half for lunch and the Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley tour. The building or structure where the Māori cultural centre, tourist welcome booth, restaurant and other sections are located were all made based on a combination of Māori architecture with a modern feel.

Te Puia is the centre of New Zealand’s Māori culture. The Māori are the indigenous people of New Zealand who arrived from Polynesia more than 1000 years ago. The Māori represent 15% of New Zealand’s population and their culture, history, language and traditions are central to New Zealand’s identity.

The buffet-style lunch in the new restaurant had a large selection of Traditional (Maori) food and typical Kiwi dishes. There were so many items and such a short time that I was overwhelmed and was not able to enjoy the dishes properly. I rushed to sample 6-7 items and then headed towards Te Whakarewarewa Geothermal Valley sightseeing.