The Thermal Wonderland of NZ

Rotorua is famous for hot springs, mud pools, geysers and interesting Maori culture. As I am a budget traveler, I didn’t get to see a lot of what this geothermal city has to offer but I sure had a great time here. 

I first visited Redwoods where I spent at least couple of hours in the woods. You can easily take bus no. 3 in the corner of isite which cost NZD 2.60. 

This is where I get dropped off and the Redwoods isite is just kilometer away. 

Here are your choices. 

I was going to do the Tokorangi Pa Track but when I went up there, there was not one person and I didn’t feel safe doing the trail alone so I went back down and continued on to Quarry Track instead.

Beautiful giant redwoods welcome you ar the start point.

What do you expect in the woods? Of course, beautiful trees along the way! 

Here’s the view from Tokorangi Pa Track where you could see a little bit of the city.

On my way back…

After my nature adventure, I decided to soak myself at Polynesian Spa which was very close to my hostel. 

I paid NZD 45 for the Lake Spa. It includes the use of locker room, towels, shower with shampoo/body wash, conditioner, hair dryer. I rented their swimsuit for NZD 10 where you get NZD 5 refund when you return it. They have 5 pools with different temperatures from 36 to 42 degrees. It maybe a little expensive but I swear it was worth it. I spent at least 4 hours here. I left around 4PM when the crowd started to get crazy. 

On my last day in Rotorua, I just walked around. I went to Kuirau Park where you can see geothermals for free. 

I then went around the lake front where you can see lots of birds and swans. 

And if you walk your way to the Government Gardens, you will pass by the Sulfur Point Wildlife Sanctuary. 

The Rotorua Museum where you have to pay NZD 20 to enter so I didn’t get to go inside.

The Gardens…

Rachel’s Spring…

I didn’t get to spend much time and money in Rotorua. I sure have many reasons to come back here. Anyhow, I enjoyed my 3 days here and the little things I got to do. πŸ™‚

Mount Maunganui, NZ

I hitchhiked for the first time from Matamata to Mount Maunganui (Tauranga). Within 3 minutes standing on the side of the road, a car stopped. A lady named Linda who happened to have visited my country, The Philippines before. She was very kind. She even gave me her number to call her in case I get stuck, I can stay at her house. πŸ™‚

I decided to stay at Pacific Coast Lodge and Backpacker though. A little over a kilometer away to Mount Maunganui which I visited right away. 

Here it is. Not too high. πŸ™‚

I’m only starting and here’s my view already. 

What can you expect from the top? 

I spent at least an hour on this spot. It was just so serene. 

Here’s on my way down on the other side. 

The harbour side is where I ended when I came down.

I then went to Maunganui Beach. Lovely weather!

Nice little town. Bay of Plenty indeed. πŸ˜‰

Matamata, NZ

I luckily found a couchsurfing host in Matamata (well in the suburb actually). I didn’t expect it would be in the so this is like a dream come true to me since I’ve been wanting to stay in the farm. 

This is the house! 

Simon gave me this room for 3 nights with an awesome view. I could literally watch the sunset from my bed.

I visited the Wairere Falls which is only around 2km from his house. 

The hike took me an hour and 15 minutes while it only took an hour going down. It was muddy and slippery as you get closer to the top. The view was amazing of course. 

These are the views from the secret place my host told me about on my way to the falls. πŸ˜‰ 

I got to join my host, Simon for his morning routin at the farm. I got to ride on his cool big ass tractor and helped him a little by unwrapping food for the cows. 

While in Matamata, I got to do the Hobbiton Movie Set Tour;

I had a great weekend here. I learned a lot about farming and the industry’s current situation. My host was amazing who willingly picked me up and drop me off to places. Cooked meals and shared a lot of interesting information. Staying with the locals is really the best way to get that amazing experience while traveling. πŸ™‚

Hobbiton Movie Set Tour

I’ve never read the book nor watched the movie but I did this tour anyway. 

I booked my ticket through Naked Bus company when I booked my bus online from New Plymouth to Matamata where it is $9 cheaper compare to booking it through Hobbiton Tours website. I got the 2pm tour which seemed to be the only option. 

I arrived at Matamata i-site at 1:30pm, I had to check in then I was given my ticket. 

The bus departed at exactly 2pm. Our guide/driver was funny Big John. 

The Hobbiton Movie Set is located at Alexander Family Farm southwest of Matamata in Waikato, NZ. It took about 30mins. to get there, beautiful view on the way of course. Lucky the weather was beautiful too.

Our guide was Charlie. She was funny and friendly. Here we go…photos from the actual set. πŸ˜‰

One of the trees is fake.

Yup, this small tree is fake! They did an awesome and expensive job to make it look so real. 

And this is the billion dollar tree. This is the main reason Alexander Farm was chosen for the set. 

At the end of the tour we had our free drinks. I had Amber Ale. 

We got back at the i-site by 4:50pm.

NZD 70.00 maybe a little too much  but I think it’s worth it. I’m not a scifi fan but I’m definitely watching the movie after this. πŸ™‚

New Plymouth, NZ

So what’s in the major city of the Taranaki Region? I guess the Coastal Walkway is one of the biggest attractions here which I visited first. It’s a 13km path which is good for bicycling or walking or just simply enjoying the breathtaking view of the west coast. The pathway includes the iconic Te Rewa Rewa brigde. I cycled here for 2.5 hours. Here are some of the beautiful photos I’ve taken alomg the way.

Unfortunately, it was too cloudy for me to see Mt. Taranaki but the bridge itself is awesome.

I visited the Pukekura Park next. It was a nice walk as I expected. 

I headed straight to Puke Ariki museum and library. If you need to use a computer, you can simply ask for your log in details at the reception area. 

I also checked out the Art Gallery. There wasn’t much there but it’s worth a visit while in town. 

On my last day in New Plymouth, I went to the rooftop of the Centre City’s parking lot. Mr. Mt. Taranaki showed up just before I left. πŸ™‚

What a lovely stay in New Plymouth. πŸ˜‰