New Zealand - Auckland in Three Days

After the wedding, Nate & I spent a day in Wellington & then flew up to spend a few more days in Auckland & quickly fell in love. We spent most of our time coffee shops & restaurants, it's hard for us to travel without trying all the best local spots. First up was The Flight Coffee Hangar, which was up there with one of the best shop experiences. We ordered the tasting flight & got to try three different beans. Not to get toooo nerdy, but tasting three back to back beans that are so unique was so amazing. They all tasted so different from each other, I loved it. There's nothing like the coffee culture in New Zealand. The second shop we went to that day was called Coffee Supreme & their shop was so tiny, but had donuts! Customs by Coffee Supreme [we eat coffee for breakfast cups, hello, yes.] We had dinner at one of our favourite foreign japanese food chains, Wagamama on Queens Wharf.

The next morning we got up early & hopped on a quick flight north back up to Auckland. It's a beautiful mid-sized city, but the best part about it is it's location. It's on a bay, so wherever you are in the city, you're within a few miles of water. I loved that so much! Our first day in Auckland we checked into our hotel using our favourite app Hotel Tonight, and then walked around the city. Our absolute favourite place on the whole trip was definitely The Botonist. It is a cafe & a flower shop, which was my actual dream come true & also the reason why there's a million photos of it. 

We then spent one full day out at Piha. It was a beautiful drive out there & an insane beach. On our way we stopped at Kitekite Falls for a short hike & sat at the bottom of the falls for quite a while. We then continued down to the beach.
To be honest, it was breezy & COLD, but I knew the sun was on my skin. I ended up with a little sunburn, but spent most of the day with my towel draped around my shoulders. We walked for hours up & down the beach, stopped & had a bit of a picnic lunch on the rocks & then hiked to the top of Lion Rock. It was an insane view. 

We had one last day in Auckland & it was pretty rainy, so we went to a coffee shop around the corner from our hotel & got breakfast. We walked to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa where we slowly walked around & looked at all the exhibits. It was beautiful. We then made a quick trip over to Devonport for an amazing view of the city across the bay, from the top of Mount Victoria. 

New Zealand - North Island

Nate & I have a special place in our heart for the South Pacific/Australasia. We met in Australia many years ago, so anytime we get to go back to that region of the world, we feel a certain sense of 'home'. That season of our life shaped us in such a unique way & we hold those memories really close to our hearts. So last fall when one of my dear friends from our time in Australia reached out about her wedding, I was so excited. I'd been to the South Island of New Zealand before, but Nate & I hadn't been there together. 
We spent a week before Laura & Ken's wedding traveling from the top of the North Island, to the bottom, where they were going to be married. It was a beautiful trip, & one that I will remember forever. Two people that take time the WEEK before they're getting married to go on an adventure with their foreign friends... those are good people. 

We started the trip in Auckland, where we flew into. Laura & Ken picked us up & we headed south. We stopped along the way at Hunua Falls, a waterfall that was off the highway. We did a quick change into our suits so we could jump in & swim under the falls. It was ice cold & a great wake up after being on the plane for 14+ hours. We continued on our journey to Matamata where Laura & Ken did a tour of Hobbiton. We stayed there overnight & the next morning got up early to make our way down to Rotorua. It's known for its hot springs & sulfur smell, but Ken took us to a hot river to relax in, called Kerosene Creek, without the sulfur smell. It was so lovely!!

The second day we tried to stop as many places as possible, but only made one quick stop near Taupo for lunch & a few scenic views of Mt Ngauruhoe. That night we landed at our final destination before the wedding, which was in the Wairarapa region. We stayed with Ken's parents in Carterton, their house is an oasis of plants & trees that grow every single fruit or vegetable you've ever heard of [or haven't heard of, like lemonade lemons. they look like lemons but are sweet like lemonade & you can eat them right off the tree!!]

There's something special about being surrounded by so much nature & the freedom that comes with it. I was so captivated everywhere we drove & couldn't believe how stunning it was. 

Our first full day around Carterton was spent hiking down into a Glow Worm Cave, which was beautiful. I was really thankful to have a local take us down into a cave, instead of paying for a boat tour. We went down into the cave & made our way through to the other side. At some points we were about knee deep in water, which was a little unsettling to me, but I just kept my head up & focused on the tiny little worms with their glowing tails. Once we made it out of the cave, we laid in the sun & ate some snacks by the car. 
That afternoon we drove into Martinborough, which is the cutest little town & is surrounded by wineries. My favourite spot there was Neighbourhood Coffee. I went with Laura & the girls to a wine tasting & then we had dinner at a restaurant in town. 

The last day before the wedding was spent out on the coast of Cape Palliser, seeing the sea lions & the beautiful Putangirua Pinnacles. On our way out we stopped at the Waiohine Gorge to walk across the swing bridge & sit down by the water. It was so beautiful on the drive up!! After that we made our way over to the coast to see the Sea Lions & the Pinnacles. We parked the car & walked out onto the rocks by the water & I was standing on a large rock & was about to hop to another rock when one of our friends pointed out that it was not a rock, it was a sea lion basking in the sun!! Once I saw that guy bathing on the rocks, all of a sudden I saw that there were tons of them!! They smelled terrible, but were the cutest little guys ever!

That's it for the first part of our trip, I'll post more with part II of our trip to Wellington & back up to Auckland soon!