642.7 kilometers later, welcome to the most populated city in New Zealand -- Auckland where around two-third of NZ's population reside at. It's hard comparing Auckland and other cities, because of the urban lifestyle and hustle bustle it can offer. If you're more of a city person, you would be able to find Auckland an easy city to navigate around with the familiarity and convenience of urban city. However, for my trip I didn't really focus on the famous local spots within the city. Instead, I went for a wine tour at Waiheke Island, Hobbiton and Rotorua, which are in near distance from Auckland.

Coming from Melbourne, my perception of wineries are always located by countryside and going for a wine tour on an island definitely creates a fresh experience. Purchase a wine tour ticket at Auckland Ferry Terminal and hop on a 40-minute ferry ride to Waiheke Island. According to the agency you purchased the ticket from, a tour guide will be awaiting you with your designated bus to have a taste of New Zealand wines. If you're not an oenophile (a lover of wine), indulge in the breathtaking sceneries of Waiheke Island especially with that spectacular view of turquoise blue oceanic water and rolling hills ahead of you, just pure stunning to experience it yourself.

Before Hobbiton, I actually made a pit stop at the Waitomo Glowworm Caves which is not pictured because photography is prohibited to preserve their living habitats at its best condition. If you enjoy the feeling of watching a sky full of bright and glowing stars, going into this cave will put you in an almost similar but more refreshing experience. Needless to say, the movie set of Hobbiton is another entity by itself. Nothing felt more surreal than standing at the space you have watched it from the big silver screen and absorbing this reality, which makes me feel a little bit like Alice from Wonderland at that moment. Every stops the Hobbiton's special guide led my group in Hobbiton, the moving images of LOTR and The Hobbits couldn't stop appearing in my mind while admiring every cinematic angles. Really salute to Peter Jackson and the production team's dedication in making the story come alive, and I wouldn't want to leave this beautiful place!

Dragging my footsteps away from Hobbiton reluctantly, I headed further south to Rotorua. At this small town, you still can find beauty in understanding more of the indigenous Maori culture at Te Puia and Rotorua Museum. Also, the day was fairly spent at exploring their popular visitor attractions, including Whakarewareware Thermal Valley, Rainbow Springs Natural Park and Agrodome -- where I had my first experience witnessing sheep being shorn and touching them.

Even though I've visited New Zealand few months earlier, those memories are still vivid and I can never forgot the picturesque sceneries that are still so well preserved in this modernised century. All this while I have only followed guided tours, but New Zealand is definitely a country I will return and explore by myself.

Love, Sharon.


Popular Posts