From Rotorua, we drove to Aukland, first to Waitomo, where we enjoyed a guided excursion underground through the Ruakuri Cave Complex with its fascinating natural landforms including tiny glow-worms (formally known as Arachnocampa luminosa – just in case you needed to know) that shine in the dark like stars. Thousands of these tiny creatures radiated their unmistakable luninescent light while our expert guides provided informative commentary on the Caves’ historical and geological significance. Unfortunately we don’t have pictures because the worms are camera shy.
We had lunch at the beautiful Longlands Restaurant, a stunning hideaway in the NZ hills.
Our journey then took us to the amazing Hobbiton Movie Studios where many of the Lord of the Rings and Hobit film trilogies were filmed. It was a blast. Leslie found ‘her people’.
Later we travelled through rural landscapes and followed the willow-lined Waikato River and crossed the Bombay hills to Auckland, “The City of Sails”. We were totally spoiled at the Stamford Plaza Auckland.
After breakfast, we joined our coach for a city orientation tour including views of historic Parnell and One Tree Hill.
We visited the Auckland War Memorial Museum, New Zealand’s first museum showcasing the story of New Zealand, its place in the Pacific and its people. Here is a kiwi, a Japanese fighter plane and an historic Maori canoe.
Lunch was a Harbour Sailing Lunch Cruise around picturesque Auckland Harbour and we got to sail the boat! The weather has been fantastic during our whole Aussie and NZ trip and today was so magnificant with the warm sun on our faces and a breeze keeping us cool.
This is the end of our New Zealand leg of our tour. Tonight we fly to Sydney and then on to our home destinations. This has been a wonderful trip. We have seen so many sites, learned so much about New Zealand and Australia and have made life-long friends. Thank you Women’s Travel Network and Worldwide Quest for a truly life changing experience.