Two Bare Feet- Waihi Beach, New Zealand

Two Bare Feet the perfect accommodation in Waihi Beach, New Zealand.

Located in the Bay of Plenty and roughly 2 hours from Auckland, Two Bare Feet was the perfect place for us to spend a few nights before we headed back to the UK. We wanted somewhere romantic, secluded, relaxing and unique from the hotels we had been previously staying at on our journey around the North Island.

After looking online for the above specifications we found the stunning Two Bare Feet in Waihi Beach. And my word did it live up to photos, reviews and our high expectations.

The wonderful hosts have converted the downstairs of their house to a secluded coastal retreat. Renovated and decorated to the highest spec and teamed with the fact it was literally a stone’s throw from the glorious white sand of the beach it was all we had hoped for. There are 3 accommodation options available – we had the Apartment stay option. There were two other guests in the private room option but we didn’t see or hear them. Which as antisocial as it might sound was just what we wanted. The other option is exclusive stay in which you would have access to the whole area and would be ideal for two couples.

Our apartment was huge! With the dreamlike king bed, large flat screen tv, the comfiest sofas, kitchen/ dining area and a substantial bathroom, we had more than enough space for the two of us to relax comfortably. I could have lived there with pleasure.

There are Bali and Coastal influences all over the apartment and gardens. The outside area was beautiful with a daybed just made for reading in the sun, BBQ and outdoor seating area for alfresco dining listening to the sea, pretty lights and beautifully manicured garden area.

Everything is designed and laid out to be just perfect, and it really is.

Breakfast was left every morning in the kitchen also there is a cooker etc if you really fancy it. We, however, opted for eating out and can recommend The Porch in Waihi Beach. Do speak to the hosts they have lots of recommendations for places to eat throughout the area for all budgets.

For those wanting a little more of an active holiday, there is sporting equipment available to borrow. Including mountain bikes for the Hauraki Rail Trail, tennis racquets for the local tennis court and they can arrange surfboards and paddle boards along with lessons.

If the accommodation wasn’t’ enough to get you to visit then the charming little beachside community of Waihi Beach should do the trick. Located in the Bay of Plenty Waihi Beach is one the of the safest surf beaches in New Zealand. A sweet little village with cafes, restaurants and boutique shops with local artists and handmade items paired with the glorious 9km of sweeping white sand we hit the absolute jackpot with coming across this gem of a place.

While you are in the area you should also check out the numerous walking and cycle tracks around Anzac Bay, Karangahake Gorge, Hauraki Rail Trail, the beautiful Owharoa Waterfall and get historic in the gold mine town of Waihi and view the open pit of the Martha Mine.

It really was the perfect beachside retreat and one that I would go back to in a second.

To see more about Two Bare Feet click here

As much as I would have loved for this to have been sponsored post it is not. This accomodation was paid for by myself and all view are my own

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Not sure what to do in Auckland then read on

Auckland Viaduct Harbour with skytower in the background- The Wandering DarlingsWhilst venturing around New Zealand we quickly ran out of adjectives to describe the drastically diverse landscapes and beautifully natured people. Honestly, it’s just STUNNING! And the same can be said for the Auckland and its surrounding areas. Its a smaller city but don’t let that fool you there is plenty to see and do and its a great base to start your New Zealand adventure from.

Did you know the Auckland was the City of Sails? No, nor did I. And to be fair when I thought about it I didn’t really know much about Auckland or what to expect. So when we found ourselves for a few days (and bringing in the New Year) we quickly got searching for the top things to see and do to get the most out of our time there.

Those not familiar with the New Zealand it is split into the North Island and the South Island and both are said to be remarkably different landscapes. Auckland can be found on the North Island and is the largest city both in population and size. It’s actually even the largest urban area in the whole of New Zealand but not the capital- that would be Wellington. It’s a fairly expensive city to live in but didn’t’ feel too expensive to travel in. There is a whole host of accommodation choices available from b&bs and hostels to 5-star hotels and caters for those who like adventure, like their food, like relaxing, like exploring the natural world or even just like wandering through the city streets.

Here are our top 5 things to do in Auckland

View of Auckland from Devonport -The Wandering Darlings

Catch the ferry to Devonport
Well, you can drive if you like but seriously in a city with so much water around you just need to get on it. Devonport is a small harbourside suburb which has so much character. It has a beautiful waterfront parade that gives picturesque views over the Waitemata Harbour. You also need to ensure you go up Mount Victoria and North Head. Mount Victoria is the highest volcano on the Auckland harbour. Wandering on the top also gives you magnificent views of Auckland and Rangitoto Island.

Skytower Auckland New Zealand - The Wandering Darlings. What to do in Auckland

Skytower
If you can be in Auckland for New Years then you will get to see this tower in all its glory. Fun Fact Auckland is the first city in the world to see the new year in however most tv channels start their coverage with the Sydney fireworks. The Skytower has lots of options for those adventurous and those not so adventurous. You sky bungee jump off the side of the tower, walk on the side with a harness or enjoy the views from safely inside the viewing platforms. The 360 views of the city and harbour show you are amazing. You also get to see just why it is the city of sails with all the boats in the water.

View from Waiheke Island, New Zealand. what to see and do in Auckland by The Wandering Darlings

Waiheke Island
Like Devonport, this is another place that you need to get on a ferry to explore. This island is a little piece of paradise. It has sweet boutique shops with lots of lovely gifts, quirky eateries and most importantly a whole lot of wineries. One I can recommend is Goldies which is actually associated with Auckland University. The island is small and easily covered by hire car or there is a hop on hop off bus that you can go from winery to winery and a quick pit stop at the beach. I loved Waiheke and was one of my favourite places in the whole of our New Zealand trip so this comes with a gold star recommendation.

Viaduct Harbour Auckland New Zealand. What to do in auckland by the Wandering Darlings

Viaduct Harbour
This is a lovely area just by the ferry terminals. Full of huge superyachts, stylish waterfront apartments, upmarket restaurants and lots of communal space for tourists and locals alike to share. You can even find a library in a shipping container with deck chairs for you to sit and read and absorb the laid back atmosphere. This is a great part of Auckland to enjoy both during the day and in the evening. The restaurants in this area are fab with so many different styles of cuisines you will be fed and watered well!

Maritime Museum Auckland New Zealand what do see and do in Auckland by the Wandering Darlings

Maritime Museum
Adjacent to the Viaduct Harbour is the Maritime Museum which is certainly worth the entry price and gives you an insight into the maritime history of both Auckland and New Zealand. It has extraordinary exhibits and you will be surprised just how many boats they have in there. The collections are interesting and informative that leave you walking away feeling a little bit more educated about the sailing world and New Zealand’s Maritime history. You can also book to go out in a historic boat on the harbour if the weather is right.

Like with most places you visit you can’t see everything so here are a few others that we didn’t make it to but are on the list for next time.

  • Mount Eden
  • Take a ferry to Rangitoto
  • One Tree Hill
  • Visit Whatipu
  • Kitekite Falls

Have you been to Auckland? What else would you recommend in Auckland?

We’ve blogged about our New Zealand here if you want more ideas for your trip.

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what to do in Auckland new zealand by the Wandering Darlinngs

Are you ready to be in awe of the Natural Geothermal World in Te Puia, New Zealand?

If you visit New Zealand it’s almost criminal if you don’t experience the Geothermal wonders this beautiful country has to offer and the home of geothermal activity is Rotorua.  Bubbling mud pools, a thick smell of sulphur in the air, Geysers shooting up in the sky and some of the most out of this world landscapes you could ever imagine.

While we were in Rotorua we visited two Geothermal ‘theme’ parks Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland and Te Puia. I’ve previously posted about Waiotapu and you can find it here.  I’m glad we made it to both of them as they had such different offerings.

Te Puia was slightly different to Waiotapu as it had not only a greater number of geysers but more active geysers. It was also hugely informative about New Zealand’s Maori culture, architecture and even had some Kiwi Birds so you had the chance to get up close to the native wildlife.

What you need to see while you are there..

Pōhutu Geyser

This was the first geyser we saw on our trip and it was truly spectacular. The natural world really is so intriguing sometimes.  It is also the largest active geyser in the Southern Hemisphere and can erupt up to at least 2 times every hour.  You would have to be really unlucky to go and see it and not see it erupt.  Fun fact its name means ‘constant splashing’ which is exactly what it does.  Whether you are up close or standing on a platform on the other side of the park the plume of water and steam really does make you stop and watch.

Te Tohu geyser

Te Tohu is located next to Pohutu and erupts just before Pohutu does.  Another name for this geyser is Prince of Wales Feather as its plume was said to resemble the Prince’s coat of arms. Seeing the two geysers going off is a glorious sight. They are said to only erupt for a few minutes at a time but due to the frequency of their eruptions, it feels like they have a continuous plume of water and steam.

Dormant Geysers

There is at least two dormant geyser at the park. Papakura and Te Horu. They both used to erupt frequently however they have been considered dormant now since the 70’s. There are signposted showing where you can see them and maybe they will spring back to life in the future. Te Horu has been said to be bubbling at the moment but eruptions so far.

Ngāraratuatara

This is a cooking pool which they still use to this day. In the past, these types of pools would be used for not only cooking but also washing and bathing. I’m guessing it is like an ancient hot tub but I’m pretty sure the water would be a whole lot hotter than a modern day hot tub. Just imagine the wrinkles if you stayed in too long! At Te Puia, you can sample this unique cooking experience along with another traditional Maori cooking style called a hangi. The Hangi is a large pit in the earth with the hot rocks placed at the bottom. The geothermal heat in both of these methods cooks the meat and infuses the food with a unique flavour and how often can you say you’ve eaten food cooked by geothermal heat.

See a Kiwi up close

Disappointingly we didn’t get to see a kiwi in the flesh as they were all either sleeping or hiding when we were visiting. However, we did buy a soft toy Kiwi if that counts.  They have a big enclosure with natural trees and plants for the Kiwis to feel at home. The kiwi egg is also HUGE! So was really interesting to see one of these on display.  It would have been amazing to have seen one but as we didn’t it’s another reason for us to return to NZ one day soon.

Maori Buildings and Carvings 

There are lots of traditional Maori buildings on the site in the Pikirangi Village for you to walk around, go into and explore. Being able to touch the building and see the materials used, and the intricate carving was a real insight into the past. Such pride was taken in decorating these buildings and it’s such a different style of building from what I’ve seen before.

Along with this village of the past, there is also more modern buildings which are used for concerts and gatherings.  We did get to see a performance which was fascinating to watch. At first, I thought they were doing the haka but I think it may have been a slightly different welcome call.  Either way, it was amazing to watch!

There is also lots of carved statues and artwork dotted around the park. Like the house’s they are carved with such amazing detail.

We went into the park on a standard day ticket and spent a day marvelling at this interesting place. There is also a whole host of different experience options that you could opt for both during the day and in the evening. One of these experiences includes a meal cooked within a Hangi and hot pool. It was easy to walk around on your own (without a tour guide) and the points of interest within the park are all signposted with information. It is a big park so expect to do a lot of walking and whilst the paths are all easily accessible it’s sensible to wear decent shoes.

We loved visiting this place and couldn’t recommend it enough if you are visiting New Zealand. The insight into Maori history, the dramatic landscapes and captivating geysers is something we would never have been able to see anywhere else and is so far removed from the green fields of our home in Britain and the dry paddocks of our Australian home.

It really will leave you in awe of the natural world.

To find more information on Te Puia  you can find details here http://www.tepuia.com/

If you wanted to see some of our other posts from New Zealand the click away below

Martha Mine

Glowworm Caves

Waiotapu

Waiheke

Auckland

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Geothermal Wonders at Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland in New Zealand


Have you ever wanted to experience what it must be like in middle earth or even what it could be like walking around on another planet, well if your answer is yes then you need to get yourself Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland, New Zealand.

Everyone knows that Rotorua is the home of the Geothermal activity in New Zealand and it truly lives up to that status. We weren’t entirely sure what we would be expecting when we got there- maybe some mud pools, a geyser erupting if we were lucky and maybe a hole or two in the ground looking into the earth’s core. What we weren’t expecting was all the colours of the rainbow, sulphur smells and one of the most beautiful and surprising landscapes I have ever witnessed.

The first thing I liked about Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland is that it didn’t seem overly commercial like you would expect within this area. We also visited in the height of summer and whilst there was a lot of people there due to the size of the park it didn’t feel crowded. There was no queue to get in and once we started our short walk to the park we stepped into another world.


Around the park are all sorts of geothermal wonders with lots of sign posts to not only tell you what you are looking at but the science and geology behind the intriguing landscape.  You will find mud pools, caves, sulphur mounds, holes in the earth, forests, lakes, pools, water in every shade of blue and many signs with a ‘dont step here it’s 100 degrees).


There are three walks that you can do around the park and I suggest you do them all so you don’t miss a thing. It’s roughly around a 5k walk but don’t let that put you off. The walks are easy but I would suggest good footwear as the paths can be a light uneven in places. We spent the best part of a day here and it was needed there was so much to see. If you can try and get there for 10.15am to see Lady Knox Geyser erupt. We didn’t get there that early and I really wish we did! There is also some mud pools 10 min drive down the road which is worth a visit. Seeing mud bubble is so captivating. I swear I was transfixed for a good 20 min.


Whilst there is so much to see I did have a couple of favourite places in the park – Artist’s Palette, The Champagne Pool, Oyster Pool,  Devil’s Ink pots and the fluorescently coloured Devils Bath.


The Artist’s pallet is a place where you see the rainbow laid out horizontally. It’s contrasted so well against the grey silt on the other side of the boardwalk across the two pools. Right next to the Artist Palette is the vibrant blues and oranges of the Champagne pool.


The Devil has many places here from his (or her) home, ink pots and even a pool. The
Devils Home is a huge hole with yellow sulphur edges.The ink pots are three pools of pitch black bubbling away waiting for the devil to dip his ink pens in and do some fabulous calligraphy.  As you come to the end of the park and just when you have through you have seen everything imaginable you come across this fluorescent yellow pool (#notfilter) and this is aptly named the Devil’s Bath.

This was one of the best things we did in New Zealand and it wasn’t even on our initial ‘to visit’ list we kinda of just got there by accident and I am so glad we did. Seeing nature like this really just opens your eyes up to how amazing the world really is.

Finer details
-Cost NZD 32.50 adult, NZD 11 children or NZD 80 for  family ticket (2 adults and up to 3 children)
– You’ll get a map of the park including the walks and points of interest when you purchase a ticket
– Open all year round. In Summer make sure you have sunscreen and a hat as there are limited shaded areas and my other half got rather sun burnt
– There is a cafe, toilet facilities and gift shop.
– Located 20 min outside of Rotorua and 3.5 hours from Auckland.
http://www.waiotapu.co.nz/


If you want to see some of our other favourite things in New Zealand you can them here
Wine on Waiheke
Glowworms
Martha Mine
Auckland

Captured To Share – Auckland 


As many of you will know we’ve recently returned back from adventures in New Zealand. It was our first adventure to this beautiful country and it did not disappoint! The scenery, the people, the experiences and the truly majestic landscape. I’m already thinking about when we can next visit and what we still need to see.

We’ve blogged about a few of our experiences already and you can read about some of them here (there is still plenty of stories still to be shared!)

Glowworms

Wine on Waiheke

Martha Mine

Whilst we are still getting pen to paper or fingertip to keyboard so to speak we’ve written a post for our friends Captured to Share about our Top 5 things to do in Auckland.   Do check it out and this link will take you there

One of the best things we did in Auckland was seeing in the New Year.  We were surprised at how quiet it was especially compared to New Year Eve’s we’ve had in Sydney previously. We were able to have a lovely meal (without a booking!) and then stand with a fair amount of personal space and see the New Year in with fireworks off the Sky Tower. Auckland is the first city to welcome in the New Year and a night that will forever go down in our list of best nights EVER.

We only had 4 days in Auckland and by no means were able to see all of the cities delights so if we have missed anything off do let us know for next time we are down under.

 

Martha Mine

On our road trip round the North Island of NZ my partner did a lot for me – he drove (mainly because its less painful if he does), he saw alot of things that whilst he enjoyed them may not have been high on his to see list and he let me choose and plan the route. He is a man who loves machines and also current owns his own Plant Hire business so when I was planning I ensured we factored in some time in the historic gold mining region. There was bound to be big machines there!

Now in all my planning I hadn’t realised quite what we would find when we arrived in Waihi.

This is the Martha Mine….


It is HUGE! The mine sits at the end of the Main Street and is accessible via a footpath from Seddon Street and has a viewing area around the rim on the pit. There is also a replica Poppet Head and Historic Cornish Pumphouse that was moved from its orginal site in the grounds.  There was a large subsidence to one side which you can see has blocked off the roads along the side of the pit.  There is information board which explained that it was a gold and silver open-pit mine which is not operational (would be kinda hard and unsafe with the side so unstable) but that there is also an underground mine very close to this site that is operational.

We enjoyed our wander around but we hadn’t seen any machines and also wanted to know more. Opposite the mine  on Seddon Street is the Waihi Gold Discovery Centre with a museum and they also do tours. The Gold Discovery Centre was really interesting and covered so much of the history of not only the mine but also of Waihi. There was lots of hands on activities that would keep the kids (and man children) entertained. However I would throughly recommend buying the Tour and Discovery Center combo ticket.

The bus picked us up just outside and our guide was brilliant. Nice chap who knew everything about the mine and the gold history of Waihi. The first part of the tour takes you to the open-pit mine where you get to get closer to the mine and also finally see some big trucks. After some further information and a few pics we then headed down the road to the newer underground mine. On the way there our tour guide pointed out a man-made lake that the mining company (Oceana Gold) had built for the town and also highlighted other ways that Oceana Gold helped support the town. this wasnt just through employment and local charity funding but also scholarships for the high school.

Arriving at the underground mine we got to see entrance to the mine (and some more big trucks) and were also told how the operation works. One of the interesting things was regarding the rocks that came out of the mine as these were not allowed to be sold and needed to be put back into Waihi. The way they have done this is by building up the landscape surrounding and creating huge tailing ponds which have brought specific species of birds back to the area. It is a really creative and inspiring way of using something that affects the landscape to actual also help the landscape and ecosystems.

We then got to get closer to the working mine and saw the dumpers taking out the rocks and then everything going onto the conveyor belts to get broken down and starting showing the gold and silver. The tour guide had samples of gold and silver for the mine and we were able to take a few token pics.

On the bus back to the Discovery Centre our tour guide answered all the questions and had some booklets with further information that you could look through.

It was a great experience being able to have a look around the mines but I also found the history behind the town and the mine so fascinating and nice change to everything we had already done on our trip. What is the point of going somewhere if you don’t learn somethings new?


I’m still working my way through blogs on other places we visited in the North Island however if you wanted to read about seeing the Gloworms in Waitimo you can find this  here or  drinking wine at one of the many wineries on Waiheke here

Finer Details for the Gold Discover Centre

Website and details below if you would like more information

http://golddiscoverycentre.co.nz/

Tour times 10.30 and 12.30 daily (tour takes around 1.5 hours)

Prices $55 per adult for combo ticket

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wine on Waiheke 


On Waiheke Island you MUST drink 🍷 at one of the many vineyards.  Surpringly for such a smal island there is a lot of wineries. We caught the ferry over from Auckland so had a lovely day exploring and found ourselves settling in at Goldie Estate for a wine with a view. 
Goldies is one of the first vineyards on Waiheke and we learnt that when the original owners retired and their children didn’t want to take over they gave the vineyard to the University of Auckland for Wine Science. 

They had a lovely setting and cellar door set up with wines and cheeses. Such a relaxed atmosphere and we were able to try a few different wines before settling on our favourite. You can sit out on benches, cushions right next to the vines or take your wine and sit up on the hill over looking the picturesque Putiki Bay. 

Beautiful setting, amazing wine (especially the Rose) and the views. Just divine 👌

Waitomo Glowworm Caves- Glow my pretties glow 🐛⭐️

This was literally one of the best things I have ever seen in my life. Like EVER!

We had driven out of Auckland and we’re heading to Hobiton in Matamata but alas as soon as we got there they were sold out. Note to anyone planning on going defo pre book! So at risk of going a whole day with only seeing the scenery from the road (which was pretty awesome) I got online and booked tickets for Waitomo Glowworm Cave. It was about and hour and half drive there and super easy to find.

Collected our tickets just in time and then went to wait by the door to be let into the most amazing place.

Waitomo was first explored in 1887 by Chief Tane Tinorau and Fred Mace. The deaper they explored they suddenly found themselves thinking they found their way out of the caves and that night had fallen. They soon realised it wasn’t the stars they could see but actually Glowworms. The Arachnocampa luminosa is a glowworm species found only in New Zealand and are the species found in these caves.

The tour started with a walk through the caves and talk about the background and history of the caves and area. All the guides are descendants of Cheif Tane Tinorau and his wife Huti. In 1989 The land was given back to them and they can work, receive a percentage of the ticket prices and even get married within the caves. Our guide was fab she knew so much, really clear and engaging and just made the tour run smoothly. She said that it’s a family business and pointed out several other guides as cousins and uncles.

Your first experience of the glowworms is in a few little caves where you can see small clusters of them and also then with lights on so you can see the long strings they hang off. This is just giving you a little taster for the main event.
After looking through the caves the final part of the tour is spent in pitch black, on a rope pulled boat in complete silence. It should have been a eerie but it wasn’t. Slowly the guide pulled the boat along using the roaps above and suddenly the cave roof was illuminated in blue. It was like the most amazing star display within touching distance.
I was staring at the roof with my mouth open in awe whilst also wishing no glowworms fell off into my mouth. Thankfully they didn’t. We weaved around the caves and the concentration of glow worms just got larger and larger. It was there was a million galaxies above our very heads. Unfortunately you aren’t able to take photographs but the images are etched into my memories so clearly.
You then come to a small cave just near the end when you are able to take some photos. I promise in this very black picture there is something glow worms. Turn the brightness up, zoom in and squint and you’ll see them 😂
Glowworms in Waitomo Glowworm Caves
You then get m off the boat in the bottom of the gorge and make your way back up to the entrance still not believing what you’ve just witnessed.
The cost was $50NZ per person and we were there for around an hour/hour and half. You don’t need to be overly fit but there is walking and steps so wear appropriate walking footwear if possible.

This really was a bucket list activity and if you are in the North Island ensure you plan to visit. You won’t be disappointed.

Check out their website for stunning pictures within the cave and more details
http://www.waitomo.com/Waitomo-Glowworm-Caves/Pages/

shire views of matamata

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Waitomo Glowworm Caves

Almost home time 

As my current adventure draws to a close I’m getting a little sad at the thought of reality drawing in and the routine of normal life.

Over the last three weeks my partner and I have been celebrating Christmas with family on the Gold Coast,  been surprised by best friends, gallavanted around the north island of New Zealand and now spending a few days in the heat in Brisbane before heading back to the cold and grey UK.

We’ve had some amazing experiences and I’m hoping the 24 hour flight will give me some good quiet time to get up to speed with my blog so I can share it all with you.

I’ve been updating Instagram with a few photos -rather small collection against the 1,800 or so I have still to go through #ithinkihaveanaddiction 📷 If you are on Instagram you can find me @thewanderingdarlings or on Facebook search for the The Wandering Darlings.

But reality  isn’t for another 4 days so as the sun is shining (its up soooo early in Brisbane!) I’m off to fill every last hour with fun, sun and excitement.
Keep an eye out over the next few weeks when I’ll be doing some mass uploading on our adventures down under.

Happy New Year

X