Monday, June 29, 2015

Guest post: Breath-taking New Zealand

I fell in love with New Zealand every day during the week I spent there. At what felt like every turn, I discovered something new, something that made me want to try and miss enough flights home till the government would just give up and grant me permission to stay!

New Zealand is known as an adventure destination, and it really is a haven for that. The luge was an unparalleled experience for me, especially since I did it at night, and the skyswing and flying fox I am sure would have been a delight to try had I not already been frozen through. But, considering adventure is all anyone talks about when it comes to New Zealand, I am going to talk about everything else but that.

I landed at Auckland airport and had three hours to spare till my coach arrived to take me to my first destination – Rotorua. After 30 minutes of walking around the airport and it’s handful of stores, the only thing left to do for me was to step out. That is how I got my first glimpse of the beautiful country: greenery everywhere, seagulls waddling around unconcerned by human proximity, and, most important to someone from Mumbai - brilliant weather.
Rotorua Crafts Village

A few days into my trip I asked my guide what summers were like in New Zealand, and she replied, “It’s really warm. It touches 24.” She really couldn’t understand why I laughed at that.

The drive from Auckland to Rotorua consisted of rolling countryside and the fattest, fluffiest sheep I have ever set eyes on. It was a three-hour drive after two long flights, and I didn’t sleep a wink! 
Rotorua Museum
Rotorua, where I spent four days attending a conference, is plagued with the smell of sulphur as it is a hotspot for geothermal activity. But I hardly noticed. Dawn and dusk in Rotorua bring with it a soft curtain of mist that emanates from these geothermal ponds, so for a few hours in the day all you can see of the lake in the centre of the city is this white blanket. During the day the weather is perfect to just walk around and take in the sights. It has a brilliant museum, a lovely crafts centre, beautiful walkways and souvenir shops galore.

But my favourite part of my stay in Rotorua was discovering that Hobbiton was only an hour away. I can imagine visitors who have never heard of The Hobbit being exceedingly thrilled with visiting Hobbiton. To a Tolkien fan, it is perfect in every way, with intricate details that leave you wanting to go home and start a Hobbit movie marathon so you can point out exactly which hobbit hole you stood in front of. 

For non-fans, it is just the most beautiful photo opportunity there is. Standing in front of Bag End I could see visitors dressed in Elvish cloaks drinking ale, and, in stark contrast, people who looked at us like we were nuts when we discussed Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday. It was the best day ever!


Maansi Sharma writes for a travel magazine. Originally from Pune, she has now made Mumbai her home. She loves her gadgets, her food and her boo - and in that order! If you wish to know more about New Zealand or any of the vast number of destinations she has visited, she can be reached at

Look out for part deux on New Zealand 'Big pleasures in tiny New Zealand' where Maansi describes her experience of visiting Queenstown and Christchurch that was destroyed by earthquake some years ago. 

All photographs are taken using Canon EOS 1200D  

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