I know. It took a bit to get this post up, but since it wasn’t any ordinary trip and was our honeymoon-we stayed on that just married and honeymoon high for a longgggg time. A year to be exact. I’m really excited to share our Two Week Honeymoon in New Zealand and all of the exciting highlights from the trip!
Like all trips, the little daily details are unique to each person based on their personal preferences, how they like to travel and the experience they want to get out of their trips. So, I’m sharing the places and activities we experienced that I think are a must when visiting New Zealand. Although if I’m being honest, I think most would fall in love with every place and space in this beautiful country.
I’ll first start off by recapping an outline of our itinerary. Yes, this was our honeymoon. But my husband and I aren’t really the types that can stay still for too long and while we wanted some romance, we craved an adventure together far more. We wanted to take full advantage of being on the other side of the world and soaking up as much New Zealand’s offerings as we could. So, the first week of our honeymoon was the most invigorating, stunning, adventurous and exhausting week of we think our entire lives so far. We slept very little and were driving anywhere from 3-6 hour drives (both ways, in one day) to get to secluded and far out places to experience certain activities. Was it worth? Yes. Would I recommend it to everyone? No. If you love adventure, nature, adrenaline rushes and the world’s natural beauty-than I do absolutely recommend sucking it up and making memories for a lifetime. We will never forget our time caving, abseiling, zip-lining, kayaking etc. in New Zealand. Sleeping a few hours here and there to experience it was well worth it.
We knew the majority of our adventure packed days would be the South Island of New Zealand, so we wanted to make this the first week of our trip. We wanted this so we could start our honeymoon with a bang and do lots of activities, then cool down the second week in North Island, where we do more eating, drinking and enjoy a more romantic time together. The reason why you can do more nature driven activities in the South Island of New Zealand is because it’s far less populated than the North Island. In fact, the majority of the population lives in Queenstown, making the rest of the Island mainly wildlife and untouched land. Which is what makes for breathtaking landscapes that haven’t been tarnished by man.
So, although we flew into Auckland which is on the North Island, we slept in a hotel airport (I think maybe got 4 hours of sleep) then hopped on a flight to Queenstown on the South Island first thing the next morning at 6am. Have I mentioned we hardly slept the first week of our honeymoon?
After spending a week in the South Island, we headed back to the North Island and spent the remainder of our honeymoon in a cute airbnb in Auckland, and used that city as a home base to visit other places in the North Island.
This is the adventure capital of the world, literally. You can experience zip-lining, mountain biking, bungy jumping, canyon swinging, gondola riding and so much more. The best part about the town is the absolutely stunning views that surround you regardless of which activity you choose. We chose Queenstown zip-lining, which is the fastest zip-line in the world. The experience with Zip-Trek includes seven zip-lines and the tour guides were fun and knowledgeable!After our zip-lining fun, we walked around Queenstown until we were literally stopped in our tracks, because of the delicious smell in the air. It ended up being Cookie Muncher Cookie Bar. This place is cookie lover’s dream.
We loved Smith’s Craft Beer House in Queenstown. The food and beer was equally impressive and on a not-so-foggy day you can see the mountains from the windows. However, even with fog, the view was beautiful.We enjoyed a breakfast at a small bar/cafe called Atlas Beer Cafe that had the quirkiest decor. By quirky, I mean kind of creepy. Check out the baby hanging from the antler.
Their food was so delicious. I ordered the egg benedict sandwich pictured below to the right and was so impressed. Their lattes were yummy too. To the bottom left are fish tacos from a taco truck/hole in the wall called TacoMedic that’s located down an alley in Queenstown. Locals recommended the place to us, so we knew we’d have to try it out. There are literally two picnic tables and you can see the back of restaurant right in front of you as you eat standing or sitting, but my goodness were those tacos amazing! It’s great place to grab a quick bite in between attractions like zip-lining, mountain biking or perusing the town and shopping.While you get beautiful views anywhere you sit down to eat in Queenstown, if you want the view below (minus the obstructing boats and docks), choose a waterfront restaurant on the Steamer Wharf like Public Kitchen. We didn’t eat there, but the food looked incredible and the view…well, it doesn’t get prettier than that.
Below is what the Steamer Wharf, which is the area by the water, looks like from the other side. So pretty and quaint.We also had burritos from Caribe Latin Kitchen for a quick takeout one of the evenings when we were just pooped (and sore from kayaking) and wanted a chill night in. Being of Latin heritage ourselves and contrary to the amazing reviews this little place had, we still didn’t think we would be impressed with a Latin joint in New Zealand. We were seriously mistaken. That burrito was almost life changing.
P.S. On the way over, we had a 9 hour layover in Australia and spent the day at the harbor by the opera house and drank some delicious hot cocoa at Guylian Belgian Chocolate Cafe.Now onto kayaking, caving, abseiling and glow worms!
A 2 hour drive from Queenstown is Te Anau, a small city that acts as a great mid point to spend a night in to experience Milford Sound bright and early the following day. Once in Te Anau, we stopped in town for dinner at The Ranch Cafe Bar & Grill where we were both surprised diverse the menu was and how good the food tasted. Nathan ordered a Schnitzel and I ordered a vegetarian Asian noodles and both dishes were SO GOOD. In Te Anau, we were an hour and 40 minute drive from what’s known as the 8th wonder of the world. And my goodness, it did not disappoint. That’s our Go Orange Kayak guide Tobias, he was awesome! We kayaked for 5 1/2 hours and experienced views that no picture does justice. From the vastness of the mountains and stillness of the air, those were some of the most peaceful and inspiring 5 hours of our lives. If you are truly a nature lover and get goosebumps from soaking in the world around us, than this is definitely something that should be on your bucket list.Our next big adventure was once we touched down on the North Island, where we went abseiling and caving. This was a 2 1/2 hour drive from our home-base in Auckland. By the way, all of these adventures get you started very early. I’m talking about having to be at the location 7am, which means hitting the road to get there at 4:30am. Yup, it was rough. But we think totally worth it.
We woke up at 4:15am to hit the road by 4:30am, to be at the Waitomo Caves by the starting time of 7am. It is a 2 1/2 hour drive from Auckland. Because of how early it was and lack of restaurants being open for breakfast at this time, we hit the road and about an hour out we went through McDonalds drive-through for Breakfast to-go. The coffee and hash brown did the job for me 😉
Once we arrived at the caves, we had a quick lesson on how to abseil (it was Nathan and I’s first time), then the adventure began down the Waitomo Cave with The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. Here we are abseiling down into the cave. That hole getting into the cave was so skinny and the distance to get into the cave was pretty long, it was a little nerve racking. Also, I should I mention I’m very claustrophobic and although we had been planning this part of our honeymoon forever, when it was time for me to head down I had to convince myself I could do it and not to freak out. It felt pretty cool to overcome it!
If you rather experience the cave at more leisure and less cold, wet and claustrophobic pace, you can do so on a boat ride through the cave.
Below is us exiting the cave after 3-4 hours. In a cave. Wet and no sunlight. With only one way out. I KNOW. And the other shots are my view going down into the cave and looking up out of the cave.And you get to see glow worms!Once you leave the cave, you can take a shower in the provided showers/bathrooms and then enjoy some warm soup and bagels that The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. provides as well. Also, the guides were so awesome, fun and knowledgeable!
Now it’s time for some latte drinking, brunch eating, hiking and wine swigging.
Our home-base in Auckland was a cute little town called Ponsonby. We could walk the shops, restaurants and cafes from our airBNB if we wanted to. It was lovely. For a coffee and sweet or savory baked treat, we loved Jess’ Underground Kitchen.But our favorite spot for brunch was Dear Jervois. Holy yum. From their lattes and poached eggs to their waffles and muffins, everything we at here (the 3 times) we visited was so yummy. A definite must stop and eat place in Auckland!
Make sure to spend a night walking through downtown Auckland to experience the bustling city scene. We headed downtown twice. Although it’s not as quant as the little town on Ponsonby where our airBNB was, where there were the cutest shops and cafes, the places to grab some dessert downtown were AMAZING. Definitely stop by Giapo. This place makes the most interesting ice cream combinations that look and taste incredible. The best ice cream I’ve ever tasted. And I eat ice cream everywhere I go!
While we were excited to finally catch up on sleep and enjoyed some relaxing time together in Auckland, it wasn’t long until adventure began calling and we hit the road on a 50 minute ride to the Karekare Waterfalls for some hiking and sight seeing.This same day, while driving and exploring a mountain, we by chance found the most beautiful beach we had ever seen. And we had it all to ourselves!
One morning we boarded the ferry from Auckland to Waiheke Island for a day filled with the most beautiful wineries I had ever seen. The views on this island, filled with over 40 wineries, were outstanding.
The wine and cheese boards were just as impressive. Below is the MudBrick Winery.
Then we headed to Stonyridge Winery.
And we enjoyed some bubbly alongside our wine at Te Motu Winery, which is where we brought home the most wine from.
Sprinkled in between these activities was some strolling around and exploring whichever city we were in at the moment and lots of eating and drinking 🙂 And trust me, with so many of these activities being day trips and exhausting, you’ll need at least a day in between to catch your breath and rest up before the next adventure.
I hope you enjoyed this emotional and logistical recap of my Two Week Honeymoon in New Zealand. Writing this post brought up so many wonderful memories, especially as our 1 Year Anniversary is quickly approaching ♥
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me regarding any questions about this trip. I know heading across the world is a big leap and it takes a lot of planning, so I’d be happy to help in any way.