1. Do the Hokey Pokey Ice Cream and all things dairy
The food in New Zealand was inventive and delicious, and nothing, I mean nothing, topped the dairy. The cheeses, the clotted cream, the milk and creamer… I devoured everything. The ice cream shops are found at every corner in NZ, each one of them packed fuller than the last. I had to find out what the hubbub was about. And when I took that first bite I tasted an orchestra of delight. From that day forward, every day was ice cream. Ice cream for breakfast. Ice cream at the gas station. Ice cream even when it was freezing cold from caving (everyone else who went caving ate soup, yet I opted for ice cream. That cold creamy goodness warmed my soul).
If you get the chance to visit New Zealand, the very first thing you should do is find a Tip Top Ice Cream shop and grab yourself a big scoop of Hokey Pokey Ice Cream. It is a cream based vanilla ice cream with specks of crystallized honey that gives a wonderful crunchy pop that melts on your tongue. It is the most delightful sensation. A MUST EAT!
2. Maori Culture
This video is what inspired me to know more about the beautiful Maori culture. Perhaps you’ve seen the youtube of the fallen comrade?
When I first heard of the Haka I had to witness this sacred ceremony first hand. Te Puia Maori Arts & Cultural Center in Rotorua puts together a phenomenal experience one that is hard to put into words. We experienced the welcome ceremony and was moved to goosebumps and tears. You will feel the intensity and the love between tribesmen and their honored guests.
3. Caving with Glow worms
Honestly, I thought glow worms were cuddly soft stuffed animals and not for real. But guess what? These guys really do exist! Apparently, glow worms are fairly abundant in this region of NZ and are the only place in the world where they are found. We hunted glow worms two days in a row, once on the official tour of the Waitomo Cave and then on a guided underground caving adventure.
The official tour was led by the 3rd generation granddaughter of the Waitomo cave’s discoverer, Chef Tane. She and her son guided the boats in the darkness of the river that runs through these spectacular glowing caverns. The boat placidly floats along to what above looks like a soft galaxy of blue stars. The experience is surreal.
The second day we opted for a chilling adventure as we suited up in wet-suits and boots and handed an accessory of one headlamp and an inner tube. After a quick crash course on how to jump off a waterfall and how to build a human eel, we entered in the dark cold abyss. This expedition is not for the faint of heart. You will be required to jump, slide and shimmy through tight situations. The only light available is from your headlamp and you will be asked to turn those off so you are able to see the soft illumination of the glow worms as you float along the canyon. Lastly, you should be warned that the waters are indeed habituated by eels that can bite.
Check out the video to see more about adventure caving:
4. Catch Some Air on a Downhill Luge
Trust me, a permanent smile will be stuck on your face from this amazing experience. Skyline Rotorua has something for everyone….wine tastings, restaurants, adrenaline swing, zip-line and more. Do it all or just go for the view. It will take your breath away.
Check out this video for the luge experience:
Happy Adventuring, mate!