Waitomo Caves Black Water Rafting in New Zealand

Waitomo Caves

This is a post from my “Photo Rescue” project where I’m rediscovering all my pictures from New Zealand. Read all posts about New Zealand here!


For our time on the North Island of New Zealand, we stayed in Raglan on the coast. (And I wrote a post all about our home away from home in Raglan here) It made a great home base for day trips such as Hobbiton and the famous Waitomo Caves!

Raglan New Zealand

We drove our rental car from Raglan to Waitomo, about 1 and a half hours in the car though the beautiful New Zealand countryside. In Waitomo, we’d choosen to use The Black Water Rafting Co. to guide us through the caves.

Black Water Rafting Co

Guides helped our small group (no more than 12 people max) get suited up for rafting, including a wetsuit, rubber boots, and helmets with headlamps. We did the Black Labyrinth Tour which takes about 3 hours. First things first, they had us practice maneuvering in our tubes… including a jump off a ledge in a nearby river. (Inside the caves you can either jump or climb down in a few places, and we were excited to do the jumps!)

After some practice, we were ready for adventure as we grabbed our tubes and headed to the caves.

Waitomo New Zealand

It is completely dark inside except for the flashlights the guides carry and our headlamps….

black water rafting new zealand

…which makes the experience of seeing the glowworms inside so spectacular. It reminds you of the night sky as you climb through the cave and float down the underground river….

In this photo on the left – we are about to jump off the ledge into more water below!

As we climbed out of the cave, the sunlight felt so bright. Your eyes adjust as you find your way up and out and head back to the hub with the group.

Black Water Rafting Co

If you are interested in exploring the Waitomo Caves in New Zealand, the Rafting Company was so fun and helpful. They also have a longer tour, the Black Abyss, that includes more climbing and zip-lining. Or, if you want a more relaxed experience that doesn’t include a wetsuit or rafting, you choose a walkthrough tour or small boat ride of some different parts of the cave system. And the Ruakuri Cave is wheelchair accessible.

What a great day.

Like many toured areas in New Zealand, the operators as well as conservationists monitor and work to care for the biodiversity and environment health of the caves.

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A Home Away from Home in Raglan, New Zealand

Raglan New Zealand Floor

This is a post from my “Photo Rescue” project where I’m rediscovering all my pictures from New Zealand. Read all posts about New Zealand here!


Our AirBnb in Raglan, New Zealand was too cute not to get its own post. I was enamored with every bit of it – the interior design, the views, the record player. This place had it all!

We decided to stay in Raglan almost by accident. We flew from Christchurch to Auckland with a plan to book a place in the city, but we changed our minds at the last second. Instead, we booked a place in Raglan – a small town by the ocean with great spots for surfing, kayaking, and enjoying the water.

We spent most of our time in this sun-filled room with a view of the bay….

Bay View Windows in Raglan New Zealand

The perfect spot for me to keep re-reading The Hobbit 🙂

I loved all the midcentury style furniture and the overall color scheme of this room. Plus, the light fixtures! Love the look of these and the wide light they cast at night.

Here, see the fireplace in the background with the mantle styling? Love how the colors there pick up on the colors of the seating in the foreground.

And then, this nook just off the kitchen was perfect for a morning coffee…

Let’s see a beauty shot of that floor. The color story, the intricate tile-inspired designs – I love all this, too!

Raglan New Zealand Floor

And speaking of the kitchen, here is a peak at it. I love the juxtaposition of that yellow light with the aqua cabinet doors. Gives it some real pop, y’know?

Ragland Kitchen

And last but not least, the bedroom with this amazing dresser + mirror.

Raglan, New Zealand was a great place to stay as our central hub on the North Island. From here we were able to head out on day trips like Waitomo and Hobbiton. But my favorite part might have been this cozy home away from home!

xx Kate

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Swimming with Dolphins in Akaroa

This is a post from my “Photo Rescue” project where I’m rediscovering all my pictures from New Zealand. Read all posts about New Zealand here!


I have been waiting for this post! I couldn’t wait to share the photos from our experience swimming with dolphins in Akaroa, New Zealand. Everything about this was a once-in-a-lifetime amazing experience for me. Let’s dig in!

We did Akaroa as a day trip from Christchurch on the South Island. In November, it was a very doable and scenic 1.5 hour drive.

There are a few choices of tour guides for Akaroa experiences like this one, and we went with EcoSeaker. We chose them because we liked their longer tours, commitment to education, and history of conservation/habitat protection.

Only 12 people go out once a day to minimize any potential impacts on the environment or wildlife. Here we are on the boat…

On the boat

Everyone is provided with wetsuits to help you float in the ocean. They are fully buoyant and keep you warm!

At the time, I was not the strongest swimmer (I could tread water and swim around slowly) – but once I was accustomed to the sensation of the wetsuit keeping me afloat, I had no trouble at all!

On the boat in the harbor in Akaroa
Swimming with Dolphins Akaroa

My husband, who is a very strong swimmer (he grew up with lots of #lakelife in the Midwest!) thought the wetsuits were good quality and moved well with him through the water.

Swimming with Dolphins in Akaroa

Everything about Akaroa harbour and the ocean water is beautiful and vividly colorful, like stepping into a painting. I just love that turquoise water.

Akaroa

And we saw some dolphins! These Hectors Dolphins are a small, inland type of dolphin and very rare in the world. We felt so lucky to see not just a group of 5 or 6, but many more!

Dolphins Akaroa

See the dolphins in Akaroa swimming with some of our footage in our New Zealand highlight reel here.

Akaroa Harbor

Part of your tour cost goes towards Hectors/New Zealand Dolphin research and education – and that means more opportunities for conservation.

EcoSeaker Review

You can learn more about EcoSeaker, the Hectors dolphins, and Akaroa on EcoSeaker’s site here.

Definitely one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.

xx Kate

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Horseback Riding in Glenorchy

glenorchy horseback riding

This is a post from my “Photo Rescue” project where I’m rediscovering all my pictures from New Zealand. Read all posts about New Zealand here!


A couple of days after our wedding, we drove out to Glenorchy for a horseback riding tour. It was an easy, beautiful 1 hour drive from Queenstown out to the meet up point. We did our tour with High Country Horses and loved our experience.

First things first, the views in Glenorchy are unreal! That definitely makes it a unique and perfect place for something like a horseback riding trek where you can cover a lot of ground, take in a lot of the terrain and scenery, and get a feel for the land in the area.

New Zealand Glenorchy Horseback Riding

The tour we chose was “Isengard” – a half-day trek that was suitable for all experience levels. It included just a bit of trotting and a few river crossings! Here I made friends with my tour buddy….

About halfway through our ride we stopped for photos. You might recognize the backdrop here as the setting for Isengard in the Lord of the Rings trilogy!

Here are some shots from the actual trek. First up, a river crossing:

glenorchy horseback riding

The horses were totally pro and accustomed to these trails….

glenorchy horseback riding

See more about horseback riding in Glenorchy with some of our footage in our New Zealand highlight reel here.

All in all, we had a great experience with our horseback riding trek. If you are visiting Queenstown or exploring the South Island, I’d definitely recommend checking out High Country Horses and their different treks to find one that suits you! Some others we thought sounded cool were the multi-day trek around the mountain for more experienced riders and the Rees River Trail, another half day trek good for all experience levels. No matter your background with horses, there’s a chance for everyone to make great memories here.

See ya mate and take it easy,

Kate

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Queenstown, New Zealand

This is the first post from my “Photo Rescue” project where I’m rediscovering all my pictures from New Zealand. Read all posts about New Zealand here!


So, I decided to undertake a mini “Photo Rescue” project with my New Zealand pictures. I have so many good photos from our wedding trip there in 2017 that I never shared, and I really want them to have a home here on the blog. In the spirit of bringing these photos and stories back out to enjoy again – here we go, starting with Queenstown!

lake wakatipu queenstown travel

My husband and I were married in November 2017 next to Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown. This was maybe the most scenic place I’ve ever been! Love it so much. And so happy to have made great memories there.

The day before our wedding, we had lunch at the Stratosphere Restaurant up high over Queenstown with amazing views of the area. To get up there, you take the Skyline Gondola to the the peak. The bottom terminal is within walking distance of the city center of Queenstown, so it’s an easy walk to make over.

views from the Gondola to Bob’s Peak

Having lunch by a window overlooking this? Totally amazing.

queenstown new zealand travel

The Stratosphere Restaurant was one of our favorite experiences in Queenstown. But there was plenty of other great food! I loved getting ice cream….

And Fergbaker/Fergburger is a New Zealand staple that is definitely worth the wait….

Queenstown Food Fergburger

Side note: I love this joking pizza sign…

queenstown new zealand travel

And here are some more shots of Lake Wakatipu…

Just look at the crystal clear water! So serene.

queenstown lake wakatipu travel

Around the harbor is a great place to relax, walk around, and explore the shops and restaurants in the heart of Queenstown. I especially loved going there in the evening as the sun set and finding a spot right by the water….

That’s all for the first post of my New Zealand Photo Rescue (ha!). Can’t wait to share some more from our wedding/honeymoon trip there!

Kate

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New Zealand Highlight Reel

glenorchy horseback riding

Hey guys,

Here’s the highlight video of our trip to New Zealand – hope you enjoy it!

 

One thing I loved about New Zealand that made it different from a lot of the other traveling I’ve done? Having a car! Experiencing the country by road trip was such a fun/relaxing way to take in the sights on our own timetable. If you are planning a trip there soon, definitely check out the rental cars/campers because they make a great option – just don’t forget to drive on the left! 😉

Let me know if you like these types of travel videos/would want to see more of them!

Hope you are having a great week so far,

Kate

 

 

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Through the Fiordlands to Milford Sound

In November, my then fiancé and I headed off to New Zealand to get married. It was one of the best trips I’ve taken and I am so thankful we had the opportunity! New Zealand was stunning and I loved every bit of it, but I took so-o-o many photos and so-o-o much footage that it has been taking me awhile to sort through everything. I don’t mind though – going through it reminds me of all the fun memories. : )

So! I wanted to start off with some photos from Milford Sound which we saw on our first day in NZ. I hear it is beautiful in the frequent foggy weather, but it was also amazing on the sunny day we visited…

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To get to Milford Sound, you travel through the Fiordlands on the South Island. We stayed in Queenstown (where we were about to get married!) and made the four hour drive (on the left side of the road!) through beautiful landscapes…

DSC00535DSC00258DSC_7007Every stop and overlook along the drive held another beautiful scene, like this one with mountains in the background and the river calmly flowing….

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Once you reach Milford Sound, there are several great tour boat companies to take you around to explore the fjord. My favorite things to see were the waterfalls…

milford sound new zealand

milford sound

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After our afternoon exploring the Fiordlands, we headed back to Queenstown and enjoyed the sunset as we drove along.

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fiordlands milford soundfiordlands milford sound

I loved Milford Sound and New Zealand!

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