Shots from Piha
New Zealand on Film
Capturing New Zealand is magical on film. The landscape, the city, the beaches, the waterfalls, everything that I have pretty much captured on film was beautiful. If you haven’t been to New Zealand yet, I highly recommend you visit. I never really had a strong desire to visit this country before but New Zealand exceeded my expectations. I’ve only been to the North Island but I’ve heard many good things about South Island. Guess you know what that means (I need to go back to New Zealand). But until then, enjoy some film shots I took while road tripping around the North Island.
Driving through the countryside
It is without question that New Zealand must be explored through a rental car. If you have the means to do it, I highly recommend that you do. It can be slightly nerve wracking to be driving on the left side of the road and with the steering wheel on the right (plus the whole windshield wipers and turn signals switched) it’s not too bad at all. Though, I really can’t say much as I had Charles driving the entire time (thanks, babe!). But yes, to completely explore the North Island, one must rent a car. From the long drive to Tongariro National Park (a 5 or so hours from Auckland) to the much shorter drive to Piha (about 45 to an hour from Auckland), a car is a necessity.
Waterfalls and Piha
Hunua Falls, Karekare Falls, and Piha Beach
Just a short drive to Auckland, Charles and I managed to knocked down two waterfalls in one day on our second day in New Zealand. Hunua Falls is about 48 minutes from Auckland and the “hike” (or track as they say in NZ) to the waterfall was short and easy. Shortly after, we took an hour and a half drive up north then west of Auckland to Piha. I’ve always wanted to visit Piha but was deterred by the winding roads. After experiencing some cliff hugging drives not only in New Zealand but in Maui passed the town of Hana in the past, I figured it was time that I visited Piha. The drive to Karekare Falls was nerve wracking. The road becomes a one-lane road which requires one to pull over to the side to let oncoming traffic through. But despite that, there were some Kiwis driving rather fast for our liking.
Anyway, Karekare Falls was also a short walk from the parking lot. This waterfall, was by far, Charles’ favorite waterfall between the two. After the waterfall, we headed to Piha Beach which is famous for it’s surf.
The next morning, Charles and I drove to Rotorua. It rained the entire three hour drive and up until the afternoon. Prior to our drive to Rotorua, everyone in Auckland had asked what we had planned for the week. We responded that we were going to Rotorua and was met with a lot of, “Rotorua is absolutely beautiful.” We booked the hotel in Rotorua soon after and while reading reviews, I read about a “rotten egg” smell in Rotorua. No one that we talked to mentioned that smell. Not sure what we were expecting but that rotten egg smell did hit us in the face as soon as we got out of the car.
Okay, so don’t let that smell deter you at all because Roturua is beautiful as everyone told us. The reason for the smell is because of the many (and I mean a lot) geysers and hot springs found throughout Rotorua. These hot springs and geysers have a high amount of sulphur in it which gives off the rotten egg smell. We found that the smell made us laugh and giggle while walking around town.
In the afternoon, we headed to Te Puia near our hotel (Millennium Hotel Rotorua). There’s an admission fee and Charles didn’t feel like spending money on admission so I went by myself. It was windy and rainy which made it hard for me to take photos between both the DSLR and the SLR while also holding an umbrella. Surprisingly, these shots turned out well! And the blue from the pool was captured a hundred times better in film than it did with my DSLR.
Inside the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland
In the morning, Charles and I headed to Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland (which also has an admission fee). You can spend quite awhile here as there are various walking trails around the park. The Champagne Pool would have to be my favorite part of Wai-O-Tapu. The orange and blue from the Champagne Pool was fascinating to see in person. The view did get repetitive as you go through the park (and the smell can get a little nauseating if you’re not used to it by now) but I think it’s worth it to view the Champagne Pool as well as the the Devil’s Bath which the water has an insane color of green that I have ever seen. I wish I captured it in film but I’ll share a photo on another post of a photo I took with my iPhone and DSLR. If I had to pick between Te Puia or Wai-O-Tapu, I would pick the latter hands down. Te Puia is smaller and the views are pretty much the same throughout.
Putaruru Blue Spring
Putaruru Blue Spring
After Wai-O-Tapu, we headed back to Auckland but stopped at the Putaruru Blue Spring. Because it rained during our drive to Rotorua, we didn’t really get to see the beauty of New Zealand’s scenic views. The drive to Putaruru Blue Spring was gorgeous and everything I remembered from my time in New Zealand last year: lush hills and so much green. We ended up at a track where it was a small walk to the blue lagoon part. It wasn’t as blue as the pictures I’ve seen on Instagram BUT it had been pouring rain the day before so I had attributed that to the less than stellar color. It was super clear and I should say that the water here supplies most of the bottled water in New Zealand!
After Putaruru, we headed to Hamilton Gardens. The cherry blossom trees weren’t in bloom as much as they were the last time I was there in 2016 but Charles and I enjoyed walking through the camellia gardens. We also took this time to grab a bite to eat after a 45 minute drive from Putaruru. They have a cafe inside but the food is mediocre at best.
Our last full day was spent in Auckland: walking around the CBD (Central Business District), walking up Mount Eden to catch a view of the city, and stopping by the Auckland Domain to check out the Wintergarden. One of my favorite stops in the CBD is Scarecrow in Auckland. Some of the most beautiful flower arrangements can be found here and it certainly inspires my taste in flowers whenever I visit. I’m drawn to how moody the arrangements are here and gave me ideas for my future wedding (in the near future!).
Going up Mount Eden to see the view of CBD is one of my favorite things to do in Auckland. I love a good view of a city so it was imperative that we made a stop here.
Last but not least, we stopped at Auckland Domain to one of my favorite gardens: the Wintergarden. The one time I went in May would be my favorite visit to the Wintergaredens as there were flowers EVERYWHERE. Not so much during winter but it’s still worth a visit.
Writing up this film photo diary has given me the feels. I’m a city girl at heart and New Zealand is FAR from a bustling city such as Tokyo (a favorite of mine) or New York City but the lifestyle in New Zealand is similar, if not exactly, like the lifestyle in Hawaii: super chill and nature-oriented which is something I have grown accustomed to while living in Hawaii. But having only visited the North Island, I am so eager to visit New Zealand again to see the South Island as the photos look amazing. From Aoraki/Mount Cook to Milford Sound, South Island looks like a dream!
Hope you guys enjoyed my New Zealand film photo diary!