Honeymoon in New Zealand

map of new zealand

Thursday October 29th exactly two months after our wedding my wife and I will be traveling to New Zealand.

I intend to use this post to blog our daily trips, and share our pictures.

Day 0 - Eden Prairie

In my experience I find that the day before a trip is the most stressful. I generally will have completely forgotten to pack anything and so will spend half the night throwing things in a suitcase until all that’s left is the kitchen sink. This trip however Marissa has not allowed me to fall into my general traps. Instead I’ve gone over my packing list at least 30 times and yet, I’m certain I will have inevitably left something behind. Generally this situation is avoided by me packing more. However with this trip Marissa and I are limited on space.

Not only do we not wish to pay the outrageous bag checking fees. We will also be traveling to multiple cities and would have to carry our suitcases around with us. Therefore we have limited ourselves to a backpack each and a single suitcase.

Marissa and I are nearly finished packing, our suitcase is zipped and the electronics are charging.

Today at work I could hardly get anything done out of pure excitement for the upcoming trip. However in between my code reviews and git merges I managed to snag Marissa and I single digit seats on two of our flights tomorrow. This is a large improvement upon the previous seats where we were multiple rows apart from each other.

I’m so excited for tomorrow because when we go to sleep tomorrow I will be with my lovely wife next to the ocean.

Day 1 - Eden Prairie to Honolulu

Marissa and I have spent the morning getting ready for our trip by cleaning the house and fridge. We also watched the third lord of the rings movie, thereby completing our goal of watching all three lord of the rings movies before our trip. Watching the extended addition LOTR movies brings so much more detail and depth to some of the characters.

At 2 PM we will head to the airport to get on the first flight of our honeymoon. We will fly from Minneapolis St. Paul airport to Seattle, and from there we will fly to Honolulu, where we have a single night by the oceans until our flight to Auckland.

Hello Seattle I am …

Marissa and I arrived almost 3 hours early to the airport and very quickly made it through the airport security with only minimal bag checking from the TSA.

In the airport we had to look for something to keep ourselves entertained so we spent the entire time playing Ingress and quickly realized that GPSs are not meant to work inside buildings.

The flight started out rather boring until the end when a flight attendant asked us if we would switch with a woman in the back who was having a panic attack. Since Marissa and I both know a thing or two about panic attacks we immediately said yes and moved our bags. 5 minutes later the flight attendant showed up with a bag full of whisky. I guess our next flight will be a drunk flight.


The flight to Hawaii felt much longer than it should have. I don’t know how I’m going to survive tomorrow’s 9-10 hour flight.

Luckily we discovered that Alaskan airlines has universal 110v chargers at every seat, so our electronics are still at full battery.

This flight was made interesting for a couple of reasons:

1) The three whisky 7’s we got to drink.

2) The complimentary Mai-Tai’s.

3) The flight attendant asked over the intercom if there was a doctor on board. I thought that stuff only happened in movies!

I am very ready to get off this plane and fall asleep!

Day 2 - Honolulu to Aukland

This morning after getting a lovely 8 hours of sleep Marissa and I walked to the ocean. Marissa and I both agreed that the weather was rather hot and humid. Marissa immediately melted into a puddle and I took a dip in the ocean.

The hotel across the street

We spent the next 40 minutes looking for a local cafe/restaurant without luck and so settled for an international restaurant (of pancakes).

When we got to the airport it was extremely packed, but we got to the gate with time to spare. But we will never be ready for this 9 hour flight.

Can’t wait to get to New Zealand and really start our trip!


Someone we survived our flight. It helped that they had unlimited complimentary movies. It gave Marissa and I the chance to watch inside out.

The bad part is that this flight gave me more than enough time to realize that I do not have a pre planned method for getting to our hotel, nor do I have a phone for calling the hotel. Luckily we are in a country that speaks English and we can ask for help.

I just hope we get enough sleep because we have a fun tour planned early tomorrow morning.

Day 3 - Aukland tour

While in Aukland we are staying at the Langham hotel. Which is a surprisingly nice hotel. We went to bed very quickly after our long flight.

The next morning we woke up early to get some breakfast before our long New Zealand tour. The breakfast just like the hotel was very fancy and included a chocolate fountain and very good cheese.

We than took a quick taxi to a bus stop to get on our tour. It’s currently a 2 hour drive to the Waitimo caves. The tour has given us a great chance to see the New Zealand scenery and learn about its history and culture.

Waitimo caves

Just before lunch we arrived at the Waitimo glow worm caves. It was a 45 minute tour which took us through the limestone caves and than on a short boat ride in the dark to see the worms.

The caves were full of stalagmites and stalactites. The glow worms connect themselves to the limestone ceiling and drop a small thread/web down which they use to catch insects.

We than drove towards Rotorua and stopped at a farm. Our hobbiton bus wasn’t to arrive for 30 minutes so we stayed at the farm and looked at the animals. We also got to see a dog attempt to heard some sheep. The dog was clearly having the time of its life even though it failed to get the sheep into the gate.

Currently we are on the hobbiton bus with a very interesting driver.


It was a sunny Sunday with Sunny the tour guide. The entire trip he referred to us as his team. Marissa and I were given multiple chances to show off our nerdy lord of the rings knowledge. We got many great pictures of the different hobbit holes that had different perspectives 90% and 40%.

Us at Hobbiton

At the end of the tour we were able to get beer, cider and food from the green dragon inn.

We are currently on the bus back to Aukland, we haven’t decided what we will do tonight but whatever it is I hope it involves relaxing.

Day 4 - Auckland to Rotorua

Last night we got home with all the intentions of taking a few hours to ourselves and than going out for dinner and a drink. What happened instead was we fell asleep and decided not to wake up till 7 in the morning. Apparently we needed the sleep. The whole thing felt a bit like the scene from 500 days of summer, where it shows what he thought would happened compared to what actually happened. However what happened to us was 100x more boring and a 1000x less depressing.

John and Marissa go Kiwi hunting

A trip to New Zealand wouldn’t be complete without a good kiwi sighting. So this morning after we packed our bags we set out on our hunt. We ate breakfast at a cafe which has been called the most hipster cafe in Aukland. However when compared to the hipster cafes of Berkeley I must say this looked like a corporate coffee break. That said the view was amazing and the tea was lovely.

A tazmanian Devil

With food in our bellies we set off for the bus that would take us to the kiwi hunting grounds…. The Aukland Zoo. The zoo was lovely and had many birds not seen in America. There were many baby animals including a giraffe and otters. We walked through an area where the wallabies and the emu were not behind cages and could have walked up to us. We also had a chance to see 3 capybaras, play with a family of monkey squirrels.

Finally we reached our destination the Kiwi house. It was a building where the lights were turned off. It took our eyes a good 3 minutes to adjust. In front of us was a 70 foot long exhibit behind glass. Marissa and I did multiple walk-bys without seeing a single kiwi.

Working under the assumption that the kiwis were hiding we decided to finish our zoo trip and return to the kiwi exhibit in the end.

Upon our return we were happy to note it was only us and 1 other gentleman. We were disappointed because the man had yet to see a kiwi and after 5 minutes of silently walking the exhibit had failed to find one as well.

As we were walking towards the exit a slight movement caught my eye, and than I saw it. Standing right next to the glass was a flightless bird must larger than I had imagined it. I called over my other 2 companions in the hunt and we watched the elusive kiwi with great interest. Only a couple minutes later Marissa pointed towards the back of the exhibit at another kiwi not 5 feet away from us, and yet none of us had seen it. Marissa and I spent a good 15 minutes watching the kiwis dig in the ground and crawl over things. During which time we found a third kiwi.

I don’t think kiwis are known for there camouflage, but they certainly should be.

After our successful hunt we took the bus back to the main city at the base of the Auckland sly tower. We spent time at the bottom of the sky tower watching people free fall from the top. Before we got on our bus we stopped for a New Zealand Kabob. Marissa and I were both impressed by how good the lamb tasted.


Getting off the bus from Aukland we immediately walked to a pub, the pig and whistle. We sat in the back patio area watching highlights from the recent rugby World Cup. We both agreed that rugby was rather interesting, but mostly funny.

Rotorua Park

I finally had a chance to try a New Zealand beer from Mac. It was a lovely 5.4% IPA.

Marissa and I each ordered an entree, fish and chips and the bacon beef mushroom burger. The food was HUGE! We took most of it with us in 3 boxes.

Sadly by the time we were ready to leave the pub, the last bus had already left. So we got the pub to call us a taxi and made our way to the motel.

The woman at the front desk was lovely and promised to arrange transportation for us when we left and to arrange transportation to the local parks and tours. She also offered us two bikes for tomorrow, we were throughly impressed.

Our room also had a large spa which we immediately took advantage off.

Now though it has been another long day, and it is time to relax.

Day 5 - R&R (Rotorua and Relaxation)

Today is the first day of our honeymoon where we will not get on a plane or bus. Today we are spending the entire day in Rotorua.

This morning we got a chance to sleep in and discuss our activities today. We quickly determined that we needed to eat breakfast before anything else. So using to two bikes provided by the motel we took a short ride into the city to have a very relaxing brunch.

When we were finished eating our eggs Benedict and ceaser salad we waited for the waitress to drop off the bill. After 5 minutes I decided to ask the waitress how we pay. She explained to us that in most of New Zealand you simply walk to the cash register where they will print the receipt and than you pay.

After breakfast we took another short ride ( Marissa would like me to add that the trip would have been shorter if I hadn’t gotten us lost… Twice), to the local geothermal park. This park had been the site of a 2003 explosion that covered the area in mud. There were dozens of boiling mud pits and boiling water craters.

We than continues our ride through the city to the lake where we encountered many large black swans and a beautiful view. We spent some time shopping in the boutiques and than proceeded back to the motel for a rest before we continued our day.


After a short rest the motel owner dropped us off at a local Maori geyser attraction. We went on a 1 hour tour of some amazing wood carving and basket weaving. Before we were taken down to the mud pools and geysers.

The geyser is the largest in New Zealand, and went off for about 20 minutes. I don’t entirely understand how geysers work and am now determined to create my own smaller geyser.


After the tour Marissa and I walked back to the motel for a quick rest and to determine where we would eat dinner. With only the bikes at our disposal we decided upon a restaurant that featured local New Zealand cooking. What we discovered when we got to the restaurant is that New Zealand food is just like American food, just with more lamb and better beef. So therefore the meal was lovely. Though we once again did struggle with paying the check (do we ask him for it? Will he bring it to us? Etc)

On the way home we stopped at a local grocery store to pick some items up for our 8 hour bus ride tomorrow. We had a great time looking at their biscuits (cookies). We were also continually amused by their signs which said things such as: “I’m already saving you from opening the front door”.

Day 6 - Rotorua to Wellington

Today when we woke up it was raining. Which we decided meant it was the perfect day to spend traveling 8 hours to Wellington. However, our goal had been to see the beautiful country side, however the heavy rains and clouds prevented that for a couple of hours. Instead we planned our time in Wellington.

Once the rain let up we got a chance to watch the beautiful green country side.

Books, books everywhere!

After arriving in Wellington we made our way via bus (with the most un-helpful and rude bus driver) to the book lovers inn. We got dressed for the night and headed out on the town.

Our first stop was to a New Zealand Deep South restaurant. We were so excited to see what their view on southern food was. Marissa got the ribs and I got the fried chicken. We were pleasantly surprised, it could never compete with real southern cooking, but it came very close.

After that we made our way to the Library for drinks. No, it was not an actual Library it was a tiny little bar nestled in the heart of downtown. Their drinks were lovely.

Day 7 - Wellington to Christchurch

Today started with a lovely breakfast from our wonderul hostess. We talked about our New Zealand trip and things to do. It turns out our host is writing a WW1 history of New Zealand women. So of course Marissa and her hit it off.

She allowed us to leave our bags in the room for the day until our flight which was lovely, and allowed us to not have to carry out bags with us.

Marissa and I set off on our adventure not soon after breakfast. We did a quick walk through the forest behind the inn. The path we were on was famous for being shown on the lord of the rings as the first shot where the hobbits hide from the nazgul.

The forest path let us out at the harbor where we walked along the ocean. We were both glad we brought our thick jackets because the wind was quite brisk.

We finished our jaunt at wellingtons museum, Te Papa. The museum showed us a lot of cool Maori tools and paintings. For example did you know they can recognize themselves simply from the face tattoos? We also saw the first and only giant squid on display at a museum. Also apparently America is 30 years behind New Zealand on gay rights.

After leaving the museum we went to a local cafe and had fish and chips and nachos, while planning the rest of our day.

We’re taking the miniatures to Isengard

With the time we had left in Wellington we decided to go take a look at where the Minatures for lord of the rings were created.

Weta Workshop

What we discovered when we got there was that they provided way more than that. Not only did they do all the costumes and molding. They had also worked on many other films including Tin Tin, Hell boy, Avengers, and Avatar.

The tour was amazing and we learned how they made all the replicas (casting, and injection molding). We also got to see things such a halo warthog that could actually be driven, a 12 foot avatar, and an Uriaki( lord of the rings. Spelling?)

We also got to see some other really cool things such as sculpted Guinea pigs in armor, and board game parts for the future labyrinth board game.

After our awesome big-ature tour we headed back to the hotel for a quick shower before heading to the airport.

Airport security

The airport was decorated with many giant hobbit and lord of the rings replicas including a blinking Smaug.

Getting out boarding passes was easy, all we needed to do was input our code into a kiosk to get out boarding passes. We than walked all the way to the gate, where we went through a short bag scan and metal detector, they didn’t even check our passports or ids. The entire trip we have been surprised by the differences in security. For example, it was more difficult for us to get into a bar than it was for us to get on a flight.

The flight was beautiful because we got to have an Ariel view of New Zealand as the sun was setting.

Day 8 - The last kiwi

The last two nights Marissa and I had discovered under the bed heaters. We than quickly discovered that these heaters are amazing on cold nights like southern New Zealand has. That is to say we woke up feeling like magic.

We ate breakfast at the inn and tried several of the different honeys available. After breakfast we headed out to the town to walk around and see everything.

On our walk we finally started to see some the destruction from 2011. It was sobering, we had no idea how large the earthquake was and how many lives it affected. On our walk we also passed the Re: Store which is a little shopping area made out of shipping containers. We went into a lovely bookstore and purchased: the welcome to nightvale book and the disc world atlas (not yet available in the us).

We than continued our journey to the botanical gardens, which we simply amazing and beautiful. We sat outside at a lovely cafe among the flowers.

As we were leaving the area we stopped at a small museum and saw many very old tools and displays. The museum also had an exhibit on many of the South Pole exhibitions since they originated often times from New Zealand.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a local strip mall to pickup snacks for our trip home. We have become quite amused by the chocolates and candies in New Zealand.

In the strip mall we also stopped at the Mc Donald’s to see what type of differences they had from the ones in the states.

We discovered that generally they are all the same, just many more options for specialty salt seasonings and aioli. However we did find a burger called “The Boss” which was made with Swiss cheese and local cows. We had to try it. We immediately decided that it did not taste like Mc Donald’s instead it tasted like an actual burger, and was priced accordingly.

Finally after our long day we headed home. Along the way we enjoyed looking at much of the art the city had put up. By this point we had begun to assume that all memorials were for the earthquake, and therefore were surprised when we found a memorial for firefighters made out of pieces of the twin towers.

Once back at the hotel we took a nap, and rested. We headed to the brewery for dinner where Marissa got her last meat pie of the trip, and I my last beer. We spent about 3 hours in the brewery tucked off in a corner where I was reading welcome to nightvale aloud for Marissa and I.

Finally we went back home and re packed everything for our flight long flight home tomorrow.

Day 9-10 Christchurch to Home.

We woke up at 4:00 in the morning so we could get a taxi to the airport in time. Our first flight took us to Sydney. On the flight into sydney we were able to see the opera house and some very large cruise ships.

Sadly the rest of our 8 hour visit to sydney was spent in the airport. Every gate of the airport was packed and there was no place to get away from people. However as we were traveling the airport we came across an American Express Lounge where we were able to enter with the help of our cost co card. We immediatly took up positions on a couch and enjoyed the complimentary cocktails, beer, and food.

After 6:30 hours we were finally starting to board our 16 hour flight from Sydney to Texas. I ended up watching 5 movies, because sleeping was made impossible due to the 6 year old behind us who wouldn’t stop screaming.

We made it back to Minnesota at Midnight and were picked up by the crannells, where upon when we got home we immediatly fell asleep, happy to be in our own beds.


  • Marissa: “I wonder if New Zealand has a microchiping program for hobbits in case you get lost”
  • Matisse: “Spoiler alert. Marissa goes to New Zealand comes back with wrong hobbit.”
  • Marissa: “ is that a goat on a leaf?”
  • Hawaiian airlines lady: “There will be no late boarding. No exceptions. Mahalo.” — Us: “Mahalo, also known as a subtle fuck you”
  • hobbit bus driver: “Reality is the opposite of fantasy” — “that’s why hobbiton is the opposite of England”
  • us: “This driver is an oroboric talker”
  • hobbit bus driver: “hobbiton is very progressive, and doesn’t judge based on height so you can be a tall hobbit if you want to be”
  • Marissa: “This ketchup tastes like popurrie”
  • Sign: “The number one hazard is YOU”
  • John: “Did that sign just say Owlcatraz”
  • Store Window: “Youth Place, it’s just like your mates place. If your mate had won the lotto.”
  • Marissa: “Got it, so seals sing techno.”

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Published: October 29 2015

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