Five years ago today, I met a dude at a party. That dude proceeded to follow me to New Zealand, make me homemade pasta noodles and custom homebrew, asked me to marry him, and now builds me birdhouses.
About a month after I met the dude that would become hubs, I ran off to New Zealand to hone my barista and bar keepin' skills for six months. Once I got settled in Wellington, hubs e-mailed me to say he had gotten a glamorous job at Ruby Tuesday and was saving up to visit. It was incredibly sweet and I wanted to plan a little mini-vacation within a vacation so he could see more of NZ than just one city. So, a few days after he landed in NZ, we took a bus up to Lake Taupo on the North Island.
My one thing: See Huka Falls
We visited in the dead of winter - Taupo's off season - but the tour buses were still running. We got a day pass for a tour van and stopped off at several tourist traps (including the Prawn Farm, where I was scared for life when I accidently ordered a fully intact prawn on a stick and my hilarious hubs decided to turn my lunch into a puppet show. Time has not healed the mental anguish.). Huka Falls was the highlight - it's more of a series of rapids than a big, tall waterfall, but it's still impressive. There are trails along the river, which are really great for a quick hike.
If you have time for two things: Find a restaurant called the Jolly Good Fellow. Order lamb shanks. If you are anything like hubs, you will bring this lamb up in any discussion about lamb, touting it's supreme superiority over any other lamb dish to be served anywhere. I think I ordered a salad here. I must have been downing too much Marlborough chardonnay.
If you have time for three things: Hop in the hot springs. Like I said, we visited in winter and so the naturally warmed waters were awesome. You see, darling little Kiwis are super eco-conscious and tend to only run the heat in short bursts and bundle up at other times. My body never fully adjusted to this and I might have actually let out a tear or two when I saw that the heater in our Taupo hostel didn't have a timer. I'm sorry, planet.