Address: 1 Tennis Lane, Auckland
The vibe: Friendly, clean and spacious. When we walked into NextGen we really felt as though we were in a health club and not just an everyday fitness facility. From the restaurant and bar setting overlooking the tennis courts, to the full floor gym, pool and spas, the facility was modern and vibrant. A quiz night for members was being set up and we purposely visited during peak time to see whether the facility became overcrowded – and we believe it did not.
We loved: The menu offering at the cafe was impressive and is of a high standard for a health club. Dishes on offer included fresh market fish, chicken, steak and salads, and we were particularly impressed that there was a bar service to compliment the meals. There was extensive seating options available and wifi quality is high. There were two 25m pools which were both of decent size (6+ lanes) - one was outdoor and one indoor. We were also impressed with the gym where the equipment range was extensive – everything was there.
What could be better: Meal prices at the cafe. Given NextGen is a club and membership isn’t the cheapest, we thought main meal dishes (meat based) were high at $20-30 . We also felt as though staff could monitor mandatory towel usage in the gym more closely.
Our rating: 8.5/10
Address: 39 Waitomo Village Road, Waitomo
A spur of the moment decision led us to take a day trip to Waitomo. After trawling through the countless websites offering caving and glow worm tours, the 5 hour “Black Abyss” expedition which is run by The Legendary Black Water Rafting Company won us over and we were soon on our way. Upon arrival at the headquarters, we found that there was ample parking and the reception area had all the facilities one would need – a café, amenities, a shop and plenty of seating. We were greeted with a warm welcome, completed the health and safety form (which we suggest you take very seriously – be honest with all your ailments!), and we were told to wait in a certain area. People returning from other adventures looked like they had had a ball, so we were very excited…. And quite unaware of what was to come!
Our two guides introduced themselves and should be congratulated on their ability to get a group of strangers to interact. We were taken to a separate building close by and there we were asked to change into our attire which we would wear for the next 5 hours. This attire consisted of a fleece, wetsuit, jacket, socks, boots, and a helmet with a head torch. After a few photos, we were then taken by bus to the tomo (hole) which ultimately led us 35m underground.
After 30 minutes practicing how to abseil and control speed, we each individually ventured down the hole on our own until we hit the bottom, which was a cave (Ruakuri Cave) lit only by a small number of glow worms. One member of our party was afraid of heights so this really tested him however he coped and was confident in the excellent safety procedures in place.
Underground, and amidst thousands of glow worms, we did everything from wading through the rapids, tubing, taking a zip line (flying fox), and waterfall climbing which was challenging but so worth it!
The temperature was approximately 13 degrees and whilst it felt exceptionally cold, the guides had hot drinks on hand which were given to us on multiple occasions. They also had sugary snacks available to keep the energy levels up. The ultimate finale awaited us when we (rock) climbed multiple fast flowing waterfalls before stepping foot on land again. A bus awaited us and we were taken back to the headquarters where hot showers, soup and bagels awaited us. Multiple TV screens showed the endless pictures that our talented guides captured throughout the day and these were available for purchase. It was an incredible experience… In our opinion the Black Abyss expedition is not for the faint hearted, but well worth it.
Fear of heights? Claustrophobic? Feel the cold? Our advice is to push through these fears and experience something like this at least once in your life. The safety procedures were very assuring and the guides were both knowledgeable and extremely competent. They really looked after our group well and should be commended. A tip from us is to remove ALL jewellery. There is a lot of rock grabbing and your jewellery will undoubtedly get scratched if it comes on the adventure with you. Also, throughout the adventure you will be asked if you want to take part in the “extra” activities such as the waterfall climb…. Do it! And one final note, don’t forget to bring your swimmers (which you wear under your wetsuit) as well as a towel for the hot shower at the end.
This was an unbelievable experience and worth every penny…. We recommend it to anyone visiting the North Island and to locals too.
Address: 291 Queen Street, Auckland 1010
The music was loud, drinks were flowing, and on the night we visited patrons ranged from groups of people to couples. Service was prompt and there were child modified bowling lanes, an area for groups and individual lanes. After a 15 minute wait, our lane became available. We made ourselves at home in our dedicated “booth” which consisted of a table and seat and was located directly behind our dedicated lane.
When we were told of the 15 minute wait, we were directed to the bar which served beverages and bar food. There was ample seating and we enjoyed a beer at one of the many tables which all offered excellent “people viewing”! A number of pool tables were placed throughout the establishment and these provided patrons with another entertainment option. Our lane became available and we were given our special bowling shoes. There was a glitch with the display and at one stage we were “Dan, Christopher and Jen”, but this was fixed immediately. There were plenty of bowling balls which come in all shapes and sizes and whilst we were terrible bowlers, the experience was fun. We enjoyed our first game so much we added a second game to see if our skills improved with practice!
The vibe was excellent and ten pin bowling is a fantastic entertainment option for those on a date, with friends or at a work/ team building event. Ensure you bring your own socks for the shoes and if you have limited time, it may be worth visiting on a weeknight when it isn’t so busy. It isn’t cheap ($18 per game) however if you play more than one game or visit during off peak hours you will receive a discount. Just about anyone can enjoy tenpin bowling and regardless of your age and ability, we think you’ll have lots of fun.