Monthly Archives: January 2013

Two weeks in paradise (Aitutaki) booked to celebrate our wedding anniversary!

Visiting Aitutaki in the Cook Islands (deep in the South Pacific) back in 2010 on our honeymoon was one of the most incredible weeks of our lives. Being located in New Zealand and so much closer to this wonderful place we have decided to return to the beautiful island of Aitutaki to celebrate our 3 year wedding anniversary in August. Things book up ridiculously quickly in Aitutaki because it is such a tiny island and flights and accommodation are quite limited. So we have decided to get in early and have booked both our flights and accommodation.

Drinks overlooking the lagoonWe depart on Saturday 3rd August and arrive on Friday 2nd August – as we cross the international date line!! We are then staying for 2 weeks and return on Friday 16th August.

We have booked to stay in a wonderful holiday house (pictured below) called Are Kapakapa where the hosts Miles and Emma have already been incredibly lovely and helpful via email. Last time around we stayed in a small villa resort (which was very pricey!) but this time around we know the island a bit more and have chosen a more spacious and private holiday house.

Have a look at Wiki’s travel guide for more info on Aitutaki if you are interested. Aitutaki has a population of just over 2,000 people and is only just under 7 square miles!  Visiting really is like going back in time to an untouched and unspoiled world, and it is exactly like the picture postcards of paradise. We can’t wait for our return to paradise!

Cook islands holiday house


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Going into space and work as a travel writer

A spaceship, myself and John, 9 weeks – the whole of New Zealand!!

Spaceship Image from

So for those of you unfamiliar with a spaceship, it is basically a really cool mini van/camper van type vehicle. Take a look on their website for more information, but it contains all sorts of goodies including a fridge, bed and dvd player! We plan to live in our lovely spaceship for 9 weeks as we travel all over New Zealand, stopping at various holiday parks and DOC campsites along the way. As regular readers of my blog will know we have already covered a lot of NZ so far – with trips in 2006, 2010 and our 4 months in the country so far. But, we haven’t seen it from this point of view and really want to go further off-the-beaten-track and get close to nature.

We plan to collect the Spaceship from Queenstown on April 5th, and spend the next 9 weeks covering both South and North island and dropping the Spaceship back in Auckland on June 6th.

I also have the great opportunity to work for Spaceships as a travel writer, after approaching them with a proposal to contribute material and photographs to them from our trip. In return we will receive discounted travel, and I will get to do something I love – write and take photographs along the way!

I also see this as awesome research for my off-the-beaten-track travel consultancy business (Blue Penguin Travel) that I am in the process of setting up. The more I can see of New Zealand the better I can help people have their own amazing adventures.

For those of you who know me personally, you may be asking ‘How will Nicola cope?’ and yes unashamedly I am not the most ‘camping-friendly’ person you will ever come across!! I haven’t ever properly camped before, I am a very fussy eater and I do like my home comforts – my hairdryer, a nice shower, a snuggly dressing gown, a big comfortable bed and a toilet always at hand. Alas, the spaceship has none of these things – but you know what? I don’t care! Over the last 4 months being in New Zealand I have learnt to be a lot more laid-back and really try and make the most of every single second in every single day. I can’t wait to test myself, go out of my comfort zone and have the adventure of a lifetime! Bring on ‘lift off’ on April 5th! 🙂

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Glenorchy and Waiheke adventures to come!

GlenorchyWe have now sorted out our accommodation for the next few months and are really looking forward to it. We leave Queenstown on Tues Feb 5th and up until a few days ago had no where else to stay! But after much research and thought we have worked out our plans and booked everything. February is still a really busy month in Queenstown and there was very little availability. So we have decided to hire a car and rent a lovely holiday house called Mountain View Cottage in Glenorchy (one of our absolutely favourite places) at an incredibly good reduced rate (about $70 a night!). We will stay here for just over 3 weeks. Glenorchy is a small quaint place and we love its beauty and quiet. It is also only a 45 minute drive from Queenstown so we can pop in whenever we want.

Waiheke IslandFollowing that we will then fly up to Auckland before taking the ferry over to Waiheke Island. We have only spent a day on Waiheke before but absolutely loved it. Despite not being far from Auckland it really is a whole world away. We wanted to see what it would be like staying on Waiheke for a longer period of time (also to consider whether it is an option longer term for the future). We found a lovely cottage online called Tui Cottage and after communicating with the lovely owners we have booked it for 5 weeks (again at a fantastic weekly rate, saving money on a usually expensive nightly rate!). We can’t wait to explore the island some more, take lots of walks and get used to Waiheke life! John currently has further work from home for Feb and potentially March and I am working on setting up my own business. It is great we have the flexibility to live wherever we want, and hope to make the best of this time. Roll on Glenorchy and Waiheke!

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A month in Queenstown – living the dream!

Tuesday 8th January – Tuesday 5th February: Queenstown

From the top of Queenstown Hill

IMG_9062So the next part of our adventure is upon us. Following our travels over Christmas and New Year we are now two weeks into spending a month in Queenstown. Before Christmas John arranged with the company he had been working for in Auckland to work from home for a month. We decided it would be brilliant to be able to live in Queenstown and work from home with a lake view (a dream of ours!). So we made it happen! I researched places to stay and as our previous experience in Auckland showed the only option was a reduced nightly rental at apartment (as longer stay places required a minimum of 6 months). Rainbow taken from apartmentWe settled on Oaks Shores apartments, and on arrival at Queenstown we were allocated (in our view) one of the best rooms in the whole complex! We are on level 5 right on the lake front with a huge balcony – see photograph. The apartment itself is also really large with a full kitchen and laundry facilities – perfect for a month-long stay.

We have been working in the days on both our jobs – John on his IT contract work, and I am continuing work on setting up my travel consultancy business (Blue Penguin Travel). Yet we have also tried to make the most of all of our time here, as we know we are really lucky to be living the dream.

Having already been up on the gondola and visited the kiwi park a few times before we were hoping to do some different things in Queenstown. Things we have done so far (two weeks in to our stay):

IMG_9368We climbed Queenstown Hill – we walked to the summit (906m) all the way from our apartment on Oaks Shores. It was a long way (just getting to the start of the walk from there) and then climbed all the way up. The views were incredible – and you had a full 360 degree panorama. It was definitely worth the walk up there!

Mini golf in QueenstownWe played mini golf – I used my free game voucher I got from when we played over Christmas (for getting a hole in one one the last hole) and we really enjoyed playing again. It’s a great course and John won!



IMG_9569We walked around Lake Hayes – we drove up to Lake Hayes, parked at Lake Hayes pavillion, which is just off the SH6 and spent a few hours walking around the lake. The walk is just over 7km long. The majority of the walk is flat, with a few climbs and drops. There are some benches around the lake too and lots of nice places for a picnic spot.

IMG_9708We drove up to Coronet Peak – we took this scenic drive up to the popular ski resort (currently shut at the moment) for amazing views over Queenstown and the surrounding area. The drive up there is pretty steep but the views are brilliant and it is really worth it. Coming back down the views are even better as the landscape stretches out in front of you.

Arrowtown Chinese SettlementWe visited Arrowtown – John ate one of Arrowtown Bakery’s famous pies and we took a lovely walk around the old Chinese settlement.




IMG_9843We visited Kingston – and were very lucky to see the steam train arrive at the station just as we arrived at Kingston. It is a beautiful little town right at the end of Lake Wakatipu.


  • We drove to Glenorchy and spent time there – the drive is one of our favourites, and we also love to stop at Wisons Bay along the way.
  • We ate at Winnies – a favourite place of ours where the pizza is delicious!
  • We enjoyed a nice ice cream on the waterfront from Patagonias.
  • We ate fish and chips from British fish and chip shop ‘PJs’.
  • We also walked Frankton arm walkway – this is a common walk for us now as it takes us from our apartment into town.

With another two weeks left in Queenstown we are looking forward to exploring more, having more adventures and continuing to live the dream! 🙂

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Blue Penguin Travel is coming . . .

Blue Penguin Travel logo

So, here it is!! This is now my official logo for my new business – Blue Penguin Travel.

Very much inspired by my time living and travelling in New Zealand I am currently working on setting up my own travel consultancy business. This specialises in helping people travel to and around New Zealand by providing off-the-beaten-track personalised travel advice and itineraries. My focus is very much on providing a caring and bespoke service – based on my extensive knowledge and experience of New Zealand.

I am still in the early stages of setting up the company but have finalised the logo (see above) and also have a basic holding web page, and am currently working on the full website.

The inspiration for my company name comes from mine and my husband’s love of blue penguins. This has grown much stronger during our time in NZ, when we were lucky to see hundreds of them come ashore recently in Oamaru. The blue penguin is also a rare species and symbolises something very special and often hard to find. This is what I hope people will find in my special off-the beaten-track offering.

I have been helped hugely with my logo and setting up my company by philanthropic marketing, design and events company ‘Thought Cloud Collective’ (please visit their FB page if you are interested).

More news will follow but thought I would share the logo for now! Thanks for reading.

If anyone is interested in more information please do not hesitate to email me at 🙂

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Beautiful Bay of Islands

Thursday 3rd January – Sunday 6th January: Bay of Islands


TreetopsAnother part of our New Zealand adventure that had been on our ‘to do’ list for some time was a trip to the Bay of Islands. Like Wellington, its reputation certainly preceded it, and we were keen to explore the area and see what it was like. Many people we spoke to said it was their favourite part of North island so we felt it was time. After our New Years adventure in Wellington we flew up to Auckland, picked up our hire car (made all the less enjoyable by appalling customer service from a woman at Hertz). Soon behind the wheel of a black holden Barina spark named ‘Harry’ (for those of you who have been following the blog – a cousin to the sadly missed Barry), we headed up to Paihia which would be the base for our trip. It took us around 4 hours, as we headed over the Auckland harbour bridge, our of the city, and into Northland. On arrival in Paihia we quickly located our lovely accommodation – a house called ‘Treetops’ part of Abri apartments. The view from our place was lovely, and it had all the comforts of home, including a lovely spa bath and cuddly dressing gowns (although due to the hot weather while we were staying there we didn’t get to use the latter!). That evening we walked the short 5 minute walk into the centre of Paihia to have a nice meal – we went to Frank’s and enjoyed a delicious pizza.

On boat leaving PaihiaThe next morning we awoke to beautiful blue skies and headed out early to the Explore NZ office to pick up our tickets for a pre-booked boat trip out to the Hole in the Rock with Dolphin Discoveries. Our boat departed at 9.00am and we were lucky to have a seat outside on the mid-deck along the side. We explored the whole of the Bay of Islands on the trip, as we passed by lots of different beautiful islands (some of the 144 in the area!), and saw wildlife along the way.


We saw lovely dolphins jumping up and out of the water. It was a little tough to see at times due to the high volume of people on the boat (but this was the peak of summer in NZ and the summer holidays!). Then the big – and very unexpected moment came –  we came across humpback whales breaching. They repeatedly jumped high, out of the water, over and in again – it really was a beautiful sight. I don’t want to complain too much here, but I was quite disappointed with the actions of the company when this happened. The whales were at the front of the boat, and instead of turning the boat around and allowing everyone else at the back of the boat (there was no viewing area at the front for the public) they kept the boat facing forward. It seemed quite a selfish move, as their own photographers went to the ‘staff only’ part at the front of the boat and started snapping away. They were pretty open about the fact that they sell these photos to the people on board, and it really did seem that they thought they would get photos to sell the rest of us, rather than allowing us to see them for ourselves and take our own photos. This was a very rare sight though – and one member of staff mentioned it only happens on 2-5% of their trips that they see whales – let alone ones that breach so often! My lucky and magic moment came right at the end of our time with the whales and produced my gem of a photo above – the boat turned to move away from the whales as said time was up, and only when they did this were the whales now situated at the back of the boat. With some quick thinking I moved right to the back of the boat and was able to capture a couple of whales breaching, and was delighted. I used the action setting on my camera to capture multiple shots of them, and you can see the stages here:









Hole in the rock Following our whale adventure the boat headed off to the famous ‘hole in the rock’. Due to the weather unfortunately we weren’t able to go through, but we all got a good look. Next stop was Otehei Bay where due to the lengthy amount of time we spent with the whales was a whistle-stop tour. We docked here, had enough time to join the long queue for the toilet (there were 3 ladies loos!), have a quick snack on the beach and then had to head back the boat. The other boat – operated by Fullers – was there at the same time. We actually witnessed them leaving at the time they agreed and left a family behind! Luckily for them our company let them come aboard. Following our stop there we headed back towards Paihia and we requested the drop off at Russell on the way back.

Overall and for anyone reading interested in the differences between Dolphine Discoveries and Fullers Hole in the Rock tours I would actually recommend going with Fullers. Their boat was slightly smaller, they had a viewing deck at the front (which would have helped with viewing wildlife) and they turned around (we watched them!) when the whales were around ensuring all people on board can see and take photos. We did still really enjoy our trip, but felt that Dolphin Discoveries could have done so much more to enhance our experience. Still, we made the most of it and still got some great pics.

Long beachOn arrival at Russell we headed to have some food and chose the Waterfront cafe to have lunch. Unfortunately the food took forever to arrive and let’s say wasn’t at all delicious. They might have been having an off day but we quickly left. We took a walk through the historic parts of Russell, past its famous church and arrived at Long Beach. We spent a short while here, took some pics and then headed back to the wharf to take the ferry back to Paihia. A nice relaxing evening in Paihia followed after a great day out on the boat and exploring.

IMG_8476The following morning the alarm sounded at 5.30am and we were getting up early due to an ambitious planning trip up to Cape Reinga and back. We knew the tour buses departed Paihia around 7.15am so were keen to get on the road and up there before they did. We left the house around 6.40am and after filling up with petrol we were on the road. It was an enjoyable trip up as the roads were pretty empty and the scenery was stunning. Passing Awanui we took the lone road up to Cape Reinga. IMG_8528The total journey from Paihia up to Cape Reinga took us just under 3 hours. On arriving we parked up and took the walk down to the lighthouse and famous signpost. We were incredibly lucky to have this area to ourselves for about 15 minutes, so took some good pics and enjoyed our time. We read about the ‘Meeting Point’ which is where two seas meets – the Pacific ocean and Tasman ocean meet. You can actually see in the water where the two sets of waves come up against one another – it is quite a sight! IMG_8739The views down towards Ninety Mile beach were also spectacular and we enjoyed walking around this area to explore. After a bench stop for some choccie biccies and to take in the views we headed back to the car. We got back on the road and started our journey back to Paihia.

IMG_8949We made the most of the journey back, making stops along the way. We had lunch at the beautiful Cable Bay. We also took a detour along a gravel road to an Puketi ancient Kauri forest where we saw really old trees. We went on the Manginangina Kauri walk, which was well planned out and made up of a boardwalk around and through the amazing trees. It was really worth the trip and a great sight.

Us at Rainbow FallsOur last stop before Paihia was Rainbow Falls. A little harder to find – although heading for ‘Rainbow falls road’ meant we did find it! We took the short walks here – one to the top and a rather steep descent to the bottom to see the falls in all their glory. Whilst at the top we were lucky to see a rainbow across the waterfall and quickly capture a couple of pics (see below gallery for more). Whereas whilst at the bottom we saw the whole waterfall and it was beautiful.

A trip back to Franks was first whilst back at Paihia and we enjoyed a nice evening walk along the waterfront and an ice cream from Movenpick. Although busy – as it peak season – we really like Paihia’s atmosphere and the scenery was stunning. Sunday 6th of January was soon here and we got up early to begin our long journey back to Auckland. We were due to spend 2 nights here before flying back down to Queenstown and beginning the next chapter of our adventure.

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New Year in windy Wellington

Monday 31st December – Thursday January 3rd 2013

Wellington cable car

Gollum at Wellington airportI am rather behind with my blog postings (due to difficulty finding free wifi where I am currently) but am now up to writing about our New Year Adventure in Wellington – the middle of middle-earth! Despite having been to New Zealand twice before and having been here since September we had still not yet visited Wellington. Almost everyone we had met had told us how much they loved Wellington (or Welly as it is affectionately known) and declared we just had to visit. So we thought the perfect time was New Year – as we could spend a few days exploring and take in the supposedly spectacular fireworks. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas . . .

Us enjoying Wellington waterfrontI will take you back to New Years Eve, as we checked out of our lovely suite at the Heritage in Queenstown, dropped our hire car back and waited for our flight. We enjoyed some nice potato wedges and ice cream at the airport (definitely one of my favourite airports!). We left Queenstown and after a pretty bumpy first part to the journey soon arrived in Wellington. We took the bright orange airport bus to our accommodation – and it was certainly nice that the airport was closer to the city centre than in Auckland! We hopped off the bus at Courtney Place and walked the last part to our accommodation – called ‘At Home‘. This had recently won an award for ‘Top 25 hotels in the South Pacific’ so we had high hopes, and it didn’t disappoint! The living space was large – we were in a one bed apartment, and the owners seemed very friendly. The apartment had everything we needed and we overlooked Te Papa museum so were in a great location. That evening we headed out for a walk along the waterfront and grabbed a takeaway pizza. By this stage the wind was pretty strong and unfortunately they cancelled the New Year’s fireworks – which was a real shame. We still headed down to the waterfront for the New Year countdown though which was a nice way to see in 2013.

IMG_8036The following morning we decided to take a trip on the famous cable car, which we really enjoyed. It took us up to a viewpoint with great views over the city and we took a nice walk back down to the city centre through the Botanical gardens. The cable car was pretty cheaply priced at a $6 return. In the afternoon we headed to the amazing Te Papa museum – which is free! Situated just across from our apartment, it wasn’t far to go and we were right in the midst of (in our opinion) New Zealand’s best museum. The content and layout of the museum is brilliant. It was pretty busy as it was New Year’s day, but we were able to explore some levels of the museum and take in all of the amazing exhibits. The variety of things in the museum, along with the innovative and interesting design made it a fantastic afternoon. I enjoyed the section about New Zealand’s native wildlife, as well as the 20th century displays. My husband enjoyed learning about the treaty.

Embassy theatre

That evening we had booked to see The Hobbit (for a second time!) at the world-famous Embassy Theatre – where they held the world premiere of The Hobbit. It was great to be in the same building, and it was also a stunning cinema – so beautiful and quaint inside and watching the film there was incredibly comfortable and really special. Something we won’t forget in quite some time!

The following day we had planned to take a walk up Mount Victoria but the weather was pretty crazy and the wind so strong that we decided to spend more time at Te Papa museum. Te Papa signWe spent more time exploring (when it was less busy) and covered as much of the museum as possible. I enjoyed seeing the LOTR trolls in the entrance area, along with a huge real gingerbread house – it was great! Other areas we explored were about Maori history and culture, and 19th century history. We also enjoyed looked at some of the art up on the higher levels. Definitely a must if you are visiting Welly! And an incredible bargain as it is free!

That evening the wind got up to incredibly gale force strength so we relaxed in our room. We watched things blowing around in the streets and people really unable to walk because it was so strong. We heard that some flights heading into Welly were cancelled or delayed. The following morning the wind had luckily subsided as we were flying out, and our taxi driver taking us to the airport said he had lived in Welly for a long time and it was the craziest and strongest wind he had ever witnessed there! We headed to the airport then for our flight back up to Auckland.

Wellington streetsOverall we did really enjoy our time in Wellington – especially seeing it so soon after the premiere of The Hobbit and feeling some of that special atmosphere. It has a pretty waterfront and a nice smaller city feel than Auckland. I do think though that a lot of hype can also make it difficult when you finally arrive somewhere – as we perhaps (being honest) may have been expecting a little more from Welly. I think strangely we saw it at its crazy busiest (New Year’s Eve), were disappointed by the lack of fireworks, yet also saw it pretty quiet (as locals commented) as lots of people head out of the city for New Year. So perhaps we didn’t see it at its complete best, but a great time we had nevertheless. Now on to the next part of our ‘unexpected journey’ . . . !  🙂

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A remote adventure a step too far?

Saturday 29th December – Monday 31st December: Braemer/Queenstown


IMG_7767Having very sadly said goodbye to my parents who were visiting from the UK for Christmas we headed to our next accommodation – which was along a long gravel road alongside Lake Pukaki (the opposite side to Mount Cook) to a place called Braemer. We had hired a cottage here thinking it would be brilliant to be in the middle of nowhere overlooking our favourite New Zealand lake. Yet slightly worried that as the place was a bargain it might be a little scary. The journey there was firstly quite a trek (including fording a thankfully shallow river, in our little Yaris!) and on arrival our fears were realised. The setting of the house was clearly stunning, but inside the property was a different story altogether. The house gave a new meaning to the word ‘rustic’! It was very old fashioned, and pretty smelly! We discovered mouse traps (thankfully empty) and various oddities about the house which made it very difficult to live in. We were also very very isolated, and still feeling sad from saying goodbye to my parents this perhaps wasn’t the best place to be. We were about an hour’s drive from any kind of civilisation.


We did take a short walk down to a beautiful beach just a short walk from the house. But to make things worse the weather turned on us, with torrential rain and crazy howling winds. With the location and build of the house it didn’t seem well built to cope and I was kept awake all night listening to the extreme weather and worrying about blowing away!We actually made a decision that evening to look for somewhere else to stay, as just felt this adventure was one step too far. We found a lovely room last minute at the Heritage hotel in Queenstown.


So we awoke early on Sunday – to more crazy rain – and worrying about having to ford the river to get back to the main road made a quick getaway heading for Queenstown.

We enjoyed the drive back, stopping at Omarama for food, and at Roaring Meg close to Queenstown. On checking in at the Heritage Hotel we were kindly upgraded to a lovely suite, with a gorgeous lakefront location and view! We were very lucky and felt much happier here and got a good night’s sleep. The next morning we awoke and headed to the airport excited to fly up to the middle of middle-earth (Wellington) for New Years.


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Family time at Mount Cook

Friday 28th December – Saturday 29th December: Mount Cook

My parents, me and John at Mount Cook

Following our amazing family Christmas in Queenstown we were headed up to Mount Cook. It just so happened that my parents were also headed there, so we would be able to spend an evening with them. Both me and John absolutely loved Mount Cook when we visited back in October and decided it was definitely a place we would like to return to.

So on Friday 28th December after saying goodbye to my sister (who currently lives in Sydney) we picked up our hire car and headed off to Mount Cook. We took the stunning Crown Range road (that I previously wrote about in my top 5 south island drives here) via Wanaka and stopped at other scenic places along the way, including Peter’s lookout alongside the gorgeous Lake Pukaki.

IMG_7555On arrival at Mount Cook we checked into our accommodation – a lovely motel room at the newly opened Aoraki Court motel. Last time we were here we stayed at the Hermitage hotel, but this is pretty pricey (you pay for the view!), but we actually preferred our motel room. The room was huge, really well decorated with great mountain views and a large spa bath and kitchenette – it was perfect! We met up with my parents and had a lovely evening meal at Old Mountaineers. Following this we took a drive up towards the start of the Hooker Valley walk. We parked up and walked the first part of this walk – to the first swing bridge. IMG_7636It was absolutely stunning and a really beautiful walk. We only saw a couple of people along the way and really felt like we had the place to ourselves.  We watched the sunset, which looked beautiful setting on Mount Cook and amidst the surrounding scenery. We took some pics – including a precious group shot. It was really special to be able to share this with my parents and we felt really lucky to be there all together – definitely memories to cherish 🙂

IMG_7746The following morning my parents headed off to do the Glacier Explorers boat trip (which they loved!)  – which we had done back in October, and we did the Kea Point walk. The views along the way were gorgeous, and we walked up to Kea Point and took some great photos. We met up with my mum and dad when they arrived back and had a nice lunch together. One final walk on the start of the Red Tarns track down towards the hooker river was great, and we then had to say our goodbyes. We always knew this was going to be difficult, as were saying goodbye not knowing how long it would be until we saw them again. Still, we had to do it, and with a very heavy heart we said goodbye and started on our journey to the next place we were staying. We were sad but felt so incredibly lucky to have had these experiences together!


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An unforgettable Queenstown family Christmas

Monday 24th December to Friday 28th December: A Queenstown Christmas with the Kinnies and Barnards


IMG_2012So . . . we have just had the best Christmas of our lives, and are recovering from the amazing and incredible time we had with my parents visiting from the UK and my sister, Kat, visiting from Sydney. Following mine and John’s move over to NZ in Sept – to stay for a year – my parents had always thought they might come over for Christmas once everyone’s plans of where they would be were a bit more certain. This wasn’t actually until Nov 10th, when my parents decided they were definitely going to fly over – pretty last minute! A crazily busy time followed with flight research, bookings (at a fairly hefty price for them for that time of year!), along with huge amounts of research for a great place to stay in over Christmas and an itinerary for my parents for their second week here. As well as details for my sister’s flights, and our own itinerary for our two week break including Christmas in Queenstown. Thankfully I LOVE this sort of thing, and relish in all the research and information gathering, and we all worked incredibly hard to arrange everything. This also cemented in my own head that my choice to start my own travel research consultancy business – specialising in off-the-beaten track travel to and around New Zealand – which is a work in progress – was definitely the right one!

IMG_6780The day arrived – Monday 24th December. This followed two fairly frenetic trips to New World by myself and John to buy enough food to feed a lot of families (or so it seemed!), but armed with a list from my Mum and a turkey already on pre-order from an incredibly helpful store manager at New World – we did really well. On arriving at the house we had booked we were thrilled with the amazing view from the house, which directly overlooked Lake Wakatipu. It had a gorgeous deck which we could sit out on and enjoy the views, and was beautifully furnished and really perfect for us all. A trip to Warehouse for last minute Christmas decorations soon ‘Christmassed’ it up – as it was completed with tree, decorations, paper chains and merry Christmas sign (plus our pictured Christmas hats!).

IMG_2040We headed off to the airport to surprise Mum, Dad and Kat and were so happy to see them. We picked up the hire car and headed back to the house. Over the course of the week we had the most wonderful time all together. We enjoyed a fantastic Christmas day, which included opening pressies and a delicious proper UK Christmas dinner cooked by my amazing Mum. We also enjoyed the gorgeous walks around the lake, watched the sun set, played mini golf (which was great fun), went up the gondola to see great views of Queenstown, went to the Kiwi Birdlife park – and saw lots of lovely active kiwis, watched some films, and took a brilliant trip on the T.S.S Earnslaw. As well as spending lots of quality time together catching up. We were also really lucky with the weather, as it was boiling hot and beautifully sunny most of the time. Friday 28th December was soon sadly upon us and the time had come for us to say goodbye. Both myself, John and Kat were going to catch up with Mum and Dad later on their holiday, but still our Christmas time in Queenstown had come to an end. We had such special amazing memories though and will never forget 🙂


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A wonderful pre-Christmas break in Glenorchy

Thursday 20th December – Sunday 23rd December: A relaxing break in Glenorchy


Having visited Glenorchy back in October as part of our holiday around New Zealand we decided it would be the perfect place for a relaxing pre-Christmas break. We flew down from Auckland to Queenstown and picked up our hire car. We stopped off at New World first to do the first part of the big ‘Christmas shop’ and then headed into town to have lunch at Winnies and spent time wandering around one of our favourite parts of New Zealand. We then drove to Glenorchy and it was just as beautiful as we remembered and we were really happy to be there! We hired a gorgeous holiday house – which was huge and had a lovely hot tub. After arriving we had a nice wander into the centre and along the jetty. The following morning we were due to to the Dart River Jet Safari but postponed our trip until the next day as much better weather was forecast for then. We enjoyed a lovely walk around the lagoon boardwalk and took a drive in the evening towards Paradise and the scenery was just amazing. I have posted separately about the Dart River Jet Safari which we did on the Saturday and which was incredible! We were sad to leave Glenorchy but really excited about my parents and sister arriving for an amazing Queenstown Christmas!

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