Monthly Archives: December 2014

Beautiful Hahei Sunrise

Sunrise in Hahei

Sunrise in Hahei

I thought I would share one of my favourite sunrise photos from New Zealand today. It is of a sunrise in Hahei on the gorgeous Coromandel Peninsula. This photo was taken back in 2010 when my husband and I were in New Zealand on our honeymoon. We were lucky to be staying in a beautiful holiday house that overlooked Hahei beach and the sea and one morning awoke with a bright red light streaming in our windows and looked out to see this absolutely stunning view! Just one of so many happy memories we have of this incredible country 🙂

If you are interested, prints and products with this image (along with many of my other New Zealand photographs) can be purchased via my Redbubble page.

Categories: Accommodation, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Flashback time: Glenorchy and Dart River Jet Boat!

Two years ago exactly today we went on one of the best trips in the whole of our time in New Zealand during an amazing three night stay in the beautiful town of Glenorchy. We spent three wonderful days just before Christmas in Glenorchy and treated ourselves to the Dart River Wilderness Jet Safari. It really was an incredible trip which combined a coach trip through the aptly named ‘Paradise’ deep into The Lord of the Rings country, a beautiful forest walk, and a exhilarating jet boat trip – and you can read more about this experience in my blog post about it here. It also features in my Top 5 things to do in New Zealand blog post.

We first visited Glenorchy in October 2012 when we took an awesome private 4WD Lord of the Rings tour and explored locations used in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit. Then, we returned to spend just a few days in Glenorchy back in December 2012 which was such a brilliant experience that we actually ended up living there for a whole month in February 2013. Leaving Glenorchy was really hard to do and inspired a special goodbye post. It is such a wonderful unique place – so quiet and stunningly beautiful, and definitely worth spending longer there than an afternoon or even just a few days. The scenery from every corner of this little town is breathtaking and can be enjoyed from the various surrounding walks (including one of our favourites – the Glenorchy Lagoon walkway, which features in our Top 5 walks on South island). The drive from Queenstown, that winds alongside the gorgeous Lake Wakatipu (part of my Top 5 road trips post), is absolutely amazing and worth driving simply for the scenery itself – let alone the stunning town you find at the head of Lake Wakatipu!

Often overlooked in favour of nearby and well-known Queenstown, I believe Glenorchy is one of New Zealand’s best kept secrets and it will always have a special place in our heart 🙂

Categories: Activities, New Zealand, Photographs, South Island | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top 5 pizza places in New Zealand

Winnies

Winnies

Having done a few other New Zealand Top 5 blog posts (Top 5 things to do in NZ, Top 5 best kept secrets, Top 5 walks, Top 5 road trips and Top 5 things to do on South Island) I thought it was time for something a little different. Being a huge fan of pizza I just HAD to post about some of the delicious pizzas places we visited during our time in New Zealand. It is some of the most amazing pizza we have ever tasted!

1. Winnies Gourmet Pizza Bar and Restaurant in Queenstown: We became frequent visitors of Winnies as loved their varied menu (including very delicious pizzas) and excellent offers including their lunch deal. In a great location just steps from the beautiful Lake Wakatipu we also loved the laid-back atmosphere and friendly staff.

2. Pizza from Shawtys in Twizel: In an excellent location on the road between Christchurch and Queenstown (and not too far from the stunning Mount Cook) we often found ourselves passing through Twizel. When researching places to eat one day on our car journey not far from there we came across their amazing Trip Advisor reviews and just had to stop off and are so glad we did as it became our go-to place whilst travelling that journey. Their pizza is simply delicious and we always found it a warm, cosy and welcoming place.

3. Black Rabbit Pizza in Kaikoura: With limited options to eat in we often had takeaway from here or had it delivered. This a strong contender for the most delicious pizza I have ever tasted!! They are very experimental with their toppings and have become an iconic pizza place in the beautiful town of Kaikoura.

Ratbags and Innocent Bystanders

Ratbags and Innocent Bystanders

4. Crust Pizza and Hell Pizza – both takeaway pizza places from various locations: I have included both Crust and Hell together here as feel both are equally delicious! We have eaten these in a variety of places including Queenstown, Auckland and Rotorua. They are so much better than the traditional chains (e.g. Dominos) and easily top any takeaway pizza I have tasted back in my home country of the UK. Highly addictive too so beware!!

5. Ratbags and Innocent Bystanders in Dunedin: The unusually named ‘Ratbags’ is another unique and simply awesome place to get some pizza. They are famous for their half metre (photographed) and metre pizzas and are a must-visit food place in the lovely city of Dunedin.

I hope anyone who was searching for great pizza in New Zealand found this helpful. My mouth is watering just thinking about all this delicious pizza! Enjoy 🙂

Categories: Food, New Zealand, North Island, South Island, Top 5 | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Beauty of New Zealand Video

Recently I have been reminiscing about our amazing time in New Zealand a lot. I came across the video I made during our stay in New Zealand – including a variety of photographs and some video taken over the course of the year. It includes New Zealand’s stunning scenery and wildlife. I thought it was worth sharing this again on my blog and I hope you enjoy watching it! New Zealand = awesome!

Categories: Activities, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs, South Island, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Memories of New Zealand at Christmas

Queen Street Santa

Queen Street Santa being constructed in Dec 2013

Santa in 1960

Santa in 1960

Despite not living in New Zealand any more I still like to keep up with the news and recently one Christmas-related story in particular caught my eye. It was about the famous big Santa who lives on Queen Street in Auckland around Christmas time. I remember the first time, when walking through Auckland that we clapped eyes on the 18 metre height Santa. They were in the process of constructing Santa in his usual spot above Whitcoulls. Being a huge fan of Christmas I instantly loved it! And although some feel it is over the top and extravagant I think it is unique and memorable!

The story I refer to explains how the funding was cut for the big Santa and as such he would not be appearing in his usual home on Queen Street. Yet just the very next day the NZ Herald then reported that in fact big Santa had been saved by funding offers from an Auckland property development firm and SkyCity.

Santa himself has a long history on Queen Street and in fact was first constructed (with a somewhat different look to nowadays) back in 1960 above the original Farmers building on Queen Street.

The New Zealand Herald are calling it an Auckland miracle – brilliant! 🙂

A festive Auckland sky tower

A festive Auckland sky tower

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

Thinking about this made me remember our time in the weeks leading up to Christmas that we spent in Auckland back in December 2012 – including seeing the beautiful Christmas lights on the famous Franklin Road. We took a walk through Auckland to look at them one night, and also witnessed the Sky Tower lit up so beautifully!

We were then lucky enough to spend our first kiwi Christmas with my family who flew over from both the UK and Australia to be with me and my husband. We enjoyed an amazing traditional UK Christmas dinner cooked by my Mum in our gorgeous holiday home we had rented overlooking Queenstown lake. Lovely memories 🙂

Family Christmas in NZ

Family Christmas in New Zealand

Categories: Christmas, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs, South Island | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thinking of Hobbiton . . .

With the release of the final The Hobbit film this week it got me thinking back to our visit to the amazing place that is Hobbiton back in May 2013. Being big fans of The LOTR trilogy and the newest The Hobbit films we were really keen to visit the land of hobbits and took our chance whilst touring both islands of New Zealand in our Spaceship for 9 weeks (during our amazing year living there).

I wrote about our wonderful day at Hobbiton right here on this blog last year.

It also featured on my Top 5 things to do in New Zealand blog post I also wrote last year.

Hobbiton really does look exactly like it does in the films! We feel really privileged that we were able to visit during our time in New Zealand. We loved every second of our time there and also felt lucky to have visited on such a wonderful sunny day.

Hobbiton really is a magical place so if you are interested in visiting take a look at the official website for tours now!

Categories: Activities, Flashback, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs, Spaceship | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

New Zealand = the best country in the world!

Beautiful New Zealand

Beautiful New Zealand

New Zealand has been voted the world’s best country in the Telegraph Travel Awards 2014 – to read the article click here. The article asks why it is the third year in a row that it has won the award and answers: “Perhaps it’s because New Zealand is a country that delivers almost everything a traveller could want in one easy-to-use package”. I couldn’t agree more! Having been lucky enough to spend a year travelling around New Zealand with my husband – exploring almost every corner of this amazing country – I completely agree and had the most incredible time.

The Telegraph have come up with 26 reasons why New Zealand is the world’s best country – so take a look here to see their reasons.

I have come up with my own Top 5 reasons I believe you should visit this phenomenally beautiful country and wanted to share them with you:

View of Lake Hawea on the way to Queenstown

Stunning scenery

Top 5 reasons to come to New Zealand:

1. The scenery is amazingly beautiful, varied and unspoilt – covering rain forests, glacial lakes, snow-capped mountains, beaches, glaciers and much more!

2. The road trips – The roads in New Zealand are easy to navigate, well-kept and surrounded by such beautiful scenery that driving almost anywhere is a pleasure.

Gorgeous scenic drives

Gorgeous scenic drives

3. The kiwi people – Laid-back and incredibly friendly and welcoming the New Zealand people make New Zealand that bit extra special.

Amazing wildlife

Amazing wildlife

4. The stunning and unique wildlife – rare and endangered animals can be seen in the wild if you know where to go – including kiwis, whales, dolphins, blue and yellow-eyed penguins, and birds such as the kaka, kakapo and kea.

5. The weather – with a temperate climate New Zealand has a well balance climate, with very lovely and long hot summers and winters with enough snow to enjoy and for snow activities.

If you are tempted by this wonderful country and are interested in planning your own trip to New Zealand then please take a look at my own travel company’s website – Blue Penguin Travel or get in touch via email at nicola@bluepenguintravel.com. 

Categories: Blue Penguin, New Zealand, North Island, Photographs, South Island | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Our Amazing New Zealand Adventure is back!

Me and Elliott

Me and Elliott

It has been so long since my last post (over a year!) and I have the best reason in the world for not writing for so long – a lovely baby boy! We have welcomed our gorgeous son Elliott into the world and he will be 10 weeks old tomorrow.

Baby Elliott

Baby Elliott

On coming back to my blog I am delighted to see that despite not having written for so long that the number of visitors to my blog has dramatically increased! Thank you to each and everyone of you who is visiting my blog and reading this. I also have almost 250 followers, so again thank you to all of you for being a part of our adventure.

It is over a year now since we returned from our amazing New Zealand adventure living in New Zealand for a year. So, what brings me back to my New Zealand travel blog? Well I was contacted about 10 days ago by someone interested in working with me and my company Blue Penguin Travel (we specialise in helping people travel to and around New Zealand by providing personalised off-the-beaten-track travel advice and itineraries) and wanted help planning their New Zealand itinerary. Being officially on maternity leave and with a little bundle of joy to look after I initially didn’t think I had time to help. However, on reading her emails I discovered the woman that contacted me was planning her honeymoBlue Penguin Travelon with just 3 weeks notice and planned to spend Christmas and New Year in New Zealand! I was really excited by the prospect of helping her and also knew it would be the ultimate challenge – being that New Zealand is SO popular and busy at this time of year.

I got working and in just 3 days we had planned a fantastic 12 day trip to New Zealand and booked all accommodation for their stay (including an incredible overnight boat trip on Milford Sound over Christmas Eve night) – it was pretty amazing! I worked pretty solidly on it, but really loved helping them plan the trip of their dreams. They arrive in NZ on the 21st of December and I know they will have the most amazing time.

The road to Mount Cook

The road to Mount Cook

The other thing that brings me back to my blog is my love of New Zealand. We bought our own home back in April and have just got round to choosing some acrylic photographs to go on the wall from our recent year in New Zealand. I relished the chance to look back at all the photos we took while we were away and felt we were spoilt for choice (not to blow my own trumpet too much!). Eventually we chose our favourite image of the road to Mount Cook to grace our wall. It is a daily reminded of what an incredible country NZ is, and how we would love to return there soon with little Elliott in tow this time. Check out my photography website for more of my photos.

So I have now decided that Our Amazing New Zealand Adventure should live on and I plan to blog as much as I can about all sorts of New Zealand related things – including my Blue Penguin Travel business, my photography, and about what a truly wonderful country it is.

If you are keen to know more about Blue Penguin Travel then please visit our website, check out the services we offer, or read some of our lovely testimonials. You can also email me at nicola@bluepenguintravel.com if you are interested in receiving help in planning your own adventure to New Zealand.

Thanks for reading this post and bye for now! 🙂

Categories: Blue Penguin, New Zealand, Photographs | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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