Nicola Barnard Travel CounsellorHello! My name is Nicola Barnard. I have been running this blog now since I began my travel blogging adventure back in June 2012. Since starting my blog – to document mine and my husband’s travels whilst living in New Zealand for the year – my blog has had over 136,000 hits to date (as of June 2016). I am so appreciative of everyone’s support, and just keep on doing what I love – travelling and writing about it!

I have been fortunate to travel widely and have visited destinations including Australia, The Cook Islands, Hong Kong, Singapore, USA (Highway One, Disneyland, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, New York and Florida), Iceland, Paris, Mallorca, Menorca and the Scottish Highlands.

I have also been planning and booking travel trips for the last 15 years, including my own destination wedding to Lake Tahoe, California and our round-the-world-honeymoon (best thing we ever did!!).

During that time I studied for an undergraduate and a Masters degree in English Literature and loved every second of it. But travel was my true calling! After persuading my husband to move to New Zealand for a year my life has been transformed! We set off in June 2012 for our own adventure.

IMG_3589Whilst living in New Zealand I was inspired to set up my own bespoke itinerary planning company (called Blue Penguin Travel) to help people have their own amazing New Zealand adventures. I worked with clients all over the globe in fulfilling their New Zealand dreams.

During this time I also had a wonderful baby boy called Elliott, who is now a cheeky toddler and always makes me laugh and smile.

Next came my business transition when I decided to become a franchise of Travel Counsellors and qualified as a travel counsellor. What’s that? I hear you say. I am not your usual travel agent – I can offer so much more! I love what I do and feel I have found my true calling because I have access to everything (and more) travel agents and tour operators have, but I offer a unique personalised service where I get to know my clients and create a bespoke trip to suit them and all their travel needs. Rather than simply planning itineraries for clients who want to travel to New Zealand I can now book everything for them with our amazing connections and system, and I can do this for anywhere in the world my clients want to go! Take a look at my Travel Counsellors page for more information.

So that is where I am at now . . . so lucky to be working as a travel counsellor and helping take people on amazing adventures.

Thanks for visiting and do get in touch as I would love to hear from you! 🙂


34 thoughts on “About

  1. Wow! I’m so glad you found us. I’m excited to hear about your journey and get some great ideas for ours. Thanks also for following our blog. If you send me your email address, I’d love to send you a copy of our eBook! You are an inspiration!

  2. Thanks so much. I would love a copy – my email address is nicolakbarnard@gmail.com. It was great to find you too! Your blog is brilliant and full of some many interesting, useful and inspirational things. Your plans sound simply amazing and I can’t wait to hear all about it. I hope you and your family have a wonderful time x 🙂

  3. Pingback: South Island Highlights – Top 5 places to visit on South Island, New Zealand « Our Amazing New Zealand Adventure

  4. It seems like you both are having an amazing time in New Zealand. I am glad that you both are enjoying to follow my blog, which documents my much shorter stay in New Zealand taking only 3 months and 3 weeks. However, to be honest leaving Chritchurch after 3 months does already feel mor like leaving home behind than like traveling back into the direction of home.

    • Thanks so much for visiting my blog – I was really interested to read you posts visiting many of the places we have. We are yet to spend any real time in Christchurch yet though so hope to do that in the future. Good luck on your journey home!

  5. Have a fantastic time here. I hope the weather obliges with a proper Kiwi Christmas!

    • Thank you and thanks for visiting! I hope we have nice weather too, although being from the UK it is still strange having summer at Christmastime as I am so used to the cold and snow!

  6. Hi Nicola, thanks for visiting my blog. I wish you all the best for your New Zealand adventure. It is an awesome country with so many visual and hidden delights to unfold!

  7. Hello again, Thanks for following gloriouslylost. The website address has changed to http://www.gloriouslylost.co.uk and the wordpress version will be deleted soon. So if you want to keep up-to-date it will be worth following that one instead. Thanks again 🙂

  8. Pingback: South Island Highlights – Top 5 best kept secrets on South Island, New Zealand « Our Amazing New Zealand Adventure

  9. ajaytao2010

    Happy go Lucky. Nice

    Thanks for visiting my blog, be in touch with my blog browse through the categories u will find it interesting

  10. Congratulations, adventurers!

    I have nominated your blog for the Blog of the Year 2012 Award.

    The rules of the award are at


    Well deserved! Enjoy 🙂

  11. Thank you so much for the nomination – it made my day! 🙂

  12. All my best wishes, Nicola and John1 Keep blogging 🙂

  13. New Zealand Looks great… 🙂

    Best Wishes


  14. holdrelf

    Hey there! I nominated you for the Inspiring Blogger Award and, if you’d like to accept, you can click here: http://thereandbackagainawhittietale.wordpress.com/2013/04/16/blogger-award/
    I’ve been living/traveling in New Zealand for a few months and always love to hear other people’s stories. (side note: I saw your post about Glenorchy and got really excited – I recently “discovered” the gem that is Glenorchy and it has been one of my favorite places in New Zealand! And sorry to further bother you, but do you have any suggestions on other great places to visit or activities to do? Do you have any favorites?). Thanks!

    • Thanks so much for your nomination – that is so very kind of you! And I am really pleased that you have found my blog interesting. We are having the most amazing time here in New Zealand and already had so many wonderful adventures. I have had a look at your blog and its awesome 🙂 Glad to find a fellow Glenorchy-fan! I have written quite a few posts about Glenorchy – as we have visited loads and even lived there for a month in a rented holiday house!

      Apologies for the long ‘reply’ but there is no way on wordpress of contacting you directly!

      Other than Glenorchy two of our favourite areas of NZ’s South Island are the Catlins and Mount Cook. The Catlins is right at the south of South island, and has an amazing variety of things to see and do – and is really scenic and quiet. You can visit Slope Point – NZ’s most southerly point, and also see waterfalls, beaches and best of all wildlife – including yellow-eyed penguins (at the petrified forest at Curio Bay) and hector’s dolphins (at Porpoise Bay). We have been to the Catlins twice and I have posted some blog entries about them so take a look. The other area we love is Mount Cook – you can either camp, motel or hotel it there. The scenery is stunning, and if the weather is kind the views of Mount Cook are awesome. We took the Glacier Explorers trip out on the glacial lagoon to see icebergs and loved it.

      Other South island recs include: Milford Sound (the drive from Te Anau is amazing) and Doubtful Sound (just keep your fingers crossed for good weather as we did Doubtful in the wet and couldn’t see anything!), the West Coast including both glaciers (we heli-hiked on Franz Josef and it was an incredible experience), Lake Tekapo – which is a really beautiful lake, Marlborough Sounds – we chartered a boat out onto the sounds and saw dolphins, and Abel Tasman Track – you can take a water taxi here and walk as much of it as you like (the beaches and scenery are gorgeous). We also loved the thermal pools at Hanmer Springs and whale watching at Kaikoura.

      On North island we loved Coromandel and Hahei – including Cathedral Cove (although I see from your blog you have already been!), Great Barrier Island (a small island just off Auckland) – it is a step back in time, but accessible by plane or ferry from Auckland and a stunning place, Rotorua, Lake Taupo, and Waitomo Caves (we did a cool tour with Spellbound here).

      I could go on forever but hope that is even a little useful! x 🙂

  15. Hey. I see you’ve already got a couple of awards, but I’ve just been given a Versatile Blogger Award, and one of the things is you have to pass it on to 15 other people, so I chose 15 blogs I really liked, including yours. So here’s your Versatile Blog Award! Go to my page http://pomsawaydownunder.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/the-versatile-blogger-award/ to collect it and see what you have to do next!

  16. Thank you for the kind words! I am enjoying looking through your blog as well. It’s giving us great ideas of where to visit! As I am also under a working holiday visa I was wondering what job/jobs have you had while there?

    • Thanks for your comment. I’m really pleased my blog is giving you ideas of where to visit. If you have any more specific questions about destinations/things to do then I am happy to answer those too. New Zealand has just so much to offer. I would definitely recommend heading down to South island as soon as you can. The North Island is awesome but South island has some of our all-time favourite places (Queenstown, Mount Cook and the Catlins just to name a few!). With regards to work it was my intention to work while over here, but I actually ended up starting up my own company called Blue Penguin Travel (http://www.bluepenguintravel.com/). It is very much inspired by my time in NZ with the aim to helping other people have their own amazing adventures over here. So that has been taking all my focus and attention. I did receive a few job offers within the first few weeks though so you shouldn’t have trouble finding work! My husband is a Software Developer and got a great job working in Auckland for a digital media company shortly after we finished our 5 week holiday at the start. This provided us with money to live and we were able to save for some travel too. We spent a good few months working through the start of the year and are currently travelling at the moment in a camper-car (called a spaceship!) before doing some more travelling to Oz and the Cook islands before returning home at the end of the August. Feel free to get in touch if I can help anymore and the best of luck with your planning!

      • I’m so glad you’ve had such a pleasant time there. I am so ready and can’t wait to move! Thank you for your help and happy traveling!

  17. Thanks for stopping by my blog! I love reading about your NZ adventures. We only had two weeks there, but they were truly incredible. What a beautiful country!

    • Thanks for returning the visit! Glad to hear you are enjoying reading about our adventures, and that you had a wonderful 2 weeks here. It is just the most amazing place! We are spending a year here and it still doesn’t feel enough! If you ever consider returning and want any tips then you know where I am 🙂

  18. Thank you for liking my blog post and leading me here. I’d love to visit New Zealand one day – meanwhile I’ll enjoy through your travel blog. 🙂

    • Thanks so much Helen! Glad you are enjoying my blog. You should DEFINITELY visit New Zealand – it is a truly incredible country. Your blog is great – so bright and happy – with beautiful art! 🙂

  19. Shawn Flaherty

    Hello and thanks for visiting and following my blog!

    Looks and sounds like quite the adventure you are on. Enjoy every minute of it!

    • Thanks for visiting back 🙂 We are having an amazing time thanks and making the most of everything. Just under two weeks though and we are back home after a year away!

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