My baby boy Elliott
I have had a few people contacting me asking if Blue Penguin Travel are still running and the answer is YES!!! In case you don’t know Blue Penguin Travel is my own travel consultancy business and specialises in helping people travel to and around New Zealand by providing personalised off-the-beaten-track travel advice and itineraries.
So yes, Blue Penguin Travel are very much still running! We just have an extra little helper now who is keen to get involved. Pictured is myself and my lovely and energetic baby boy Elliott, who has just turned 8 months. I haven’t been posting on my blog much because I have been busy being a Mummy, but I have been lucky enough to work with two clients since Christmas who have had wonderful trips to New Zealand. I have loved helping them with their amazing itineraries, and Elliott especially loves trying to help on my laptop by pressing the keys!
So if you are considering planning a trip to New Zealand and would like help with your itinerary do not hesitate to get in touch. We can help you plan the trip of a lifetime to New Zealand. Drop me an email or fill out our contact form. 🙂
Friday 28th December – Saturday 29th December: 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.
On 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. It 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 🙂
The 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!
Monday 24th December to Friday 28th December: A Queenstown Christmas with the Kinnies and Barnards
So . . . 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!
The 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!).
We 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 🙂
Monday 24th of December – the family arrive!
I haven’t posted in a while as we have enjoyed an amazing pre-Christmas break in Glenorchy. We were lucky enough to do the Dart River Jet Safari in amazing weather – which was incredible! I will post retrospectively about that when I get better internet again.
My parents and sister are flying in today and we really can’t wait!! My parents are coming all the way from the UK and my sister from Sydney (where she is currently living). We are renting an amazing town house in the centre of Queenstown overlooking Lake Wakatipu – with the above stunning view from the living room. We arrived here yesterday after doing the final Christmas food shop.
Everyone arrives in just a few hours, so we have been decorating and getting the house ready. It’s been ages since we have seen everyone, so really can’t wait and are really looking forward to spending Christmas all together. It is supposed to be very hot here today in Queenstown – around 31 degrees celsius!! So it will certainly be a summery and traditional kiwi Christmas.
Roll on our Kiwi family Christmas! 🙂
New Zealand Christmas
I am very excited to announce that my parents will be flying over from the UK to New Zealand for Christmas – which is AMAZING news!! With my sister (Kat) currently based in Sydney and me and John over here in NZ they decided they would love to spend Christmas in this part of the world. Kat will fly over from Sydney and we will all be together for a lovely family (Kinnie/Barnard) Christmas in the beautiful Queenstown. We will be staying in a lovely holiday house overlooking Lake Wakatipu. With it being a really popular time of year to visit New Zealand (and deciding relatively late due to waiting for certainty of mine and Kat’s plans) they were really lucky to secure flights over here. I also helped them plan an itinerary for the week following their stay in Queenstown to help them make the best of their time on the South Island. I am sure they will have a wonderful trip and it will be so amazing to see them – as it will be just over 3 months when they arrive on the 24th of Dec since we last saw them.
Roll on a lovely Kiwi family Christmas! 🙂
I find myself thinking quite a lot everyday about our forthcoming year we will spend in New Zealand. One idea that resonates quite strongly is the idea of ‘leaving it all behind’. Of course this has many meanings, and I find myself thinking through both what we will be leaving behind but also what we have to look forward to.
For me, family is so important, and my family mean everything to me. I have spent some time over the last few days with my Mum (who, as a teacher, is on school holidays), which has been really lovely. Next week I am off to Wembley to watch an Olympic football game with my Dad. These times are really special to me. So leaving behind my parents, and not being near them or able to spend time with them will be really difficult. Although, my sister is in Australia and currently living in Sydney and so I will be nearer her and hopefully able to spend some time with her while we are away. And the fantastic invention of technology such as Viber and Skype will mean I can speak to and ‘see’ my parents whenever I wish!
As I am currently packing to move house shortly I reflect on material possessions I will leave behind – things that feel important when this is your whole world – such as our lovely comfy sofa, my clothes, my sentimental collection of cuddly toys, my photo/souvenir albums etc. I find though that de-cluttering can feel really good, and leaving behind things that are purely material possessions and do not actually make us who we are. I will still have the thoughts and memories connected with these items and so much more, and that is what matters.
I am reflecting on other things like how beautiful it is where I live – in the wonderful city of Bath in the UK – and how I will leave it all behind, along with my quaint home-town of Frome and its stunning surrounding countryside. But then I think how much New Zealand has to offer, how many places we have not yet seen, and how much fun me and my husband will have exploring together.
So I am leaving it all behind (at least for a year anyway!), but reflecting on this positively and looking forward to the exciting adventure to come.