Travel

The holiday of a lifetime: New Zealand!

20/12/2013

I left New Zealand ten days ago and I am back to my work and daily routine in London , but the beautiful memories of our trip are still fresh in my mind.

I took more than 50GB of photos with my Nikon D600, so it’s going to take me a few weeks to process them! Thankfully I also had my analogue Lomo camera La Sardina, which I used to take landscape and candid photos. I love the excitement of waiting for a roll of photos to be developed, collect the prints and slowly unraveling your travel memories.

I am struggling to find the words to describe how amazing New Zealand was!

Everywhere we stopped was stunning, mesmerizing, breath-taking, jaw-dropping beautiful! Whether there was sun, fog or rain, it didn’t matter. We fell in love with the land, the sea, the mountains, the lakes, the weather, the food, the culture, the people. It is the most amazing country I have ever travelled to and one I hope to go back to very soon.

So many times I was moved by the beauty in front of my eyes, I was speechless and just couldn’t believe such places could really exist! All I could do was repeating “unbelievable, unbelievable”, like in a trance.

After a few days of rain, it’s sunshine in Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake!

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Our friends from Tongariro National Park!

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New Zealand is a country that requires and deserves time to be explored and unfortunately we only had two weeks plus a couple of days in Auckland, which is just about enough to rush through the north and south islands, stopping in a few places, but skipping so many more.

We spent a couple of days in Auckland with a close friend, then hired a camper van and started our adventure. In two weeks we travelled through Rotorua, Lake Taupo, Tongariro National Park, Wellington, Picton, Nelson, Abel Tasman National Park, the West Coast, Mount Aspiring National Park, Wanaka, Queenstown, Mount Cook, Lake Tekapo and Christchurch. The further we drove, the more we fell in love with the country.

In the north island, I I loved learning about Maori culture in Whakarewarewa, bathing in the thermal hot pools in Rotorua, driving by the Grand Lake Taupo and spending two days in Wellington: I love the city’s powerful wind, the coffee, food, indie cinemas and friendly people.

We struggled to find space on the ferry crossing from Wellington to Picton, but eventually were able to get to the south island with enough days to drive west to the coast, then south to Queenstown and up east to Christchurch.

On the ferry crossing from the north to the south island.

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A day on the beach in Nelson.

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Sea Kayaking in the Abel TasmanNational Park.

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Mt Aspiring National Park reminded me a lot of Lord of The Rings!

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New Zealand is the perfect destination if you love adventure and my husband was keen to try as many different things as possible. We did sea kayaking, white water rafting, paddle boarding, sky diving and bungy jumping from the Nevis (the highest in NZ).

Extreme sports are not something I would have done on my own, but then I joined Sandy and had a great time! It’s not for everyone obviously, but if you want to try something adventurous, then I highly recommend sky diving in Wanaka.

How to explain the emotions of free falling from 15.000 feet for 60 seconds? It feels incredibily long and short at the same time, your whole body is alive and your heart is bursting with excitement. I was high on adreline for the rest of the day and, well, just so so happy. The entire staff at Skydive Lake Wanaka was amazing and made the whole experience really special.

Photo taken by the Skydive Lake Wanaka cameraman using a GoPro camera.

Photo taken by the Skydive Lake Wanaka cameraman using a GoPro camera.

After the skydive we left Wanaka and drove to Queenstown, looking for the breath-taking scenery we loved in the TV series Top of the Lake. We found them in Glenorchy, at the top end of Lake Wakatipu. Maybe because of the rain and clouds, but it really conveyed the feeling of loneliness that transpired from the TV show. I could relate completely with Jane Campion’s description of the place:

 

The majesty of the surrounding mountains, the end-of-the-world feeling […] You get infected by the ready magic of the landscape and the sensation of worldly troubles dissolving. [Lonely Planet]

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The last leg of our New Zealand trip reserved even more incredible sights, with the stunning turquoise glacier lakes near Mount Cook national park. We spent two nights near Lake Pukaki and Lake Tekapo, hiked to the glacier lake and ate fresh salmon from the local farm.
Mount Cook National Park and Hooker Lake.
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Lake Tekapo and the 360° view from Mt John Observatory.

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We finished our holiday in Christchurch, a city we were advised to skip because there it not much left to see after devastating 2011 earthquakes destroyed the city centre. But I am glad we went to Christchurch. It’s heart-breaking to see destruction, but then it’s also heart-warming to see hope! The city has so much to offer and I am looking forward to see how it will transform in the next 5-10 years.

We were also featured on the Humans of Christchurch Facebook page, how cool is that?! :)

We left New Zealand with heavy hearts, but whenever I feel sad I just need to close my eyes and re-live the memories of our amazing holiday and I am happy again!

A massive THANK YOU to all our family and friends who contributed to our wedding gift and made this once-in-a-lifetime trip possible. Thank you to our employers for letting us get away for five weeks!

Thank you to my husband, Sandy, for being my favourite travel companion and for pushing me to try things out of my comfort zone. Except for the bungy…you owe me for that one! ;)

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