Family, spectacular landscapes, cooler weather, and amazing memories. That was what New Zealand meant to us. After a pleasant Virgin Australia flight, we arrived in Auckland, NZ. My cousin Ross was there to pick us up, treatment we had not seen since Dubai! John and I both smiled (and shivered) when we felt the cool, clean air outside. The three of us began to make our way to a family outing on the beaches of the northern island. We had a lovely weekend, filled with the Dornbusch clan welcoming us into their home with open arms. We celebrated a 70th birthday, as John made speeches in front of strangers. We fit in just fine. John and I got to learn a bit more about New Zealand and its culture. Most importantly, about what makes a Kiwi and what makes a Maori. After our fun-filled weekend, we headed back down to Auckland to see some of the city and it’s gorgeous lookouts.
It was a jam packed flight!
Auckland’s City from afar
Our next stop. Rotorua and my family’s adorable home. We were spoiled with dinners, a warm fire, and a comfy bed for a few days.We put on our tourist hat and rode down a luge (a blast in a glass!) and took a gondola up for a relaxing wine tasting. We also stopped to see the famous “bubbling mud” and geysers. The town takes the name “Sulphur City” as it has a strong rotten eggs smell. Interesting, eh? We did some hiking, with one of our favorite spots being the Redwood Forest. I bet you can guess that it’s named after the California Redwoods and NZ did a great job recreating a slew of beautiful trees. They will continue to grow larger for years to come. After some much needed family time, we were ready for the next adventure. And what a road trip it was.
Gondola View of Rotorua
Redwoods are mind-blowing
Bubbling mud is so fancy
My family graciously let us borrow a car to begin the trek down south. First place of interest: Wellington, New Zealand’s capital. Unfortunately, we did not have good timing and arrived for one soggy evening. We took an opportunity to go into the city’s massive (and free!) museum to shake off some of the rain. We ended our evening with pizza and nachos, classic….followed by overnight camping in the Pathfinder. Eh, not the best sleep but hey, adventuring is not always meant to be comfortable. An early morning meant catching a flight on Jetstar! We had a great little flight to Christchurch where our week’s accommodation was anxiously awaiting our arrival. Are you ready for it? BOOM baby! There she is…the Jucy Caravan. Riding in style, luxury, and class. While loving it. I think my favorite part of the van was the rule that you had to beep when you passed a fellow Jucy rental.
New Zealand sights are second to none, and we enjoyed every minute. I’m so thankful that we decided to road trip both the north and south island. We found that it was the perfect way for us to get the most out of short amount of time we were staying. A highlight was Queenstown, where we spent two nights camping out in the adventure capital of the world. We set up shop in a site 12 miles outside of town. During our days, we walked around the adorable streets and did some amazing hikes. I contemplated skydiving until I saw the $500 price tag. That quickly made up my mind for me! One of John’s “musts” was trying the epic Fergburger. We were NOT disappointed (cue the drooling…) Another highlight was checking our first ice bar off of the list. Cool! Although we could have stayed for a few more days, it was time to venture to Fiordland (say it in your best yodel accent!)
Atop of Queenstown (Post Hike)
Cold is an understatement
Taking it all in
Beautiful scenery to end the day
It ended up being a very long day in the van, with both of us taking turns driving. The most frustrating part was the weather. Damp, dreary, and foggy. Weather conditions you do not want when you’re hoping to see a magnificent glacier. It was a bummer, but at least it was along our journey back north and not out of the way. Instead, we made some delicious grilled cheese and sipped on a serious bottle of Scrumpy’s…hard cider. NZ version. Boom. We ventured along some wicked roads, but it added to the amazing adventure. John came across this fantastic sight along a random road, of course we had to add to it! 🙂
In the kitchen doing work
Kelc on the other hand… not so much
Working on my new addition to Cathy’s Crusaders
Our last evening on the south island was spent in Nelson. An adorable, quaint town that pleasantly surprised us. We found our spot in the free parking lot and cozied into our “home”. We woke up a bit early to make a few stops along the way to our ferry back up north. The town of Marlborough is known for wine, wine, and more delicious wine. Throw in a chocolate factory too, and you got one happy girl. It was a great way to end the journey! We drove the Jucy van on one of New Zealand’s serious ferry’s and hit the strait. Now I’m sure you all know my thoughts on boats by now, so picture me sitting on the floor swaying back to forth naturally on this massive thing. Woof! I was so anxious to hit Wellington’s shore. Our second time here revealed much nicer weather, so we took advantage of it and walked everywhere. Conveniently, we walked right into a fish market with the BEST fish and chips. It was so satisfying, and the perfect way to climb into the Jucy caravan for one final night of “street camping”.
Waterfall pit stop
Such a beautiful country
One last sunset on the south island
Kelc was loving life and the wine
Our enormous ferry
The sounds were a sight to see
A MUST in New Zealand
We returned our beloved lime and purple van without any issues and jumped back into the Pathfinder for two final days on the road. John and I were spoiled once again at Nan Dornbusch’s house in National Park. We got to see the beautiful sights of Mt. Tongariro, an active volcano and notable alpine pass. But what really was on our minds was the adventure that we had been looking forward to for the past few days…the Waitomo Caves!! Let me paint the picture for you. It was an epic caving adventure that consisted of abseiling 115 feet down into complete darkness, whizzing down a zipline, climbing 3 waterfalls, jumping into black, FREEZING water (in a wetsuit) all while staring up to see magnificent glowworms. It really is hard to explain, but was a huge highlight from our entire trip. The day was so unique and something we will remember forever.
Our Waitomo gang
A little fun while training for the journey underground
Thats not us but its to give you guys an idea of what we did
New Zealand started and ended with the Taylor clan. We got to play and hang out with Noah and Kieran, while enjoying Ross and Nicole’s company. Love you guys, and can’t thank you enough for welcoming us and showing us your beautiful country!!!
Some last minute fun with the cousins
Next and final (what, why this soon?!) stop…the North Shore of Oahu <333
2164 km, 1345 mi