I love traveling more than anything in the world. It makes me happy and sets free all my emotions, which just fly away like butterflies that escaped the net. When I travel I live deeper, routine is abandoned, every day brings something new, and nothing is 100 % predictable. Focus and senses sharpen in contact with new things, blood runs faster, heart beats stronger. When i travel I feel as if I was given second life. The most amazing is that feeling of being detached from the reality, opportunity to get a bird’s eye view on everyday life, seeing problems in new perspective, and an energy and inspiration boost for the future.
It’s got me thinking, as I read this now, that this must be pretty much like an addict would describe his desperate urges to drink or get a shot 😀 Well, there must be something in it, cause as soon as I get back from one trip, I start planning the next one. Travel high kind of thing 😊
In New Zealand we spent 2 glorious weeks, it was the first stop in our month long trip (there was Australia and Dubai after). It was an adventure of a lifetime and I feel great deal of nostalgy just thinking about all those amazing places. There were lots of challenges: 23 hours long flight (with transit in Dubai), with a 4,5 year old, jet lag, unbearable heat and thousands of flies in the jungle, to mention just a few. But I would have done it again, even tomorrow, even if I only had 15 minutes to pack (kind of task you sometimes see in tv shows), because what is all the hardship compared to what remains? 😊
It all started when T found super cheap tickets to Australia on http://www.hotukdeals.com (great website, you can find deals on practically anything). 750£ return for the three of us, it’s just doesn’t happen. We flew to Sydney, and back to England from here as well, but started our trip from New Zealand, we just bought additional tickets to Auckland. We planned and organised the whole thing ourselves, travelled by planes (total of 13 times on the plane during a month, including all domestic flights). Shorter distances we made by buses. A month is not a lot to explore such massive land and so many unique spots, so I think the plane was most reasonable, comfortable and quickest option.
So first I found places that we wanted to see, printed out big calendar and marked where and for how long we would stay, and according to this we bought all the flights. The last thing to sort out were hotels, which, as always, we chosed based on tripadvisor reviews. It’s always good to check the hotel you want to book on different websites, such as i.e. booking.com, hotels.com or expedia, to get the best price. We also booked some of the excursions in advance, if we were somewhere just for few days, to make sure we don’t miss it (i.e. 3 day trip to Kakadu National Park in Australia). We used http://www.viator.com to book most of the excursions.
That’s how it looked from the admin side, many, many hours we spent scribbling on our plan, erasing and making changes. I marked all our hotels in this post, they were all very good and I recommend them in case you’re planning your own trip.
At first our trip was dominated by mega jet lag ( time difference between UK and New Zealand is 13 hours!), so we’d been waking up at night, and wanted to sleep during the day (just look at nightime colouring session below 🙂 Lily was only 4,5 year old and we had to carry her a lot, major crisis came upon us right at the beggining, in Hobbiton, where she cried and was carried all the time (she got her spirit back pretty quickly, when we bought ice creams at the exit).
Rotorua, Te Puia and the geysers
NZ consists of two islands – north and south. We picked places we wanted to visit on both islands and mapped out our route. Rotorua, situated on the north island is famous for its geothermal activity and Pohutu – the main geyser of the area, that spurts out up to 20 times a day. There is Maori centre here, where you can learn about culture of Maori – indigenous people of NZ.
As for the attractions for kids, there is a sheep shearing display, big playground and park of native animals of NZ. By the way, did you know that the symbol of New Zealand is cute little Kiwi bird? That’s why people of NZ are often referred to as Kiwi people or Kiwis, and it’s not considered offensive but full of pride and endearment. Also most of the names of places originate from Maori language, they sound very exotic and are proper tongue twisters 🙂.
The Hobbiton in Matamata village
I’m not particularly into Tolkien and his books, of course I watched The Lord of the rings and The Hobbit, as did everyone, but I was simply stunned and excited by this place like the biggest fan. It’s pure magic, honestly. Meat drying at the front garden, tablecloth and jug on a tiny table, vegetable basket and flowers blooming around every hobbit hole – everything is so beautifully made it’s impossible not to feel like in the actual Shire. If I loved it so much, just imagine what it must be like for real fans!
Most of the houses are just a facades – front door and garden, interiors are only in those, where action took place, like Bilbo Baggins’s house. Peter Jackson, the director of both movies had abnormal attention to details and was crazy about every tiny piece of scenery to be exact same as in Tolkien’s descriptions. He thought local sheep with white heads and legs were not very authentic, so they were temporary transferred, and black headed and legged ones were brought instead. Also some of the trees didn’t quite resemble those in the books, so thousands of handmade, painted leaves and fruits were sticked to them, and the tree above Bilbo’s house is completely artificial. There is a famous anecdote about really loud frogs, which made filming impossible, so again Jackson had them all caught up and driven away (they came back after the filming was over 🙂
Admission is 75 NZ dollars (roughly 44 £), in the shop you can buy beer and lots of other stuff that looks like taken straight from hobbit world 🙂.
Lovely little city surrounded by mountains on the south island, we came here by plane from north island, stayed in Novotel and after 2 days we drove higher into the mountains – to Te Anau, which is a base for excursions to Milford Sound, the most famous fiord of New Zealand.
We stayed in Lakeview Motel, I completely forgot that we were in the mountains, and that sun is burning even if it doesn’t seem particularly warm, so we ended up with red patches here and there.
Famous fiord and very popular tourist attraction, and it’s hardly surprising as the place is just beautiful. Wonderful nature, mountains, seals and dolphins chasing our boat, we played a game with Lily, who will spot the most of them 🙂
This little town of a crazy name is a starting point for exploring Abel Tasman National Park.
Abel Tasman National Park
It’s a tour on the boat, because this park is an incredible selection of beaches and bays, illuminating all shades of blues and turquoises.
As for the places we didn’t get to see but are awesome too, Tongariro National Park makes top of the list. It boasts three active volcanoes, and some scenes of The Lord of the rings were filmed on one of them.
We skipped Tongariro, because it’s a mountain terrain and requires some intense hiking, which our child hates.
Those of you, who unlike my daughter, love climbing, can also try your skills on Franz Josef or Fox glacier.
And if you are adrenaline junkie level hard, try bungee jumping here! Why in New Zealand? Because that’s where it was invented, and the first bungee jump ever took place right here. I know I could never do it, although I skydived from 4000 m, but bungee seems to me…too brutal and bones pulling, I don’t know, maybe it’s not like that at all 🙂.
One of the best things about New Zealand is that it’s the least populated country in the world. On both islands, which are the size of Japan, live only 4.7 m people. There is no crowd anywhere, and we felt so special everywhere we went. Peace and lack of ques and no masses of tourists everywhere was exactly what I dreamed about.
The weather in December was splendid, summer but without unbearable heat, the nature is fantastic, crystal clear water in the lakes and rivers, lush green hills decorated with hundreds of fluffy sheep, and lots of awesome places to see. I’m eternally thankful that we got to be here.