Auckland New Zealand

I’m not a city girl, but if I were going to live in a city, Auckland New Zealand might just be the one. This area of the North Island is stunningly beautiful and the city is placed perfectly to showcase the beach and harbor. It’s a cosmopolitan city with endless dining choices and things to do. Getting around the city is easy whether you choose to walk, take the public transportation, or grab an Uber. It’s no wonder it has grown to be so popular as a place to live or visit. We stayed in the Ponsonby area in a lovely garden studio we found through Airbnb.  Ponsonby is an inner-city suburb of Auckland known for dining, shopping, art galleries, and nightclubs. Ponsonby has an eclectic mix of buildings from art deco to contemporary buildings. The homes are beautifully restored and maintained, the residents are fit, and on a Saturday morning it seemed everyone was out and about walking there dog or enjoying coffee at the local cafe. We loved the vibe in this hip, quiet neighborhood which was just a short walk or bus ride to downtown Auckland. The Sky Tower, an observation and telecommunications tower, has stood tall at 328 meters as an icon of […]

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Kia Ora | Northland New Zealand

Kia ora (Key or-rah) is a Māori (indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand) language greeting which is now often used in New Zealand English. It means, literally, be well/healthy and is used as an informal hi. It is also used as a farewell and expression of thanks. We found it to be used even more in the Northland of New Zealand, an area rich with history of the Māori culture. So next time I see you, if I smile and say Kia ora – it’s a good thing! The area North of Auckland on the North Island of New Zealand is considered Northland. Once again, the scenery in this diverse country completely changes. It becomes very remote farmland as you drive north before turning into beautiful beaches up at the tip of the island. The drive is long and remote, so we stopped in Whangarai, The City by the Sea, for an overnight stay along the way. (side note – In New Zealand when you see a “wh” it is pronounced like an f sound, something carried over from the Māori culture.) Whangarai is a lovely subtropical climate with great food cafes and boutique shops. We enjoyed a delicious sunset dinner at The Quay along the picturesque waterfront in the Town Basin […]

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The Coromandel Peninsula | Good for your Soul

The Coromandel Peninsula is on the north-eastern coast of the North Island of New Zealand. The stunning white sand beaches and rugged forest are so peaceful and serene it’s no wonder they say The Coromandel Peninsula is good for your soul. We spent three relaxing nights in the Sunrise Suite at Paradise B&B in the coastal village of Hahei. It’s a small quiet community of 300 residents, but a popular tourist destination. Our hosts Kevin and Cherie made the visit extra special with their laughter, stories, delicious home cooked breakfasts on the outdoor deck, and overall awesome “Kiwi” hospitality. This was another unique and wonderful stay we booked through Airbnb – an awesome source for travel accommodations worldwide. Click here to get a code for $25 off your first stay with Airbnb.   People from New Zealand are referred to as Kiwis derived from the kiwi, a flightless bird, which is native to New Zealand. The people you meet really are one of the best parts of traveling and we absolutely loved the Kiwis! They are laid back, kind, funny and love to laugh. They are fully engaged in the moment with an almost childlike joy. Visitors are always welcomed and they go above and beyond to make your […]

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Three Days in the Coolest Little Capital | Wellington New Zealand

After 33 amazing days it was time to leave the South Island of New Zealand for the North Island. We chose to take the Interislander Ferry from Picton to spend three days in what Lonely Planet travel said is “The Coolest Little Capital in the World” – Wellington, New Zealand.   Upon arrival in Wellington, we felt slightly overwhelmed. Maybe it was because we had been in such remote areas for so long. After all there only about 1 million  people on the entire South Island of New Zealand versus over 3 1/2 million on the North Island (around 496,000 of those in Wellington) We saw more sheep than people on the south island so all these people and the urban setting were quite a jolt compared to the peace and quiet we had grown accustomed to. Once we settled in, acclimated to the environment, and found our way around the city,  we really did enjoy our time in Wellington. The city is an eclectic blend of old and new architecture over the past 150 years. The old has been restored alongside the new with changes along the way not only aesthetically but also structurally to make them more earthquake resistant.       No trip to Wellington is complete without a […]

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The top of the South Island New Zealand | Abel Tasman, Golden Bay & Cape Farewell

A road trip in New Zealand always takes longer than expected and the 178 km (111 miles) trip from Cable Bay to the top of the South Island of New Zealand was no exception.  The roads from Cable Bay to Golden Bay, Abel Tasman National Park, and Cape Farewell at the northernmost tip twists and turns up and down the mountains. It will keep you on your toes squealing with delight at the incredible views and screaming in fear at the terrifying drops off the side of the road. We parked the car for a couple of days in Kaiteriteri and took the Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle into the National Park for a stay at the Awaroa Lodge. Departing the sea shuttle onto the white sands of Awaroa Beach felt like arriving on fantasy island. At low tide you can walk across the bare sand of the estuary. It is incredible how the water recedes for a couple of hours either side of low tide leaving boats docked on dry land and giving hikers a shorter hike along the track – if they get the timing right. It’s also the perfect opportunity for the Oystercatcher’s and other birds to find their dinner. It takes 3-5 […]

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Connecting with Nature, People and Animals | New Zealand

My favorite parts of our journeys are the connections we make. Traveling through the northeastern tip of the South Island of New Zealand was a memorable experience connecting with nature, people and animals. Our first connection in this area was with our hosts Steve and Carol at the Treehouse Hideaway in Cable Bay.  Nestled in the trees right above the beautiful Cable Bay, this little hideaway was a peaceful and tranquil stay. Once again our Kiwi hosts went above and beyond. Steve and Carol were so kind and helpful giving us great tips on hikes in the area and providing a delicious home cooked breakfast each morning with fresh ingredients from their garden.   The bay got it’s name because New Zealands first overseas cable link opened at here February 21, 1876. The international telegraph established a connection via telegraph wire which meant communications to Europe took only four days instead of up to six months for letters. We took a great hike into nature and through the farmlands on the Cable Bay Walkway with panoramic views of the bay and the Tasman Sea.         Relaxed and rejuvenated we said goodbye to our new kiwi friends and set out for more adventure. We […]

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New Zealand Road Trip | Haast Pass and the Great Coast Road

A New Zealand road trip is the perfect way to explore the diversity and beauty of the south island. Our road trip from Wanaka through the Haast Pass and up the Great Coast road to Westport did not disappoint. The West Coast region of the South Island is one of the more remote and sparsely populated areas of the country. It’s unspoiled nature on full display. We were quite lucky the morning we left Wanaka when the lady who pumped our gas at the full service station noticed our low tire. Turns out we had a screw in the tire which was an easy repair while still in town, but could have been disaster had it gone flat while driving through the mountains of Haast Pass to Bruce Bay, 247 kilometer (153 miles) of very remote narrow roads with no phone service. Wow – can’t thank her enough! At least while getting the tire fixed we had time to ship my camera to Auckland for repairs. Yep, my brand new camera, purchased January 1, quit working. When I told the lady at the post office my camera broke on our wedding day her response was “Must have been a good party!” Gotta love the Kiwi sense […]

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I Wanna Live in Wanaka

I really do love where I live in Michigan, but if I were to choose a place to fly away for the winter months, it would be to Wanaka on the south island of New Zealand. There are so many reasons I wanna live in Wanaka! Located in the stunning alps of the South Island – The landscape surrounding this charming little town is beyond description. Unspoiled natural beauty in every direction.   Wanaka is one of the few areas in New Zealand to have four distinct seasons and it’s a perfect base for outdoor activities year round. We barely scratched the surface exploring the crystal clear lakes, rivers and beaches. The i-SITE visitor information centers throughout new Zealand are the perfect stop to get information on tours and things to do in the area. On our next visit we plan to do a guided tour and climb a waterfall – scary, but cool! One of our favorite days in Wanaka was a trip to the remote, magical, uninhabited island of Mou Waho. There are guided tours available, but we chose to go by water taxi and investigate on our own. We booked the water taxi at the isite in Wanaka and the ride was […]

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Milford Sound | New Zealand

Milford Sound is a fiord located in the beautiful Fiordland National Park on the south island of New Zealand. It’s breathtaking to see the vertical cliffs, mountain peaks, and waterfalls crashing down into the beautiful water below. It’s no wonder Rudyard Kipling described it as the ‘eighth wonder of the world’. Because it is one of New Zealand’s top tourist destinations there are plenty of options for visiting Milford Sound. You can take a bus, helicopter or plane tour from Queenstown or drive on your own. Once you arrive in Milford you can choose from day and overnight cruise options, multi day hikes, and sea kayaking. The New Zealand Tourism website is a great place to get started planning your trip. We chose to drive from Queenstown to Milford (285 km/177 miles), stay two nights at the Milford Sound Lodge, then drive back to Te Anau for one more overnight before driving north through Queenstown and up to Wanaka. This is one drive you really need to plan for and allow plenty of time (4.5-5 hours one way from Queenstown to Milford). Plan to drive slowly on the twists and turns through the mountains (so as not to terrify your passengers), and allow time for stopping to take in the […]

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Queenstown New Zealand | Ten Reasons to Visit

There is so much to do in Queenstown New Zealand it was hard to choose only ten reasons to visit. It was our first stop on the South Island and we fell in love with New Zealand the moment we stepped off the airplane on the open air tarmac. Every direction you look is beauty – mountains & nature. It was such an overwhelming feeling I almost wanted to cry. Everyone was taking photos before even trying to get to their luggage. We have done a lot of traveling to some amazing locations, but nothing has been more beautiful than our experience in Queenstown. So if you’ve ever considered visiting New Zealand you should just go! And when you get to Queenstown, here’s a list to get you started on an amazing adventure. #10 – The Thrills For thrill seekers Queenstown, the adventure capital of the world,  is the place to go! There’s bungy jumping, paragliding, whitewater rafting, canyon swinging, river surfing, sky diving and more. You should do at least one thing that scares you just a little. For me it was the luge ride, however Bill has added skydiving to his bucket list our next trip.  I think I’ll just stay on the […]

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