New Zealand, Part 1.

Do you have a fear? I don’t mean something that makes you turn up your nose. I mean a real, paralysing, panic-inducing, honest-to-god F.E.A.R. I do, it’s flying*. So going to NZ last week had me in all kinds of anxiety modes. A doctor had given me valium to help with the flights. I wasn’t too bad on the way over as the flight was fairly smooth. A few bumps here and there. And the landing was quite bumpy. I must have looked a bit pale as one of the flight attendants asked if I was ok, and assured me it would “all be over before you know it.”**

Once the flying was out of the way, I hit the ground running. Literally. I couldn’t get away from the plane fast enough! We picked up our rental car and headed west for Lake Tekapo.

On the road, headed for the mountains

I was amazed at how windy it was (no wonder that landing was bumpy!), but more so at how beautiful the snow-capped mountains in the far off distanced looked. We arrived in Lake Tekapo to less-than pleasant weather. The freezing wind was blowing a gale and we decided to stay in for the night. I woke at 6 am (3 am Aussie time!) and saw out the window that dawn was breaking. How many more chances would I get to see the Church of the Good Shepherd at sunrise? In the car we got and The Mechanic and I went down to the lake. It was worth every freezing bit of wind to capture it.

Sun coming up behind mountains

Church of The Good Shepherd

After breakfast we soldiered on to Queenstown. Not a day too late, either, as that night, Lake Tekapo got 6 inches of snow! In QT we met up with American friends of mine who now live in Auckland. They were the reason this trip came to be in the first place, after they posted pics of their 5 day Milford Sound trek on facebook last year. After a yummy pizza lunch at The Cow we decided to head up the gondola to the luge. Nick LOVED it. I enjoyed the infamous view (from the top – in the gondola I sat with my back towards the view. Fear, again!).

View from the top of the Skyline Gondola

Nicklas loved the luge ride

And throwing snowballs for our friend’s dog

That night we had a delicious dinner in town at Rata and followed it by money shots*** at two different bars and shuffleboard and beer at a good old American joint, Cowboy. Where else would 3 Americans and an Aussie go in QT? We were home by midnight though, which made us all feel rather old. That and the fact that we all “dressed for the weather” not “to look hot”.

The next day mum and Nick went on the steamboat to Walter Peak High Country Farm. A major disappointment (long story). Nick had a blast though. Wouldn’t it be great to have kids’ expectations of things? Everything is awesome and you’d never be disappointed. We took the opportunity to go with our friends to Arrowtown and Amisfield Winery. It was so great to get to spend some time with them.

Cute little laneway in Arrowtown

On the way out of town the next morning, I told my husband to go jump off a bridge. So he did. The AJ Hackett bungy bridge that is. He made it look so easy and not at all scary. Watching his video back, I almost wonder if I could have done it myself. Easy to say that while I’m 2000 kms away and in no danger of being forced off the bridge.

*Picture purchased from AJ Hackett Bungy

I was a bit sad to leave QT and would have liked one more day. But we had to make our way to Te Anau for our overnight stay prior to driving out to Milford Sound. Te Anau was small, peaceful and beautiful. And it’s also in danger of being wiped off the map because there is talk of building a tunnel from QT to Milford Sound, completely bypassing Te Anau for all tourists. I’ve seen enough of Disney Pixar’s Cars to know that would be devastating for the people of Te Anau. I signed the petition to stop it.

Down by Lake Te Anau

To say I was apprehensive about the drive to Milford Sound is an understatement. I’d read all kinds of things and a lot of recommendations to take the bus. I was glad we didn’t. The road wasn’t THAT bad. A little hairy in places maybe, but we took our time and stopped often – when and where we wanted, because we had our own car. My husband, bless him, did all the driving. Unfortunately that meant he missed most of the scenery.

Just one of the views on the way into Milford Sound

Once to the sound, we had a few hours to kill before boarding the Milford Mariner, our accommodation for the night. Due to a storm, we didn’t actually moore in the sound, we went back to the wharf. That was fine by me, no rocking motion to make me sick! The weather was rotten and there was thunder and lightning throughout dinner. We had rain overnight. The good thing about that was that the waterfalls were flowing! The next morning, the cloud had lifted enough that we could see much more of the peaks that create this gorgeous fiord. At one stage the boat cruised close to the rocks, the engines went silent, and so did the 30 people on board, soaking it all. It was truly a magical place, topped off by dolphins swimming along beside the boat on our way back into port. Nick was absolutely thrilled! We all were!

The Milford Mariner, moored in a bay while people went on the Tender and kayaking. This was not a small boat, gives you some idea of the size of the rocks.


Mitre Peak, peaking out from the clouds

As we left Milford Sound I was overwhelmed by the natural beauty. It’s a place I’d love to visit often, but expenses, flying, holidays etc. won’t allow that obviously. It’s a place that photos just don’t do any justice for. It is something you have to see with your own eyes, hear with your own ears, and feel with your own soul.

A rainbow on the sound

Stay tuned for the second half of our trip. Will anything ever compare to Milford Sound? (Probably not!).

* Still unsure why it is of flying. I’ve flown all over the world. It’s never been this bad. Not sure if it’s more an afraid of “dying” thing or lack of control, lack of knowledge, but I’d like to get to the bottom of it.

** That’s what I’m worried about – LIFE being over before I know it!

*** A money shot is made up of a few different liqueurs  tequila (?), banana and cinnamon  It probably varies slightly from bar to bar, but it tastes like heaven in your mouth. I had 3 and could have done another 3 (at least!).

All photographs mine except one from AJ Hackett of The Mechanic’s bungy.

Linking up for #IBOT with Jess at Diary of a Stay at Home Mum


43 thoughts on “New Zealand, Part 1.

  1. Love the photos! We were recently in the North Island of NZ and went on the Luge ride in Rotorua! We all love it (we had 3 rides each) and the view from the top of the Skyling Gondola in Rotorua was pretty awesome too.

    • I remember that from when I was a kid! We did it 3 times each too I think and absolutely loved it! Will have to do the North Island next time! Would loved to have spent a month there doing both! Maybe if lotto comes through tonight.

  2. Oh, you’re making me miss New Zealand so much. We went for our honeymoon and visited Queenstown and the surrounding areas (along with lots of other parts of the country). I was also terrified of the gondola going up! We didn’t get out to Milford Sound though because of the weather – looks like we’ll have to go back down there again.

    • Oh no! Missed out on Milford Sound!? The road was closed for 2 days due to a landslide just before we got there, so we were pretty lucky to get in and out I think. I’m so glad we did. It was magical, you MUST go back!

  3. Thanks for the memories you brought back – even though some are only a few months old !!!! We went to Lake Tekapo with my folks and have a beautiful photo of A standing at the waters edge.
    I so get your fear of flying because I am the same with heights – funny thing is that I don’t mind flying too much.
    Glad you are home safe and sound – can’t wait to catch up again !
    Have the best week and enjoy your two days off.

    • Yes, must sort a time to catch up so I can deliver your Flakes! Will have a look and see if a Sat or Sun morning coming up will be good and message you. I’m glad we’re home safe and sound, too!

  4. your photos are amazeballs woman!! Im so proud of you that you felt the fear and did it anyway with the flying business, and that people around you looked after you x

    • Thanks Lyndal! To be honest I didn’t have much choice. We booked the tickets 7 months ago after I hadn’t flown for ages and had forgot how literally terrified I am of flying. In NO RUSH to get back on a plane AT ALL!

  5. Bungee jumping no way could I say I could do that, even if 2000klms away and safe at home. How assuring was the flight attendant? Not quite the soothing words of reassurance you needed. Such beautiful photos you captured. Oh to live through a child’s eyes, would love to feel excited over soo much. Looking forward to hearing more of your trip x

    • I think he had good intentions, meaning we’d be landing safely soon and it would be all over, it’s just my crazy mind that takes it to all different kinds of levels. And yeah, I couldn’t even video Mike’s jump without shaking, there’s no way I’d have been able to jump off the bridge. They’d have had to push me (which I think they actually do!!)

  6. That’s it. I am going there! Next year. Made up my mind. Well you did. Thanks to your perspective and beautiful pictures. So be prepared for me to pick your brain out for the best places to go.

    Mel xxx

    p.s New Zealand is so beautiful – so why the duck do they keep coming over here to live!?!? Are they blind?! I mean, don’t get me wrong, Australia is by far the most beautiful country, but with the amount of NZ’ers that keep immigrating over here, I always had this vision NZ was horrible. Me confused!!

    • Part II has my thoughts on why they all come here! I think most it’s weather. It could also be jobs. It is beautiful but fuck it was freezing the whole time, except the last day, coming up the east coast. pick away lovely, will happily share my tips with you. Do you get emails from Virgin? I just got another email yesterday about NZ being on Sale. $159 BNE to a few different cities. Then it’s usually a little cheaper coming back.

      • I know but they don’t offer during school holidays! Bastards! They have cottoned on a long time ago to that. So with all 3 at school next year, I would be kinda pushing the boundaries with them going during school time. Ho hum 😦

        Looking forward to reading Part II 🙂


    • I can’t even being to imagine how magical a wedding in that church would be! It is absolutely spectacular. While I was pretty happy we didn’t have to drive in 6″ of snow (although hubby is from Detroit, he’d have handled it ok) I was a TINY bit bummed b/c snow around that church would have made for amaaaaaaazign pictures!

    • Thanks Deb! I’m not going to be in a hurry to face it again any time soon. Actually I’m going to start looking into ways to get over it/cured. I’m sick of it being so incredibly debilitating. The flight back was worse! More in the next instalment! The trek looks amazing, just trying to figure out when we can do it – when Nick is in school and Mum just has to drop him off/pick him up, or wait until he’s 15 and can come with us?!

  7. OMG, Aroha ! Your photos are amazing!! I love Queenstown and yes, what’s a trip to QT without having a pizza at The Cow 🙂
    Milford Sound looks like it’s another planet altogether. Would love to go there. Can’t wait to read the next instalment 🙂 x

    • Thanks Grace! The Cow was great! The whole trip was great, but it’s nice to be home again also and to share the story and pics with everyone. Would be nice if holidays like that happened more often but I’m thankful we even got that one at all!

  8. Seriously, this post, and these photos, make me want to jump on a plane and go to NZ right now! Seriously how beautiful is that country?

    • It was a friend of mine’s photos that made us go, so you never know Jess, you might just be over there sooner than you think! 🙂 And seriously, it is SO BEAUTIFUL! It’s just magical! So different to anything we have on the GC (and in Darwin I’d imagine!)

  9. Just beautiful photos! I loved our trip to Queenstown and when we were there, we promised ourselves we will go back one day to do the Milford Sound – looks magical 🙂

  10. That looks absolutely amazing and it is only Part 1, I can’t wait to see and hear about Part 2. NZ was definitely somewhere on our to do list while we are living this way, but your pics have definitely made me bump it up the list. Just awesome.

    • I should have warned you, part 1 was probably the most stunning part. Part 2 still has some very cool stuff, but Tekapo-QT-Te Anau-Milford Sound was ahhhh-maaaaay-ziiiiing! Definitely do it if you get the chance! How long are you in Oz for? Is it predetermined or just until you want to go home?

      • A bit of both I think, contract is 2years with option for 3rd depending on the situation at the time, and then just see what happens, going to try and cram everything in though just in case we don’t stay!

  11. Your photos are amazing, you have captured NZ perfectly it is just such a beautiful place. What a great way to travel as well by car and go at your own pace, hopefully the roads werent too steep and scary! Your night on Milford sounds like mine, it was wild and wet and I had one too many red wines and didnt wake up feeling well at all. I blame the boat. Others would blame the red! But the beauty more than made up for it all 🙂
    If you have any tips on your fear of flying Id love to hear them, Im terrified of flying as well I think its a control thing and fear of dying (for the same reason I couldnt bungie jump off a bridge!) xx

    • Michelle I actually went to see someone not so long ago to try and get to the bottom of it. She asked me what happened when I was 21. I had been in a serious car accident. She said, “Where you driving?” I said “No.” So long story short, thinks that is why I trust no one (pilots, anesthesiologists etc.) Makes sense. Just now have to figure out how to get past it? Thanks for the compliment on the pictures. Gosh I’d love to go back and take MORE!

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