New Zealand, Part II.

New Zealand, Part I, ended with us leaving Milford Sound. We were headed for Dunedin, but it is a long drive, and we thought we’d end up stopping somewhere along the way. Nick fell asleep, the rest of us were ok, so we drove on through. I was glad to get to Dunedin and to not have to get up and drive another 2-3 hours the next day. We found a hotel across from the Cadbury Chocolate Factory, as that was what we planned to do the next morning before heading to Larnach Castle, just outside of Dunedin, down the Otago Peninsular.

Let’s be honest. No one does the Cadbury Tour to actually SEE chocolate being made. We do it for the free handouts along the way, and the chocolate shop at the end! That is one place I could NOT work. Mum and I agreed if we were packing, it would be one for the box, one for us!

Cadbury’s new delivery man

L over at My Journey – Am I There Yet?ย had requested some Luxury Flakes. I have to admit, Flake is definitely in my top 3, if not my very favouritest Cadbury Chocolate. When I tried one of these luxury ones…oh.my.god. I’m only slightly ashamed to admit we just bought a whole box of 24. I figure L can have 10, I’ll give my sisters and my boss a couple each, that leaves a few for the house (a couple of which have already been eaten). They are so good!

We had a few hours before we could check in at Larnach Castle so we went for a drive to see if we could see some penguins or albatrosses or sea lions. The only place we found all the way out at the end of the peninsular was a place that did tours and couldn’tย guaranteeย you’d see anything. We skipped that and went for a drive to find the most photographed beach of the area – St. Claire Beach.

St. Claire beach

From there we headed in search of Tunnel Beach, however upon arrival, the walk down to the beach was closed off because it goes through private property, and it was “closed due to lambing.” What can you do, you can’t interfere with Kiwis and their sheep!

We headed on up to Larnach Castle to check in for our night in the stables. Once there, we ran into a family we had done the chocolate factory tour with. They, too, were staying in the stables. They also happened to be from Queensland, just 2 hours away from us. And to make the world even smaller, the woman taught at a school with my mum’s-former-colleague’s-daughter. Follow all that?!

Anyway, Larnach Castle to visit for a couple of hours would probably not impress you much. But we did the overnight stay with dinner in the castle, dinner-party style in the music room, and it was such an amazing experience!

Larnach Castle

The castle, the history, the story of William Larnach and his family was all very interesting, if not somewhat tragic. The gardens and the views were magical. To think when it was built, Dunedin was a full day’s travel away. They were isolated out there. Two of his wives died young, each aged 38, his favourite daughter died at 28. He later took his own life, as did one of his son’s. The Castle was restored by a young couple on their honeymoon who came across it and bought it. The gardens are just as magical, if not more so, than the actual castle.

A snapshot of the beautiful gardens at Larnach Castle

One of the views from a Larnach Castle garden

After our castle experience it was time to get back on the road for yet another long drive. We weren’t sure how far we’d get, but knew it was about 5 hours to Christchurch. We wanted to stop in Oamaru on the way to look for wildlife and also to stop at the Moeraki Boulders. But Oamaru was still about 3 hours out of Christchurch. To cut a long story short, we ended up driving the whole way again. That was ok, because it meant we weren’t having another long drive the last day of our trip before flying home.

Moeraki Boulders

The flight home was significantly bumpier than the flight over. We were on Air New Zealand this time instead of Virgin. Not that that should make a difference, but the flight attendants on this flight were amazing. One saw me quite visibly upset (even after 2 valium – spaced a few hours apart of course) and asked if I was alright. I explained I was a really nervous flier and she told the flight attendants looking after our section of the plane. One of the flight attendants, Bonnie, was fantastic, frequently checking on me, letting me know the pilots were climbing a bit higher to get a smoother ride, assuring me that the pilots were 2 of the best, and that all crew on board were well trained to handle any situation that may arise. Best of all, she didn’t make me feel stupid for being so damn scared. That crew was so kind and caring, and it made things a little bit easier, even though I was still a bit of a wreck!

Finally got to see a sea lion in the wild (4 actually!) in Oamaru.

A few quick things/facts/tips about our trip:
– 8 nights/9 days (not NEARLY enough time)
– 6 towns (way too many for such a short trip)
– 2000kms (again, way too many for a short trip)
– If given the option to do over, would do it in reverse and end with Milford Sound/Queenstown (seriously, NOTHING compares!)
– We kept to a relatively cheap budget. 4 of us (my mum and the 3 of us) would have done the trip in just less than $6000. (Roughly in $AU: $800 airfare, car + petrol $1000, accommodation $1900, cash for food/spending $1700, bungy $175). This budget could have been blown out of the water if we had done more, but really we didn’t have the time, and the weather was FREEZING! Rafting and a helicopter flight were on the list of possibilities, but too cold/windy/expensive and as I said, not enough time!

If you are interested in planning a trip to NZ I’m more than happy to answer any questions you have. Not that I’m an expert by any means, but I can share our experiences and what we learned. I am always getting emails from Virgin Australia about New Zealand being on sale so it pays to keep an eye out and subscribe to their notices.

I’m so thankful we did this trip. The Mechanic and I have talked about doing it since we moved back to Australia from the US almost 5 years ago. Finally we did it, and it was really breath taking. I wondered why kiwis move here when their country is so beautiful. I decided it must be the weather. I didn’t see one sunset all trip, and I froze almost the entire time. And really, at the end of the day, New Zealand might be The Beautiful Country, but Australia really is The Lucky Country. And once it was all said and done, I was so glad to be back in Australia, in my own bed, with my own pillow. Holidays are great, but like Dorothy said, There’s No Place Like Home.

Great big dorks, excited to be on holidays! I have about 10 layers of clothing on. I exaggerate. It was only 5.

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33 thoughts on “New Zealand, Part II.

  1. Thank you AGAIN for the wonderful memories you just brought to the fore for me ! As you know, I just LOVED our holiday there and would go back in a flash. Obviously NZ used up all their good weather on us when we were there, because although it was cold, we only had one day of rain and plenty of sunshine ! (Sorry !!!)
    And a HUGE thank you for the luxury flakes – corry to have introduced you to that experience – nothing quite compares does it ?
    I knew that you would make those flights – both ways – and be safe – and you did – well done !
    Have the best day EVER !
    Love, hugs and positive energy !
    Me

  2. Gorgeous photos. It is only recently that I have been thinking that a holiday to New Zealand could be on my ‘places to go’ list. I love photography and I am always seeing beautiful shots from people who have been. Glad you enjoyed, but yes it does seem like a lot was covered in a short time!

    • I was really looking forward to all the photo opportunities, but we didn’t stay long enough anywhere to give the weather a chance to really shine! I did manage to get some great shots, but am ever so slightly disappointed that some places didn’t live up to photographer expectations due to weather!

  3. Just read your whole trip start to finish – and I was about to go and jump on a plane โ€ฆ except I HATE being cold. Milford Sound and walking the track is definitely on my list of things to do once the girls are old enough to leave behind for a little while. I can’t imagine how incredible that must have looked in the flesh. Fabulous write-up, and appreciate the run-down of costs and what you would and wouldn’t do again. And the photos! Wow. x

  4. I am so jealous.. I love the Moeraki Boulders!!! My Nanna Joyce & Poppa lived in Oamaru!!
    The drive from ChCh to Invercargill was one I took every 3 years with my Mum stopping at various places along the way to visit our family and friends.. growing up.. I love it.. I will get back there and show my lil family what a wonderful place it is ๐Ÿ™‚

    FYBF ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Thanks! Wish I had tried to get closer – part of the beach was closed, the weather was a bit crappy and I just gave up. Oh well, still happy with what I got! I took 1500+ photos in 9 days. Oops!

  5. Oh, sounds like you guys had such an amazing time! All your photos are spectacular! Good for you on facing your fear of flying. And bless Bonnie for keeping you calm ๐Ÿ™‚ x

  6. So good to hear you had a lovely time and supportive flight crew. The photos are indeed gorgeous. I hope to get to New Zealand one day so will keep your offer of advice in mind!

  7. More amazing pics!! The view from the castle is stunning!! And your dinner party in the music room sounded like it would have been fun!! ๐Ÿ˜€ Thanks for sharing!!

  8. You take such beautiful photos! Glad to hear you got such wonderful flight attendants on the way home – you did it, you got on the plane (twice) and although it wasn’t pleasant by your recollections, absolutely none of your fears came to fruition, bless. xx

  9. Woohoooo Finally got to READ THESE POSTS!!!! A- the pictures you took are flipping AMAZING!!!!! The things you saw and the places, youve definitely changed my mind about visiting NZ!!!! Sounds like you had such a fabulous time, i’m so glad, i think it came at the perfect time! Still in awe at the beautiful views….. Larnach castle… holy WOW!

    xx

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