Posts Tagged With: Nelson

Day 25: Nelson to Taupo

This morning we had to catch at 9:10 flight from Nelson to Wellington. We left our rental at 8:05 and managed to drive 13 minutes to the airport, return our rental car, and check our luggage all by 8:25 AM. I love short hop domestic flights in New Zealand. Our flight unfortunately was delayed about forty minutes due to a late arriving aircraft. I thought that was hilarious since the late arriving aircraft had not yet taken off from Wellington. The flight between Nelson and Wellington is only 25 minutes….

We landed in Wellington, grabbed a quick lunch and prepared to drive north towards Taupo. This is normally a five hour drive, but of course we stopped at some bridges so it made the drive longer…

I was not prepared for the beauty of the drive. Everyone talks about the beauty of the South Island, but I have found the North Island is equally beautiful. We passed through several varied landscapes. When we got towards the more central area of the island it looked as though Mountains had just fallen off. There appear to be several landslides in the area. Then you move to scenery that is reminiscent of New Mexico/Arizona with desert scenery (without cactuses) and volcanoes in the background. We constantly passed sheep. Even though there was a lot of rain on our drive it was gorgeous and it was hard to look away.

We probably could have stopped at one more bridge on the way to our lodging but Rachel was not feeling well (she has a cold) so we skipped one that would have added at least an hour to our trip. We checked into our rental which is right on Lake Taupo. I found some take-away for us for dinner and also stopped at a pharmacy to pick up some medicine for Rachel. That is one thing we take for granted in the US. I know I can always find a pharmacy open late or 24 hours. Here the pharmacy closed at 7:30 so I had to hurry to get there before it closed. After dinner we all went bed with plans to sleep in the next morning.

Categories: Taupo | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Day 24: Nelson

Today we took a vacation day. We all slept in and then had plans to visit the Nelson Sunday market. Nelson is known as the sunniest place in New Zealand. So just our luck it was raining Sunday and the market did not seem to occur. Instead we poked around in a few stores. We eventually drove to see a couple of bridges, then we went to a grocery store to grab food for lunch and dinner. We came back to the rental for two hours and then I took the kids to see Despicable Me 3. We came back to the rental and I made dinner.
Rachel now seems to have a cold 😦 Hopefully she will not have it when it is time for us to fly home and hopefully no one else will catch it.

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Day 23: Abel Tasman National Park

Today we explored the Abel Tasman National Park. We were on a 9:30 water taxi to Torrent Bay, and then we planned to hike from there to Bark Bay. In order to catch our taxi we needed to leave our apartment at 8:00….so it meant an early morning for everyone.

The water taxi was better than I expected. It starts with the water taxi being pulled into the water with a tractor. This is because the tide varies so much and the area they start the taxis at is very shallow. Once the boat was in the water, the driver drove us past Split Apple Rock. This is a rock that split, and thus it looks like a split apple. During high tide you can kayak between it.

Next the water taxi stopped at a seal colony. The colony was females and pups. We were able to watch them for about ten minutes. It was pretty cool watching them play and swim.

After that, we were dropped off at our location. We then had a 6.4 km hike to reach our pickup location. The kids did pretty well on the hike. There was some complaining midway through, but at that point we stopped for a quick “picnic” lunch. Next they were looking forward to the bridge, and after that the hike was almost over. So while there were some complaints, they were not too bad.

While on the hike we went to Medlands Beach. This was a very nice beach to just relax at. The water was crystal clear on both sides and there were lots of shells. It would have been an awesome place to swim if the water and temperatures were warmer.

While it was way too cold to do any swimming, one of the benefits of doing this hike in the winter was the lack of crowds. Supposedly in the summer the beaches in this park would have been filled with day hikers and backpackers.

After Medlands Beach we continued to our pickup beach called Bark Bay. On one side you had the ocean and on the other side was a huge bay. It was interesting to observe how much the coast/bay changes with the tide. The kids put a stick where the water touched the sand and we observed how quickly the tide went out. Additionally I noticed the same thing with some steps that I had been sitting on.
Our taxi came promptly at 3:15 to pick us up. We reached our car and made it back to our rental around 4:30. We relaxed for a few minutes and figured out dinner. The boys ordered fish and chips from a take away place across the street from us. Rachel had a gluten free fried calamari from the restaurant (The Styx)we ate at the night before, and I made myself some pasta. We then settled in for the night.

Categories: Abel Tasman | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Day 22: Greymouth to Nelson

This morning we headed out to the Brunner Suspension bridge.  This was a bridge that was built to create a link to the mine sites.  This was one of New Zealand's earliest suspension bridges – it opened in 1864.  Kind of weird to think that as this bridge was being built, the Civil War was going on in the US.  This bridge was at a very interesting site due to the coal mine history.  There were several buildings and placards telling information about the mine and the bridge.  There had been a very famous (in New Zealand) mine disaster in the very late 1800's and there was a lot of information about this.  I thought it was very interesting that there had been four horses that refused to go into the mine that day.  The miners were only able to get the horses into the mine after they covered their eyes with cloths.  Ultimately, the horses died in the explosion.  But they must have sensed something was up.

After the visit to the bridge we headed to the West Coast.  We drove to the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks.  When we arrived it was pouring down rain.  There was a break in the rain so we headed to the loop trail and to see the rocks and blowholes.  As we were on our hike it rained some more and we all got wet.  Still, the rocks were pretty neat to see.  I enjoyed listening to the blow holes and watching the waves crash against the rocks.  There was one place where the waves created a sort of chimney – as the waves crashed against the rocks it seemed like they created steam.

We had a quick snack in the cafe and then we continued our drive up north and then back towards the east.  We stopped on the route to see the Buller Gorge Swing bridge.  Well – Rachel and I stayed in the car and the men went to see it.  You actually had to pay to cross it.  According to the men it was very wobbly.

We ended up arriving at our Nelson rental around 6:30 PM.  This rental is right on the harbor.  After unloading our stuff we noticed a seafood restaurant across the street and we decided to eat there.  This was probably the best dinner we have had so far, in terms of everyone getting along (kids and parents included).  We learned that the owner of the restaurant was actually from Brainerd, MN…an area that I have family members in.  She also attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  So of course we had to see if we could find a person that we both knew (we did not).

Finally, we came back to the rental and started doing laundry and going to bed.  We had to be up early the next morning.

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100 days to go

100 days to go, 100 days to dream. Time is seeming to fly super fast now. I have dreams regularly about our trip. I have a few smaller trips between now and then which will really make the time go by fast.

What is left to do? Well, most everything is paid for already in regards to lodging. The only places that are not fully paid for yet are our place in Nelson and our place in Auckland. I plan to pay for Nelson on May 1 and Auckland on June 1.  We also have one hotel room that we have not paid for yet. Other than that, all hotels/apartments have been paid for so we won’t have that expense when we return. That is usually the biggest travel expense and it has been nice to spread it out over the last few months.

Airfare – fully paid for. We bought our tickets over to Australia/New Zealand using frequent flyer miles so those were relatively cheap. But I had to buy flights within Australia and New Zealand. I bought those in the fall once I knew our itinerary.

In regards to car rentals – one has been prepaid and two I was not able to prepay. And honestly I can’t find a better rate than what I booked so those probably won’t be prepaid before we go. I can deal with that though.

Activities are mostly all booked and paid for. This month I can book our Alcatraz tickets (yes we are spending a day in San Fran before we go) and our Sydney Observatory tickets. Our lodging in Sydney is right next to the Observatory so we will do that one night. I have two excursions booked but I cannot pay for them yet as they could be cancelled if the weather does not cooperate. I call those excursions the Pandy Excursions. Pandy was my great aunt that passed away in November but she taught me that you only live once and sometimes in life you need to splurge. So those two excursions, if they happen, I will dedicate to her since they will be our splurges. In fact, my motto on our trip will be “What would Pandy do?”.

I still can’t believe we have reached the 100 day milestone. It seemed so far away when I booked our first plane ticket at 330 days away. My brother gets married in 33 days and then the kids get out for the summer in 71 days. Those two countdowns will make the countdown to our trip fly.

Categories: Auckland, Nelson, San Francisco, Sydney | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

How I planned our NZ itinerary

Our trip to the South Pacific was originally planned as a trip to New Zealand. I am still not sure how I managed to convince my husband to let me add on Australia….

The Australia itinerary was pretty easy to plan. New Zealand though created quite a challenge to cover everything we want to see. My husband’s primary interest there is seeing suspension bridges. I actually enjoy seeing the bridges too, but I also want to see awesome things in NZ. So one thing I did was plotted out all the suspension bridges I could find (husband had this info) on a map and see if an itinerary came up that way. I knew we didn’t want to check in and out as well every night so I needed to find places we could stay for a few nights at a time.

Here is what the maps looked like (note – we are not stopping at all markers, they were just used to help me figure out routes that would line up with a majority of these markers):

North Island:

South Island:

I also knew we needed to end up in Auckland to return home. So I needed us to end up in Auckland….which meant starting our trip on the South Island.

Using the map I determined three different starting locations – Queenstown, Nelson, or Christchurch. Ultimately Christchurch won as the starting destination as it was easier to get to from Australia than the other two cities 🙂 

It honestly took me over a month to arrive at the NZ itinerary. Hopefully it all goes well.  In NZ we are seeing a lot of stuff but we don’t have a lot of days of long driving, so there will hopefully be time to go on hikes and hit other roadside attractions. 155 days until our vacation begins and I cannot wait!

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Trip planning update

Well, it’s now November 20th…the trip is coming together.  I *almost* have the itinerary completed.  Just when I think it is final I think of something else.  I only have two areas to work out – the North Island stint between Wellington and Auckland (4 nights – I am looking for only two locations there) and if we fly into Invercargill or Dunedin before heading into Queenstown.

I may have reserved all of our apartment rentals at this point.  Right now for the North Island I have us booked in a hotel for three nights, but I may change that.  I’ve reserved our rental cars as well, and only have one more flight to book.  So I’m feeling like we are getting there.  I’m the type that likes to go on vacation with everything fully paid for except for meals, so for me I like having everything booked way in advanced and paid off before we go.

Places we have apartment rentals for are: Sydney, Port Douglas, Queenstown, Nelson and Auckland.  We are in hotels for Christchurch, Franz Josef, Punakaiki, and the North Island (possibly).  I have to admit that apartment rentals keep us sane when traveling as a family.  By the end of the day we all need our own space.  An apartment gives us the capability to spread out and relax on our own.  It also allows us to prepare our own meals in case we aren’t in the mood to eat out.  It also helps us pack light as we can use a washing machine in the apartment to wash our clothes every few days.

The kids are starting to become more interested in the trip as well.  The boy would like to go to Puzzling World in Wanaka, New Zealand.  The kids also want to go skiing when we are in Queenstown.  The boy has also requested a helicopter tour…we will possibly do that at the Franz Josef glacier but with it being winter there is a high probability that the ride might now happen.  And the girl may participate in the Sydney zoo’s Zookeeper for a Day program.  It looks pretty neat.  I have been telling the kids to expect clothes this Christmas since we’ll be doing some expensive outings on our big trip.  They were not too thrilled 🙂

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