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.
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.
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.
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):
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!
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 🙂
Categories: Australia, New Zealand
Tags: Auckland, Australia, Dunedin, Invercargill, Nelson, New Zealand, Port Douglas, Puzzling World, Queenstown, Sydney, Wanaka