Gorgeous. Simply breathtaking. Period.
Our trip to Queenstown, New Zealand was just that (minus a couple of 2 year old tantrums, fines at customs and a trip to the emergency room.)
After hauling 13 bags from Australia (we were on our way home to the States), we arrived in Queenstown, NZ. After managing the loss and recovery of 1 bag left in Melbourne, we headed to customs. After hastily rushing through the process and having customs agents dig out and wash the kids’ wellies, I was caught with honey, a prohibited item. Crap. After running through the last 48 hours in my brain, I honestly had no idea what I packed in baggage and what I shipped home.
Between being served a fine at customs, wondering if I have an international smuggling record and listening to my lecturing husband, I couldn’t wait to get to our hotel. I hoped that New Zealand’s landscape would literally take me away. It did.
We drove the 4 hours to Milford Sound, past the southern tip of Lake Wakatipu, past thousands of sheep and Lake Te Anau, and up, around and, quite literally, through mountains. It was an incredible drive. Our cruise, while it rained a bit and some clouds inhibited our views of the incredible peaks, was amazing. The seals and underwater observatory were highlights for the kids. Waterfalls poured down the cliffs. Fog and mist nestled between the peaks.
We drove an hours drive to Glenorchy, northwest of Queenstown. The Lord of the Rings was filmed in the environs. The northern tip of Lake Wakatipu and the drive were incredible. Think of The Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia but with inland lakes and mountains. Bright blue lakes and blue rivers mirrored the landscape.
We explored Queenstown.
The kids decided against this.
Instead, we luged.
And we found a perfect spot, somewhere I’d return to relax and soak in the 75 degree summer sun. It had a playground at the water’s edge for the kids, a cafe next door with local beers and Otago Valley Pinot Noir, and the lake at our feet.
As usual, drama ensues when travelling with young children. My 4 year old daughter, Claire, was running around the hotel room and fell into the corner of a perfectly round glass table. A corner? Yes, apparently she found one. She always does.
Hours later, Claire returns happy as a clam, with a hotel kids’ pack, a superglued wound, and a story about “greedy” ducks from an ems worker. Dad returns without a hospital bill and an emergency room visit 100% covered by the government. Thank you, New Zealand.
Thank you, New Zealand, for your kindness as well. Our hotel was more than obliging and the airport workers were extremely helpful both in Queenstown and Auckland, where a woman helped us push 3 trolleys in the pouring rain (and helped retrieve fallen luggage in giant puddles.) Also, Air New Zealand is my new, FAVORITE airline. The flight attendants were helpful, friendly and even involved the children. My daughter donned a scarf and handed out candies to the passengers… after she completed her Air New Zealand kids’ pack, of course.
Those Kiwis are the friendliest people on earth. Perhaps it’s because they live within one of the world’s most beautiful places.
The Cow, Queenstown
Skyline Restaurant, Queenstown
The Fat Duck, Te Anau
Gibbston Valley Cheesery, Gibbston
Gondola and Luge, Queenstown
Southern Discoveries Milford Sound cruise
Kiwi Birdlife Park, Queenstown
Woo-hoo! You made it through New Zealand with us. Hopefully, the pictures do it justice. Revisit them and they continue to amaze.