This time next week we’ll be in the air en-route to New Zealand! Lately we’ve been so wrapped up in finalising travel plans and visiting family and friends that we’ve almost forgotten to be excited about leaving. To get us back in the mood for travel, our friend Patti wrote about her time in New Zealand.
This is a guest post from our friend Patti, who runs a B&B and blogs about her travel adventures at One Road at a Time.
When I first met Amy, online, just a couple of months ago, I was intrigued to find yet another young couple with the passion and determination to change the direction of their lives in order to see the world. Through email conversations and the reading of each other’s blogs, we’ve gotten to know each other a bit, it’s been great fun! You might be surprised by just how many people in this vast world of ours are packing up and taking off; either for short term intervals or, as in the case of Amy and Andrew, for an indefinite period of time. Some travelers strap on the backpack while others tote several pieces of luggage. Some travel quickly from place to place while others take their time and stay put for a month at a time; it’s all about personal choice. First you make the choice to travel and then you figure out at which pace you’d like to travel. For years now my husband and I have traveled for short intervals and will continue to do so until the time comes when we can also join those who travel indefinitely. Hopefully, it won’t be too much longer before we can bask in the glory of travel.
Through reading my blog Amy discovered we had traveled to New Zealand in 2004.Since it is their first destination, it seems appropriate that I share a small piece of our adventure to the land down under. It’s amazing how fast the years fly by and that it has already been 9 years since we went to Australia and New Zealand, but at the same time I remember it as if we were there yesterday. Our son was an exchange student for a semester abroad program at the University of Melbourne and so we had to go visit him, right? We also celebrated his 21st birthday while we were there, which was definitely a memory maker! After our stay in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia, we flew to Auckland, New Zealand, for 4 short days.
At the time I had a friend who was living in Wellington, New Zealand so we made arrangements to meet in the middle for an overnight reunion. Our first adventure was learning to drive on the “wrong” side of the road. The driving aspect wasn’t so bad, but I kept turning on the windshield wipers when I wanted the turn signal, or was it the other way around?
Thinking our car trip was only going to take about 4 hours, it was more along the line of 5 1/2 hours, but well-worth every minute. We met up with our friend in the National Park Village, near the Tongariro Crossing. Don’t let the name fool you; there is no village in the National Park Village, just a collection of a few hotels/lodges and a “petrol” station. And oh yes, the railway station where believe it or not we had a wonderful dinner! To add to the charm, the train thundered by twice and the wine in our glasses actually quivered and the hardwood floor rumbled. It was perfect! The three of us spent our afternoon together roaming the area where the movie, The Lord of the Rings was filmed and it is spectacular country, so much diversity within a small area… deserts, hills, green fields, snow-capped mountains, volcanoes, etc. After spending the night in a quaint New Zealand lodge we said good-bye to our friend and Abi and I chose an alternate route back to NZ.
We found a hiking “trek” that the lodge owner had told us about so Abi and I decided to go for it and we were so thankful we did. It was a little more of a trek than we bargained for and of course I slipped and fell in the mud, but we were both so taken in by the beauty of it all. We walked through rain forest, up and down hills, came across a pond and hiked alongside a river that was so pristine. It was amazing!
The scenery of the countryside is so picturesque it is beyond description, but I’ll give it a try. Think… rolling green hills strewn with grazing sheep and hundreds of spring lambs and the occasional farmhouse with an aluminum roof, and you’ve got the picture. It was the never-ending view and it was idyllic to say the least. It was what you would expect (hope) to find while driving through the New Zealand countryside.
We passed through many small villages and I wouldn’t even attempt to pronounce the names.We stopped at a bird sanctuary and paid the obligatory $6 so we could see an actual Kiwi bird.I mean after all, we had seen the land of Mordor and the hillside sheep; we couldn’t leave NZ without having seen a Kiwi! They’re actually quite cute, but no photos allowed inside.
We drove nearly 500 miles on our 2-day road trip but it gave us a wonderful snapshot of New Zealand. Originally, we had purchased tickets for the train to take us from Auckland to the National Park area but the owner of the lodge, at which we stayed, encouraged us to make the drive so we ate the cost of the tickets and made the drive. We’ve never had a moment of regret in doing so because our time spent was just about perfect. I am quite certain Amy and Andrew will fall in love with New Zealand just as we did, as long as they remember their rain gear!