I Love… Being In This Moment: New Years in New Zealand (Day 3)

New Years Eve is always something I feel ambivalent about. Everyone makes a huge commotion, and to me, it really isn’t anything special. It is a time used by many to reflect on what they did, and what they want to work on for the future. But to be honest, I do that every day. I don’t need a “day” or a “new year” to initiate a change in my lifestyle. I celebrate “a new day” everyday, rather than “a near year”. It’s great if its a catalyst for change for others, but to me, its just another beautiful morning to wake up. That being said, I never have really had an “awesome” time on new years. Most times growing up we were away on vacation, and in college it just never was a big deal. It is more important for me to focus on this moment, whatever that moment is, then for me to change my future moments. If you are always concerned about how you will be in the future, you will miss out on how you are right now. And how can you ever change, if you are not in tune with your current moment?

On this particular New Years, we were in fact, the first country in the whole entire universe of the world to celebrate New Years. Now that is pretty impressive. I had planned a “surprise” for Greg that was his christmas gift in the morning, which was a ride on a Jet Boat, which is famous in New Zealand for going incredibly fast, turning sharp corners, and going in 2 cm of water. It was very thrilling, very fast. It is worth it if you are doing a package with something else… but it is very very expensive to do it alone.  My favorite part of Greg’s surprise was the helicopter tour that I booked!  After the Jetboat, we took a bus to the top of a local ski mountain, where the helicopter would pick us up, fly us to the top of the Majestics, and then bring us to the airport. It brought us over the valley/mountains of Queenstown, and up to the top of the “Alps” to overlook the lake. It was breathtaking and incredible. We both voted it was the best part of our trip. Greg was like a little kid on Christmas, anticipating what his surprise was. I have always wanted to go in a helicopter, and I am so happy to cross it off my Bucket List from this trip. Our pilot was comical, friendly, and truly made it special.

Afterwards, we went on a bit of an adventure. We drove to Queenstown to walk around Queenstown gardens, which offered a 30 minute walk around the beach/gardens with breathtaking views (do you get the point of Queenstown.. it is breathtaking). Halfway on our peaceful walk, we realized we forgot something very important in the helicopter. We both had a minor heart attack. Fortunately, it was at the helicopter. After returning back to downtown, we found a cute outdoor restaurant and sat down for some beers and some delicious food. I got fresh seafood.  It was probably caught that day. I also had some sangria, and Greg got some local beer. It was a bit chilly, but sitting in the sun made it feel like a spring day. Afterwards,  I dragged Greg to do “Gibbston Valley Wine Tours” which I am thankful we did (even if he is not), so that we could learn about the differences of NZ wine to those we are used to drinking. It was a cute rustic wine cave, complete with a resturaunt, a cheese shop, and a little small breakfast/pastry nook. It was the cutest winery I have ever seen! They only make wines for sale in NZ, so I loved seeing how the business was run and operated.  We went back to our hotel, relaxed, then went back into town for dinner reservations at Fishbone. We had a marvelous time, and stayed all night chatting with an older Australian couple that was seated next to us. We were able to BYOB, which we later realized was a bad choice, since it made us come across as cheap when the server asked if it was a special bottle. Nope, it was just a cheap one in the liquor store.

One word for Queenstown on NYE? Crazy. Cray-cray-crazy. Every spot on every road and park is completely populated, and most of them are under 22. It was a very young crowd. It was a very drunk crowd. There was numerous pub crawls, many outdoor food stands, bands playing by the water for 9 hours. They know how to throw a party. It was quite the wild scene.  We sat and listened to the (horrible) band play til midnight, watched the fireworks, had some bubbly, and took the first water ferry back to the hotel. It was the best new years that I could ask for.

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Love, Your Co-Pilots.

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I Love…. Exploring: Adventures in New Zealand (Day 2)

We haven’t even been in New Zealand 24 hours yet, and I feel like we need a week just to rest. Today we had a big drive ahead of us… for a total of 10 hours. While it was only about 400ish km, the roads were very windey, singlelaned, and you had to drive slow. The alarm went off at 5:45 and we were in our rental car by 6:00. It was foggy, overcast, and we had a lot of snacks (thankfully theres a grocery store 1 mile from the hotel that we stocked up on food at ). Little did we know, this would be the most beautiful drive, of our lives. When looking into rental cars vs buses, we definitely splurged and spoiled ourselves with a rental car. Had we used a bus for transportation here, and to Christchurch, we probably would have spent $150 each, instead of about $400 each (with gas). However, it was extremely worth the expense, since we were able to pull over as we pleased. The number of times that I had Greg pulled over, he should of driven off without me. However, there were so many little nooks to see along the way. In my itinerary, I had printed out a map with each place to stop, however, this proved unnecessary as each location had signs/postage along the way.

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First 1/2 hour of our drive.

 

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Places to Stop on the Drive to Milford Sound:

  •  Te Anau (Small town, right on a river with some artsy/country stores and resturaunts). When we came it was very foggy, very early, and raining. We did not stay but 5 minutes to get gas.
  • Mirror Lakes,- “lake matheson” reflections of Earl Mountains, beech forest & wetlands- it was very beautiful, with massive trees. However, due to the rain/fog, we were unable to see the famous “mirror” reflection.

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    Mirror Lakes on a Cloudy and Rainy Day

  • Knobs Flat interpretational display, geology and wildlife.
  • Pops View
  • Holly Ford Valley- The “divide”- My favorite viewing point of the entire drive. I felt like we were at the end of the world. I have never had such massive mountains/ cliffs/rocks surrounding me. I felt like an ant, I felt like the mountains could squash me.
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Throughout the drive we saw thousands of waterfalls

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This was my favorite part of the drive… I felt like we would see a dinosaur any minute.

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By far, my favorite pit stop. We had to wait here to go through a one way tunnel, through the middle of this mountain.

  • Homer Tunnel 1200m rock hewn tunnel, car park and nature walk- It was a bit scary going into the tunnel… it is 1 way and very dark. We had to wait on one side for about 15 minutes, which wasn’t long enough. This was the most interesting scenery that we were to see!
  • The Chasm waterfall walk, waterfalls and water-sculpted rocks, (20 mins) – At this stop, I did the walk and Greg stayed in the car to eat. It reminded me of the Gorge in NH… but the rocks, shaped by the water, were some of the neatest that I ever saw!If you have the time, it is definitely worth the quick trip.

 

Besides these spots that were marked on my list to stop at, we found another 5-6 that were truly magestic. I can’t count the number of times that we stopped to just look, in amazement.

I am just putting it in writing, that this was the most beautiful drive that I have ever done. The changes in scenery within just 30 minutes, is as if you were driving from Texas to Antarctica.. it truly is so contrasting and changing at every moment. For that matter, and for my awesome music selection, the drive went by fast. . Greg was a phenomenal chauffeur.

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Let’s just say I am obsessed with these fields of flowers… 1 of 243924 pictures

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The colors of everything were so very vivid.

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Miles and miles and miles of this

Once at Milford Sound, we did a 2 hour boat tour, saw the “fijords”. The tourguide talked the entire time, telling us the history of the people in the land. Because we were so focused on the views, a lot of it didn’t stick. But we can read up on it later. For most of the boatride, it was overcast, but it did lighten up at the end, and for our drive back. Reading up on Milford Sound, it says 95% of the time it is overcast/rainy, so the fact that we even saw a little sun was miraculous. There were SO many waterfalls. Prior to this trip, I had never even seen one. I fell in love with the sight and sound of them.

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Cloudy day at Milford Sound

 

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Waterfall after Waterfall… Enter romantic comment here.

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Despite it being a cloudy day, it truly was breathtaking.

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After the boat tour, we hopped in the car and  turned around for the 5 hours back. This drive went by much faster since we didn’t stop at so many places. It was amazing, we had the sunroof open, the windows down, and the sun was shining as hot as it could for a summer day. We saw 934092384 more sheep than I have ever in my entire life. This is no exaggeration.

Because of our long long day, we got back at around 6pm and just  took it easy. We had apps at the hotel restaurant, got a bottle of wine from the grocery store and snuggled in bed early (And yes, it was still light out).

5 words to describe this part of the trip? Magestic, Enchanting, Unreal, Beautiful, Peaceful

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