Six weeks after returning from Hawaii we packed our bags to travel once again. We were propelled by the polluted push of China and the palpable pull of New Zealand. We’d enjoyed a big chunk of what the tiny, two-island nation had to offer back in 2014 when we leisurely putted around it in this beautiful beast:
The Jucy parked in Kaikoura on the South Island’s northeast coast.
On that trip we explored the North Island and then ferried across the choppy waters of Cook Straight to roam around the northern tip of the South Island.
Why did we feel the need to go back? “What’s the appeal?,” you might wonder. To which I’d retort: “It’s more like what’s so shitty about China?” I’ll spare you an answer to that and do a little show and tell that focuses on the draw of New Zealand. Because, really, it doesn’t have to sell its charms too hard to anyone — unless you hate clean air, water, food, and easy-going people.
Since this is our last year in China (thank god!) and since we’re now parents who understand just how much traveling with kids can suck,* we knew we’d never make it back to New Zealand from our real home (thank god!) in the U.S. We had to seize the opportunity, which was extra enticing because we got to fly business class thanks to our cushy expat package (more on this and other “perks” another time, okay?).
Given our most important travel accessory these days — that’d be Baby K who you can see above HATING our (her?) business class bed on New Zealand Air — we decided against renting a camper van. Well, more like I had to talk Iggy out of it. I know, I know. I can hear you all out there in internet land laughing your asses off that it was even a consideration! Ha-ha! Yes, we’re stupid sometimes!
I didn’t succeed in convincing him to scale back the three-week road trip I had carefully planned. I don’t know why but it was only in the days before departure that it dawned on me that driving several hours each day and staying in new places every couple would be tough on us all. I was right. I am most of the time. Iggy is some of the time. He insisted on sticking with our original plan and sticking out the trip on the inevitable rough days we encountered. (True confession: I wanted to pack up and come back to China early more than once.)
Because I know you don’t want to hear all about our first world traveling with a baby problems…and because I promised you a show and tell of a gorgeous country…and more so because I can barely punch out coherent sentences these days…here are some photos and a few words on what we would’ve missed out on had my wishes been granted. (To learn more about the pics go ahead and click on them. I’ve included brief descriptions for each.)
Scenic drives. No need to elaborate much.
Random natural roadside wonders.
Glaciers. Not one but two — Franz Josef and Fox from which Iggy did a helihike.
Hiking, the regular kind, each day, every day.
Mountains. We saw so many it’s hard to remember all their names. Our favorite was Mount Cook, seen in the side mirror of our sporty RAV4, which will get its very own post.
Huge trees (I hate to taint this post but I will now forever associate the word huge — “uuuuge”– with the American embarrassment that is Donald Trump).
Waterfalls. In all shapes and sizes.
Mirror Lake. This one. That one. Followed by the busiest, least impressive one.
Blue skies. With clouds. And sometimes rainbows.
Blue water. Brilliant turquoise blue thanks to glacial flour (whatever that means).
Beaches, though after just having spent three weeks in Hawaii, we only visited one, Hokitika on the west coast. (The beach town was fictionalized in Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries.)
Quaint towns. And not just Hokitika. We especially loved Wanaka and Glenorchy. Even cities like Queenstown are pint size.
These are only just a few of the hundreds of gorgeous photos Iggy took during our trip. I’d love to post more, and maybe one day I will, but I don’t think you need any more to understand why we fell hard for New Zealand and had to go back.
*It doesn’t always suck. We’ve made some great memories (obviously) with Baby K while on the road and in the skies. And, we’ve found out that most people go out of their way to help us because of Baby K.