Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The honeymoon - part two

Thanks for all the nice comments on our first honeymoon post, we had so much fun taking these photos. We are loving on all the friends, family and welcome strangers who are dropping by our little blog. Our epic newlywed's adventure is spread over four posts (because we seriously took too many photos!), so without further delay let's keep moving along our road trip. After our night at Lake Tekapo, we jumped in the car and headed further south for three nights in cute Queenstown and to visit the beautiful Mt Aspiring National Park.

You can read up on part one here if you missed it.

(P.s. Laura also blogged about Mrs Robinson's vintage fabric store over at laura and friends!)


The Lakeside Maisonette

We spent most of our honeymoon staying in self contained holiday houses that kiwis call a 'bach'. Giving up the convenience of a hotel we had the opportunity to stay in ridiculously beautiful places with incredible views, and received wonderful hospitality from their proud owners who lease them out as a small business. We had such a blast staying in baches as opposed to hotels and would highly recommend it to anyone taking a vacation in New Zealand. Though be prepared to cook your own meals or eat out, as there is no room service!


The first bach we stayed at was the lakeside maisonette and it's owned by a very nice couple called Christine and Marc. We had been dreaming about this place since we first spotted it while on our long distance relationship (LDR). I can't tell you the amount of times I clicked through their website daydreaming about our honeymoon here and in real life it didn't disappoint!

The bach is about 7 km outside of Queenstown and off the main road down a gravel track through some pine trees. Our little hideaway was split over two levels and even had a loft in the ceiling for reading and hanging out. it's around the bend from a swanky hotel charging $700+ a night and is completely secluded and private.

Our floor to ceiling windows gave us the most zen lookout over Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables ranges. The only interruption was the local steamship making it's twice daily crossing far out on the lake.You can watch the TSS Earnslaw sail by from the lounge, the bedroom or even the shower if you want.

Queenstown

With Queenstown being the gateway to European adrenaline sports nirvana, I felt a bit out of place without my polar fleece, multi-zip pants and bandana. Nevertheless we had a great time wandering around town, discovering funky design shops and I stumbled into cider and ale heaven. As the picture below attests, this tiny island has an industry large enough to stock all it's shelves with local products. Too many ciders and not enough time - and we needed to eat first!


We stopped by an obvious tourist trap called Pier 19, and conveniently for the menu we felt like salmon and lamb (coincidently the same items on our reception menu at the wedding). This mahogany style restaurant on the water in Queenstown had beautiful fare, cheery wait staff, a solid local wine list (we tried a Cloudy Bay vintage which was pretty great) and decent prices. What a cool little place! It was packed with newlyweds and nearly-deads rather than those hip mountain bikers, so we blended in easily sipping our drinks at our table for two.

After dinner we caught the most spectacular sunshower over the lake and mozied home to prepare for our only serious activity we had planned for our trip.

Dart river & Mt Aspiring National Park

New Zealand is wild and rugged, and people to go great extremes of physical activity to experience this amazing environment. Being in the aforementioned newlyweds division, we steered away from the 5 day hikes, extreme adventure experiences and did a really great one day jet boating and kayaking (or funyaks as they call then) experience up the Dart river in Mt Aspiring national park. We jet boated up the river flooded with snow melt and paddled back downstream in our mighty inflatable funyaks.


We did our trip with the Dart River Jet Safari group. The company is owned by the local Maori community who have traditional ownership of the land. There was a jade rush in which they settled and mined the area for the deep green stones a long time ago. Now we were able to enjoy it flying by the seat of our pants in a jet boat.

At the top of the river (as far as we were allowed to go in a jet boat) we pulled into a crystal clear mountain stream and they told us all the safety instructions about how to paddle the boats. I didn't hear a word because I was too busy taking photos and staring at those mountains.



After a while we pulled off the main river and dragged our kayaks up another stream, at the end was a cave which we paddled through (now expertly after learning the hard way about kayaks - maybe I should've listened a bit better!). The newlyweds had become Will Grylls and Laura the Explorer.


We finally stopped and had lunch in a grassy clearing, Laura froze to death and I stalked some local critters in survival mode (but settled for the cold meats buffet instead). We then jumped in our boats and paddled back down the river to the waiting bus that took us across Paradise Station, the farm where they filmed the LOTR, the Hobbit and a few other flicks. We were happy and tired and had a very aspirational day in the National Park.

The Road to Ohau

After three great days and nights we said goodbye to our little maisonette and all the cool kids in Queenstown and headed back the way we came to our next holiday bach. On the road to Ohau we stopped off by one of the countless mountain creeks to throw stones and stretch our legs.


Thanks for reading along for part two of our honeymoon adventure in New Zealand, we had such a blast the whole time! In the next post we turn off the tourist track and between reading and eating we spend time exploring the back roads of a little known but spectacular area of the South Island.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Our first Christmas Eve

I went a little snap happy on Christmas Eve, but it was our first as husband and wife and I'm so glad I captured a few of the special moments.

IMG_6116IMG_6110
IMG_6118IMG_6117
IMG_6122IMG_6108
IMG_6119IMG_6123
IMG_6109IMG_6120
IMG_6127IMG_6128IMG_6133IMG_6134

We ate pancakes on our front deck, listened to the rain come down, spent about an hour in a very cool kid's store, did our supermarket shopping, moved some furniture around, ate corn chips and discussed a fun business idea with PC, finished painting our DIY chalkboard, returned to the front deck to eat cheese, watched thousands of bats fly over, lit candles and exchanged Christmas gifts, listened to Christmas carols, cooked Tom Yum, chilled out to Modern Family and baked some special red velvet Santa Hat cupcakes.

It really was the best Christmas Eve ever.