We are staying amongst the Bush on the hills of Normandale, Lower Hutt 15 minutes drive outside of Wellington in a gorgeous family home. We really love it here, it is cosy and there is a space for the children to play, we decided to stay longer. We are surrounded by trees and the familiar sound of the cicada. Today Bethany and I went to a Timbernook playgroup in the Belmont Regional Park 10 minutes drive from here. It was so much fun, we read the story ‘Dragons love Tacos’ and then decorated the trees and campfire ready for our own dragon taco party where we toasted cheesy tacos on an open fire. What a great way to spend the morning and a lovely chance to make new friends.
The kids love helicopters and so do we! So much fun to fly up a mountain and run around on some snow! And with Helicopter Line the kids fly for free! This time it was to see the Tasman Glacier and Mount Cook. We had such a great time, Ben Gaius really hit it off with the crew and was running after the ‘helicopter man’ who gave our safety briefing. We had a great pilot who told us all about the extreme sheep herding where they take the back seats out of the helicopter and fly the shepherd and their sheepdogs up the mountain to bring the sheep down, they also feed the sheep by dropping hay bales to them on the mountains, now that is extreme sheep rearing!
It’s a bit windy…
Aoraki / Mount Cook is the biggest mountain in New Zealand at 3,724 m and we had a fabulous view from our 10th floor window at The Hermitage. Here is a time-lapse video of the Mount Cook sunset.
In the afternoon we walked to the Tasman Glacier, well I say walked, I carried Bethany most of the way and Ben Gaius has a tendency to veer off the path so takes some close supervision! At the top we were astonished to see how much the glacier had retreated over the years and that the icebergs were really tiny now. Ben Gaius insisted on holding my hands and walking backwards down the mountain, and for the last 100 metres we had to “fly” past a bus load of Japanese tourists who were delighted with his antics. Bethany is still talking about how her and daddy won the trophy to get to the bottom first. Ben won the backwards trophy. Maybe he will be an abseiler one day I wonder…
Invercargill is described as the commercial centre of the Southland.
Our kids first impression… this photo needs no words…
Others have said ‘Oh it’s not much of a town you should stop in Te Anau and see the glowworms, go to Curio Bay‘ and ‘It’s frontier land’. Well we thought we’d head on over and discover it for ourselves. What we found was some lovely 1900s architecture with peeling paint and in need of some real TLC.
It did feel like there had been a zombie apocalypse (maybe because it was 10am on a Monday morning), although for all you motorbike fans we did get to see ‘Fastest Indian’.
After finding out the children’s shoe shop Little Tots had closed down (it seems that was a feeling of the place too), we headed over to the library. Libraries have become great places for the kids to go for a play and have a cuddle and read, we try and visit them in each town we go to.
After getting some advice from our local experts Olya and David we headed out to Bluff. The drive out had landscape reminisce of St Ouen’s in Jersey. We took a photo at the furthest point South and with the kids still asleep headed to Queens Park and museum.
At the Southland museum and Art Gallery we found the original motorbike from the fastest Indian and the kids had a good scoot through the lovely park. In fact google maps doesn’t register the greeness existence of this vast park area.
We found a lovely play area and the Cheeky Llama cafe for a spot of lunch. And an incredible castle with slides. What a lovely park and a definite highlight of our time in Invercargill, apart from the Ascot Park Hotel, that was a great stay with swimming pool, sauna, Jacuzzi and loads of space for the kids to scoot.
Today I jumped out of a plane at 15,000ft with NZONE. I’ve wanted to do it for so long. To prove to myself that I’m not afraid. That I can do anything.
As life passes I’ve been getting more afraid. Afraid as I got older. Today I reclaimed that fear and transformed it. I wasn’t afraid for a second, it was the right place and the right time. You can watch the video here
Queenstown you are beautiful and will always have my heart.
When the kids greeted me after they said that ‘Mummy has a super hero outfit on’. 🙂
I might have had my mouth open for a bit too long at the start, but at least there are no flies when you are flying that high! Woo hoo! I want to jump again…
More photos of the stunning views below!
Where can you learn all about the 19 types of sheep, see one being sheared and feed a baby lamb?! New Zealand of course! A place where there are 6 sheep per person…
The Agrodome saw its 10 millionth visitor in 2013 and has loads to do. We decided on the Farm Show.
Bethany was in a lamb feeding competition and clearly her feeding technique surpassed the others as she was most impressed to be the winner! Anyone who knows Bethany knows that for her the most important thing is to win!
A quick shear of a sheep and a dog herding ducks and the show was over. So much fun had by us all!
We had a lovely walk through the Redwood trees in the afternoon, these beautiful trees sheltered us from the rain and meant the kids had chance to run off some energy. 19.30 they are both in bed, we are totally winning today. 🙂
The actually conversation from Ben below was ‘it’s a volcano’. And we thought Bethany was obsessed…
We decided to try camping in a tent for the first time in New Zealand. All the beautiful outdoor scenery and summer weather makes it a perfect opportunity! We bought ourselves an inflatable Torpedo 7 tent and headed to Rotorua. Putting up the tent was a super easy team effort with the kids taking in turns to pump the poles and hammer the pegs.
However the first night in the tent I was freezing! I had no pillow and at one point I thought I might cry I was so cold. Bethany got into bed with us too because she was cold. Ben it seems, sleeps through anything! Future mountain climber?
On the third day camping after a morning Duck ride around Rotorua and the lakes which was super fun. Ben loved being in the water and was obsessed with the propellers and white water. We told the kids how our wedding guests had arrived in a Duck. So after the Duck we went to town and I bought a jumper because not sure if I already mentioned that even though it is summer, it’s unusually COLD! It was then that Russell checked the weather for the next week and told me it had been 5 Celsius the two nights we slept out, no wonder I was freezing. The next week’s weather forecast was 5-10 Celsius at night and rain. I said, we’ve got to move!
So at 4pm we went back to our Rotorua Top10 campsite and asked if we could check out with the kids early. They were super kind and refunded the rest of our stay, yay! We were against the clock trying to pack up before the cold and rain set in. So we strapped the kids in their car seats with the iPad watching Peppa Pig, it worked a treat! Whilst they got square eyes Russell and I packed up all our stuff, I tipped a bottle of milk over all our veggies and dry foods so spent 30 minutes washing and drying everything, then there was a torrential rain shower so I hid in the car whilst Russell packed inside the tent. But with all this, how long do you think it took us to pack up?? Only 1 hour 30 minutes, of course we are looking to improve on this time!
One thing our tent does seem to have got immensely bigger, like a third of our boot bigger… Now we are happily installed at Holden Bay Holiday Park, I say happily because honestly I’m glad we aren’t in a tent freezing in what has now turned into ‘severe weather‘ warnings… One thing I’ll say is Holden Bay is a fabulous spot for plane spotters! It’s like the start of Star Wars when the Star Destroyer comes in filling the top of the screen…
Aaar whatever, you can’t have it all… haha
But undeterred we are back to camping on Monday night! Lake Taupo Top 10 here we come.
We didn’t really know very much about Vanuatu before we flew here. We envisioned a beautiful ocean with a magical underwater world however there are some other pretty hot contenders on land. Mount Yasur is on Tanna Island is the main attraction and last erupted in January 2016. It certainly caught Bethany’s imagination.
I instantly felt relaxed walking into Aquana Beach Resort. We were warmly welcomed and told this is a family resort with nannies for the children. Ben was running off with Valerie to make sand castles on the beach in a matter of minutes!
A swim in the sea and kayak round the coast and we decided to head to the kids pool. The nannies are so attentive and discreet, there if you need them but not at all overbearing.
The kids wolfed down the spaghetti bolognese, it was the most Ben had eaten in days!
It was one day in paradise we won’t forget.
Bethany is a constant source of inspiration for me. I’m in awe of her thirst for understanding and learning and love of the world around her. ‘Why are the people sat on the back of that truck? Can we give them a lift?’ ‘Tell me about volcanoes.’ ‘what’s a cyclone?’ ‘Why is marmalade not called orange jam?’
Russell got a bit carried away with his volcano stories and we now have to ‘talk about the Pompeii people that turned to stone…’