There is no way for me to describe New Zealand other than “surreal.” I could not believe how much beauty surrounded us everywhere we went, how delicious the food was, how exquisite the coffee was, and how warm and welcoming everyone we met was. My mind is just racing with all of the things I want to tell you and show you about this trip! But I thought first I would just share with you some general reflections for my March reflections post.
I was a bit nervous about having an overnight flight that would get us into Auckland at 7:00 am, because I didn’t want to be too tired and sleep my whole first day away. I tend to suck at battling jet lag. I give in to sleep. But luckily for me, our flight was pretty empty, and as soon as we got into the air, people started moving around. I debated for about a half second whether I should stay next to Nick before I decided to get up so I could try to find a place to lay down and sleep. I found a row all to myself! I laid down and didn’t get up until it was time to land. Talk about the best flight ever. On our next 3 flights with Air New Zealand when I was awake, I got the chance to experience how awesome this airline is – thick, cozy blankets, great entertainment, comfy seats, delicious snacks and meals, and complimentary, freely flowing wine throughout our international flight.
It was in Auckland that I had my first cup of New Zealand coffee and discovered flat whites. I could see people making my coffee with so much care going into each individual cup. Every single cup of coffee I had in New Zealand was perfect. Anyway, thanks to my awesome nap on the plane and my flat white, I was ready to start exploring New Zealand.
Our itinerary seemed jam-packed. I was worried that we had packed too much in, because Nick and I like to get out and explore when we are on vacation, from sunrise to sunset. Together we made grandiose plans for New Zealand, and we managed to accomplish them all. And somehow, the trip seemed slow — and I mean that in a good way. Wherever we were, even if we were in the car or at the airport, I felt like this trip took its time with us. We had plenty of time to sit with a cup of coffee in the mornings, to drink wine over long, leisurely lunches, to do the hikes we wanted, to get plenty of rest, and to pull over when we were driving and take in views for as long as we wanted.
I feel really lucky, too, to have such an awesome travel partner. Nick is flexible, adventurous, and laid back. Each morning we would wake up around 6 am and Nick would make me coffee in a French Press (One little thing I loved about all of the hotels we stayed in is that they all gave us French Presses!). We would hang out in our room and enjoy whatever views we had before getting breakfast and setting out on the day’s adventure. Some days we hiked or went on a tour, other days were spent lounging around vineyards. The fact that we enjoy all of the same things make life so much fun and made our trip epic.
One thing I really love about Nick is that he always wants to try new things. This was a trip of many “firsts” for both of us. And I love that we both like to plan out our trips, but are both flexible enough to just grab pizza instead of going to the restaurant we had planned on when we are tired.
As we drove from one place to the next, I could not believe that literally everywhere we went, there were farms with animals grazing, roaming in wide open spaces. That’s just something we don’t have here and I loved it. I have way too many pictures of cows and sheep.
I instantly fell in love with New Zealand’s culture, people, landscapes, coffee, wine, and food. People were so warm and welcoming, asking us what brought us to New Zealand. One woman working in a winery said that since New Zealand is so small and so far away from everything, she is always curious about why people come and really appreciates it when people do visit. People seemed eager to share their country with us. Sure, tourism is huge here so people do have the inclination to be nice to you, but it seemed like more than that. It seemed genuine.
There was the bartender in a small brewery who, when he learned that it was our honeymoon and that we had instantly chosen New Zealand over Australia once we started researching New Zealand, gave us a complimentary tasting and free beer to take home.
There was our “funyak” (like kayaking) guide Libby, who pulled my funyak next to hers and tried to explain cricket to me as we paddled down the Dart River. Little things like this just made me fall in love with everything New Zealand.
New Zealand is small, but dense. I was blown away by the beauty everywhere. From thermal rocks to glaciers. From volcanoes to caves. From waterfalls to rolling hills. From geysers to hot mud pools. From farms to wineries. I couldn’t believe how many different things were packed into such a small space. Many times, I felt like if you told me I was on another planet, I would have believed you.
I asked Nick what he liked best about New Zealand, and he said that it was that all of these things are combined in one place. If there was just one awesome thing in New Zealand, it wouldn’t be as great. Neither of us have a favorite thing we did or saw but I agree with him that what makes New Zealand so awesome is everything together!
I really want to do New Zealand justice, so I decided to slowly sharing photos and stories on my blog in between my normal posts. I haven’t even gone through all of my pictures yet — these are just from our first few days!! I am sure it will take me months this way, but I’m excited to write about what we did and share everything with you guys.