Visiting new friends! Queenstown

The family of our oldest daughter’s chosen one, drove out from Dunedin to their apartment on Lake Wakatipu and as a special surprise, the chosen one’s sister flew in from Abu Dhabi so she could spend Christmas with them as well. It was so much fun to get both families together. We played Krazy Bee Rummy which has been a family tradition for us for years.

We compared the chosen one’s dad to Clint Eastwood!

We of course all played around with technology as we shared photos with each other. And some of the younger set had fun wrestling.

And of course, we spent time out by the water!

It was hard to leave such a beautiful place, especially since we were leaving our girls behind, but we had been traveling for almost two weeks and it was time to go home.

christmas day

P.S. After we left for the airport, our older daughter and her chosen one took the younger one to the Kawarau Bridge to jump off (attached by the ankles to bungy cords) and high five the river!


Image | Posted on by | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Queenstown Food and Fun

There were many things to do in the four days we spent in Queenstown. We took a Gondola about half way up a mountain where Hubby and I had the opportunity to overlook the lake and the city. The panorama used at the top of these posts is from the view on the mountain.


The girls didn’t stop there. They donned their helmets and grabbed their luge carts and took a ski lift farther up the mountain where they rode the trails down to where we were waiting.

luge 2

When we were in the city, there were lots of places to walk and lots of places to eat and snack along the way. The Cookie Bar was fun. The girls have a souvenir milk bottle with a mini cookie lid that the straw slides through.

and having seafood at Finz along the water. Because even mid summer, Queenstown can have a cool wind blowing, there are blankets on the chairs to keep guests comfortable in the shade.

One of the places we were told was a must try was Fergburgers. There was a 20-30 minute wait just to place our order at 2:30pm. The lines at lunch or dinner were at least twice to three times as long and there was very little seating available.

so after we picked up our food, we went down by the lake to find a place to sit. The ducks were VERY friendly. I am sure with all the tourists in the area they are well supplied with tidbits.

Eating Fergburgers by the lake

In addition to lots of places to eat, there are also lots of places to shop. I have to say the favorite of my youngest daughter and myself was the rock shop. We couldn’t bring too much in the suitcase, so we spent about 20 minutes picking out our favorite mini rocks to take back with us.


Next we visited the family of our first born’s chosen one!


Image | Posted on by | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Traveling to the city of Queenstown via Water Taxi

On our first trip from the hotel to Queenstown, we took a regular taxi. After that trip, we discovered the best way to travel to and from our hotel, or anywhere on Lake Wakatipu was by using the Water Taxi.

water taxi

This was a fun excursion in and of itself.


water taxi best way to travel

We loved to feel the spray of the water and see the beautiful lake and mountains as we took the 20 minute ride. The lake had so many beautiful views that it was difficult to choose which ones to put in. Therefore I am selecting a few from different times of day.

boat at dock on lake wakapitu

The remarkables

lake at sunset

sunset over lake wakapitu

There was no need to travel by road if the water taxi was available! The sunset photo was taken at 10:30 pm. That far south of the equator, the sun sets really late in December!

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

From Auckland to Queenstown

The day we left Auckland to fly to Queenstown, we first met our youngest daughter as she left customs at the International side of the airport.

she arrives

We then walked over to the domestic side to fly out for the next stage of the trip.

queenstown airport

When we landed at the Queenstown airport, we discovered that the airport fully supports the area’s reputation as a destination for adventurers such as Santa.

queenstown airport santa

Santa in Queenstown

and kids hanging out with carnivorous dinosaurs.

dinosaurs at the airport

kids having snacks with a carnivorous dinosaur

and when we made it to our hotel, this was the view from our Balcony!hotel view

The hotel was gorgeous, but it was time to go visit the city!

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Te Puia: The Pohuto Geyser and boiling mud pools

Our next stop on the adventure was to visit Te Puia. Its Pohutu geyser just sent plumes of steam the entire time we were there. There are smaller geysers that sporadically pop up near it as though the ground just can’t hold in all that excitement.

Pohutu Geyser side view

Pohutu Geyser and baby geyser

A beautiful part of the land around the geyser is all the colors of gray from pure white to charcoal and then occasional strands of sulfur yellow. I never though the color gray to be pretty until I saw it in so many versions side by side. The camera can’t really capture the beauty of its variations.


te puia 3

To the left of the geyser was the most beautiful turquoise pool of water.

Pohutu Geyser side view 2

The area to the right of the geyser below was used as a cooking area. Imagine a completely eco friendly oven with or without steam and its always available.


Maori cooking area

At the bottom of the hole below, there was a boiling pool of water. It was interesting to think that so close to the surface water could boil naturally like that.


We took a walk around the park on our way to visit the boiling mud pools. At one point we were so high up that the view seemed to go on forever!

view from nearby lookout


The silver fern is a symbol of New Zealand. I am unsure if this is a silver fern, but I just love the perfectly shaped fiddle head.

silver fern fiddlehead

I love this giant statue of Tiki.
Tiki is known as the First Man created by Tane.
It looks to me like Tiki is guarding this beautiful Garden of Eden.

Maori god

After a long walk through a beautiful forest, we came to the mud pools.

mud pool

Mud pool info

Photo taken as we were walking out of the park.

entrance to te puia

First man and First Woman

Tomorrow we meet our younger daughter at the airport and then the five of us will travel to Queenstown to adventure on the South Island!


Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Welcome to Hobbiton!

We started our adventure getting on a bus to drive over to the sheep farm that was chosen to become Hobbiton.

hobbiton 1

Entrance to Hobbiton

Our guide was full of information. The sheep at the farm were not the correct ones for the story. So the sheep on the farm had to be gathered up and replaced with the right ones during shooting. The pond with the big tree next to it was perfect for the movie, but the pond was filled with really loud frogs that had to keep being hauled away just so it didn’t disrupt the sound recording. Everywhere we looked, there were hobbit doors. They were designed so that they would be the correct size depending on who was standing in front of them. If the doors were large, it meant that a hobbit would be using it. Here we are in front of a door that we could enter just leaning down a bit. There is nothing behind these doors and we were told that some visitors have become upset when they realize that there really aren’t hobbits living there!

If the door was tiny, a human would be approaching it. Everything outside each door is designed proportionately. I noticed that the hobbit door photos without humans in front of them all look the same size as each other. And yet, they aren’t.

Gotta check for Bilbo’s mail!

checking the mail

It’s laundry day in the Shire. Hey, I think I recognize that brown and yellow shirt!


Should we walk down to the village and visit the Green Dragon?

the road

hobbiton 3

Nothing like finishing a beautiful morning with a slice of pie and a pint of Ginger Beer.

Green dragon inside

Now we are off to travel to Te Puia to visit the Geysers and the bubbling Mud Pools.

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Piha Beach

Piha beach is one of the most interesting beaches I have ever seen. The sand is very dark, almost black. This is due to the high percentage of the mineral ferrous, iron.

black sand

I have seen images online of people who bring magnets to this beach just to see how much sand they can pick up. Driving on the winding roads leading up to the beach, we had this wonderful advance view.

Overlooking Piha beach

Overlooking Piha beach

I was surprised to see how few people were on the beach given that it was summer vacation.

Piha beach

Piha 0

As I got closer to the water, I saw these blue things. Glad I didn’t step on one. They are bluebottle jellyfish and I was told their sting is painful!

bluebottle 1

bluebottle with footprints

Bluebottle Jellyfish

We had fun exploring the rocks


gods thumb

piha 3

piha 5



and watching the birds


gull soar

mother gull returning to baby


sea star

This was also the place where we had the most amazing fish and chips ever! You could tell the fish was fresh and it was fried up in a light tempura batter. This little snack shack could give a lesson in cooking fish to some high end restaurants! It was sad to leave this beautiful place, but the clouds are coming in and tomorrow we are heading to Matamata to see Hobbiton!

piha 1

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment