new zealand

Milford Sound: Unlike anywhere I’d ever been

So, I thought I’d chronicle my New Zealand travels in order of the places I visited, the things I did and the people — and animals! — I met, but it looks like I’m just going to write about whatever I am in the mood to write about.

Today, it is Milford Sound.

We visited Milford Sound about half-way or so through our trip. And, I’m not exaggerating when I say it is unlike anywhere I have ever been before. It is a fjord on the South Island of the country but it has so much more than what you would think of as a “typical fjord” with inlets of water and surrounding mountains.

Yes, it has all of that, but much more.

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The sound connects to the Tasman Sea. There are glaciers. There are snow-covered mountains. There are “tropical tree”-covered mountains of green. There are seals sunbathing on rocks along the water. There are tons of waterfalls. There are Keas — parrots that look like they lived when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

It was interesting to see all the different landscapes, and all that they had to offer.

We drove (OK, OK, my husband drove) us to Milford Sound. And, it may have taken us +4 hours one way but it was sure worth it.

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We rode one of the nature cruises, which I’d highly recommend if you visit Milford Sound. The nature cruise is more than 2 hours while most of the “regular” cruises are about an hour. There is a guide on board who talks about the different nature formations and the sound, which made everything so much more interesting to look at!

It was heavily raining on our drive to the sound but the forecast showed that it would be sunny in the afternoon. And, I mean, it was pouring so much on the morning drive that sometimes it was even hard to see out the window with the wipers on full blast! So, we got really lucky later that day. Not only was it sunny and blue skies during our cruise, but because of all the rain in the morning, there were so many waterfalls “out.”

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Milford Sound only has four official waterfalls but on days when there is a lot of rainfall, there can be more than you can count!

The cruise was super windy but Bryce and I stayed on the top outside deck of the boat the entire time to make sure we didn’t miss anything. Towards the end of the cruise, I had to use the restroom so I went down to the main deck  but as soon as I reached the bacthroom door, I heard our guide start to talk over the loudspeaker about some rocks we were passing by. I turned around and ran back up the stairs to the top deck. I wasn’t going to miss seeing these rocks!

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Milford Sound is wonderful.

I’m not even going to tell you to go to Milford Sound if you’re visiting New Zealand because I trust that it’s already top of your list!

new zealand, post travel, seattle

Back to an unexpected reality

Three days ago, I was in Auckland, bidding farewell to New Zealand’s summer.

Two days ago, I was swimming at Ala Moana beach in Hawaii.

One day ago, I was back home in Seattle, where Snowmaggedon/Snowpocalypse 2019 had hit hard for the third time in a week.

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It’s unusual for Seattle to get so much snow for a series of days like this. All my friends are having cabin fever from not being able to leave their houses for several days to a week.

I’m kind of enjoying it?

Yesterday the snow fall was pretty. It felt like a winter wonderland. Bryce and I went for a walk in the late afternoon and saw that some of our neighbors still had their Christmas lights up.

“Their procrastination paid off!” I exclaimed. “It looks so magical!”

But, today the rain came and the snow is melting. There is a lot of dirty slush occupying the sidewalks and streets. My car is surrounded by a bunch of compacted, hard snow. I’m ready for my bus to be in full service again so I can actually go into the office and see my coworkers.

Coming back from a three-week vacation — that was our honeymoon! — I didn’t expect to come back to a reality that would be icy roads and people abandoning their cars on neighborhood roads.

For now, I’m keeping warm by remembering our New Zealand trip and all the amazing places we were fortunate enough to visit on both the north and south islands. And, all the wildlife we saw and people we met.

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You can bet that this blog will come out of its hibernation — who has time to blog when they are traveling?? — with many stories and photos from my kiwi adventure. (Think dolphins, the cutest sheep in the world, Maori culture and a city windier than Chicago, just to name a few things!)

Stay warm, my Seattle friends. And, happy travels to the rest of you out there!

new zealand, travel

Sorry for not writing. Having too much fun in New Zealand!

I know, I know, it’s been weeks since my last post!

I have a good excuse though!

I have been traveling around New Zealand with my husband on our honeymoon!

New Zealand is wonderful. The weather has been great everywhere we have been. It is summer down here after all!

The people are friendly. There is so much to see and do. We’ve seen so much wildlife — it’s magical.

The landscape is beautiful. At times this country feels like parts of the West Coast of the U.S. (even sometimes like my hometown of Seattle!) or like Hawaii. But then there are times when I am in awe and think “I have never been anywhere like this before!”

I have been jotting down notes. I have been snapping photos. You bet I will have the blog posts cranking out on the regular when I am back home.

For now, sending you love from a pretty spectacular part of the world, New Zealand! ❤️

new zealand, pre travel

Off to New Zealand!

I’m a planner.

But, usually my planning tends to stress me out because I get worked up about every little detail.

My husband has taught me that not all things need to be stressed about nor planned to the minute. (Well, it’s something I’m working on).

A week before our honeymoon to New Zealand, we still hadn’t planned out the second half of our travels. So on Tuesday night, we hunkered down and searched for the remaining places to stay, and the route we should visit cities. I also dusted off the Lonely Planet book we had bought several months ago and did more research on exactly what else we wanted to do and see.

We start and end the trip in Auckland but are also driving down to the South Island and back — all in about  2.5 weeks. The South Island portion of the trip was what we needed to iron out.

As we talked through things looking at our map of the country, I paused for a moment and asked “Are we trying to see like all of Oregon and California in a week??”

It was sort of meant as a rhetorical question but Bryce responded that we were trying to fit a lot in during a short period of time. (Now I laugh to think that originally I wanted to go to Australia in the same trip as well! Ha!)

Are we crazy that we won’t be spending more than 2 nights in the same city or town? Are we doing too much? Will there be too much driving?

Maybe.

But, it is our honeymoon. So, we’ll do what we want!

 

[PS – By the time you’re reading this, we’ll be in the air on our way to Auckland. Or, we will already be in New Zealand.]

new zealand, pre travel, travel

Why New Zealand?

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I’m not sure when Bryce and I decided to go to New Zealand.

When we got engaged at the end of October 2017, obviously everyone wanted to know the who/what/where/whens of the wedding. I more so wanted to get planning on the honeymoon.

Once we had the venue locked down, I made sure to constantly bring up conversations on where we would honeymoon.

It wasn’t that hard picking New Zealand. Our main criteria for our destination was to go somewhere international that neither one of us had ever been to. We also wanted some place where there would be lots of options for outdoor activities and being in nature.

New Zealand naturally came up as a good choice.

I think our conversation went something easy like this:

Kristin: I want to go to Greece … or New Zealand.
Bryce: Let’s go to New Zealand. 
K: Yes! Should we go to Australia and New Zealand?
B: We’ll only have time for New Zealand. 
K: OK, New Zealand it is! 

Whenever it comes up in conversation that I am going to New Zealand, or when someone asks me where we went/are going on our honeymoon, the same question always comes up: Why New Zealand?

Bryce says he gets the same first question among his friends and colleagues.

I’m assuming people ask because from Seattle, it’s so far away and takes “forever” to get to. I’m also guessing people ask because maybe if people were to choose between Australia and New Zealand, they’d pick Australia?

Would we be getting the same question had we picked Mexico? Or, Greece? Or, somewhere in Europe?

I want to know “Why ‘Why New Zealand?'” 🙂