Farewell New Zealand

Our last week in New Zealand has been nothing but full of adventures. I certainly need to dedicate a page to Wanaka and Queenstown, just as our guidebook NZ Frenzy (highly recommend it, from travel writer Scott Cook) correctly dedicated an entire page to both towns.

Wanaka – we were fortunate to stay 2 nights with the Turner family, who moved from the US to NZ 6 years ago. Sleeping in beds was a very nice break from our campervan, not to mention the 2 fantastic dinners with our friends. Wanaka is a mix of beach town and ski destination, very charming and surrounded by Lake Wanaka. The houses are very pretty, added by the natural beauty of mountains and lake. We spent a day hiking up the mountain and then visited Puzzling World, quite an interesting place that all 4 of us enjoyed.  Kids loved playing at the Turner’s trampoline and with their 2 cute dogs, Chloe (golden retriever) and Rosie (black lab). We miss our dog Tinka!

Queenstown – from Wanaka, it is a short drive to action-packed Queenstown, located on Lake Wakatipu. Spectacular views, a wide variety of restaurants and shops, lots of activities to choose from, Q-town certainly made us feel that we are in an international ski and adventure destination. Our first activity was the Shotover Jet, a jet boat ride through a river canyon. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge got to experience it on their last trip to NZ, so we figured it was quite safe to do it too. Needless to say kids had a blast and I think both needed a dose of crazy activity after almost a month traveling in an RV.  Well, if that was exciting, wait to read about their bungy adventure…Sorry grandparents back home, but we trusted our judgement and it felt pretty safe to let both kids experience the original bungy jump in New Zealand, AJ Hackett at Kawarau Bridge. I think my kids are pretty awesome and fearless! We all agreed that we would like to go back to Wanaka and Queenstown and wished we could have stayed longer in both places. Oh yes, almost forgot about the tree that caused a hole in our campervan…it happened while we were parking in Queenstown city center to go have a walk and dinner. Good thing Chris got extra insurance for the van so we were all covered, phew.

We had originally planned to go from Queenstown to Dunedin but we wanted to get to Christchurch at a decent time as kids needed to catch up on their studies after so many days of action-packed activities.  We stayed 2 nights in a very comfortable duplex (anything is heaven after 30 days in a campervan) – Colombo in the City Motel – just a few minutes walking to Christchurch’s downtown. It is impressive how much was destroyed by the Feb/2011 earthquake. We learned that 1300 buildings were destroyed, 185 people died. It is one big construction zone in downtown, with several streets still blocked from traffic and pedestrians. The city is undergoing a $25 billion rebuilding project.  We walked around a lot and went to Re:Start on Cashel Street, which is an area of colorful shipping containers adapted for use as stores and cafes after the earthquake. Quite creative! Another interesting site is Quake City, an educational experience of how the earthquake happened and how much it affected the city, a good testimonial for every visitor.  The Christchurch Cathedral got destroyed so the city built a Cardboard Cathedral (it is real cardboard!). We lit a candle for our family inside the church. To close our day, we met with Venezuelan/Italian friends of our dear friend Andrea, who live in Christchurch and had amazing tales of the earthquake that they experienced first hand. Always so good to meet locals when we travel, it certainly makes our adventure even more special.

We are off to Sydney tomorrow. Farewell New Zealand, it’s been a blast!

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Queenstown

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Sunset in Queenstown

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Louisa getting ready to bungy jump

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Sebastian at bungy

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Re-Start, Christchurch

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Christchurch

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New Regent Street, Christchurch

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with Daniela’s family, Christchurch

 

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