We took a trip to New Zealand and in two weeks, hit our chosen spots on both the north and south islands. We began in Auckland and travelled south to Rotarua to see the hot springs and geysers. We flew to Queenstown and drove south to the Milford Sound, then we drove up to see Mt. Cook, or Mt Aoraki. This trip remains as one of the kids absolute favorites.
#1 - Meat pies everywhere
#2 - Corn on the cob boiled in hot springs
#3 - Sheepherding in Rotarua
#4 - Milford Sound cruise
#5 - Flightseeing in ??
#6 - Glacier trekking on Mt Aoraki
#7 - Icy River Rafting in Queenstown
#8 - Downhill luge sledding
#9 - Jacob's first word (Duck)
#10 - Nathan’s freezing river jump
What to do next time:
#11 - Invercargill
#1 - Meat pies everywhere - the traditional meat pies of New Zealand were consumed most effectively by the family, in great quantaties. Almost every day, we had a meat pie for lunch. Delicious.
#2 - Corn on the cob boiled in hot springs - While touring the local village of Whakarerarea, we purchased some boiled corn on the cob, which the villager simply pulled from some netting in a hot spring next to her house. She slathered a little bit of butter and salt, and it quite simply tasted more delicious than what we make at home. Maybe it was the volcanic minerals in the hot spring water.
#3 - Sheepherding in Rotarua - There is a well known farm attraction in Rotarua, which specializes in their sheep displays. One can see the 15 different kind of sheep raised in New Zealand, and watch a live-sheepshearing, and watch a sheep dog take the sheep through a course in the field. It was surprisingly fun to see and participate.
#4 - Milford Sound cruise - One of the prettiest places on earth, with steep granite cliffs, and crystal water, and waterfalls cascading into the sound, and sea lions basking on rocks. We were lucky that it had rained the previous night, so the waterfalls were full and fast.
#5 - Flightseeing in Te Anau - The first (and only) flightseeing trip the kids took, on a single propeller sea plane, which took off on the lake to give them a 30-minute scenic tour of the area north of Milford sound.
#6 - Glacier trekking in Mt. Aoraki (Mt Cook) - We were lucky to catch glimpses of the tallest peak in New Zealand during the time we were there. It is definitely not a sure thing, since clouds are often present, which mask the peak. We stayed overnight in the hotel at the peak, and took time to trek out to the glacier. The scenery was amazing, with ice and granite and blue-cloudy streams with the tell-tale color and opaqueness of glacier fed water. The kids (and me) spent more than an hour making towers of the moraine granite rocks, stacking them as high as we could to mark our passing.
#7 - Icy river rafting in Queenstown - I took the older kids on a river rafting trek through a deep canyon. The water was cold enough to require full wetsuits, splash jackets, booties and hoods. The rafting was fantastic, scary enough to make an impact, but still well-suited for the kids. We stopped in an large eddy by the bank, so everyone could jump in from a high rock. Freezing! But it got the blood pumping. Upon our return, we took large flat rocks up to a bridge across the gorge. It was hundreds of feet high above the water. One by one, we spun and dropped the rocks down to the river. The rifle-like crack echoed through the canyon when each stone hit the water. It was very memorable.
#8 - Downhill luge sledding - This was not the icy luge sledding, but a long, curving pavement track from the top of the hill. We sat in plastic sleds with wheels and rails, and with helmets on, we each sat in a sled, grasping the single lever. Pull back to stop, and push forward to go faster. These were surprisingly fun, and they even had larger sleds to put a smaller child in front of you. We did this twice, in two separate locations, and years later, even did the same activity at the Great Wall of China!
#10 - Nathan’s river jump - So the icy river rafting was a high for me, but Nathan reminded me that jumping in the river was definitely a low for him. He has never been one for extreme cold, or extreme heat. He only jumped in once, and scrambled back in the raft like a cat out of a bath.
#11 - Invercargill - If we were to go again to the South Island, we would try to get to the southernmost point on the island. With the exception of Antarctica, this is as low on the earth as many people will ever get in their lives.