Thought I’d do a post full of photos – I haven’t uploaded all our photos so far (for obvious reasons…) so loads of really nice ones have been missed out. But they’re so pretty – so I thought I’d dedicate a post to some visual loveliness. Enjoy!
When we were planning our move to New Zealand, the sheer amazingness of the views on offer in Queenstown, were what swung the decision for us. When you Google Image Search: Queenstown, the most common image that pops up is taken from the Gondola thing at the very top of the town. Ever since I saw that view (and ever since we arrived here) we’ve both been dying to go up and see the view for ourselves.
We finally went up there today and it was amazing! We decided to hold off for a sunny day (we’ve had two in a row now…wooo!) so the views would be clear, and it was definitely worth the wait. We got up there in the mini cable cars, which were steep and scary, and then had lunch at the gorgeous restaurant at the top – which looks over all the amazing lake and mountain views. It was buffet-style, and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone visiting here, we both had Salmon Steak with Caesar Salad for mains and it was so yum. I am hungry again just talking about it. Damn it.
We planned to have a walk around outside afterwards (which we did) but only for around 10 minutes as the wind really picked up and neither of us took a proper coat. Serious mistake. We managed to take a few photos before both us were basically freezing alive – so we ran back to the cafe and had a drink instead. They actually closed the chair lifts today too because of the wind, which made us feel less wimpy.
We’ve also been chatting a lot about where we want to be going next – and it looks like Thailand has been on both of our minds a lot. For me, it’s because I’ve been there before and know how beautiful it is. For Pad, I think he’s eager to get out and see that part of the world, because he’s yet to see it all. The sunshine is quite appealing too – both of us are craving a beach I think! And maybe some sea and sunshine!
Yesterday we went on a bit of a booking spree though, and booked a few extra days in Sydney for NYE (we were originally staying for a week – we’re now staying for 2) so that’ll be awesome. We’ve got a swish hotel for the first week in the city centre, and then we’re staying in the YHA on Bondi Beach (recommended by Lauren) for the second week – which will be a nice change of pace. We also booked a trip up to Wellington for the beginning of November. And I really want to book Milford Sound soon too – but it’s probably best to wait until summertime for that – seen as they recently closed the entire place because of snow.
We’ve been here 10 days now… so I thought I’d write about 10 things we’ve learnt since arriving. I think New Zealand is the kind of place you don’t fully understand until you’ve visited. You can’t really describe it or explain it until the person is stood right next to you, looking at the same incredible views or experiencing the same ever-changing weather.
This is kind of the situation I put Pad in before we left. Sure, he told me it was beautiful. And big. And epic. But his words could never do it justice (and neither could mine)…. So it wasn’t until I arrived that I understood.
But also, as you’d expect – there are things we needed to learn during the first few days here. After all – WE MOVED ABOUT AS FAR AWAY FROM HOME AS WE POSSIBLY COULD. It’s not like I expected it to be the same as the UK, but we’ve definitely had to adjust. Because our London habits weren’t doing us much good in the mountains. Figures. It’s just the little things really – things I never would’ve thought of. But here are some things we’ve learnt in the last 10 days:
1. The water is blue here. All the time. Not just on sunny days.
You know The Thames? You know how on sunny days it is glistening and blue and beautiful? But then on a rainy day or a dull day – all that glistening blue gorgeousness just gets forgotten (and instead you have a brown river)? Well New Zealand isn’t like that. At all. The water is always blue. ALWAYS. And it’s not just blue, it’s like blow-your-mind turquoise.
2. Pumps (and heels) don’t cut it.
I am a pumps girl. And a heels girl. In New Zealand (in particular Queenstown) pumps and heels just don’t work. This breaks my heart a little bit – but I have worn trainers more in the last 10 days than I have in the last 10 years of my life. But actually, what with all the walking, hills, rain, snow and steps – nothing other than trainers / mountain boots is worth wearing at the moment. Sure, it’s still winter here and once Spring and Summer arrives (which should be soon) I think I’ll have the go-ahead for normal girl shoes once more.
3. The weather changes every minute.
Don’t even bother Googling the weather in New Zealand – because chances are it’ll be wrong. The weather here is like some unpredictable toddler with a toy box. It doesn’t know what it wants to do and changes it’s mind every couple of minutes. One morning we woke up with blue skies and sunshine – within an hour it was snowing and I couldn’t see out of the window for cloud. Whilst this can be annoying (“What should I wear Pad?! Is it going to Snow do you think or will the sun come out and roast us alive?!) it’s also very exciting. I kinda like it.
4. New Zealand TV is awesome.
I know it’s New Zeleand and I shouldn’t even be watching TV (I should be watching the mountains) but it’s so hard when the TV is so good. For years I have watched the brand new How I Met Your Mother , Dexter and Simpsons episodes illegally, due to the UK’s inability to broadcast them at the same time as the US. But New Zealand have it sorted. Boom. Also they show Futurama every day. This is wonderful. Oh and most importantly… Ellen Degeneres!!
5. Hills are everywhere
You cannot escape them. Our walk into town is all downhill (oh, nice and relaxing – I hear you say). Yes. Not on the way home though. On the way home we kick the hills with anger. Why can’t you be equally distributed and not steep? Why?!
6. They sell guns here
We’re going to buy one and shoot the hill. Just kidding. This doesn’t really impact us. It was super weird going into a shop and seeing real guns on the shelves though.
7. Everyone is super nice
We have not met one unfriendly or stressful person since arriving here, everyone is so nice and everyone smiles and everyone just takes it easy. Which seems like a huge departure from London. I hate to say it – but when you go from London rush-hour scowls to super-friendly people everywhere – you really notice it. It’s infectious too.
8. There are no Pigeons
I can’t remember whether we saw pigeons in Auckland (I wasn’t exactly looking for them, you know?) but since being in Queenstown, we haven’t seen a single Pigeon. Instead of Pigeons, there are these lovely fat, happy ducks (from all the fergburgers they get fed) and chirpy little seagulls. Which seems like a pretty decent trade.
9. The sun is turning my hair red
Who knows why but this is happening and it’s a reality. Pad has taken to called me by two new nicknames: Ginger and Ginge. It’s not at Ron Weasley stage yet but the sun here is so powerful it is literally bleaching my hair. We were in the sunshine for a couple of hours today – and not only is my hair looking a few shades lighter, but we’ve both burnt a little too.
10. It’s awesome
We knew it would be. But it’s nice to be right about stuff like this. Couldn’t be happier.
Last night we went for an amazing meal at this restaurant called Flame in Queenstown. I know I dedicated a whole post to Fergburger – but ohmygosh this restaurant also deserves a whole post too. I’m not going to give it one (short of time here) – but it does deserve one (just so we’re clear). If anyone is planning a trip to Queenstown in the near future – visit Flame (on the main street by the lake-side) and order a full rack of BBQ ribs. Trust me, you’ll be so thankful.
It’s also the first clear night we’ve had whilst we’ve been here. In the past few nights, by the time evening comes the sky is clouding over slightly, or it’s raining, or it’s snowing. It was really nice walking into the town because the sun was still shining and last night the sky was just kind of dusty cloud so you could still see the sunset.
Those who know me, will know that sunsets are my most favourite thing to photograph. I get a bit camera crazy when sunset happens. It’s like tourettes but with a camera. I can’t control the shutter button. It’s a problem. A problem that makes pretty pictures though.
My favourite place so far in Queenstown is the Queenstown Gardens – just outside the centre of town. We can actually walk through the gardens when we walk into town, it takes a little longer – but it’s so pretty and the views and incredible. We both biked through there yesterday (on our new bikes!!) and it’s really gorgeous and a decent ride too. The only down-side being, on the way back home there is the world’s BIGGEST hill. Needless to say – we didn’t bike up the hill. We crawled. Whilst crying into the pavement.
Sometime soon I will photograph the afore mentioned hill so you can understand the steepness. But just so you can picture it properly (and don’t think we’re just being hill-wimps) it kind of looks like this:
Anyway. Here are some pictures of the sunset:
Pretty nice, huh? 🙂
If you’ve ever been to Fergburger you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t – it’s a pretty solid reason and pretty strong justification for booking a trip to New Zealand.
I’ve never had a burger like this before.
I don’t think my photographs do it justice either. Which is actually probably a good thing – what with the risk of you drooling over your keyboards right now. What makes it so damn good?
– The bread. Not crumbly and not to squishy. Just good bread. Also it is the perfect huggable size for the burger – so you don’t end up a slipping sticky mess come the final bites when the bread to burger ratio is all ruined.
– It’s cooked right in front of you. And you get it within 10 minutes of ordering. That’s fast food. Except it isn’t “fast food” it’s yummy hearty proper food, just fast.
– It comes with the best mayo I ever had. I’ll go back just for the mayonaise. Seriously.
– You don’t need to order chips. Which is money saving. The burger is so MASSIVE you would be a fool to order chips. Unless you are some hugely experienced burger genius who is trained in burger and chip consumption.
– It’s very fresh.
– It tastes so good.
– It’s also VERY reasonably priced. Which in a tourist hot-spot is quite rare. Also considering the burger now has “cult” status – trust me – they could be charging double.
I am actually really proud of us for only going once so far. We’ve been here 4 days – and only had one Fergburger. That’s quite an achievement. We are here for 6 months though – so I’m guessing that by the time we leave – we’ll have sampled every single burger they have to offer.
Here is us all excited from burgerness:
Also – this was on the wall near our seat. It is funny. It also explains in better words than I ever could, how huge the burgers actually are:
We woke up this morning to heavy snow over the mountains – which was gorgeous! I was hoping we’d get to see some snowfall whilst over here – but it seemed unlikely because NZ is approaching summer rather than winter – so I’m considering myself very lucky to have seen some!
Needless to say I was straight out onto the balcony taking photos (I now have numb feet from the cold) and the photos were stunning. Funny thing was, as soon as I got back inside and got warmed up – the view outside had completely changed again. Meaning I had to go back out to take more photos.
It carried on this way for a good hour. The weather changes so fast here – I’ve never known anything like it. One minute you’ll have blue skies and the next (literally – maybe 60 seconds later) it’s chucking it down and the sky is black.
This is how much the sky changed within 60 minutes:
So, let’s start off by saying… Queenstown is amazing. We were so lucky, when we landed we were surrounded by clear blue skies – and the place was completely in it’s element. We went straight to our apartment to pick up our keys, and couldn’t have been more happy with it. It was a little nervewracking signing a contract on an apartment without ever having viewed it – but actually the apartment is gorgeous and the views are better than any photo could ever show you.
I’ll try though:
There is a huge living area and open plan kitchen – which opens out onto a huge balcony, all with amazing views over the lake and The Remarkables. We’ve been super lucky actually, because our flat is at the very end of the street, so we don’t overlook anyone else directly – and we don’t have anything obstructing the views. And with views like this – it’d be a total bummer if you had something obstructing it!
I can’t quite get my head around the fact we’re actually here yet. Driving from the airport to the apartment felt incredibly surreal – after months of Googling photographs and Street View – it was so bizarre actually seeing the place for real. It surpassed all expectations too. The water is bluer, the mountains were bigger, the air is fresher than I ever could have imagined. I think Pad was sat there in a bubble of relief – because it was completely his call moving here!
I can see now why Pad was so dead-set on moving here. For a while I was thinking, maybe we’d be happier in Auckland because I’m more of a city girl than a country girl (even though I grew up in the countryside) – but actually (having now been to both places in the last couple of days) Auckland has nothing on Queenstown.
Queenstown feels like somewhere that someone has painted. You know that scene in Mary Poppins where they jump into the paintings and everything is a little brighter and a little better? That’s kind of what it’s like driving through Queenstown on a sunny day. It just exceeds all your expectations 100%.
Like I said, photos don’t do this place justice. I tried – but they just don’t. Here are some more though from our balcony. Because they’re still really pretty….!
Here are some photos of the interior of our gorgeous apartment too… (nearly) as beautiful as the exterior! We have 2 awesome double bedrooms, both with ensuite bathrooms (so guests will be more than catered for – come visit us!). The showers are INCREDIBLE too- literally amazing, ooh and there is underfloor heating too – which we won’t be using (because it’s summer time here) But still. That’s when you know you’re living somewhere awesome. Paddy once said to me when we first started dating, that he’d know he’d made it when he had a toaster with room for four slices. I might buy one just to confirm it for him. But I’d hope the underfloor heating has him convinced.
We’re finally heading down to Queenstown tomorrow morning, after spending 2/3 amazing days in Auckland. So excited to pick up our keys for our new apartment! And to have a Ferg Burger too of course…!
Today we had a pretty easy going day in Auckland – we did a harbour boat cruise which was really nice – but I’m pretty sure it would’ve been nicer in the sunshine. Open roof boat tours aren’t much fun when it’s chucking it down. Luckily they had a nice cozy indoor bit too – but the rain on the windows made it pretty impossible to see much. I kept popping out onto the deck to take photos and then coming back in drenched from head to toe. I think Pad was extremely amused by this – I was just extremely wet and cold. But the photos are worth it!
Ever the optimist.
They gave us free tea too. Winning.
The jetlag has well and truly set in by the way – but we’re hoping to shake it off soon. I’m suffering extreme exhaustion and taking every opportunity to sleep – whereas Pad is not sleeping but seems to be relatively fine (annoying).
After 3 full days of travelling, 2 long haul flights, two swollen feet (twice over), many duty free shops, 4 seriously questionable in-flight meals… we’ve finally arrived in Auckland. Actually, after yet another seriously disappointing in-flight food offering (I don’t even want to show you photos… for fear of putting you off any meal you may currently be eating) the first thing we did when we arrived in Auckland was get McDonalds.
But you have to cut us some slack here – it had been 10 hours+ with no food (unless we had chosen to eat the cold omelette with chicken sausage) and that big yellow M might have well have been a big yellow H for Heaven. We practically ran over. Funny thing was, the cabin crew from our flight were in the queue behind us…. so clearly they didn’t rate the food either.
The taxi from the airport took about 25 minutes and we could not be happier with out choice of hotel. We’re in the Sky City Hotel (It’s also a big Casino and resort in the city centre – the big tower which weird people jump off) so we knew there would be a King Size bed, and the hotel woud be good quality. In reality though the hotel has blown us away – it’s so nice to be able to relax here for a few days before flying down to Queenstown – where we’ll finally have finished the journey.
The bed is HUGE. The kind of bed that makes you sad, because you know you have to go back to a normal sized bed at some point in the future, and you’ll have to eventually leave this bed shaped piece of perfection behind.
Here is how excited we were:
Today we were pretty much concentrating on jetlag recovery and ‘set-up-life-stuff’. The plan for this was as follows:
– Massive breakfast. Including; Fruit, Full English, Waffles with Maple Syrup, Toast with Peanut butter and Streaky bacon. It was so good we are pretty sure we’re going to need it again tomorrow. “Need” haha.
– Lots of Juice
– Set up bank account
– Buy SIM cards
Turns out Paddy’s iPhone won’t work in NZ with the network because it’s locked – so needless to say we bought a new high-tech replacement asap. It’s pretty snazzy. I think he’s really pleased.
We then spent a few hours walking around the city harbour, had a drink in a very pretty waterside bar and then headed back to the hotel. We’re both struggling a bit keeping our eyes open so decided it’d probably be smart to go back, nap and then head back out in a few hours (to the casino… exciting!)
The thing is, we know we’re going to come back to Auckland and see it properly – Paddy won’t feel complete until he’s jumped off the big tower – so there’s no pressure to cram it all into these two days. Which is kind of nice – because it means I feel no guilt wanting to nap!
Almost exactly one week until we leave. I think we’re both pretty eager to just go now, get settled into our new home and start having some adventures. You can tell we’re getting close to the moving date because gradually our flat is getting more and more empty by the second.
I have actually already done 2 trial packs (that sounds really annoying and over-organised) but it is for no other reason than I need to know the exact number of dresses and shoes I can take with me. As someone with over 100 dresses and over 20 pairs of shoes – downsizing to a single suitcase (albiet a big one) hasn’t been easy. Some have gone into storage. Some have gone to new homes. Some have gone in the bin. Yes there have been tears.
I’m still grieving.
In fact – Aside from securing Visas and securing the house – it’s been the most-hard bit about the whole trip. So far.
At the beginning the whole suitcase situation looked like this actually…
So needless to say, I have made a vast improvement. We’re only a little bit overflowing now. If all else fails I will just cram stuff into Pad’s suitcase since he has a bizarrely small amount of possessions. All his possessions are Apple. Which I guess limits him somewhat to choice. Quality over Quantity they say?
Aside from packing – there are three other hugely important girl-travel-decisions that need to be made.
1. What do I wear on the plane? I need a comfy mix of “nice dress and civilised person” but also “comfy sleeping gear and practical for a completely different climate upon arrival”. This is (and always will be) one of the biggest, most annoying choices I ever make. I hate dressing for flights. I wish I could just rock up in duvet and sleep, but it is never this easy. Nothing ever is with planes.
2. What TV show do I choose for the plane? I made a huge mistake earlier in the month. I downloaded the entire series of American Horror Story and watched it all in the space of a weekend. I am hugely picky with TV shows – and the fact that this one got me so hooked that I watch all the first series in 3 days – should have been a clear sign of “SAVE IT FOR THE PLANE RIDE ELLIE”. But I didn’t listen to my inner sensible brain, and now I am stuck with nothing to watch. I was considering Game of Thrones (after both Eve and Ronan both recommended it) but for some reason it is not available on iTunes. Which is very frustrating. Paddy’s boss Will recommended The West Wing to me last week – which I am now going to look into. But these are tough times. What if The West Wing isn’t on iTunes either!?
Suggestions would be welcomed. Please!
3. What music do I download on the plane? This is not so much a problem, just a general wondering and something I need to get done. I am thinking lots of Taylor Swift. I am also thinking the Inception Soundtrack and maybe the Dark Knight Rises Soundtrack. Maybe also the Titanic Soundtrack. And some Disney. That seems about right. I really like Soundtracks.
Aside from this. I think we’re all good.
Oh, and I hope there is snow on the mountains when we arrive because I want to do some skiing before it all melts.
I figured it was about time I contributed to this blog too given that Ellie has done most of the work so far! So I wanted to talk a little about Queenstown and why we chose it as our base whilst in New Zealand.
I’ve been to Queenstown before and loved the place. It was the place where I did my first skydive and the first time I did a bungee jump.
Queenstown sits on the shore of one of the most stunning lakes I’ve ever seen and I’m struggling to find photos that do it justice. But here is an attempt:
The boat that you see in this picture does tours of the lake and I was fortunate to go on this last time I was there. Lake Wakatipu is also surrounded by a mountain range called the Remarkables:
As Ellie posted earlier, we’ve been lucky enough to find somewhere to live where we will have views of the Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu. I have to admit, the idea of sitting on our balcony with my laptop and a coffee is super appealing!
I made the mistake of ordering fries with mine when I went to Fergburger for the first time – suffice to say I didn’t need them!
Queenstown has over 300 activities available to keep anyone entertained, from relaxing boat trips right through to skydiving and jet boat rides. Ellie isn’t as excited as me about the prospect of doing this again:
Neither is she keen on the idea of me doing this again:
Personally, I can’t wait!
Although we haven’t actually arrived yet – we have (through our huge levels of awesomeness) managed to secure a house before arriving. Risky tactics you might be thinking – yes true, considering we haven’t actually viewed the place. But actually, the place we’ve got is pretty sweet! And beyond our expectations, needless to say – we are very excited.
The main things on our “house list” were:
– A water view. Not like a puddle outside the front door – an actual genuine veiw of either sea or lake, with boats and fish.
– A balcony. I like drinking orange juice in the morning. It is my dream to do this on a balcony not just at the kitchen table.
– 2 bedrooms. Because one just isn’t enough.
– Close to the city centre. Because we want constant and frequent access to Fergburger.
– Nice decor. Not like a 1970s throw back.
So anyway, this list is the one we were working from. I whole heartedly admit I have absolutely been stalking the NZ rental website ever since we decided we were going to do the move. We’ve seen houses come and go that were perfect for us – and then we made sad faces when we realised they’d probably not be available when our move date finally arrived.
We found this one. The moving date is perfect, it ticks all our “list” stuff and it’s just really nice.
And it is perfect.
I wanted to get this site populated with a few posts before we went – so here’s another. As friends will know – this move isn’t a permanent one and we are more than planning on returning back to London. We both absolutely love the city – and it’ll be a massive shock to the system not being here any more (and mainly not having 24 hour buses and 24 hour Sainsbury’s, etc).
Here are some things we’ll miss about London:
– Hawksmoor Steak House
– The constant stream of red buses everywhere
– Forbidden Planet
– The Southbank
– Our lovely friends
– Distilled (Where Paddy works)
– Electric Dialogue (Where Ellie works)
– The unpredicatable weather which is sometimes nice
– Monmouth Coffee
– My Sister
– The Thames in the sunshine (not in the rain)
– The shops (Paddy does not agree with me here)
– Piano Bar
– Brixton Market
– Team Spam
Things I am worried New Zealand won’t have:
– Jalapeño Peppers (Paddy – for the record – bet me $5 there will be afore mentioned peppers. We’ll see.)
– Haribo sweets
– Friends on TV
This post is boring – don’t bother reading it unless you are Ellie and Paddy. Not in order of need-to-be-completedness.
– Print out visas
– Book Auckland SkyCity Hotel
– Find somewhere to live in QT
– Book London Hotel for last night in UK
– Renew drivers license
Private Paddy to-do list
– Don’t loose passport between now and September 29th
– Don’t sleep in on morning of September 29th
– Buy Ellie Haribo for the flight
– Buy Ellie first class upgrade
So here’s the plan.
Pad and I will be moving to New Zealand. It’s really far away and it will take us 3 different flights, over 3 days to get to where we’ll be living. The final destination will be a place called Queenstown. I’ve never been there but Pad assures me it by far the nicest most beautiful place he’s ever been. Needless to say – there is a lot of trust going on here (and a lot of Googling – especially on my end).
We’ll be flying out on the 29th September – and after recovering in a posh hotel in Auckland for 2 days, we’ll be heading down to Queenstown where we’ll spend a few weeks in a hostel while we find somewhere to live. We actually already applied to a gorgeous little house (I say little – it’s not though. It’s about 3 bedrooms, balcony, lake views…. ski storage) but we’re not sure if our application will get accepted what with us never having viewed the place and currently being situated half way across the globe. But fingers crossed, you never know.
We plan to live there for a while, whilst exploring the sights and sounds of Australia and New Zealand – which will hopefully include Sydney harbour for New Years Eve and various other exciting things such as whale watching, and Tasmania. After we’ve saved up enough money (we’ll both be working freelance while we’re over there) we plan on seeing as much as the world as humanly possibly on the budget we’ll have (hopefully) managed to scrape together.
We’ll hopefully visit:
– Vietnam (?)
– Hawaii (?)
– San Francisco
– VEGAS BABY
– Mexico (?)
– New York
Of course – this is all highly dependant on budget – and the locations with (?) are probably the first to be cut unfortunately as they’re either a little off-route or just hard to get to. And of course – Vegas has to come last – because whatever we have left will pretty much be spent / gambled there. Maybe if we win big, we’ll start the whole loop again – but as I’ve never played poker – and I’m doubtful of Pad’s poker face, this probably won’t be a reality. Sad times. Maybe I’ll start playing online poker to up our odds.
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