It’s so easy to fall in love with New Zealand

I recently read a blog post by the wonderful Geraldine from The Everywhereist about a trip she had taken to Bushman’s Kloof in South Africa (you can read her post here). In the post, Geraldine talks about her attachment to this beautiful place, and how when she and her husband Rand visit, it’s like being where they belong.

It’s their favourite place. It the place that brings out the best in them.

It really hit a chord for me. When I was reading it, I was mentally agreeing with everything she wrote. Except my Bushman’s Kloof, is Queenstown in New Zealand.

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I really miss it there, and it took reading Geraldine’s perfectly beautiful description of her own ‘happy place’ to make it sink in. Queenstown is the place where Pad and I adore, it’s the only place I’ve ever called perfect. It’s the most magical, beautiful, breathtaking place, that I can’t even believe exists in real life.

That’s where we’d belong if the world wasn’t so big, flights weren’t so expensive and jet lag didn’t exist.

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In our London apartment I surround myself with photographic reminders of Queenstown (we lived there for 6 months, so it’s not like I have a shortage of photos to choose from). I have a canvas in the living room, I have magnets on the fridge and I have countless frames in the bedroom.

I mean, don’t get me wrong – London is amazing and we’re beyond happy here too – but the muddy brown Thames doesn’t quite match up to the crystal clear waters of Lake Wakatipu. And I’ve yet to find anything in London that captures my imagination in the same way The Remarkables do.

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So I guess that’s all this blog post is about. I miss New Zealand. Quite a lot actually.

But, I guess it’s justified. I mean who wouldn’t miss a place this beautiful?

JUST LOOK AT IT. IT’S LIKE SOMEONE DREAMED IT UP. 

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Where is your happy place?

The Restaurant list: Best Places to Eat in Queenstown

You’d never imagine that a small, tiny, alpine village in the remote country of New Zealand would be such an AWESOME place for food. Seriously.

Queenstown is the best place for food in the entire world. I lived there for 6 months – and in that time experienced the following things:

The best burger I’ve ever tasted, the best ribs I’ve ever tasted, the best sushi I’ve ever tasted, the best Chinese take-out I’ve ever ordered… the list goes on. If you’re visiting Queenstown make sure you save money for dining out – because you’re going to need it. There are so many incredible choices.

Here are my favourites….

Flame: www. flamegrill.co.nz

Hands down, the best ribs I have ever had. With no exceptions. Flame have nailed it.

I would pay a huge amount of money to get some shipped over to the UK right now. Wouldn’t that be something.

I don’t care if you don’t like ribs. If you go to Flame you should get them. Try them. And then eat your words as well as your meat. It will blow your mind. They also do amazing cocktails – because obviously you need something to wash down all the ribs and steak you’ve ordered. The portion sizes here are huge – but the quality isn’t compromised by the size, which make it all the more enjoyable. If you do anything whilst you’re in Queenstown – make it Flame.

flame ribs queesntown

flame ribs queesntown

eating ribs flame queenstown

FergBurger: www.fergburger.com

If you’re heading to Queenstown you’ve probably already heard of Fergburger. It’s like this urban myth. Travellers talk of a huge burger so juicy and so delicious you’d eat there every day if you could. Think I’m exaggerating? I’m not.

It’s basically a take-out burger place (if you do manage to grab a seat – you’re very lucky, as there aren’t many) so it’s perfect for a sunny day, when you can grab a  burger and go sit by the lake. The portions are also huge here – so unless you haven’t eaten in weeks all you need to order is the burger… no chips necessary! My favourite was the CockadoodleOink – but in all truth you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. Except maybe the vegetarian options…. because then WHY!?

fergburger review queenstown restaurant

fergburger review queenstown restaurant

fergburger review queenstown restaurant

Palace on the Lake: www.lakesidepalaceatqueenstown.com

Chinese food is one of my favourite kinds – so I really wanted to track down a decent Chinese place in the first couple of weeks of living in QT. This is a great choice for dining in or dining out. Try the lemon chicken. YUM.

FAT BADGERS: www.fatbadgerspizza.com

I’m pretty sure one of the first things you do when you move to a new place is order pizza take-out, right? So we were pretty chuffed when we stumbled upon Fat Badgers. Don’t go to any other pizza place in town – because I’ve tried the rest and they don’t even come close to Fat Badgers.

Fat Badgers is amazing. No, scrap that, IT’S THE BEST PIZZA YOU’LL EVER HAVE IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE – so much good pizza yummyness. Get the Smokey Badger (personal favourite) and make sure you’re hungry because these pizzzas are HUUUGGGGGEEEE.

fat badgers pizza Queenstown

fat badgers pizza Queenstown

Patagonia: http://www.patagoniachocolates.co.nz/

This place is great for those with a sweet tooth or a coffee habit – because you’d be beyond satisfied here. The do this amazing ice-cream (every flavour ever in the world) and also incredible sorbet too, the have the biggest range of home-made chocolate I’ve ever seen, and they also do good coffee. Oh, and there is free-wifi and it’s right by the lake so the views are great.

The Sushi place on the Mall Highstreet

I went here at least 4 times a week when we lived there (probably more…) and it was awesome. If you like sushi you’ll love it here. It’s a tiny place, tucked somewhere in the middle of the high street. Get there around midday for the best selection, because once it’s out it sells out fast. Why? Because it’s delicious and cheap. Perfect for a quick lunch.

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Johnny Barr’s Sandwiches: www.johnnybarrs.com

Another great choice for a quick lunch – this place does the best sandwiches in town. My favourite was the pulled pork with coleslaw (I could’ve eaten those every day). Chow down inside the deli, or grab yours to go and eat it on the beach. Either way, don’t give this place a miss – it’s scrummy.

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Could I look any happier about that sandwich??

johnny barrs queenstown review

johnny barrs queenstown review

The Remarkables Sweet Shop: www.remarkablesweetshop.co.nz

Got a sweet tooth? Go and grab some amazing sweets or homemade fudge from The Remarkables Sweet Shop. Top tip? If you head in and look curiously towards the fudge fridge, they’ll let you try the fudge FOR FREE. So much yummyness, so little time.

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Cookie Time: www.cookietime.co.nz

Another choice for those with a sweet tooth… head over to Cookie Time for cookie happy hour (buy one get one free!). Such a treat, and full of loads of flavours and choices. Always warm and chewy, and there are cold crunchy ones too for those who prefer them. I try not to think too much about Cookie Time now I’m back in the UK. It just makes me sad. And hungry.

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A few other places worth noting…. 

– Winnies (good pizza, and a great lively atmosphere and bar in the evenings)

– Moto (a solid choice for breakfast!)

– Vudu (another solid choice for breakfast!)

Where are your favourite places to eat in Queenstown?

Did you like the photos featured in this blog post? Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @TheWorldAndThenSome where I post lots more gorgeous photos from my travels!

A Photo For Everywhere I Went in 2013.

2013 has without a doubt been the best year of my life. We’ve been to more places than I can count, so here they all are and I’m hoping I haven’t missed anywhere out… Also, these aren’t in any particular order!

One photo for each place we visited :) I’ve tried to choose the photo that summed the place up for me, or the photo or moment I remembered most.

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Paris

Queenstown view gondola blue

Queenstown, NZ

London shard sunshine clouds

London, UK

NYC blue building greenwich

New York City, USA

Girl in grand canyon sunshine

The Grand Canyon, USA

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Las Vegas, USA

Hong Kong slow shutter speed skyline

Hong Kong

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Phuket, Thailand

grand palace bangkok summer sunshine

Bangkok, Thailand

wild elephant koh samui thailand

Koh Samui, Thailand

marina bay sands sparkle singapore

Singapore

thailand beach sunshine aqua longboat

Angthong National Park, Thailand

kuala lumpur traders hotel view sunset

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

byron bay beach sunset surfers australia

Byron Bay, Oz

gold coast surfers paradise ocean beach

Surfers Paradise, Oz

brisbane evening night time reflection

Brisbane, Oz

noosa australia beach wave surfing

Noosa, Oz

fraser island australia sunset beach

Fraser Island, Oz

hamilton island parrots birds view reef hotel

Hamilton Island, Oz

great ocean road view mist storm

The Great Ocean Road, Oz

woman wetsuit great barrier reef ocean

The Great Barrier Reef, Oz

view from plane cairns clouds

Cairns, Oz

melbourne in the evening with slow shutter speed

Melbourne, Oz

surfers on the beach in New Zealand

Christchurch, NZ

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The Blue Mountains, Oz

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Bondi, Oz
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Sydney, Oz

 For more memories, and my other travel highlights from 2013, take a read of this blog post, about my favourite moments from the year.

Did you like the photos featured in this blog post? Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram @TheWorldAndThenSome where I post lots more gorgeous photos from my travels!

What has your 2013 highlight been?

My Favourite Moments from 2013

2013 has been a pretty good year for me…. after months and months of planning and organising our big round the world trip – 2013 was the year we finally got to set off and do it. Because it was such an incredible year, I wanted to put some of our highlights down on paper (virtual paper!). So here are my favourite moments from 2013 (in no particular order I might add!).

Storm chasing in Hong Kong 

Whilst we were in Hong Kong, it never seemed to stop raining. One particular day though, as we boarded the Star Ferry, on our way back to our hotel – we could actually see the storm approaching. You can see it in the photo below, and from the moment that photo was taken, it took about 5 minutes to reach us on the boat. I can honestly say, I’ve never seen or felt rain like it. It literally came out of nowhere, and then just pelted down for about an hour at full force. Pad and I were in absolute awe of it, and although we attempted to shelter for awhile, in the end we just legged it into the rain and decided to risk it. Needless to say – we got absolutely drenched.

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Waking up to this view in Hong Kong

We wanted to book ourselves a room with a view when we were in Hong Kong (because as far as views go – Hong Kong has a pretty incredible one on offer) so we opted for a suite at at The Langham Place Hotel in Mongkok. It was so stunning, and the room was everything we’d hoped for. The view from our window is what you can see in the photo below – and it was just perfect. Waking up (and going to sleep) with that outlook was just incredible.

For more photos of gorgeous Hong Kong, click here.

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Winning (and gambling) at The Marina Bay Sands in Singapore

Now, Pad will claim it was his idea to walk away from the table when we did (whatever…) but whoever’s idea it was – we went away from the Casino $200 up. If only we’d been as lucky in Las Vegas a few months later….! It was literally like we couldn’t stop winning… I think the old man next us was our lucky mascot. Definitely an amazing way to end our time in Singapore.

To read more about my time in Singapore, click here.

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Having a private luxury pod on the Singapore Flyer

We were gifted some complimentary tickets for The Singapore Flyer by their PR team, and expected to rock up and experience the regular tourist attraction. What actually happened, was much different! We were chauffeured through to a private entrance, got to skip the entire queue, and walked straight into our very own luxury pod at sunset. It was pretty amazing – and even more so because it was a complete surprise. It was also the first time we’d both tried the famous Singapore Sling – and The Flyer was the perfect place to try it for the first time!

For my full review of The Singapore Flyer, click here. 

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Our 5 days on The Gold Coast

The Gold Coast was one of our last stops in Australia, and after a month of hostels and budgeting – we splashed out a little when we finally arrived at Surfers Paradise. Our hotel room overlooks the beautiful rivers, and every night the sunset was just beyond beautiful. We had planned to cram our 5 days there full of theme parks and activities – but when we arrived we realised all we wanted to do was relax and take it easy. We drank a lot of cider on that balcony, we (attempted) our very own Oz BBQ (and failed miserably!), we ate a lot of frozen yoghurt, had the best caesar salad ever, and we spent hours laying on the beach doing absolutely nothing.

For more information about The Gold Coast, click here. 

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Learning to surf in Noosa

We hadn’t really prioritised surfing to be honest, but a girl we met at our hostel recommended it to us – so we decided (on a whim) to give it a try. I think we were both a bit apprehensive looking back – but within 20 minutes in the water we were both in love! Learning to surf was so much fun, and both us have agreed several times since, that it absolutely was one of the best things we ever decided to do. I know that Pad is beyond excited to give it another go as soon as we’re anywhere near another beach – so next year should be much the same! If you are looking to learn surfing, Noosa is such a beautiful spot to do it and quite an appealing spot too. The waters are warm, not to deep and it is home to Australia’s best surf school!

Click here for info about our first surfing lesson in Noosa.

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Seeing The Great Barrier Reef

I can’t really put this into words. But if you’ve been – you’ll know. I’ve never before felt so small, so insignificant and yet so free and inspired. I know that sounds super lame-ass. But you really can’t understand until you’ve been and seen this whole other world under the waves. We didn’t even get the best weather for it (I suffered pretty horrendous seasickness whilst on our boat) and yet, you still can’t avoid the beauty and the peacefulness that lies underneath the waves.

It was bizarre actually. Above the water there was wind, gales and you were being thrown about, but then once you were underneath the sea it was completely different. Pad and I spent our time gliding around under the water holding hands (otherwise we would’ve drifted apart!) trying to point out all the amazing creatures. At one point this turtle swam up literally a few centimetres in front of us, and I got to reach out and touch it’s shell. That right there, was just amazing.

To read the full blog post about our day on the reef, click here.

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Introducing these guys to Fergburger (and other things!)

During our last few weeks in Queenstown, two of my very best friends came and stopped with us in New Zealand for a few weeks. Sharing our new home with them was so much fun – and it was great to share all these amazing things we’d done and found with them too. This included Fergburger, Flame (Ben’s face when he saw the size of the mixed grill was hilarious!), Fat Badgers (which we had like 3 times?!), and the gorgeous Kelvin Heights (where we finally jumped in the lake).

More about all that, by clicking here! 

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Onsen Hot Pools in Queenstown

This was such a treat, and really was a once in a lifetime experience. Onsen Hot Pools are located a little way out of Queenstown (about a 10 minute drive through the mountains) but worth the trip – especially for those who want to do some relaxing after all the adrenaline activities. We went for the evening package, and has champagne, candles and even a little picnic hamper. Perfection!

For a full review (and lot’s more photos!) of The Onsen Hot Pools, click here. 

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NZ Road trip with Moogan

For Paddy’s birthday, we rented a car and explored our little bit of the South Island. We crammed so much in, and it was so much fun just zipping around, playing music a bit too loud and finding all those hidden places we’d never have found without a car. The reason he looks so happy below – is because of how modern and swish the car was. The previous time we had rented a car in NZ, we’d been stuck with a car that was about 30 years old… and still had a cassette player. One of my most hilarious memories from this road trip was Puzzling World in Wanaka. They have this one room on there where you feel like you’re walking up but actually you’re walking down. It’s weird – and difficult to explain. Anyway, the aim of this room is to (quite simply) get to the other side without falling over. We’d both fallen in to the final wall and were already laughing, when this old Chinese man turned the corner and mouthed “help me!” with all seriousness. All three of us burst out laughing and we were still laughing out it an hour later.

For more on our road tripping stuff, click here. 

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New Years Eve in Sydney

I can’t think of a better way we could’ve started 2013. The night was perfect, the view was breathtaking and the experience was just priceless. I’ll never forget it – and for anyone even contemplating spending NYE in Sydney, I would just say DO IT. We spent the night at Sydney Harbourlights and it was the best money we’ve ever spent.

For more info about an incredible night, click here. 

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Finally seeing the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas

I loved Las vegas, and my favourite part was (of course) the Bellagio Fountains. Not much to say other than WOW. Yes they’re touristy, but they’re so magical too! I’d been so excited to see them, and they didn’t disappoint at all. We’re hoping to go back to Las vegas in 2014 – so I hopefully won’t have to wait too long to see them again!

Click here to read more about Las Vegas. 

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The Grand Canyon

Another thing I’d been dying to see, needless to say, the Grand Canyon didn’t disappoint either. I mean…. how can it?! We went with Pink Jeep Tours and everything about the day was just fantastic. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it.

For more info on our day in The Grand Canyon, click here. 

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Putting our padlock on Padlock Bridge

Paris was our last destination of the year, and putting our Padlock on the bridge seemed really fitting. We’ve been through a lot this year, and that seemed like such a perfect way to round things off.

Click here to see more photos from Padlock Bridge in Paris.

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Moving into our new London home 

After months of being on the road earlier in the year, we were both so excited to be settled into a home again. We’ve decided to settle in Balham (South West London) and our home is so gorgeous. Moving day has definitely been a highlight, and every day since too.

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I Have Something To Confess.

One thing I was hoping to get out of travelling – or rather, get rid of – was my fear of flying.

I know. Why travel the world when you are absolutely petrified of flying?

Why put yourself through multiple flights on average, every 5 days, if you hate it?

Well, honestly – because I think my passion for travel out-weighs my fear for flying. But that doesn’t make it any less real. 

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I honestly thought that eventually, by travelling, my fear would gradually fade into the background. That it would simmer down and that perhaps I’d be able to finally relax into a flight and the idea of flying instead of dreading it the entire day prior.

But that hasn’t really happened.

I had a bit of a breakdown on our last night in Bangkok, because I’m so sick of feeling paralysed by this fear. And I think it’s important to talk about it – because unlike what many people may believe, travelling isn’t fun 100% of the time. For me, it’s incredible the entire time we’re on solid ground. But the day when we’re due to fly? And the flight itself? You’ll find me clutching my boyfriends hand, a bag of nerves, wishing I was anywhere else but there.

So maybe it’s important to be honest about these things. 

And maybe, if you’re someone who also has a fear of flying, and you’re reading this. Maybe you’ll feel encouraged by the fact that even though I hate flying and it fills me with pure dread, I still board that flight and I cope with it the best I can. Because I know travel is worth it all.

But I’m trying so hard to overcome it, despite a few hiccups along the way.

Over new year, we had a terrible flight into Queenstown, NZ where our plane had a missed approach on landing and we had to surge up the engines again metres from the runway and take-off again. I was an absolute wreck during those few minutes, and I think it erased any progress I’d made previously. Before that, I’d never really hated the landing part (because, hey – it means you’re nearly there) but now my nerves are so on edge during landing I find myself glancing around the cabin frantically every 30 seconds. Pad compared me to a Meerkat – if that helps you imagine it. A super panicked Meerkat. Having a bad day.

Ever since then I’ve felt myself getting worse and it’s become a bit of a downward spiral. In Thailand on a couple of internal flights we had to fly on smaller planes with propellers instead of engines. This was almost a breaking point for me. I literally felt overwhelmed by the fear. I even contemplated having us drive across Thailand and hiring a taxi to take us to our next destination (making a 45 minute plane journey a 7 hour drive). But Pad being the ever supportive boyfriend he is, assured me that I’d be OK – and we were. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t spend the entire flight gripping his hand and cutting off his circulation.

Why am I writing this?

Well, after I had my Bangkok-Breakdown, Pad asked me what I was actually scared of. And I put it down to a mixture of things.

I hate not having control.

I don’t understand how it works.

I hate the sensation of flying.

I dread the turbulence. And I hate the dreading.

It goes on.

So Pad told me to start researching how a plane works. To help me understand. So I could understand exactly what all the sounds were that scared me so much. So I could change my outlook of flying, to a positive one instead of a negative one.

I don’t know why I’d never thought of it before honestly. I feel a bit foolish for never typing into Google “How does a plane stay in the air” or “tips for fearful flyers” but I never had before that night. Which is stupid. Because there are so many people out there with the same fear (1 in 6 apparently) and they are all there, online offering advice.

So now, I know how a plane stays up. It’s something to do with lift, and the way the air glides over the wings of the plane – which creates different pressure levels. And that makes me feel a bit better.

I also know that whilst turbulence is a discomfort – it isn’t dangerous, and the planes are designed to with-stand it and they are designed to be strong and safe in turbulence.

I found this website…. www.askcaptainlim.com and I read through the FAQs and the forums and I can’t thank the guy who wrote it enough.

I read tips like, watching children’s television helps – because they distract you easily and are designed for short attention spans. I read that it helps to imagine turbulence as bumps in the road or like waves on a boat. I read that it helps to imagine the captain doing day-to-day things like brushing his teeth and driving to work. And then imaging him going home after the flight to his family and having tea. Because, although it isn’t to you – this flight is completely routine to him.

It’s helping now, just typing all this stuff out. 

So, last night when we boarded our plane to Hong Kong I was feeling OK. Not confident, not happy or excited – but OK. Which was enough for me at that moment in time. I told Pad, that during this flight I was going to be brave, and that I was going to cope. Which I did.

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Turns out, it was a blessing I found all that advice, and especially the website which I mentioned earlier – because this flight to Hong Kong was a particularly bad one. We actually descended into Hong Kong at night time through a Thunder Storm, probably the biggest thunder storm I’ve ever seen. My heart is beating harder in my chest just describing it. We could see lightening out of the window, bright and white. The turbulence was bad – very bad. At one point we dropped a considerable distance, and many people on board screamed.

But the entire time, I kept my head down, I kept my hands in Pad’s and I closed my eyes. I kept telling myself all the information I’d read the night before. I kept recounting it in my head over and over. I even said a few of the things out loud, as if that might make it more true and convincing.

But I didn’t cry. And I didn’t panic.

In fact, when we touched down, I had dry eyes and I even managed to smile. And then minutes later, I managed to laugh. I had trusted the captain, I had trusted the plane and I was OK. Yes it had been horrible and frightening – and even now I’m trying not to think about it – but I had been so brave.

I don’t think I’ve ever said this, but I was really proud of myself. I’d actually surprised myself with how brave I’d been.

So, I probably can do this. 

And because the World has a sense of humour (and maybe as a reminder to me to have one too in situations like this), after the flight had taxied to the airport I started to pack up my stuff from the little pocket in front of me where I keep my tablet and headphones, etc during the flight. I reached in, and I saw something small, red and yellow, stuffed in the bottom of the pocket and pulled it out. It had clearly been forgotten by the last person who sat there.

It was a super hero mask.

Maybe that’s all I needed all along. 

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Queenstown in Video

So over the last 6 months I’ve been filming a few bits here and there, on and off. And this is the end result. I hope it does Queenstown justice, as the gorgeous place it is!

I’m actually hoping to make more of these little videos once we set off travelling next week, and I’m planning on making a mommoth one of the whole trip at the end of it all, so keep an eye out for them :)

Here it is….

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Welcome to Queenstown, New Zealand! from Elle-Rose Williams on Vimeo.

ZipTrek Eco Tours – Queenstown

 

Yesterday we went up the Gondola again (yay!) for an afternoon of ZipTrekking through the Queenstown forest! We were really lucky to have been given some complimentary tickets, so it was a great chance to enjoy one of Queenstown’s lesser known activities.

The ZipTrek tour is found at the top of the Gondola in Queenstown (where you’ll find some incredible views, an amazing restaurant and also the luge) and it’s a quick 2 minute walk from the Gondola to the left of the building. So easy to get to, and it was an awesome way to spend the afternoon – especially as a group of 4. We were in a tour group of about 8/9 (I can’t remember) who were all lovely. There was a variety of ages in our group, and everyone had a good bit of banter and chat along the way which was lovely – some of the older people in the group were actually the first to try spinning upside down! So kudos to them!

The tour starts with dressing up – in harnesses. Surprisingly – the harnesses were actually really comfy to wear and easy to get on. But don’t worry about this too much – the two tour guides who take you round will take care of getting you strapped in. Once you’ve got it on, you barely remember it’s there. So don’t worry about uncomfortable wedgies or anything…!

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

It’s a short walk along the amazing tree-houses to the first zip-line, and they definitely ease you in. Once you’ve done the later ones – the first one seems relatively tame in comparison  We were the first ones off this Zip-Line and it was great. I’m no adrenaline junkie – and was pretty nervous about the whole thing – but actually it was great. You feel really safe when you’re attached, and the tour guides who take you round will put you at ease and encourage you if you’re a bit slow off the edge. Which I was a few times!

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

Just in general, the tour is fantastic for sightseeing a bit of the nature surrounding Queenstown – and catching some gorgeous views. The tree-houses are so scenic, and reminded me of being a kid again. I mean – how much would the ten year old you have loved this treehouse?! Some of the views along the way were just magical, as you can see above. There’s about a 20 minute walk towards the end of the tour, downhill through the forest – and you can take the time to enjoy the views during that time – incase you missed them whilst zooming through the trees earlier.

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

After your first try on the zip-wire, the tour guides (ours were TJ and Rich) will teach you some tricks along the way. If you’re brave enough, you can swivel upside down along the way (props to Paddy for doing it!) and at one point you can also do a leap of faith – type thing off one of the platforms. Definitely a bit scary – but really cool. This was Paddy’s favourite part of the tour – which doesn’t surprise me as he loves jumping out of planes and stuff.

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

If you’re a bit of a fraidy-cat (like me) the nerves do wear off as you go along – and you become more confident. I don’t look nervous at all above – which I think was our 4th zip-line. I enjoyed the 4th and 5th zip-line’s the most as they were a little longer, which meant you had more time to enjoy the views along the way.

Another thing I’d recommend (if you’re a traveller experiencing this solo, which a few people in our group were) is to swap cameras with someone. That way you can each take photos of each other on the zip-lines.

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

This was one of my favourite views of the entire tour. It was great watching people zooming through the gap in the trees – and how photogenic is the view? This was one of the longer zip-lines, and one of the most enjoyable too. You had some great views of the lake as you went across – a paraglider even floated past as I was on it- which was bizarre!

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

The last treehouse of the tour is above, which is one of the steeper zip-lines and takes you down the last leg of the mountain! And of course – special mention to TJ and Rich who were our tour guides for the afternoon, who were awesome! And Jada who we met when the tour finished! :)

ZipTrek Eco Tours Queenstown

If you’d like to book yourself a place on one of ZipTrek’s tours you can do so here, on their website. We’d all recommend it as a fun afternoon in Queenstown – and they run all year round which is great too. So you can either do the tour during ski season – or during summertime. As I mentioned before – it’s something that is relatively hidden – but super easy to get to and a great thing to combine with the Skyline restaurant and Gondola beforehand.

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Cheap Thrills on the Thunder Jet, Queenstown

We managed to score some super cheap tickets on the Thunder Jet in Queenstown today (from the BookMe.co.nz website) so that was the morning activities taken care of. Up early (well earlier than usual) and by 10am we were zooming at 85 KM/Hour along Lake Wakatipu. Definitely a good way to start the day and get you up and awake.

Thunder Jet Queenstown

We are the annoying rowdy ones in the back.

The Thunder Jet is the cheap version of the Shotover Jet that leaves from the centre of town, but there is such a huge price difference. Shotover Jet is about $129 for 30 minutes, whereas Thunder Jet costs around $90 for a whole hour (and that’s without a discount – our tickets actually cost £65). If you’re on a budget – the Thunder Jet is an awesome alternative – and you get more time in the water anyway – and you see some gorgeous sights as you’re whizzing round The Remarkables, so it’s worth every penny.

I decided to do something a bit different this time, with the photos – as we took a few clips of video too. So I’ve compiled it all together into a little movie below. Enjoy!

(It’s best to watch it in the small sized screen here – any bigger and the quality suffers a bit) 

 

Swimming in the Lake: Queenstown

You can’t visit Queenstown in the summer without getting in the lake. Lake Wakatipu is huge, and there are loads of places you can go for a day of swimming by the lake. We headed to Kelvin Heights Golf Course and set up a little picnic by the big jetty. It’s only $10-ish return on the water taxi (which leaves from the centre of Queenstown every hour) and it feels a million miles away from the busy town centre.

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The first time jumping in the lake was COLD. I mean really cold. But it’s so worth it. It’s so nice swimming in the lake, because it’s not salty and you can open your eyes under the water – and not have to worry about swallowing horrible salty water unexpectedly. Which makes it pretty awesome – even thought it’s freaking cold.

The second, third and forth times we jumped in though – it got much more bearable. Maybe our skin was just going numb though and we weren’t noticing the cold as much as before…

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Make sure you have some towels handy for when you get out – because you’ll need them!

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Your transport for the day will be the water taxi. It’s a little tricky to board it from such a high jetty – but it’s all good fun and I guess if you fall in the lake whilst doing so – it’ll be something to tell the grandkids. The water taxi is actually a pretty awesome way to see the lake from the water too on your way over – it’s cheap and cheerful, so it’s a pretty cool experience in itself.

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Onsen Hot Pools, Queenstown

Yesterday we rented a car, so decided to drive up to the Onsen Hot Pools in the evening. It was Pad’s birthday – so we wanted to something a bit special and a bit different – and this was certainly that. The pools are located in Arthurs Point, about a 15/20 minute drive north of Queenstown (it’s pretty easy to get to) which is remote enough to feel secluded – but close enough to town for it to be an easy drive. It’d probably be about $25 in a taxi I reckon – so not too bad if you have someone to split the cost with.

The Onsen Hot Pool is probably the most relaxing thing I’ve ever done – not to mention one of the most romantic too. I’d definitely recommend it to basically anyone – if you’re a group of friends travelling then it’s a great place to hang out and relax for an hour or so, but if you’re a couple it’s a lovely romantic way to spend a couple of hours together.

Basically, the hot pools are fresh-water private hot-tubs (although you can turn the jets off if you want) which are located in their own little private room, which has a re-tractable roof. It’s pretty perfect really – you have this incredible view, and massive hot-tub all to yourself, and even candles and aromatherapy if you specify when booking. You’re not overlooked either – in fact the only thing overlooking you is a big mountain range and the Shotover river.

Our booking was at 9pm, so when we arrived it was just starting to go dark (as you can see above). By the time we left if was completely dark – so it was nice to see the pool in both settings. There are changing rooms just outside in the corridor  and you can borrow lovely fluffy towels from reception too – there’s even a shower in your hot tub room – incase you want to cool off and then jump back in (which we did a few times).

We had the roof retracted the entire time, because that’s what makes it so unique I think, and it was lovely being in the hot water, but having a cool breeze from the mountains at the same time. The pools are huge too – there was only 2 of us in there – but I think you could easily fit 4/5. They’re so much deeper than the average hot-tubs too, and length wise I could stretch out and just about touch the edges (and I’m 5ft2 ish).

For anyone thinking of booking I’d probably recommend having a similar time-spot to us, it was lovely watching the sun go down, and having about 30 minutes of pure darkness outside too. As you can see – the room looks absolutely magical in the darkness and the candles are so romantic too! For any guys out there wanting to impress a special lady – this is without a doubt one of the most romantic things you could in the whole of New Zealand. It’s not too expensive either – we were pleasantly surprised at the price – considering how luxurious the entire experience feels.

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Queenstown LUGE!!

New Zealand is Beautiful – especially in the summertime. And by far, some of the most fun I’ve had since living here was our day spent on the Queenstown Luge. WE LOVE THE LUGE! It’s basically an awesome go-cart track (but more awesome) with big slopes and scary bumps and (obviously) a gorgeous view too.

It’s hard not to get excited. Let’s face it. There are even free rides on the ski lift too (even if you’re not riding the Luge). And the helmets come in 4 colours. Amazing.

The restaurant at the top of the Gondola, is by far the best view in the whole of Queenstown. Maybe even New Zealand? Big claim – but I think it stands. It’s not too pricy either (considering how spectacular it actually is up there) and the buffet is yummy. If you don’t quite have the budget for the restaurant though, there are some super cute picnic tables outside (pictured!) where you can set up your own little al fresco dining experience. Two pretty good options, I think you’d agree?

I mean, even if you aren’t going to ride the Luge…. going up there for these incredible views is worth it. You can parachute down the hill back to town too – something I’m super excited to do sometime before we leave. I’m terrified of jumping from a plane (way too high for my liking) but the idea of jumping off the side of a hill doesn’t seem so drastic and scary. After living in QT a while, you actually get used to seeing the parachutes in the sky, and it becomes almost normal to see 3/4 flying above you as you have a coffee or walk round the shops.

 

Skateboards and Hitch Hikers

There are two things in life, which I (being totally honest here) thought only existed in American movies. These two things are: Skateboarders and Hitch Hikers. Sure, I knew that both of these things were actually things (and not made up, like say – Unicorns) but growing up in the UK, you only ever get skateboarders in skate parks, and you only ever get hitch hikers – if they’re doing some charitable event across Europe.

In NZ (and Australia I noticed) though – people use skateboards as a legitimate mode of transport. They actually use it to get from Point A to Point B. Not just for fun, or for doing fancy tricks in the park, or even to fill some teenage angst stereotype – people skateboard here because it is a fast, and nifty way to travel. It’s a weird thing to get used to really – at first it used to scare the bejesus out of me every time one of them went past.

Why?

Because skateboards are loud! Not like Tony Hawk would have you believe on his video games. When people are using them to scoot at 40 miles an hour down the road – they sound like cracks of thunder, and you look and there is nothing there – just some barefoot hipster (yes, barefoot – those danger dabbling ruffians) making his way to work – zooming down the street 10 ft ahead of you.

The other thing, as the title suggests, is hitch hiking.

Now, I know that hitch hiking is a thing. That people do. But if I’m being honest – I thought it was something that people only do in two of the following situations:

1) Raising money for charity, so you can say you’ve hitch hiked across Europe or to Morocco. Or something like that.

2) In horror movies as a sure fire way to “get dead”.

These are the only two situations of hitch hiking I have ever come across. EVER. Oh, and that episode of Friends where Joey and Pheobe drive back from Vegas and pick up the random guy. But even in that occurance the first thing she asks him is “Are you a murderer?”

In New Zealand though, hitch hiking is pretty common, and it’s (apparently) perfectly acceptable and safe. Not that this would ever convince me to do it, but I’m always surprised by how common it is here. Pad and I walk to the gym most days in the town, and on numerous occasions now I’ve spotted people standing on the main road with their thumbs stuck out. It’s so cliched I want to laugh – but it’s real and they’re actually doing it.

When my family came to stay in November, they drove to Glenorchy, and on the way back told me they picked up a random girl who had been planning to walk back to Queenstown. First of all – this girl is mental, because that’s like a 5 hour walk – but also they didn’t really think it was a big deal. But if the same had happened in London – I’d be like “YOU PICKED SOMEONE UP OFF THE STREET!?”

But in Queenstown, I think it’s a bit different. Maybe it’s because of the travellers lifestyle here in NZ and the common goal that most people seem to have. Who knows.

Have you ever hitch hiked? 

 

A Queenstown Christmas

Just a note to say, Merry Christmas to everyone, have a fantastic day! We’re 12 hours ahead of you all – so we’ve already had our Christmas day – and are now slobbing out on the sofa, so very full of Christmas food and sweets and chocolate.

Here are some photos from our day – enjoy!

Christmas Carols in Queenstown town centre on Christmas Eve evening. Swiftly followed by drinks on the beach.

A very busy Queenstown beach. Such a great atmosphere!

Gorgeous, right!?

We did all the traditional things – like cooking a huge Christmas Dinner, with all the trimmings (even Yorkshire Puddings!!) and opening present, drinking and then falling asleep infront of a film. When we woke up from the film though – we headed down to the beach in 26 degree heat, to enjoy some sunshine and ice-cream. Pretty sweet, huh?

Here’s some photos of our amazing dinner:

And of course…. CAKESSSS!!

Sky High Views Are The Best Kind.

When we first flew into Queenstown (when we first moved here) I didn’t have a window seat. Which is always rubbish. Especially when you are flying over New Zealand.

When we flew out to Wellington this week though (more on that here)… I DID HAVE A WINDOW SEAT! Which means I spent the entire flight blocking the window with my big head and my camera.

I also played Temple Run for several minutes (the official Disney version incase you’re curious) and beat my high score TWICE. 

So all in all, it was a good flight.

Mainly because of all the high-score ass-kicking I did. But also because of these beautiful photos I took:

The Best Places to Eat in Queenstown

Whilst we’ve only been here a just under a month – I feel as though I am completely in the right now to write a post about the best places to eat in Queenstown. Granted, there are still lots of places we still need to visit (there is a Japanese restaurant outside our gym, which always smells amazing) but I can always do a Part 2 – once we’ve been to the Japanese place. And also the Burrio place up the road from the gym too.

WHY ARE THERE SO MANY FOOD PLACES NEAR THE GYM? 

Anyway – Here are our favourite places so far:

Flame: http://flamegrill.co.nz/

Apart from Hawksmoor in London (which also serves up super awesome ribs) – this places is now home to the best ribs I have ever had. I don’t care if you don’t like ribs. If you go to Flame you should get them. Try them. And then eat your words as well as your meat. They also do amazing cocktails – because obviously you need something to wash down all the ribs and steak you’ve ordered. The portion sizes here are huge – but the quality isn’t compromised by the size, which make it all the more enjoyable. The only downside is the size as it’s quite a small restaurant – but this wont affect you if you’re clever enough to ring ahead and book a table (which you definitely should).

FergBurger: http://www.fergburger.com/

Fergburger is like a little hub in the middle of Queenstown. We’ve been there a few times now – and it’s always either bustling or completely full – one a few occasions there have actually been people queuing round the block for one. It’s basically a take-out burger place (if you do manage to grab a seat – you’re very lucky, as there aren’t many) so it’s perfect for a sunny day, when you can grab a  burger and go sit by the lake. The portions are also huge here – so unless you haven’t eaten in weeks all you need to order is the burger… no chips necessary!

Palace on the Lake: http://www.lakesidepalaceatqueenstown.com/

Chinese food is one of my favourite kinds – so I really wanted to track down a decent Chinese place in the first couple of weeks. A week in we mistook a Korean place for a Chinese place and had a kind of bizarre meal (I guess it was OK though….) but then we finally found a normal Chinese place, that was soo good. I keep trying to find excuses to go back. Is it Chinese New Year anytime soon? No? Damn.

Hell Pizza: http://hellpizza.com/

I’m pretty sure one of the first things you do when you move to a new place is order pizza take-out? You know, when you haven’t been shopping yet and you haven’t got anything in the cupboards! Hell Pizza is amazing – So much good pizza yummyness. They also do this thing (which is beyond awesome) where you can play ‘Pizza Roulette’ and in one slice of pizza (but they don’t tell you which) they pile in loads of hot chilli’s into the sauce. Oh an the pizza box makes scary faces too. Which is cool.

Patagonia: http://www.patagoniachocolates.co.nz/

This place is great for those with a sweet tooth or a coffee habit – because you’d be beyond satisfied here. The do this amazing ice-cream (every flavour ever in the world) and also incredible sorbet too, the have the biggest range of home-made chocolate I’ve ever seen, and they also do good coffee. Oh, and there is free-wifi and it’s right by the lake so the views are great.

Places we still need to visit: 

– The Japanese place near the gym

– The Queenstown Grill @ The Hilton

– Winnies Pizza (Update: We just went here, it’s veryyyy good! Awesome bar area too). 

– The Burrito place near the gym

– Breakfast @ Vudu

 

A Photo Post

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!

Cute Couple having Wedding Photos near the Lake

Cute Couple having Wedding Photos near the Lake

Queenstown Gardens - New Zealand

Queenstown Gardens – New Zealand

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Queenstown Gardens

Queenstown Gardens

Our Balcony View

Our Balcony View

The Remarkables

The Remarkables

Queenstown Gardens

Queenstown Gardens

The Remarkables

The Remarkables

The little lake in Queenstown Gardens

The little lake in Queenstown Gardens

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TSS Earnslaw

TSS Earnslaw

The Remarkables

The Remarkables

Lake Wanaka, Queenstown

Lake Wanaka, Queenstown

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Gorgeous Yellow Tree Thing

Gorgeous Yellow Tree Thing

Pretty Plant that makes pretty photo.

Pretty Plant that makes pretty photo.

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This Is What We Moved Here For

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.

Amazing right?

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.

10 Things I’ve Learnt About New Zealand

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.

All of these photos were taken within 24 hours

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.

Here is us. All infected with happiness.

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.

Definite red-tint

10. It’s awesome

We knew it would be. But it’s nice to be right about stuff like this. Couldn’t be happier.