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12 Unforgettable Things To Do In New Zealand

April 29, 2021

New Zealand is one of the most exotic places in the world. A land of mystery and magical
scenery that just excites the imagination. A country where you get to ski, surf, and hike on a
glacier right before you hit the mystical land of Hobbiton all on the same day.

Getting around New Zealand

It is relatively easy to get around as most attractions are accessible by car and are no more than a few hours’ drive
apart. I highly recommend renting a car whilst you’re visiting New Zealand, as it means you can do so much more exploring and really explore on your own schedule too! Tours are available in New Zealand, which are a lot of fun – but self-driving is highly recommendable as you will get that authentic experience of enjoying the country’s nature at close range.

It’s also easy to fly around New Zealand – there are lots of local flight routes (it only take just over an hour to fly from one end of the country to the other) – so if time is of the essence, flying can be a great choice. Air New Zealand are the country’s air carrier, and they’re one of the best airlines in the world, I highly recommend flying with them!


Unforgettable things to do in New Zealand

Here are 12 remarkable things you can do in New Zealand during your life-changing trip to this amazing country!


Glacier Hiking

Two of the most impressive glaciers are Fox Glacier and Franz Joseph Glacier, located on the South Island. Helicopter rides are used to access the top of the glaciers, but the thrill is experienced by walking on the giant icebergs. There’s nothing quite like it!

Immerse in the Maori Culture

You should ensure to get acquainted with the country’s native culture, the Maori culture. The Tamaki Maori Village gives a full-course treat on the culture, from being welcomed with a powhiri (a traditional dance) to spending the night in a Marae (a Maori meeting house) and learning about the Maori heritage at Te Papa.

Visit Queenstown and Glenorchy

Queenstown and Glenorchy are located side by side on the South Island of New Zealand. They’re considered one of the best locations in New Zealand, offering up some of the most incredible views in the country. If you love Lord of the Rings, you’ll recognise some of the filming locations around this area too. It’s a great place to have as your base for a few days, enjoy the nightlife and all the activities – it’s wonderful. The drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy is one of the best roads in the world – so don’t miss it!

Have a night on the town

New Zealand might not be best known for it’s nightlife – but actually there are some pretty great opportunities for a night out in New Zealand! From the big Casino in Auckland (brush up on your online pokies beforehand if you need to!) to smaller ones in Queenstown and Wellington – there’s plenty of opportunity for a fun night on the town.

SkyDive

New Zealand is one of the best places in the world that you can experience skydiving. For the more adventurous amongst you – it’s one of the ‘ultimate’ activities that NZ is famous for! And what better place to try it – the views from the sky will be beyond incredible!

Climb a Volcanic Island

Rangitoto Island is New Zealand’s youngest volcano. The uninhabited reserve is saved for the native birdlife, which renders it perfect for exploring walks. That allows you to experience the breathtaking views of Auckland and its islands. A short walk will have you at the top of Auckland’s highest volcanic cone, Mount Eden viewing the relics of an ancient Maori village, and on the way down, check out the Eden Gardens. 

Visit Milford Sound

Milford Sound is one of the most iconic destinations in New Zealand, and it’s not to be missed. Whether you drive yourself there, or do a tour group day trip from one of the nearby towns – there’s no wrong way to see this incredible place. It’s bound to take your breath away. It feels like the edge of the world, and is seeped in mysterious magical energy.

Interact with the Aqua life

From swimming with Hector’s dolphins in the marine reserve at the Akaroa Harbor to spotting humpback whales on their migratory route from Antarctica in the winter and pods of orcas in the summer as well as the sperm whales in Kaikoura will get your adrenaline pumping and mouths in awe. And dolphins too of course!

Rock the Boat

One of my favourite things we did in New Zealand was the Rock the Boat tour in Bay of islands. It was an overnight tour that was so varied, fun and laid back – and I’ve recommended it to everyone and anyone ever since! It was such a highlight for us, and it let us meet so many new people and learn loads about the local wildlife! And we saw dolphins too!

Dig your Spa at the Hot Water Beach

At Coromandel, not very far from the Cathedral Cove, is the hot water beach where you can get your hot water pool by digging up the sand. Just by use of a simple spade, and you get your spa treatment in the warm water!

Replenish Your Inner Movie Geek At The Hobbiton.

The Hobbiton is among the most incredible attractions in New Zealand for being the movie set for “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” films. It would be preposterous to miss the magic of this amazing place whether you’re a fan of the Jackson films or not.

Do a roadtrip

Actually one of the best (and cheapest) things to do in New Zealand, is just to enjoy the ride. Rent a care, sit back, and enjoy those views and go on a summer road trip in New Zealand. Driving through New Zealand is like nothing else, there’s always something to see and admire, and the views never stop coming. It’s incredible.


Bottom Line

New Zealand is, without a doubt, a destination that will leave you spellbound in the least. You will find what you’re looking for, whether you want to relax for your vacation or enjoy an adrenaline rush.

Manapouri, New Zealand: Everything you need to know

February 11, 2020

Manapouri is one of the most under0rated and STUNNING locations in New Zealand. I’ve spent a lot of time in New Zealand (I even lived there for a year!) and I never came across this little town. I hadn’t heard about in guide books, it was really mentioned on tour websites… but it’s so beautiful!

Manapouri New Zealand

It’s truly a hidden gem. With a population of only 300 people, this little town is truly tiny. 

Upon discovering it, I just had to write about this beautiful town in the South Island, so that other people could discover it and see how amazing it is! There might not be loads of things to do here, but if you’re stopping in nearby Queesntown, Te Anau, Invercargill or Christchurch, it’s definitely worth a road trip or a visit over there.


What is there to do in Manapouri?


Doubtful Sound tours

First on my list of things to do in Manapouri… Doubtful Sound. The main reason you’ll likely visit Manapouri is to go on a Doubtful Sound tour. Doubtful Sound is a beautiful part of New Zealand (accessible by boat) and most of the boat tours leave from Manapouri. It’s often likened to Milford Sound, but Milford Sound seems to be the more popular option with tourists because it’s a little bit easier to get to. Doubtful Sound is stunning, and if you left Milford Sound wanting to see more, then Doubtful Sound should be your next stop.

Kayak on Lake Manapouri

Kayaking on Lake Manapouri is next on my list of things to do in Manapouri. Lake Manapouri has some amazing views of the surrounding mountains and fiordlands, and you can easily rent kayaks, bring your own kayaks, or go on a kayak tour. It’s such a nice way to spend the day, and the water is really calm too – so conditions are easy and enjoyable.

Fraser Beach Manapouri

Have a picnic on Fraser’s beach

Fraser’s beach is one of the biggest and most heavenly beaches I’ve come across in New Zealand. It’s not just the beautiful sand, it’s the views across the lake, and also how calm and un-crowded it is there. It’s the perfect picnic spot. My only tip would be to wear bug-repellent, as there are sand flies on the beach like with most of the fiordland.

Manapouri New Zealand

Manapouri Hall & LotR location

A little community hub in the town, and also a filming location for Lord of The Rings!

Pearl Harbour (walking and cycling)

A lovely little harbour, where the boat tours depart from in Manapouri. It’s a lovely spot to walk around, and there’s a view point (and toilets!). There’s also a cycling track that starts here too, if cycling is your thing!

Visit the ‘Wee Bookshop’

Next on my list of things to do in Manapouri, is the Wee Bookshop! These are the 2 smallest bookshops in New Zealand… And definitely worth the visit! The smallest of the two bookshops sells second-hand children’s books, and the other ‘wee bookshop’ sells novels and other books (about everything else!). It’s such a fun and quirky thing to do in Manapouri!

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Manapouri hiking tracks

There are a few hiking trails in Manapouri, so there are a few options to try if you enjoy hiking. The Manapouri track is a 4 hour walk on the Circle Track, with further (and longer) detours up to Hope Arm and Mt Titiroa. The amazing views are definitely the highlight of these hikes. It’s also worth checking out this hiking brochure from Manapouri Council, it outlines all the main hiking tracks, and also tips on safety too.

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Where is there to eat in Manapouri?


Manapouri is well and truly tiny – so there aren’t many places to eat! Here are the main three cafes / restaurants that you could try out during your visit to Manapouri!

Manapouri Store & Cathedral Cafe – .

29 Waiau StManapouri 9679 – Click here for their Facebook page

Manapouri Lakeview Cafe and Bar

68 Cathedral Dr · In Manapouri Lakeview Motor Inn – Click here for their website.

The Church Manapouri

23 Waiau St, Manapouri – Click here for their website. 
the church manapouri

Travel times from other South Island locations


Travelling to Manapouri is pretty easy by car, the roads are nice and smooth, and not too difficult. If you rent a car, below are the driving times and routes for other South Island locations. Remember, with these drive times, that the approx times are with no stops! Knowing these drives (and how stunning the New Zealand landscape is) you’ll probably end up stopping a few times to take photos along the way!

Driving from Te Anau to Manapouri: Approx 18 – 20 minutes

Te Anau is one of the closest towns to Manapouri, and it has slightly more options in terms of supermarkets, restaurants, cafes, etc. So it’s a good place to stock up on supplies if you plan on stopping in Manapouri!

driving to Manapouri

Driving from Queenstown to Manapouri: Approx 2 hours

I absolutely LOVE this drive, you go through so much scenery and beautiful areas, and the roads are nice and easy to drive on too. Queesntown is one of the South Island’s biggest hubs, so if you fancy doing the day trip from here it’s a great choice as you could get there and back in a day.

driving to Manapouri

Driving from Invercargill to Manapouri: Approx 2 hours

Invercargill is located at the very south of the South Island, so if you want to start making your way up the island towards Queenstown, then Manapouri would be a great stop-off point along the way!

driving to Manapouri

Driving from Dunedin to Manapouri: Approx 3 hours, 30 minutes

Dunedin is one of the biggest cities in the South Island, so it could be where you’re starting your South Island adventure. Manapouri isn’t too far from Dunedin, and if you make it part of a Milford Sound trip, it’d totally be doable.

driving to Manapouri

Driving from Christchurch to Manapouri: Approx 8 hours

I wouldn’t recommend driving this route in one go (there are too many amazing places in-between you won’t want to miss) BUT I wanted to include it so you can get an idea of the scale of South Island. Christchurch is often the city people fly into if they’re exploring the South Island.

driving to Manapouri


 

 

How to find ‘That Wanaka Tree’ in Wanaka, New Zealand

January 18, 2020

how to find That wanaka tree in wanaka new zealand

Are you looking for instructions on how to find ‘That Wanaka Tree’? Look no further!

That Wanaka Tree is one of the most photographed places in Wanaka, New Zealand, and it’s not really surprising. The whole scene is beautiful. You have the gorgeous tree appearing out of the blue lake, and the backdrop of snowcapped mountains. It’s picture perfect, so it’s no wonder people want to visit and take their own photo.

Finding ‘That Wanaka Tree’ isn’t difficult. It’s not located in the heart of town, but it’s only a short walk (or an even shorter drive). I’ve included to maps below, the first map shows you the general location of the tree, the second shows you where to park. There isn’t loads of room in the car park, but it’s worth seeing if you can squeeze your car in.

When searching for the tree using Google maps, search for #thatwanakatree – and it should pop up!

how to find That wanaka tree in wanaka new zealand

That wanaka tree in wanaka new zealand

You’ll need to walk for about 5 minutes into the woodland next to the carpark, and you’ll soon spot the tree. Actually, you’ll probably spot other travellers and backpackers taking photos first!

It’s unlikely you’ll ever find the beach empty (if you do – you got very lucky!).

That wanaka tree in wanaka new zealand

It can get busy during peak holidays, and on sunny days – so if you want perfect shot without having to push your way to the front of the beach – it’s definitely worth getting there a bit earlier on in the day. Anytime before 9am is usually a good time, or in the evening when the sun is setting.

There’s also a picnic area near the car park, so you could head there with a little breakfast or supper picnic, and enjoy some food while you enjoy the view!

Wanaka new zealand 2020

how to find That wanaka tree in wanaka new zealand

I hope that has helped you, and now you’ll easily be able to find out how to find That Wanaka Tree in Wanaka!

5 Things To Know About New Zealand Before You Go

February 16, 2018

New Zealand is one of my absolute favourite places, it’s so unique, diverse and interesting – and the landscapes are probably the most beautiful in the world (in my opinion!). Before we visited, because it was such a long way to travel, I was doing tons of research to make sure we were prepared and would have everything we needed.

I figured it’d be good to write about a few things you definitely want to know before heading there, if you have a holiday to New Zealand planned!

It’s FAR away and JETLAG is real

The biggest shock when travelling to New Zealand, was realising just how far it is. Your body will feel a bit ‘muddled’ when you first land, and it may take a few days to adjust to your new timezone. The timezone is literally the opposite to the UK (if it’s 9am here, it’s 9pm there) so you’re whole routine flips. Before we jumped into the adventure of road trips, we made sure we had a couple of nights in a really comfortable hotel where we could just take it easy and recover from the jetlag. I can’t recommend this enough.

The North and South Islands have different climates

The North and South islands might not look too far apart, but the climates and temperatures do really differ. If you’re visiting in winter, then the temperature will be much milder in the North islands, but more ‘ski resort’ vibes in the South. If you’re visiting in the summer, then expect fresher temperatures in the South (maybe still a bit chilly at times) and more tropical heat (humidity) in the North.

(mountains in the south) 

(beaches in the north)

Remember if you’re planning to visit a lot of the country, you might need to be packing for multiple temperatures and different weather conditions! So pack smart!

Drive don’t Fly

If you’re planning on exploring lots of the country and visiting both islands, I’d recommend driving between locations (not flying). Flying is quicker (so if time is against you, then maybe it’s the better option) – but driving is SO much more scenic and you’ll get to see so many more landscapes. We stumbled across mountains and lakes we hadn’t even planned on visiting when we were driving – and some of them turned out to be my favourite locations.

The time of year will matter, as New Zealand has distinct seasons

The weather and activities you can do in New Zealand will vary depending on the time of year you visit. This is a good rough guide to go on:

  • Summer – December, January, February
    • Peak season, perfect time for adventure, hiking, scenic drives, picking fruit, wine tasting, beach activities, kayaking.
  • Autumn – March, April, May
    • Mild temperatures, good for summer activities (but for those who aren’t keen on hot weather). Weather might be more unpredictable but still good for hiking, picnics, kayaking, etc.
  • Winter – June, July, August
    • Skiing, snowboarding and other winter activities.
  • Spring – September, October, November
    • Day tours, sight seeing, hiking, kayaking.

You sunburn easier

Apparently, the ozone layer in New Zealand isn’t as thick as in other areas of the world – which means that you catch the sun easier. I always thought this was a load of crap, until we visited and I discovered just how quickly you burn and tan. Because of this, it’s important to make sure you’re using sun protection and SPF. Just a little thing, but getting burnt can ruin a holiday – so just a heads up!

 

 

 

3 Epic Places Not to Miss in New Zealand

August 27, 2017

It’s no secret that New Zealand is one of my favourite countries. Never will you visit somewhere more beautiful, epic and breath-taking! My husband I spent 6 months there a few years ago, and have been planning to go back ever since.

Recently though, a few friends have visited there too – and we’ve been the go-to couple for recommendations. Which I love! It’s so nice to be able to recommend all the beautiful places you seen and been to, and know that friends and family are going to adore them just as much.

Some people I know would rather book every location on their own with their own itinerary – but we’re not all adventurers, so for some people booking a tour is the best option. Some tours are a bit hit and miss on the locations they visit – but Distant Journeys is one company I’ve found who seem to include the best bits (in my opinion!) in their NZ tours. You can see more about their tours here.

So… Here are 3 epic places not to miss if you’re visiting New Zealand.

1. Queenstown

No list of NZ highlights, and no trip to the country, would be complete without Queenstown. It’s the most stunning mountain town on the South Island and in summer there are sunny days swimming in the lake – and in the winter you can ski and snowboard on the mountains. Sounds perfect right? It is! My heart belongs there, and honestly, there is nowhere I’ve been that’s more beautiful. You can skydive here, mountain bike, g0-kart, ski, snowboard, speedboat, boat cruise, hiking, golfing… the list goes on.

The mountains are huge, towering and intimidating (just the way I like mountains to be!), but the lake is serene, blissful and picturesque. The town is full of amazing restaurants, coffee shops, cars, pubs, etc – so even in the evenings, you’ll have plenty to keep you busy. You can read my list of places to eat by clicking here.

2. Bay of Islands

The Bay of Islands is located at the other end of NZ to Queenstown, at the very top of the North Island. This is where doing a tour might come in handy – as you needn’t worry about getting from place to place (someone takes care of that for you). Bay of Islands feels like a tropical haven, it can get pretty hot in the summer, and you’ll definitely catch a tan (yes, even in NZ!). The Bay of Islands is a bay of hundreds of islands, and you can discover them by boat tours from the nearby towns. On a lucky day you might even spot dolphins in the waters around the bays, which is beyond magical – trust me!

I loved discovering all the hidden beaches and secret paradise islands, and I know anyone would love doing the same. There’s loads to do here, and you can read my list here.

3. Milford Sound

If you’re headed to New Zealand to see the the epic landscapes used in movies like Lord of The Rings – then Milford Sound is a MUST VISIT. There aren’t really any words to describe Milford Sound other than amazing, epic and mind-blowing. You recognise the landscapes without a doubt, and you’ll want to keep your camera at hand – because the photo opportunities are endless.

 

Tips for having an amazing New Zealand Holiday

June 23, 2016

New Zealand is a country I LOVE – and it’s one of those planes I tell people time and time again that ‘they have to visit’. There’s nowhere quite like it. In the same way that New York is overwhelming and feels like a movie set – New Zealand does too. But instead of skyscrapers, there are mountains and lakes.

I didn’t believe how beautiful it would be until I went for myself – and then within minutes of touching down on Kiwi tarmac I was totally sold and utterly convinced it was the most beautiful place on earth.
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There’s so much to see in New Zealand, it’s hard to make a definitive list. We lived there for 6 months – and there are things I didn’t get to see or do. Saying that though, here’s a list of some incredible things you MUST see or do, to make sure your holiday is amazing.

Visit Queenstown

Please don’t visit NZ and miss out this beautiful town. It is breathtaking, stunning, beautiful, magnificent – I can’t think of enough words to describe the perfection of this place. Say close to the town centre, so you’re within walking distance of everything – and (if you can afford it) try and get a room with a view. Queenstown is such a visual place – don’t waste your time there with a view of a brick wall. There’s nothing quite like waking up to the view of mountains.

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Hire a car 

New Zealand is beautiful from the sky – but the best way to get around has to be by car. Hiring a car is so cheap (and really easy) so there’s no excuse not to have the ultimate road trip. We used Budget Car Hire when we were there. Last time we were there, we did some small road trips, but Pad and I are planning an epic NZ road trip for our honeymoon later this year, and I’m so excited. You really see parts of the countryside and landscapes by car that aren’t really accessible by any other method of transport. You notice beautiful little details, amazing vistas, cool little picnic spots – it’s the perfect way to explore.

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Don’t get hung-up on your jet lag

My next suggestion may not be everyone’s cup of tea – but I wanted to include it. When me and Pad landed in Auckland (after 30 hours of flights) we checked into the Sky City Casino Hotel. Now, this particular hotel was great for two reasons. One – it had the comfiest bed ever, and really good black out curtains, which meant you can sleep at any hour. Two – It had a casino and bar that was open round the clock, which meant that even if jet lag was keeping us up past 3am, we weren’t wasting time, and could still have some fun.

Be Spontaneous 

New Zealand isn’t the kind of place where you need to plan and plan and plan. The beauty of NZ is that you can spontaneous, and explore at your own pace. Of course, during peak times it’s always best to book accommodation ahead of time, but for day trips and excursions – it’s always best to just play it by ear. Especially as the weather in NZ can be so unpredictable. Don’t book yourself up too much, leave yourself with free time, so you can sign up to tours spontaneously, or last minute. It also means, if you fall in love with a place, you can stay there longer!

Save money for spending! 

New Zealand isn’t cheap – in fact it’s pretty expensive (food, drink, tours and excursions) – so make sure you’ve saved enough spending money. I know a lot of people who went to NZ thinking it’d be back-packer prices, and were unpleasantly surprised. The day trips, activities, and food make up some of the most fun bits of NZ, and some of the parts you’ll remember the most – so don’t let yourself miss out. Even if it means delaying your trip so you can save more for spending… you’ll be thankful for it.

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Don’t be scared of hostels! 

In parts of Europe and Asia, hostels have a really bad reputation. You hear horror stories of bed bugs and used sheets, and gross toilets. But in New Zealand, the majority of hostels are more like B&Bs, and are a really good standard. We always used Hostel World when booking ours – as they had reviews. I never once stopped in a ‘bad’ hostel in NZ, in fact some of the best places we stayed in were hostels and cost us next to nothing. The standard is definitely higher – so don’t be scared of booking a hostel bed if it’s all you can afford.

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Don’t forget suncream! 

One quick tip as my last tip! Don’t forget to wear suncream! The ozone layer is thinner (or something like that) in this part of the world – so you catch the sun so much quicker. Slather it on – burning isn’t any fun!

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Tips for visiting New Zealand’s iconic movie locations

June 2, 2016

We all know that big American cities like New York and Los Angeles have provided us with some seriously iconic movie locations. But the nation of New Zealand has also delivered some stunning scenery for some massive blockbusters in the past couple of decades.

New Zealand is actually one of my favourite place in the world – and somewhere I’m mega excited to visit again later this year! When Pad and I lived there we literally lived in one of the country’s most famous movie locations, but I thought it would be interesting to check out the best way of seeing some of these other epic vistas that have inspired the massive films.

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New Zealand has  definitely become a lot more recognisable thanks to the famous movie director Peter Jackson. The Wellington native used the wild terrain of the country to great effect in movies like King Kong and the Lord of the Rings series. And with a movie museum planned for Wellington, it’s evident that New Zealand is showing an increased appetite to display its cinematic legacy.

If you’re keen to check out the real-life locations of the Lord of the Rings movies, then where better to start than by heading to Matamata in the North Island to take a tour of Hobbiton.

Given the sheer scope of Tolkien’s Middle Earth, there’s no shortage of Lord of the Rings locations to visit, whether you want to stroll in Fangorn Forest on the South Island or prefer to see the site of the epic battle between the Rohan and an orc army in Mackenzie County.

We lived in Queenstown, which is actually where a lot of the case lived whilst filming, and the surrounding mountains were used a lot in shots and panoramas in the LOTR movies.

There are plenty of online resources that can help pinpoint these filming locations as many more tourists head to New Zealand thanks to the way that Lord of the Rings has become an endlessly appealing merchandising opportunity.

The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson has also had a hand in establishing the Weta Workshop that has pioneered many of the cutting-edge design aesthetics of many modern movies. This can be seen courtesy of a visit to the famous Weta Workshop museum that showcases how the Wellington company has managed to create eye-opening special effects for movies as far-ranging as Mad Max: Fury Road and Thunderbirds Are Go.

So as well as the far-reaching effects of Lord of the Rings reaching mobile casino sites, it looks like New Zealand’s cinematic influence will soon many more movies hitting our cinema screens soon.

 

What it’s like to be a New Zealand expat

December 19, 2014

New Zealand is one of the best places I’ve ever lived (and I’ve lived in a fair few places). When living in New Zealand, we lived in Queenstown – a town in the South Island mainly known for it’s mountains, lakes and um, tourists.

All I can say is, if you’re contemplating whether or not to make the move over to New Zealand, just do it. It’s one of the best decisions my partner and I ever made and it’s a country we miss every single day now we’re back living in London.

expat new zealand

But let me go into a little more depth… here’s what to expect when moving to New Zealand as an expat…

There are some good things, some bad things on this list – but for me it all balanced out. Queenstown is the most beautiful place I have EVER lived – and that was definitely worth paying a bit extra for my weekly shopping.

1. It’s safe (like no big deal to walk home at 2am, kinda safe) 

I can only speak for my own personal experiences here, but I never felt unsafe in Queenstown. Not once. Not ever. I like to think of myself as pretty street-smart (oh cringe!) so it does take a lot to spook me, and as a general rule I’m always on my guard. New Zealand is one of the only places that made me drop that guard, because I never felt at risk, I never felt threatened and I never felt intimidated.

expat new zealand

Now, I know the story may be different in some of the country’s cities – but I did visit most of New Zealand whilst living there, and this feeling of safety was a constant wherever we went. New Zealand is the kind of place I’d want to raise my children, because it’s somewhere I know they could grow up exploring, playing and having fun – without worrying about all the things I’d fret about in London or a UK city.

For me, Queenstown had that sense of community which ushers in a sense of safety too. It’s a lovely place to be 🙂

2. The people will welcome you with open arms

It didn’t matter who we met, whether they were locals, other New Zealand expats or tourists – everyone was just lovely and always welcoming. Our landlord in New Zealand remains the nicest landlord we’ve ever had, and it was a refreshing change to deal with a landlord who was a real genuine guy – and not a scary property shark with a contract.

3. It’s not just a new version of the UK (and don’t move there expecting it to be)

I think a lot of British people move to New Zealand in the hopes it will be a new and improved version of the UK. I didn’t find this to be true. I didn’t actually draw many comparisons between UK culture and New Zealand culture. This country has it’s own identity and it is it’s own entity.

Don’t move there if all you want is Manchester with mountains. Or London with lakes.

If anything I found the culture more similar to that of the USA. The streets are usually set out in blocks, the postal service is a bit like the US, and the traditions are more similar to the US than they are the UK. BUT even saying those things, NZ is completely its own. It has it’s own history, it’s story and that what makes it so magical and such a wonderful place to live. It’s not just Eastenders with an extra dash of Milford Sound.

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4. It’s more expensive than you expect (and I’m a Londoner who know about high prices!) 

Of all the amazing things, I have to say this – NZ is expensive and having been a New Zealand Expat, this was one of our hardest realisations. In London (and bear in mind – London is about as expensive as the UK gets) we would pay about £70 for a weekly shop for two people (this doesn’t include alcohol). In New Zealand a comfortable shop, with the same items, would cost us the equivalent of £120-£150.

This would go up big time if we wanted any luxuries like alcohol, etc.

expat new zealand

It is expensive – so make sure you’re ready for that! Why is it expensive? I think it’s because nearly everything is imported. Oh – and don’t even dream of buying anything off the ‘special imports’ shelves…. £10 for a bottle of Robinson’s Squash? No thanks!

Which brings me onto my next point…

5. THEY DON’T HAVE NORMAL SQUASH

During an average week in London I go through about 2 bottles of fruit squash. You know, the no added sugar, Robinson’s kinda goodness. In New Zealand (and this is random and weird) but they just don’t sell it (except from on the expensive import shelf). They don’t have any local / less expensive alternative.

They have this weird powered stuff, but it confused me and freaked me out a bit (“juice from powder?! I don’t understand!”) and they had sugar-loaded Ribena / syrup drinks – but no low-sugar cordial. Anyway, rant over.

6. Medical care might not always be accessible

During my time in NZ I was luck not to become seriously ill, or injured – except this one time when I nearly severed off my fingers whilst zip-lining. I was hastily rushed off to the ‘medical centre’ (basically a big doctors surgery) and told I had very nearly severed the tendon of my two fingers.

expat new zealand

The photo on the left was taken just seconds before the ‘incident’. Look how ignorant and happy I am…!

Luckily – I hadn’t. But if I had (and I came very close) I would have had to be helicoptered to the nearest hospital to get myself into surgery. THAT’S A LOT OF INSURANCE MONEY – or normal money if you don’t got no insurance. It was then I realised that we were quite literally living in the middle of nowhere, and should something serious happen, the medical care might not have been that easy to get hold of or access.

7. It’s remote. And a bit isolated. 

This kind of leads on from the previous point, but I’m talking on a larger scale. If you’re moving from the UK, NZ does feel very far away. It can be hard to get hold of family and friends (because you’re always either 11 or 12 hours apart). Basically the only times you can talk to home is early morning or late at night – which works fine, until you realise you like having lie-ins! 😉

Keep it in mind, that you may struggle at times with the time difference. It does make you feel a long way from home.

8. Internet is slower (I know you don’t think this is a big deal right now – but just wait until your buffering the next episode of Breaking Bad). 

The internet is slow. Saying that though, as we were leaving NZ, there were improvements being put in (our whole street was being dug up to make room for faster cables) so maybe it’s getting better. It is slow though.

HOWEVER you’ll have way better things to be doing than being on the internet anyway. You know, like climbing those mountains right outside your front door.

9. Rent is expensive 

I’m not sure how this fares around the rest of the New Zealand – but rent in Queenstown was a lot of money. I guess this is inline with the sheer demand there is on properties there though. We splashed out and lived somewhere incredible, because we’d saved so hard beforehand – but not everyone has that advantage. So remember to do your research before landing.

Also keep in mind it’s calculated by week (not per month – which is the norm in the UK).

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10. I forgot to put this above – but eating out is affordable (even is grocery shopping isn’t) 

Eating out in NZ is actually (surprisingly) affordable. More so than cooking at home at times. You have the cheap prices of the USA – but without the obligation to leave a 20% tip. We usually left between 10-15% tip but I think some people wouldn’t have even left that (we are self confessed generous tippers having both worked in hospitality when we were younger).

On a side note – Queenstown has some of the best restaurants EVER. It’s crazy that so many amazing food places exist in such a small town.

expat new zealand

expat new zealand

expat new zealand

11. There are so many amazing places to see and so many things to to do

New Zealand isn’t just mountains and lakes, there are beautiful beachesincredible coastlines and quirky, fun cities too. There are so many places to go and see – and I didn’t realise quite how varied the country was until I arrived there and started exploring. It really is a beautiful country. You could spend years exploring and still not scratch the surface.

expat new zealand

expat new zealand

expat new zealand

Are you a New Zealand expat? What things have you learnt about life there so far?

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

December 8, 2014

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?

Flying in an Air New Zealand ‘Space Seat’ (aka fancy flying on a budget)

November 6, 2014

I think it must be part of growing up, when you start seriously considering spending money on premium economy or business class seats. Because let’s face it, comfort is always worth the extra money if you can afford it!

During the summer, Pad and I visited the west coast of the USA, and for our way home we found some ridiculously cheap seats home, flying in Air New Zealand’s Space Seat… which is basically their super awesome version of premium economy.

air new zealand space seat review

air new zealand space seat review

air new zealand space seat review

air new zealand space seat review

I feel like ANZ are really onto a winner with these seats, and if you’re reading this blog post trying to figure out if the seats are worth the money… then trust me, they are.

The seats are way more spacious than economy, and you have much more privacy too. They’re almost set out in pods of two (which you can see in the top photo).

You also get a nice little (slightly more fancy than economy) vanity kit, with Clarins stuff in it (yay!)

air new zealand space seat review

air new zealand space seat review

Now onto the food… ACTUAL FOOD NOT CRAPPY MICROWAVE MEAL PLANE FOOD!

Whilst the food wasn’t amazingly brilliant, it was far more edible than normal plane food, and it came on real plates, with proper cutlery and generous portions. The pudding was especially nice, as was the fresh cranberry juice they kept refilling for me.

I will drink you dry of juice if you give me half the chance.

air new zealand space seat review

There was also a pasta dish as the main course, but for some weird reason, it’s in none of my photos. It was yummy though!

air new zealand space seat review

air new zealand space seat review

air new zealand space seat review

The really nice thing about the seats is how much room you have. Not just for sleeping and relaxing – but you have plenty of room to eat too. I always get frustrated in economy when you get served food, and you’re kinda stuck there for an hour until they clear it away. But in these seats it wasn’t an issue at all.

air new zealand space seat review

air new zealand space seat review

The cabin throughout the flight was quiet and well serviced by the cabin crew too. There was lots of space for stretching your legs and having a wander around too. You can see below just how much space each seat has, the formation has the chairs set up in pairs.

air new zealand space seat review

On their website, they recommend couples taking the middle seats (because you can turn it into a strange lounge-style thing – photos below) but I actually don’t think that would be very comfortable, and would much prefer the side seats, which luckily are the ones we had.

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Below are the side seats, which I think feels a little more private, as they don’t face out into the aisle – instead the face inwards towards the windows.

About the recline… 

From looking at the seats it doesn’t look as though they recline, and it was one worry I had before booking the seats. They do recline though – just not in the convention sense.

Instead of reclining back, the seats slide down and sink inwards, so you get a considerable amount more recline than in economy, and it is very comfy.

Just be careful with the gap it creates between the pod and the seat itself when you recline it – because I dropped my phone down there and had to wait until we’d landed and everyone was off the plane to get it back! Oops!

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air new zealand space seat review

Inflight entertainment was good (as you’d expect!) – I must admit ANZ are one of my favourite airlines, and I think their inflight stuff is one of the best out there. Lots of movies, but lots of TV shows and box sets too.

So that’s it! Let me know if you have any more questions about the Space Seat, I’ll try to answer them! 🙂

Exploring Christchurch – New Zealand

August 18, 2013

Our last couple of days in New Zealand were spent in Christchurch, as that’s where our flight to Australia left from. There’s quite a lot I want to say about Christchurch, and I meant to write this post a few months ago, put had trouble fitting it all in. So here goes again.

I had never visited Christchurch before the earthquake 2 years ago, so I had no prior expectations for this city. Pad had visited a few years ago though and had seen the city at it’s best – before the earthquake had hit it. He had told me of this gorgeous little city, with a river running through it and old English-Style colonial buildings, and a great cafe-culture. We had both talked about whether we would go there during our time in NZ, as Pad was worried seeing it after the damage would be a bit sad, seen as he’d seen the city beforehand and loved it so much. But as our friend Hannah lives there – who we really wanted to visit – Christchurch became somewhere we did indeed finally get round to seeing.

Like I said, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew the earthquake had been a big one – but I’ve never visited somewhere after a natural disaster, so I wasn’t sure what the city would be like and what kind of state it would be in. Pad had painted this picture of this gorgeous little city – so in a way I was expecting some reflection of that. Maybe there would be a few buildings knocked down, maybe some parts of town would still be in recovery – but I expected some essence of the original city to still be there.

I was wrong.

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From what I can tell, and from Pad’s reaction as we looked around the city, the entire city has completely changed. I personally couldn’t believe the state of repair the city was still in and how restricted our access to it was. There are parts of the city completely blocked off to the public, I think they were referred to as red zones – where there was still extreme danger.

Buildings were abandoned left right and centre, with entire streets just closed off, empty and left behind. It was upsetting to tell the truth – even for me, someone who has personal connection to the city. I can’t image how difficult it must be for those who have grown up in Christchurch, to see this beautiful city they loved fall down to ruins.

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However the city is undergoing restoration – however slow it may be – and there are parts of the city that are now re-open to the public and provide some uplifting relief from the damage. The pop-up container mall is an example of this, and the bright colours and quirky nature of this, really make it something special. We actually sat down whilst here and got talking to a local security guard who said how much he still adores Christchurch, despite all the damage and loss of business. His optimism was really inspiring, as was Hannah’s – our friend who we stayed with. Instead of dwelling on what’s been lost, it seems the city is excited for what they can now become. Which is refreshing.

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But it’s not just the city centre that was affected by the earthquake, the suburbs of the city were affected too. Hannah drove us around the local beaches nearby, all of which were absolutely stunning – but many of the surrounding houses and towns empty and abandoned. The beautiful houses below positioned in a prime location above the beach, might look perfect from the outside – but most of them are now empty as they are unsafe to live in.

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My favourite part of visiting Christchurch was actually getting out of the city and seeing all the beaches and beautiful views that New Zealand is so famous for, because it really didn’t disappoint. But saying that, I can’t wait to visit the city again in 20 years time and see just how much it has changed and how much it has grown. It’ll no doubt be a long recovery process but the city will be even more amazing once it’s done, Christchurch was clearly a great place to live before the earthquake – so they’re building on strong foundations and I imagine the city will be even more beautiful once it’s all finished once more.

Now for a few uplifting photos… Here is what you can find just a 20 minute drive from the city. Pretty gorgeous, I think you’ll agree!

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Summer road-tripping in New Zealand

February 9, 2013

New Zealand is STUNNING in the summertime. So we’ve been making the most of it. I love the south island and it’s epic landscapes, and beautiful mountains so any excuse to get out and explore them sounds good to me. I would advise anyone wanting to explore the south island (especially Otago and the Queenstown area) to rent a car – even if it’s just for a day or two. You can see so much in the car, and you often stumble across hidden gems that you’d never have seen if you’d been in a coach or airplane.

Anyway here are some photos!

These (above) were taken near Pisa Mountain, on the drive from Queenstown to Wanaka. The view from up there is beautiful, you can see the valley stretch right in front of you all the way to Lake Wakatipu. If you’re cruising along the mountain roads, it’s pretty easy to stop off at little view points like these, and it’s definitely worth getting out for a view like this!

We also stopped off in the tiny town of Arrow Town, which was originally a gold miners settlement – in the gold rush that populated the Otago area around 150 years ago. To be honest, there isn’t much there, but it’s worth a coffee and an ice-cream and a quick walk around. It actually reminded me of a little western cowboy town you might see in an old movie, it felt a little out of place so close to Queenstown!

We then ventured over to Wanaka – somewhere which (before we’d visited) we heard many times likened to Queenstown. In all honesty, I don’t really see the similarity, sure they both have big lakes and mountain views – but the atmosphere and vibe of the two places are hugely different. I don’t know if it’s my overwhelming love of Queenstown that makes me biast – but I don’t think Wanaka compares to Queenstown in the slightest. If you were weighing the two up against each other unsure of which to stay in – I’d go for Queenstown every time. Queenstown is magical.

The weird photos above were taken at Puzzling World in Wanaka. It’s about (NZ) $18 per person to enter, and it’s a fun way to spend the afternoon. In particular there is this balance room (pictured above) where you literally just find it impossible to balance or walk around. Pad and I both nearly feel head over toes multiple times. It’ll completely mess with your mind! At one point, Pad and I were near the exit, and this Chinese tourist entered at the top, poked his head round the wall, and just said “help me” and all three of us burst out laughing. It’s definitely an experience, and unlike any room you’ve ever been in before.

The rest of the photos were taken around Queenstown at various points from the last two weeks. Queenstown is surprisingly big, and we’ve really tried to explore as much of it as possible recently. One of our favourite spots is Kelvin Heights, on the small beaches near the golf course. You feel a million world’s away from the bustling town centre, and yet it’s pretty easy to get to. Don’t bother going by taxi or bus though (that’ll take 25+ minutes, as it’s right around the lake) instead, go in the water taxi.

 This one was taken from the beach in Kelvin heights. I think it’s one of my favourite photos so far, because it just sums up how gorgeous the place is completely. Pad and I actually walk right across the the hill you can see in the background (and further) with very little water on a very hot day. After I got the the brink of dehydration we gave up, and headed to the road to catch the bus home! It’s a much longer walk than it looks, especially in 30 degree heat!

And of course, no summer in New Zealand would be complete without a boat trip…. So we went on one.

And last but not least, some more random but lovely photos I took… The sunset ones from our balcony might be my favourite, I think I’ll get them framed when we’re back in London. Even now as I’m typing there is a stunning sunset outside, so much so you feel bad for watching TV – because the view outside almost rivals it for entertainment. I’ve never known anywhere to be so vivid at sunset than here.

10 Things I’ve Learnt About New Zealand

October 14, 2012

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.

 

7 Quirky Accommodations Around the World (that you need to see to believe!)

February 24, 2021

If you like finding accomodation that’s a bit different and appeals to the quirkiest of us… then this list of the ultimate quirky destinations around the world will give you lots of ideas!

While many accommodations around the world are instantly forgettable (I’m looking at you Travelodge!), others are so quirky and unique that a stay will always be remembered.

I always love stopping in a quirky accommodation or hotel… it just adds something to the trip – and gives you that extra bit of specialness and those extra memories to hold onto. When I look for hotels or accommodation, I usually look for the quirkier options or the boutique choices, because I love exploring places with unique features and designs.

Here are some of the quirkiest I’ve found…


Book and Bed Hostel

Bibliophiles will surely want to spend a night at the charming Book and Bed Hostel in Tokyo, Japan, where you get to sleep in snug cubbies hidden behind bookshelves.

Accommodation-wise, you won’t find much more than a simple mattress and reading light, but you can select a tome from thousands of books, in both Japanese and English, to take to bed with you. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to spend a night in a cosy library with other book lovers, the Book and Bed hostel is for you.


Free Spirit Spheres

Set in the dense forests on Vancouver Island, Canada, you will come across handcrafted spheres aloft in the trees, made from Sitka Spruce, cedar, and fibreglass. The spherical treehouses look like something from another world. Inside, the circular pods are cosy and comfy, and they easily accommodate a luxury double bed and all the amenities you could want.

The spheres are located on the east coast of Vancouver Island, where you can visit nearby attractions like Parksville Beach and Lighthouse Country Regional Trail. And if you’re stuck for things to do in the evening time, you can always play live casino games like roulette or blackjack on your phone, from the comfort of your very own spherical treehouse.


The Palacio de Sal

One of the most incredible places on the planet is the salt flats of Uyuni in Bolivia, South America. The white expanse stretches as far as the eye can see, and around the site, you will find red waters, geysers, and volcanos.

As if that wasn’t awesome enough, you can spend a night on the salt flats at the Palacio de Sal, the world’s first hotel made entirely from salt. Even the furniture is made out of salt!

Hotel Costa Verde

At the Hotel Costa Verde in the heart of Costa Rica’s Manuel Antonio National Park, you can stay at a suite inside a refurbished Boeing 727. The plane is perched on a 50-foot pedestal and juts out of the jungle canopy to make it feel as though you are flying, and giving unparalleled views across the beautiful rainforest and scenic ocean.

If you get the opportunity, you should most definitely spend a night here. I mean, why wouldn’t you want to stay in a converted Boeing 727 in the middle of the jungle?

The Dog Bark Park Inn

Located in Cottonwood, Idaho, USA, this quirky accommodation is unlike any other in the world. It’s a giant beagle. At this unique bed and breakfast, you get access to the entire humungous dog, which contains one bathroom and two bedrooms.

The smaller bedroom is situated in the beagle’s nose. Known affectionately by locals as Sweet Willy, the massive beagle is accompanied by a smaller, but also very big, puppy sidekick called Toby. For a truly unique and, let’s be honest, rather odd accommodation, there’s no beating the Dog Bark Park Inn.

The Hobbit Motel at Woodlyn Park

With circular doors and windows and a charming wooden interior, the homely Hobbit Motel in Waitomo, New Zealand, is a must-visit accommodation for any Tolkien enthusiasts. Situated in the country where The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies were filmed, this motel looks uncannily like the home of Bilbo Baggins.

It’s two minutes away from the extensive Waitomo Caves, where you can see thousands of glow worms light up the darkness, and only two hours away from Auckland. If you’ve always wanted to know what it’s like to live in the charming setting of a Hobbit hole, The Hobbit Motel lets you do exactly that.


The Treehouse Hotel in London

The Treehouse Hotel in London is one of my personal favourites for quirky hotels around the world. From the outside, the hotel is pretty ordinary… but inside, this hotel has some really unique and quirky room features. It’s located right in the heart of London, near Oxford Street, SoHo and all the good stuff!

My favourite part of the rooms? It’s got to be the stunning little treehouse window lookout seat in some of the rooms. I spent hours just sitting there and enjoying those gorgeous city views.


Funding the travel dream

August 13, 2020

Are you planning your dream adventure? If so, you’re probably looking for ideas on how to fund your travelling dream.

Hopefully this blog post will help! Travelling is such an amazing expeirence, and it’s the thing I love the most.

Getting away for the summer… It’s something we all aspire to. Getting away for the winter, spring, and autumn is likewise something we’d all hop on board with if we can. Travelling appeals to people for different reasons…

For some people it’s the allure and aroma of the foods on offer. For others it’s the culture. Some people just like warmer weather. Or colder weather. Or the same weather but up a Canadian mountain or deep in a French valley. Whatever it is that draws you back to the need to go and see and do and explore… it isn’t free, and it can take a long time to reach a dream of spending time travelling long term.

Today I’m going to look at savings options to help fund the travel dream, because there’s nothing worse than wanting to be on a plane and not having the bank balance to make it happen.


Save smart

Long term savings options can help, of course. You could take out an ISA from Wealthify, for example, giving you a year round savings option. However you choose to plan your money, saving it in a smart way can help so much. Smart saving is also about the tracking and monitoring of your money and funds, so you know exactly what’s going in and when.


Going, going, gone

Even if your levels of hoarding are not worthy of small screen success, there’s most likely treasure to be found in amongst your loosely stacked and cupboard-stuffed possessions.

Look around your home for things you don’t use anymore, or haven’t used in months (maybe even years).

Before I went travelling, I sold my clothes, my bike, and old phones I had sat in my bedroom drawers. I was surprised at how much money I could make selling things I no longer used or had use for – so I think you’ll probably be surprised too.

Be ruthless with it, and if you haven’t used it in 3+ months, then it’s on the selling pile. What’s next… Ah, yes – take a deep breath – gaming consoles, DVDs, musical instruments, sporting equipment, living room furniture, household appliances, board games, kids’ toys, old clothes, garden sprinklers and parasols, wardrobes, chests of drawers, and any unopened and unwanted gifts from years gone by. Sell, sell, sell.   

Top tip! Sell on Facebook marketplace! It’s easy, simple and free!


Side hustle  

Side hustles don’t have to be extravagant. Simple things like starting a laundry service for neighbours or taking a part time delivery job or mowing lawns and trimming hedges. It pays.

It’s easy work and you get to hit your savings targets and then quit. You’ll be giving up evenings and weekends, of course, but it’ll be worth it in the end when you’re standing in the airport thinking “Here we go!”. 


Give up those ‘little luxuries’

Obviously, you don’t want to give up your entire social life whilst you save up for your travels, but giving up little luxuries will really help the savings total up.

When it comes to takeaways, or coffees, or Uber trips – opt out, or get public transport, or cook at home. Little things like that can start adding up to more than £100-£200 a month!

And make sure you put that money straight into savings!


Work remotely (while you travel)

If working remotely is a possibility, then start looking at transitioning to this different kind of working. If you can work remotely, or even get some income remotely then you can keep saving and keep earning whilst you travel.

Or… Apply for a working visa (countries like Australia and New Zealand offer these) so you can work as you travel and explore!


International Travel Opportunities for College Students

June 4, 2020

Are you a college student longing to travel overseas but wondering how you can afford it?

The truth is that international travel is not as costly as many people imagine, but if you’re struggling to pay your tuition and other expenses, even that might seem out of reach.

Travelling internationally is one of the most fun, beneficial and best things I’ve ever done. It gave me so much life experience, amazing memories and lifetime friends.

If you’re worried about budget though, in fact, there are a lot of student discounts and opportunities for international travel at this point in your life. Travel might never again be as accessible for you as it is right now.

Study Abroad

Whether you choose to go through a program at your university or enroll in a foreign university of your own accord, a few weeks or a whole year of study abroad can be a great way to broaden your horizons, become fluent in a language and increase your independence. Start with a visit to your school’s study abroad office to find out what the possibilities are.

Your university might have a program in which you travel with students and professors from your school to a foreign one for several weeks, or there may be exchange programs in place with other universities that allow you to transfer credits.

Consider Student Loans

Many people may not realize that you might be able to use student loans to pay for study abroad. Your school may have an agreement with a foreign university that allows you to pay your regular tuition.

Even if this is not the case, tuition overseas might be cheaper than what you are paying at home. If you have not already taken out student loans, you might consider looking at what is available to you. You may be able to get private loans if you are ineligible for federal ones. While it is important to avoid accumulating too much debt, overseas experience can represent a significant investment in your future.

Work Abroad

If you are a student or just under a certain age, several countries offer temporary work abroad opportunities for Americans, including Ireland, New Zealand and South Korea. This can be an excellent opportunity to really get to know the country in a way the tourists do, not by working alongside the people who live there. You can also start your travels in this way, saving up money to hit the road after your work experience.

Backpacking

Students backpacking around the world or just Europe is a decades old tradition, and there’s no reason why you can’t combine this route with some of the above or just take off on your own.

From transportation to accommodations to museums and more, there are many student discounts that significantly reduce your costs. If you stick to hostels, where you’ll stay in a room with other young people, in some locations, you can pay as little as $10 per night or less.

Language Learning

Some programs focus specifically on intensive language study. If you want a structured environment in which to become more fluent in a particular language, there are programs ranging from a couple of weeks to months and offering accommodations from apartments to homestays. Even though these are often private programs, you might be able to get college credit. Talk to your school to find out.

The Onsen Hot Pools, Queenstown – Photos and review

April 20, 2020

If you’re visiting Queenstown in New Zealand, and you’re looking for something relaxing to do – the Onsen Hot Pools are perhaps one of the best options.


The Onsen Hot Pools are an absolutely stunning spa facility, located high in the mountains, overlooking a valley, rolling hills and beautiful scenery. As part of the experience, you get to sit in your own private room, with an authentic (and spacious!) hot pool to soak in, whilst enjoying all those incredible views. It really is magical, and something I had never experienced before. There are lots of things to do in Queenstown, but this has to be one of the best.

 

We made our booking for the evening (so we could be there for sunset) which sound like a super romantic option – and I wanted to make sure it was special as it was Pad’s birthday (my husband). The Onsen Hot Pools 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. Queenstown is known for being a bit of an adventure and adrenaline destination – and this is the perfect way to switch off from that and relax during your time there.

Onsen Hot Pools Queenstown


Where are the Onsen Hot Pools located?


The Onsen Hot 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. They also do a free shuttle from the town centre (when booked ahead) so if budget is an issue (or you don’t want to rent a car) then that’s worth knowing too!

You can see the Onsen Hot Pools where the red drop-point is on the map below. Queenstown is located just south, by the lake at the bottom of the map.

The drive over is a really easy one – so a normal rental car would be absolutely fine!

onsen hot pools queenstown


What is the Onsen Hot Pools experience like?


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. Meaning you can have the hot pool enclosed or open to the fresh air. I love that you can choose – it makes the experience even more personalised and perfect. They’re open from 9am to 11pm every day, so plenty of opportunity for relaxation!

The Onsen Hot Pools are 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 – the Onsen Hot Pools are completely private and that makes it all the more special. 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 below). By the time we left the Onsen Hot Pools it 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).

I was very happy – as you can see below! 

Onsen Hot Pools Queenstown

Onsen Hot Pools Queenstown

queenstown onsen hot pools


What time should you visit the Onsen Hot Pools?


As you can see, as the lights go down, it becomes another world. So much more romantic and special and something really magical. I guess the time of day you visit depends on what you’re after, whether you’re going for the experience alone, or whether you want to enjoy the views, etc.

I don’t know which I preferred if I’m being honest – I loved having the mountain view during the lighter hours, and I loved having the candles and stars during the darker hours. It’s hard to choose, they were both incredible.

If you’d like to experience both, 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.

Onsen Hot Pools Queenstown night time

Onsen Hot Pools Queenstown night time


What do the Onsen Hot Pools cost?


The price varies depending on the package you opt for, whether you have spa treatments, and also what time you visit (the sunset and evening packages are slightly more expensive).

The image below is one of the cheapest packages called “original onsen” and it was taken from their website in December 2019. The basic onsen package includes an hour in the hot pool, an aromatherapy burner, towels, a complimentary glass of the regions finest wine, beer or juice and a choice of ice cream, crisps or chocolate. You can see all their packages here.

The package go up in price from here, as the time increases or they include different add ons such as spa treatments and massages.

Onsen hot pools prices


How can I book The Onsen Hot Pools?


First off, I recommend booking in advance. If you know the dates you plan on being in Queenstown, book the Onsen hot pools a couple of months ahead of time. This place is hugely popular with visitors in Queenstown (I mean, why wouldn’t it be? it’s incredible!) so making sure you’ve got a slot is key! We tried booking 2 weeks ahead once during January, and there was absolutely nothing available!

Trust me you wouldn’t want to miss out on the Onsen Hot Pools – so make sure you book as early as possible.

You can book on their website (click here).

Phone: +64 3 442 5707

Email: INFO@ONSEN.CO.NZ

onsen hot pools new zealand


I hope this review and post about the Onsen Hot Pools is useful! It’s such an incredible day out, I hope you get to experience it.

8 amazing and warm places to travel in December

February 10, 2020

Are you looking for the best warm places to travel in December?


December is always my favourite time to travel. I love that most people are off work, the work emails stop, and you can really take proper ‘time off’. For a lot of the world, December is one of the coldest months of the year, but there are warm places to travel in December – don’t despair!

Visiting somewhere warm in December is great because it really breaks up the winter, and gives you a little relief from the elements! Here are my favourite warm places to travel in December….


Dubai


First on my list of warm places to travel in December… It’s Dubai!

Dubai is one of the classic ‘winter sun’ destinations, and it’s a great choice for December or January sunshine. The weather is pretty consistent in December, you’ll get temperatures of around 26 degrees celsius (or 78 degrees Fahrenheit). It’s lovely weather for walking around, sitting by the swimming pools, dining al fresco! It’s the perfect temperature for enjoying the city, and exploring everything it has to offer.

warm places to travel in December travel


Australia


Next on my list of warm places to travel in December, it’s Australia!

December and January is summertime in Australia, so you’ll get gorgeous weather at that time of year. If you plan on visiting Australia in December, Sydney is a pretty amazing destination to fly into. You could visit the many amazing local beaches along the Sydney coast, and then ring in the new year overlooking the Opera House. There is so much to do in Sydney and surrounds, that you could easily spends weeks here exploring! The temperature in Sydney will be around 25 degrees celsius (or 77 degrees Fahrenheit).

best warm places to travel in December


New Zealand


Next on my list of warm places to travel in December, my favourite location in the world… New Zealand!

New Zealand is amazing in December, in fact, it’s the perfect time to visit. Summertime is just beginning in December in New Zealand so the weather is mild, sunny, and generally pretty enjoyable. It’s t-shirt weather, and you’ll be able to do lots of outdoor activities safely without worrying about the weather (things like kayaking, hiking, etc). Bear in mind, the North Island of NZ is always a bit warmer and more ‘tropical’ than the South Island (but both islands experience good weather in December!).

warm places to travel in December


Singapore


Let’s put it this way, Singapore is ALWAYS warm, and December is no different. Singapore had to make my list of warm places to travel in December because it’s such a fun and exciting city. Singapore has an all year tropical climate, with the average temperature in December being around 31 degrees celsius (or 87/89 degrees Fahrenheit). It’ll be hot, humid and (most definitely) warm! There will be rainfall in December (it’s a tropical city so storms can happen anytime) so bear this in mind when packing your suitcase!

warm places to travel in December


Mexico


Mexico is a classic winter sun destination, and it’s a perfect vacation destination if you want beautiful sandy beaches and reliable weather. There are loads of different beach resorts you could opt for in Mexico, from cute rustic beach cabanas, to five star all-inclusive beach resorts. The temperature in Mexico will be around 27 degrees celsius (or 79 degrees Fahrenheit).

warm places to travel in December.


Florida


Next on my list of warm places to travel in December, is Florida.

Florida is a great locations for couples, solo-travellers and families… and it’s also one of the main winter-sun states in the USA. It’s a firm favourite amongst US locals, and international visitors too, probably because there’s SO MUCH to do here. There’s loads to do in Florida, from the classic theme parks like Disney and Universal Studios… to the national nature reserves like the Everglades. The temperature in Florida will be around 20 degrees celsius (or 72 degrees Fahrenheit) so you’ll be fine in a t-shirt, but might need an extra layer in the evening when the temperature drops.

warm places to travel in December.


Colombia


It’s generally agreed that one of the best times of year to visit Colombia is December and January. The weather at this time of year is warm and mild (around 23 degrees celsius, or 75 degrees Fahrenheit). There are some beautiful cities in Colombia, as well as gorgeous scenic reserves and one-of-a-kind beaches too. One of the wonderful things about Colombia is that it stills feels relatively off-grid and un-touristy.

Colombia warm places to go in december


Cape Town


Last up on my list of warm places to travel in December, is Cape Town in South Africa. Cape Town is one of the most bustling and exciting cities in Africa, and it’s such an amazing location for all kinds of activities. You can hike, shop, swim, surf, skydive… the list is endless! You can also do amazing bucket-list items like cage diving with sharks in Cape Town, which makes it a must-visit city for sure!

Colombia warm places to go in december


I hope this list of warm places to travel in December has been useful! These destinations are all so much fun and such great vacation destinations! Have a great trip!

5 of the Best Swimming Spots in Queenstown

January 26, 2020

If you’re visiting Queenstown in summer, you might want to find the best swimming spots in Queenstown and enjoy a dip in the lake! Lake Wakatipu is completely safe to swim in – and incredible clean too!

swimming spots in Queenstown the best areas


I do have a couple of tips though, before we get onto the best swimming spots in Queenstown…

Tip 1: The lake is cold! It’s the South Island and it’s a glacial lake – so make sure you have some dry towels to wrap yourself up in once you get out of the lake.

Tip 2: Find some swimming shoes. The lake in Queenstown is quite ‘stoney’ or gravely on the surface (it’s not smooth like sand) so you might want to wear something on your feet for when you’re walking in or out. Some cheap swimming shoes would work perfectly.

Tip 3: Wear suncream! The sun is so much more powerful in New Zealand, and it’s so much easier to burn. So if your in a bathing suit, be sure to wear strong suncream.


Now, onto the best swimming spots in Queenstown!


Queenstown swimming spot 1: Queenstown Beach

Yes, Queenstown might be a lake, but it has a beach! The beach is located right off the town centre, before you reach Queenstown Gardens. On a sunny day it’s a really popular swimming spot in Queenstown – as it’s close to nearby cafes and shops and there are public toilets too. The beach is a gorgeous place to take a swim in Queenstown, and it’s super easy to find and get to!


Queenstown swimming spot 2: Wakatipu Yacht Club (Kelvin Heights)

This little swimming spot in Queenstown is one of the most blissful in the town. It’s located on the otherwise of the Kelvin Heights Peninsula, and whilst it is possible to drive there, it’s much easier to get a water taxi from the town centre. The water taxi will drop you off on one of the jettys (pictured below!) right by the yacht club and then you can let them know a time when you’d like to be picked up again. It only costs a few dollars – and you basically get a whole beach to yourself.

swimming spots in Queenstown


Queenstown swimming spot 3: Kelvin Beach

Next on my list of the best swimming spots in Queenstown, Kelvin Beach is located about a 5 minute walk from the yacht club (above). The main difference is that you can swim off the beach, rather than jumping off the jetty. You’ll want to get the water taxi here as well (just get dropped off at the Wakatipu yacht club and walk the short distance to the beach). It also has an amazing view of The Remarkables (which I love).

Tip! There aren’t any shops or cafes at this side of the peninsula (it’s not as busy as the town centre) so if you want food and drinks, definitely take a picnic with you! 

swimming spots in Queenstown


Queenstown swimming spot 4: Closeburn Beach

Closeburn Beach is located a little way out of Queenstown (it’s a stop-off on the drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy). It’s about a 10 minute drive out of town, but if you’re after a private swimming spots in Queenstown, on a stunning beach – then this is it! There are even picnic benches and toilets too!

swimming spots in Queenstown 2020


Queenstown swimming spot 5: Along the Frankton Arm Walk

Last on my list of the best swimming spots in Queenstown… If you follow the Frankton Arm Walk (or Queenstown Trail) from Queenstown towards Frankton, you’ll find loads of perfect spots for swimming. There are lots of jettys scattered along the walk, which you could take a dip from!

swimming spots in Queenstown..


I hope this list of the best swimming spots in Queenstown has been useful! Enjoy your trip to Queenstown, it’s the most beautiful place, and you’ll love it!

If you’re taking a vacation in Queenstown, these other blog posts I’ve written might be helpful!

Driving from Queenstown to Glenorchy – everything you need to know. 

Everything you need to know about the Queenstown Luge. 

How to find ‘That Wanaka Tree’ in Wanaka, New Zealand.

What is the best way to see and experience Milford Sound?

10 things to do in Queenstown When Pregnant

January 20, 2020

Queenstown is an amazing destination, and it’s such a beautiful place to visit. However, if you’re pregnant you might be wondering what there is for you to enjoy – especially given that a lot of the activities in this beautiful town are adventure-themed or adrenaline-focussed.

I hope this list of things to do in Queenstown when pregnant will help you out, and give you lots of amazing activities to fill your time.


Things to do in Queenstown When Pregnant…


Let’s get started on my list of things to do in Queenstown when pregnant!

Idea 1: The Earnslaw boat cruise

The Earnslaw boat is a perfect option for things to do in Queenstown when pregnant. This relaxing boat cruise takes you all the way along Lake Wakatipu, and you’ll get to enjoy the most beautiful views from the boat decks. There are toilets to hand (that’s important!) and there are also plenty of places to sit too.

There’s also a cafe on board, if you need a snack or feel a little low-energy. Tickets are best booked ahead (especially during peak times) and you can book tickets online by clicking here.

Things to do in Queenstown When Pregnant 3


Idea 2: Visit Milford Sound

There are loads of amazing day trips from Queenstown that take you into the heart of Milford Sound, one of the most beautiful destinations in New Zealand. Milford Sound is where a lot of Lord of the Rings was filmed – and it’s absolutely breathtaking!

the best way to see Milford Sound

A coach tour is perfectly suitable for you if you’re pregnant, and most of the coach tours will also include a boat cruise in Milford Sound too (again, perfectly suitable for pregnant ladies).

It’s a lovely relaxing day trip, and you’ll get to see so many stunning areas of New Zealand during the trip. There are toilets on the buses, and the buses make regular toilets stops on the way too! Here are some tours I recommend…


Idea 3: The Skyline Gondola

Next on my list of things to do in Queenstown when pregnant… The Skyline Gondola is a cable car that takes you up to the top of Bob’s Peak. This is one of the best places in Queenstown to enjoy magical views of the town, and the cable car takes you up into the Skyline resort complex where you’ll find a restaurant, a viewing deck, a cafe and the Queenstown Luge.

The luge won’t be suitable for you if you’re heavily pregnant, but it’s worth visiting for lunch or dinner in the restaurant and also to enjoy the views from the viewing deck. They also do star gazing in the evenings, which is a gorgeously romantic activity!

You can book tickets to the Gondola by clicking here, or you can book for lunch and the Gondola (as a combo) by clicking here.

Things to do in Queenstown When you are Pregnant


Idea 4: Onsen Hot Pools

The Onsen Hot Pools are one of the most luxurious (but surprisingly affordable!) things you can do in Queenstown. Each hot pool has it’s own private suit, so it’s completely private – and each one looks out onto the beautiful views of mountains below. It’s honestly magical, very romantic, and unmissable. Don’t worry, the hot pools aren’t jacuzzis or hot-tubs – so there aren’t any bubbles (which means it’s pregnancy friendly).

For me, this is one of the best things to do in Queenstown when pregnant (or not!). You do need to book ahead though, this place gets busy and books up fast.

Things to do in Queenstown When Pregnant onsen


Idea 5: Rent a car and do the Glenorchy road trip

Next on my list of things to do in Queenstown when pregnant… A road trip!

Car rental is really easy in Queenstown (there are loads of places in town) and it’s also pretty affordable too. Renting a nice car for the day will cost you about $60-$80 (NZ dollars) and you can head off and explore the area at your own pace.

I really recommend doing the Queenstown to Glenorchy drive – it’s been voted one of the most scenic drives in the whole world – and I’d have to agree! It’s not a super long drive (about an hour) and there are plenty of places to stop off and explore along the way.

10 Things to do in Queenstown When Pregnant


Idea 6: Relax on the beach

Queenstown might be better known for all the adventure activities, but don’t underestimate how many scenic and relaxing places there are in the town too! On a sunny day, there’s nothing nicer than sitting on the beach front and just watching the world go by.

You can get comfy, grab a decaf coffee, and just take the day as it comes. Some of the best things to do in Queenstown when pregnant aren’t necessarily day trips or tours, it’s just relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere.

Things to do in Queenstown When Pregnant 2


Idea 7: Take a stroll through Queenstown gardens

Queenstown Gardens are located a 2 minute walk from the beachfront, and it’s a gorgeous way to spend an afternoon. The gardens are beautifully maintained, and have some of the most stunning views of the Remarkables and the town centre too.

You can even play Frisbee Golf in the Gardens if you’re feeling a little more adventurous! The walking tracks that go through and around the gardens are pretty much flat, so it’s an easy walk, and there are toilets in the park too.

Things to do in Queenstown When Pregnant


Idea 8: Drive to Arrowtown

Next up on my list of things to do in Queenstown when pregnant, Arrowtown is a beautiful little town about 15 minutes from Queenstown and nestled in the mountains. It’s a lovely day out, and if you drive yourself (or if your partner drives) you can stop off a few different scenic spots along the route too.

There’s not a whole lot in Arrowtown (it’s nowhere near as big as Queenstown) but it’s a really beautiful sleepy village, with lovely shops and cafes to enjoy. It reminds me of a cowboy town from an old western film!

Things to do in Queenstown When Pregnant 4


Idea 9: Eat a fergburger!

If pregnancy means eating for two…, then you get to try to burgers right?! Fergburger is the most famous burger in New Zealand, and it’s delicious. There are loads of choices on the menu, and I can basically guarantee it’ll be one of the best things you’ve ever eaten. Top tip! The queue outside can get pretty long, but if you call them up ahead of time to place your order, you don’t need to queue up when you arrive. You just go straight to the front to collect.

Things to do in Queenstown When Pregnant 2020


10. Go shopping

Finally on my list of things to do in Queenstown when pregnant… Shopping! There are actually lots of shops in Queenstown, from clothing stores, to food stores, to souvenir stores. So actually, browsing the shops makes for a really lovely afternoon. You could break it up with a decaf coffee at one of the many coffee shops, or even a scoop of the famous Patagonia ice-cream.

Queenstown things to do when pregnant


I hope you’ve found this list of things to do in Queenstown when pregnant really useful! If there’s anything you’ve been looking at that isn’t on this list, and you’re unsure if it’s suitable – the best thing to do is ask. Give the company an email and get their advice – they’ve probably been asked many time before!

Mainly though, just enjoy your time in Queenstown. It’s one of the most beautiful places in the world (hand down) and you don’t need to bungee jump or skydive to appreciate it!

What is the best way to see Milford Sound?

January 19, 2020

Have you been wondering what the best way to see Milford Sound is?

the best way to see Milford Sound

If you’re visiting New Zealand, one of the places you definitely won’t want to miss is Milford Sound. Milford Sound is one of the most stunning areas of natural beauty in New Zealand, so you’ll definitely want to find the best way to see Milford Sound for you. The area was made even more famous by the Lord of the Rings films (lots of scenes were shot in Milford Sound) so it really is an unmissable location in New Zealand.

There are lots of ways to see Milford Sound, depending on how you’re exploring New Zealand and what your budget is. In this post I’ll go through the best way to see Milford Sound and explore the different options open to you!


Option 1: Bus and Boat tour

First up on my list of the best way to see Milford Sound… This is the classic option that most people visiting New Zealand will opt for. There are bus & boat tours that leave from a few different towns surrounding Milford Sound, so if you’re using Queenstown, Wanaka or Te Anau as a base, you’ll definitely be able to get a bus and boat tour to Milford Sound from there.

the best way to see Milford Sound

The tours are a full day, usually departing at 7am and arriving back at 5-7pm. You’ll head to Milford Sound in a coach, making a few scenic stops along the way, and when you arrive at Milford Sound you’ll board a boat for your cruise in the sound. It’s a long day, but it’s so worth it for those amazing views!

The tours I recommend from Queenstown and Te Anau are below. I especially recommend the premium glass roof bus tour – it gives you so many more chances to enjoy the incredible views en-route.


Option 2: Helicopter tour

One of the quickest ways to reach Milford Sound is actually by helicopter. If you’re stopping in Queenstown and you plan on visiting Milford Sound from there, there are so many amazing helicopter companies that can take you over the the mountains in half the time a coach or bus would take.

the best way to see Milford Sound

Because of this, it’s definitely one of the best way to see Milford Sound! Taking a helicopter tour from Queenstown to Milford Sound lets you see all the best bits, without any of the coach journey, and it’s honestly one of the most magical experiences. And , of course, you get the most AMAZING views from the helicopter too! It gives a whole new angle on Milford Sound, and gives you so many photo opportunities.


Option 3: A scenic plane ride

Similar to a helicopter flight, a scenic flight will fly you directly to Milford Sound so you can enjoy all the views (without any of the coach journey!). The planes used for these scenic flights are pretty small – so you’ll be able to get really close to the mountains in Milford Sound and see some of the wildlife and amazing landscapes.

There are loads of different flights available – the main thing you want to look out for is how many landings you get during the trip. The more landings the better – as you can get out and explore on foot each time you land!

Here are some of the scenic plane rides I recommend…


Option 4: Drive yourself

If you can drive, it is possible to rent a car and drive yourself to Milford Sound. It’s quite a long drive from most bases in the south island (which is why I generally prefer the coach option if you’re going to go via road). But if you’re a confident driver and you have someone to split the drive with (don’t risk getting tired halfway) then driving yourself is a great option. There is a car park at Milford Sound, and once you’re parked up you can then book a boat tour separately and jump onboard!

scenic Driving from queenstown to glenorchy

 


Option 5: Hike it!

Finally on my list of the best way to see Milford Sound, if you’re driving to Milford Sound yourself, you can park up and actually do the Milford Sound hikes in around the Sound. It’s a pretty magical way to explore the area, but be prepared for a challenging hike, and make sure you’re ready with the right equipment and also water too. Hiking is an awesome option if you want to take your time enjoying the views.

the best way to see Milford Sound

I hope this list has helped you find the best way to see Milford Sound for you! Milford Sound is amazing from all angles, and whichever way you decide to see it will blow you away! It’s one of the most amazing places in New Zealand!

 

Everywhere I Travelled to in 2019 – What a Year!

January 19, 2020

So it turns out, 2020 was one of my most ‘well travelled’ years of my life! I’m not sure how it happened, but I went on so many amazing trips this year, both for work and holidays!

Here’s everywhere I visited in 2019!

January – Dubai

I love Dubai, and we visit pretty frequently as I have family there and it’s only a 6/7 hour flight. For this holiday we stopped at The Address Hotel, which was the most luxurious hotel we’ve ever stopped at. It was incredible.

April – New York

Our first trip to NYC of 2019 – we went fort the Easter Parade and it was so much fun. I’ve never seen so many people celebrating, dressed up, in fancy dress. I think it’s one of my favourite times we’ve ever visited the city. We stopped in a new hotel called The Park Terrace in Bryant Park, and we loved it. We had views of the park too, which was gorgeous.

May – Marrakech

A trip to Marrakech with my little sister, this was such an interesting trip. I’d never been to Marrakech before, and was absolutely in love with the architecture and decor and style of the city. The tiles, the mirrors, the doorways, the gardens… just wow. I absolutely loved it.

May – Disneyland & Paris

A short weekend away to Paris and Disneyland with two of my cousins. We had the most fun weekend away, and every second was so much fun. We even got super lucky with the weather too – it felt like the height of summer. I can’t wait to do it again!

July – Seattle

In July, a trip to Seattle (for business). I love Seattle so much, and this trip was so much fun. We met up with lots of friends, explored some new places, and found an amazing rooftop bar. We didn’t go whale watching this time (which I loved the time before), but maybe we can fit that in next year.

July – Las Vegas

We love Las Vegas and no summer holiday is complete with a trip to Las Vegas! This was pretty much a lot of the same, we tend to do the same things and just take it easy. We always stop in The Cosmopolitan Hotel though (because it’s the best!) and upgraded to a super big suite this time round which was exciting.

August – Edinburgh

We headed to Edinburgh for a reservation at ‘The Table’ which is an amazing restaurant in the city, and one we’re lucky enough to visit most years with out lovely friends. This year was especially fun!

September – Alicante (Spain)

A little getaway with my BFF! We went to Alicante in Spain and basically spend a few days talking nonsense, sunbathing, eating way to much food and watching old episodes of Catfish in bed!

September – Chicago

I was so lucky to be invited to Chicago for a work project in September. I’ve never been to Chicago, and absolutely fell in love with it. Chicago is so underrated – and it was so much fun! I got to visit with my sister, for a whole week, and we did so many fun things, and ate SO MUCH food.

October – NYC

Another work trip, I was invited for another project in NYC and combined it with a little holiday afterwards. We discovered a few new amazing food places, and even did some apartment hunting for next year!

November – UK beaches

Not as excited as the other items on this list, but I loved it all the same. On my birthday we headed to a beach in the UK and had a gorgeous winter walk with my in-laws and doggo!

December – Dubai

Dubai again! We stopped for a few days on the way down to Australia and New Zealand, to spend Christmas with family (and also help ease the jetlag!). As always, we had a great time, we always do in Dubai.

December – Sydney

Next stop for our Christmas holiday was Sydney. We originally planned to stay for longer, but it ended up being a few days over NYE. We spend NYE in the botanical gardens with the most amazing view of the fireworks, and met a lovely couple of England!

December – Queenstown (New Zealand)

We finished off our winter holiday in Queenstown, New Zealand. It was amazing – this is our favourite place in the world. It’s so beautiful, peaceful and perfect!

 

Driving from Queenstown to Glenorchy – Everything you need to know

January 17, 2020

Are you driving from Queenstown to Glenorchy? Here’s everything you need to know!

If you’re stopping in Queenstown, one of the things you absolutely MUST do, is the incredible drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy. It has (quite rightly) been voted one of the most scenic drives in the world, and you’ll understand why when you get on the open road.

The road between Queenstown and Glenorchy is surrounding by mountains, rolling hills and crystal clear Lake Wakatipu. It’s a stunning way to spend the day.

Here I’ll answer as many questions as possible about the drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy, so you can make the most of your time in New Zealand and this amazing scenic road trip!

How long does the drive take?

It takes about 45 minutes (without stopping) to drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy. But if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to pull over a few times to enjoy the views along the road. I’d put aside about 90 minutes in total, leaving time for a few photo-stops, and a toilet break. Also, remember, you may get stuck behind slower vehicles on the route, which can increase the drive time too.

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Is it a difficult drive?

It depends on your level of experience driving, and how confident you are behind the wheel – but I would say the drive is pretty easy. You’re the best person to judge how confident you are – but there aren’t any ‘hairy’ bits on this drive that I found scary or intimidating. There are some areas that might be a bit trickier than other parts, but generally, the road is well maintained, and the incline is steady (nothing too drastic).

If you’re careful and responsible about the drive, you shouldn’t really have any issues. Lots of camper vans and tour groups head down this road too, so you shouldn’t have any issues in a normal rental car. If you do find yourself feeling a bit nervous, maybe wait for a day with good weather, and avoid doing the drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy on a windy or rainy day.

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Are there toilet stops along the way?

Driving from Queenstown to Glenorchy doesn’t take too long (so you might not need the toilet) but yes there are a few places to stop for the toilet! If you’re used to driving in the UK or USA where you have rest-stops and service stations, it’s not quite the same in New Zealand.

Instead you want to look for ‘picnic’ signs – these are the rest stops that usually have toilets. They won’t be big buildings, it’ll usually just be a pull-off on the road, with a picnic area and a long drop toilet, or a shed toilet. They’re usually very clean though, and not too scary!

Is it easy to pull over to take photos?

Yes, and there are so many opportunities to pull over whilst driving from Queenstown to Glenorchy. In order to be completely safe – don’t every just pull over on the side of the road if it isn’t a designated area.

Along the Queenstown to Glenorchy route there are lots of designated places to pull over where you can take amazing photos – so use these to your advantage! It’s easy to spot them, usually they’re gravelled in stone, and usually there will be other cars parked up. The picnic areas (mentioned above, with the toilets) are also great places to pull over and take photos during the drive from Queenstown to Glenorchy.

Below is a photo of one of my favourite pull-over areas. 

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Are there any tolls to pay when driving from Queenstown to Glenorchy?

No, it’s a toll-free road! No charges!

What kind of photos will I be able to take?

If you’re driving from Queenstown to Glenorchy, you’ll have so many amazing photo opportunities. There are so many photo spots along the way! From mountains to lakes, to farm land and hills. Honestly, you’re spoilt from choice when driving from Queenstown to Glenorchy.

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Can I rent a car in Queenstown?

Yes there are loads of car rental places in Queenstown, so you should easily be able to rent a car (even at late notice) from Queenstown.

Can I take a tour bus instead?

If you’re feeling a bit nervous about driving, there are tour groups that can take you there instead. Those tours will stop at the photo spots, and also take you to a few secret ones too! It’s actually nice to let someone else drive A few tours I like the sound of are…

Lord of The Rings Jeep Tour from Queesntown to Glenorchy

Glenorchy and Paradise half day tour (from Queenstown)

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What is there to see in Glenorchy?

Not a whole lot in the town itself! But that’s kind of the charm, and why you visit. Obviously the town is surrounded by stunning mountains and the lakes, so there’s plenty of outdoors activities to get stuck into… but it’s a quiet little town, and it’s beautiful for that very reason.

I’d recommend stopping at Mrs Wooly’s village store (they have pies, souvenirs, great coffee and toilets!). And then walk down to the pier and the Glenorchy ‘lake hut’ thing. That’s a great photo opportunity!

Where can I buy food along the drive?

I recommend stocking up on food in Queenstown, as there are loads of food options in Queenstown to choose from.  There are plenty of supermarkets in Queenstown, or you could buy yourself a Fergburger and save it to eat at one of the picnic spots along the way. In Glenorchy, Mrs Wooley’s is the best place to easily stock up on snacks at.

How to finance a round-the-world trip

December 18, 2018

Travelling around the world was the best and most exciting thing I ever did. The adventure of waking up in a new place every week is something that can’t be beaten. There’s nothing like it, you can see the world, meet new people and make amazing memories that last a lifetime.

When we travelled, we spent 12 months, and visited the following places: Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong and the USA.

But… It took planning (both organisationally and financially too). Here are some tips on how you can finance your own round-the-world trip, hopefully they’ll be useful!

Find locations where you can work along the way 

Lots of locations are pretty easy to get working visa in, and you’ll find short-term work pretty easy to come by. If you can slot in some longer stints in locations where you can get work, it’ll give you a chance to top up your finances, and also make friends too. A couple of months working full time will really help top up your bank balance for the next few destinations. Hospitality industries have lots of jobs going, and you also get tips working in these industries too!

Learn a remote-working skill 

If you have a skill that lends itself to remote working, use it! If you can work from your laptop, or via the internet – then you may be able to fund your travels by working throughout the whole time. This is what my husband and I did. I was a freelance writer and social media manager and I worked remotely for my clients the entire time I was away. It worked really well and meant that any financial pressure wasn’t as heavy on our shoulders.

Small amounts add up 

If you have a year of so to save for your holiday, small amounts add up quickly. If you spend £5 a day on coffee and a muffin, putting that into a savings account each day will over the year, add up to £1825 – that’s enough for round the world flights with a company like STA Travel!

Four of the Best Countries to Visit for Outdoor Adventuring

November 20, 2018

If you love the outdoors, then you enjoy long walks through the mountain trails or along coastal beaches. You try to spot wildlife hiding in the trees or behind rocks. You can’t wait to repel into a cavern or climb the sheer face of a mountain. You get excited about being away from the city and being dazzled by the beautiful blue sky or the sparkling stars at night.

There is so much to see in the natural world, so much to experience. It can be tough to decide where you want to go for your next outdoor exploration. Below are discussed some of the best countries to visit to quench your adventuring thirst.

Australia

Australia is the place to go if you are looking for some amazing outdoor adventures. Just outside of Sydney are the Blue Mountains where mountain biking and hiking are popular. Surfing in Sydney is also an adventure for ocean lovers, as is swimming and diving among the thousands of fish within the Great Barrier Reef. A stop in Surfer’s Paradise is full of lots of things to do when you’re not scuba diving. 

Kangaroo Island is home to an assortment of Aussie wildlife, more than the hoppers the island receives its name from. Also along the southern edge of the continent – for all of those who like to road trip – is the Great Ocean Road. 150 miles of small towns and nature bordering the Southern Ocean. Waves crash around the 12 Apostles as the sea tries to claim these free-standing pillars of prehistoric coastline.

Visit Uluru is you want to be amazed. This sandstone monolith rises up from the Outback, a great place to spend the non-summer months (the summer heat can be extreme) hiking and exploring in its massive shadow. Sunsets in the area are simply spectacular when they serve as the backdrop with Uluru in the foreground, highlighting the impressive stone feature.

New Zealand

This amazing land sitting atop a submerged continent has some of the most diverse environments crammed into two small islands. On the North Island you will find some of the best wilderness for hiking. Even in the winter, tramping through the snow is a popular activity for tourists. Skiing down the slopes of Mt. Ruapehu is a fun adventure for both adults and kids.

The South Island offers some truly unique experiences. The Te Anau Glow Worm Caves gives adventurers the opportunity to explore subterranean New Zealand either by foot or raft. Walk along and squeeze yourself through this underground wonder. Or travel along the river that flows through part of the cave system. Either way, you will eventually discover why it is called a glow worm cave. Hundreds of bioluminescent worms light up the dark, reminding explorers of the night sky – only with constantly changing constellations.

There are also two glaciers on the South Island, Fox and Franz-Josef, that offer two great experiences if you don’t mind the cold. Hike atop of them or delve deeper into the glaciers to explore caverns within the ice. Tour guides will lead the way, especially if you intend to do some ice climbing up the glaciers.

America

With the Rocky Mountains providing some great winter fun and beautiful national parks, the Pacific coast having the best surfing in the country, and thick forests in many parts of the country, the United States has a lot to explore. Yellowstone compiles several types of biomes into one area. You can hike through the wooded parkland and witness bears, buffalo, and wolves in their natural habitats. You can also explore canyons and kayak on the lakes.

You can also view for yourself the largest hot spring in the country, the Grand Prismatic Spring, where bacteria growing along the heated water’s edge creates rings of color around it. Do not enter the water, though. It is too hot for humans to tolerate.

An interesting yet widely unknown location to visit is in the desert of Arizona. The Wave, as it is called, is part of the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs area. It is a rock formation in the arid region that rolls and curves like waves on the ocean. It has this visual effect because of the way time and wind has carved away the sandstone. It is an amazing sight to stand within but be careful. Don’t make any sudden movements or you might get vertigo!

Japan

When one thinks of outdoor adventures, Japan is not one of the top places that comes to mind. But you are missing out on some wonderful destinations if you ignore this island nation. With more mountains throughout the islands than cities, there is plenty of fun to be had.

Snow on and around many of these mountains, such as the Hida Mountains and Mt. Asahidake, provides for some excellent skiing locations. If you go between the months of April and June, you can also see the enormous Yuki-no-Otani, an ice corridor over 65 feet tall that leads to the Japanese Alps.

If you prefer flowing water over frozen water, take a trip to Minakami. As long as you don’t mind jumping off a cliff. The canyons and gorges of the area are rushing with water that you can leap into or whitewater raft on. The pinnacle of the experience is the natural waterfall slide.

Now that you know some of the best places to travel to for outdoor adventuring, it’s time to let the world know of those adventures. Be sure to include your trip in your travel blog, detailing all of the great and interesting places you explored. Don’t forget to include some photos of the natural scenery to emphasise the beauty of the landscapes. If you didn’t capture a good picture, don’t worry.

And when you’re done blogging, your readers will share some of their own travel stories and suggest other places for you to have outdoor adventures. Take advantage of their experiences and plan yourself another fun trip soon!

How to get from Christchurch to Queenstown

July 4, 2018

Are you looking for tips on how to get from Christchurch to Queenstown?


Queenstown, set on the banks of Lake Wakatipu, is a breathtakingly beautiful town, and one of my favourite places in New Zealand. The spectacular mountains and the crystal clear lake play host to the many adventure sports available in New Zealand, so it’s somewhere the majority of travellers in NZ flock to. Christchurch is the South Island’s largest city; so it’s probably where you’ll fly into, or arrive at, and Queenstown may be the first stop on your trip!
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When I was travelling around NZ I did so much research on the different transport available, especially on the Christchurch to Queenstown route (and which was the best for me) so I figured I’d pop it all into one blog post and hopefully it’ll come in handy for anyone doing the NZ travel-route too.

Take to the skies

Christchurch to Queenstown is a popular route, and Air New Zealand flies this route approximately 4 times a day, Mon-Sun. In the summer months, they offer 5 flights some days of the week, though this varies. The flight is approximately 1 hour long, so it’s a pretty short hop over which is convenient if you’re short on time. Flight prices start from $69.

Recommended for: People in a rush, people who love incredible views (the flight over has some immense window views!).

Not recommended for: People who are scared of flying (the flight into Queenstown can be a bit daunting as it’s through a mountain range).

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Take the bus 

If you want to get the coach there, you can get a direct bus from several companies, or you can make the most of the journey and book a longer tour that’ll take you from one to the other. There are a few different daily direct service from as low as $39, which takes around 8 hours (about £20). The journey from Christchurch to Queenstown, or Queenstown to Christchurch is a long one – so if you can splash out on a comfier bus then do it!
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Also, if you get motion sickness – it might be worth taking a few just in case, as the journey is a little bit bumpy and winding at times. Obviously the south island is full of mountains and long roads, so if your travel sickness is easily triggered, it’s worth preparing for that.

Make the journey part of a tour

If you want to use the journey to it’s full potential, then fitting in a tour, or making the journey part of a tour is a really great idea. There’s so much to see along the way, and making the journey stretch to a tour (over a day, 2 days or even a week) then do it! New Zealand is full of so many hidden gems, and fitting in as many sights as possible, is such a great way to see the country.

Recommended for: People on a budget, who don’t mind a longer route.

Not recommended for: People who are impatient.

Here are some tours worth looking at…

 


Make it a road trip

If you’ve got the time, the most satisfying way to do this route is by car, so you’re in control of which route to take and where to stop. There’s several routes available with some stunning scenery to take in along the way. I’ve only done this route from Queenstown to Christchurch (so the opposite way) but it should be pretty easy to reverse the routes below… (I hope anyway!)

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The coastal route:

This route takes a bit longer (643km, 7.5 hours) but has the beautiful coastal scenery. Head south from Queenstown to Dunedin via Alexandra, Roxburgh and Lawrence, taking in the Karawu Gorge along the way. From Dunedin you head north, following the coast up to Christchurch. There is plenty to see and there’s a few pleasant towns along the way, such as Oamaru and Timaru. Take a picnic for lunch!

The inland route:

This is the mountainous route; it’s 483km with 6 hours of driving. Just out of Queenstown, Cromwell has a few vineyards, if wine is your thing. It might not be directly on the way, but one of the main reasons to go inland is to visit Mount Cook, and if you’re looking to make an overnight stop, this is a very good place to do it. Back on the road, you’ll pass Lake Tekapo, then the town of Geraldine which has a very crafty, country vibe.
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Hiring a car is easy. The likes of Avis and Budget operate out of both the city and the airport and have offices at Queenstown (in the town and the airport), making a one-way hire simple.So it all boils down to how long you want to take, how much you want to take in and whether you want to sit back and enjoy the view, or take the wheel yourself.

Getting the train from Queenstown to Christchurch

A lot of people actually google search whether there’s a train from Queenstown to Christchurch – but the answer (sadly) is there isn’t a train option. Train travel isn’t very popular in New Zealand, especially in the south island. It’s because the mountains are such big parts of the landscape, and it just lend itself well to train travel.

Making the Most out of a Road Trip

September 14, 2017

As someone who isn’t the biggest fan of flying, trains journeys and road trips are still a very big part of the grown-up traveler lifestyle for me. Making a trip in a car is always more fun for me, as it means I can avoid the stress and anxiety of air travel. It also means I get a chance to see more of the country I’m visiting (for lots of destination inspiration check out this site), which is such a huge bonus – especially when you love photography and love capturing scenery along the way.

There are of course, a few road trip do’s and don’ts – a few of which I’ll talk about below.

Here’s how to make the most out of your roadtrip:

It’s Not Just About the Destination, It’s About the Journey

Regarding getting from Queenstown to Christchurch in New Zealand, I found that out of all of the ways to tackle this journey, driving was the most satisfying. There is so much to experience, and beautiful scenery to see along the way, that you would just miss out on if you chose to fly instead.

In general, New Zealand and Australia are countries that are greatly enhanced when experienced by road trips. As long as you plan out a good route with plenty to see along the way, and are sharing the trip with a really good co-pilot (make sure this person is fun, a good DJ, and can see you at your worst), then the journey itself can be just as wonderful of an experience as the destination. So, don’t just disregard the road trip approach and jump on a plane, or you will miss out on a lot of things in between.

Another thing to remember when planning the journey, is to book yourself a nice car! A comfortable ride is going to enhance the journey for you, so if you can afford to, pick a car you’re going to enjoy driving.

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Making the Best Experience Should Include Planning for the Worst

Of course just jumping in a car with a map and starting out on the open road isn’t a practical approach to road trips. Unlike the romantic “show up at the airport and pick a destination and just go” approach, a road trip requires some less romantic but very essential prep work. This means changing the oil and filter, refilling the windshield fluid and checking the tire pressure! Filling up your tires with air can not only help save you on the petrol costs, but can be essential in keeping you on the road and reaching your destination.

Remember to also keep other spare parts and essentials packed in the car at all times.

Embrace the Freedom

Part of why you are making a road trip to begin with instead of flying or taking a bus, is because you want to take advantage of the freedom. So while being prepared for anything is good practice, as far as your actual plans go for where you are stopping, eating, and sleeping… leave this open to chance and intrigue! Be open to improvising. You can obviously plan a few steps along the way that you thought of beforehand, but don’t research everything and create a rigid, impossible schedule with no room for flexibility. Sometimes the detours will be the most rewarding and memorable parts!

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Get out of the car!

Don’t forget to actually get out of the car and explore. Find a good place to pull over and enjoy actually getting out and stretching your legs. Roadtrips shouldn’t just be about getting from point A to point B, they should be about relaxing into it, stopping if you see something amazing, and using the car to explore places that would otherwise be out of your reach.

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5 Tips For Planning a Road Trip

November 22, 2016

Road trips are brilliant, and if you’ve never taken one – it definitely needs to go to the top of your to-do list. It’s often tempting to just book a flight and skip out on all the scenery, but actually driving somewhere (if driving is possible) is one of the best ways to check out the local culture, the scenery and the landscapes.

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I’ve taken a couple of road trips, my favourite ones were always in New Zealand – a place that is so incredibly beautiful, driving around it feels like you’re driving around a movie set (Lord of The Rings to be precise!). My husband and I also recently did a mini road trip around Scotland too, which was lovely – and needless to say, the scenery there was amazing too.

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So here are my tips for planning the perfect road trip:

Plan your route (but don’t plan it too much)

It’s important to have a good idea of where you’re going and the route you’re taking. Plan for weather changes, plan for traffic, plan for landscapes and tricky roads such as coastal trails or mountains. Only do what you’re comfortable with (of course) and try and research which routes are the best for scenic views or great stop-offs.

Of course, even with all the planning in the world, you might still stumble across something unexpected you weren’t expecting to find or see. So don’t over schedule your days of driving. Allow yourselves time for exploring, leave a good hour or so for lunch or stretching your legs.

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Find the right car 

Finding the perfect car for your trip is really important, because the kind of car you’re driving will definitely alter how much you enjoy the trip. In NZ one of our road trips we did on a super small budget –  so the car we rented had a tape player (!!) and the worst quality radio known to man. Now, we tend to splash out on a nicer car if we can – I know Pad enjoys driving sports cars.

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Stock up on supplies

If you’re planning to drive out in rural places, make sure you stock up on supplies! Pack a picnic and a few bottles of water / juice / etc – to keep you going. In some places you never know where the next service station or shop will be – and you don’t want to be driving when you’re thirsty of hungry (that’s when concentrate flies out the window). Pick things that are easy to eat too (don’t choose messy food).

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Figure out logistics

Figure out where there are toilets along the way, where the local pubs and cafes are (for lunch breaks), figure out where the petrol stations are, etc. It’s good to know a rough idea of these things beforehand. It’s even easier now with apps like Google or Siri – as you can just ask them, and they’ll tell you. Saying that though – don’t rely on 4G or 3G, because if you’re headed somewhere super rural, there may not be signal.

Make a playlist

Make a playlist is high on my list of ‘making the journey enjoyable’. Includes songs you both love (the driver and the passenger) and whack a few wild cards in there too. Remember to download the playlist into offline mode too (you don’t want to be streaming on bad 3G the whole time). Spotify and Apple Music are the obvious choices – I use both and don’t really have a preference.

Swiss day dreams

March 14, 2016

While daydreaming about places to visit the other day, Switzerland suddenly popped into my head. It kind of reminds me a little of New Zealand (the lakes and mountains) and yet it’s a LOT closer (a 4 hour flight, instead of a 24 hour flight!).

This little (famously neutral) country tucked away between France, Germany and Italy is home to some truly spectacular natural scenery, as well as the vibrant cities of Geneva and Zürich.

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Image credit: Kosala Bandara

And yet somehow, Switzerland is not typically one of the countries that comes to mind when planning a trip. It has caught my attention though and considering it is officially the happiest place on Earth (with Britain at No. 21), a little trip sounds quite enticing. Besides, anywhere that we have to thank for the creation of beautiful Rolex watches like these and tasty cheese must be worth a visit, right? I have found myself daydreaming about cheese fondue and chocolate more recently, so here is a list of things to do in Switzerland.

Climb the Matterhorn

As one of the world’s most famous and historical mountains, the Matterhorn is the mountain of mountains. It is an almost perfect pyramid that reaches 4,478 metres above sea level. Located in the Swiss Alps, trekking around this mountain takes you in and out of two countries, the second being Italy. Of course, a sight this tremendous deserves to be done properly, so is perhaps worth a trip in its own right.

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Image credit: Noel Reynolds

Walk the shores of Lake Geneva

Next to one of the most impressive mountains, Switzerland also has one of the largest lakes in Europe. There are any number of activities to partake in, like boating, paddle boarding, jet skiing and hiking. Or, if you prefer, enjoy relaxing on the beaches, sit by a fire pit or enjoy a stay in one of the nearby chalets for probably the most romantic getaway you’ve had in a long time.

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Image credit: Tobias Neuhold

Travel in style

And speaking of romance… how about an old fashioned train journey through the panoramic Swiss scenery. The GoldenPass Line travels through the vineyards and mountains and turns travelling into a real experience. Similarly, the Bernina Express traverses the Alps as one of the highest-altitude rail routes in Europe.

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Image credit: Shearings

Explore the urban areas

After all this nature, any city lover will likely be craving some tall buildings and loud noises. The biggest city in Switzerland is Zürich and with its population of close to 400,000, you probably won’t find quite the big city buzz you had imagined if you’re from somewhere like London, but what you will find is a vibrant and charming city with winding lanes and an interesting mix of old and new. Another city that drew my attention was Geneva. It is known for being sleek, slick and cosmopolitan (after all, it is one of Europe’s priciest cities) but with a bit of the urban grittiness you would expect from a modern city. Plenty of bars and restaurants to dig into one of those famous Swiss cheese fondues, or try chocolate that rivals that of Belgium.

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Image credit: Metro Centric

The reality of living in London.

January 26, 2016

I’ve been wanting to write about the reality of living in London ever since moving back here after travelling in 2012 – 2013. The reality of it, versus the perceived reality that you may have if you’ve never lived here. But before I start – I should point out: I LOVE London.

I may be slagging her off a bit here, but it’s like we’re old friends, London and I. I can say she has awful weather – and she can insult my taste in trashy TV. It’s OK. She knows there is no where else in the UK I would settle down. London has everything I need.

1. You will never, ever get a seat on the Northern Line in rush hour. Unless you live in Morden.  

In Balham, I never get a seat. Never.

So give up that hope you have right now. Rush hour is for standing.

And don’t even get me started on people who don’t move down inside the carriage.

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2. You think you’ll spend weekend meandering around central London – but you won’t. So choose a borough you love to live in. 

Sometimes Pad and I wake up on the weekend with the best intentions. We make elaborate Saturday plans whilst still under our duvet, about weekends in Zone 1, where we get all cultured and visit somewhere momentous. But then we get up, and decide, actually, to just nip down the road to the pub. Or go to Balham’s farmers market. Or take a walk to the local park. I kind of like it that way though.

Truth is – living in London is just like living anywhere else. You won’t always want to get on the tube to central London. Sometimes you just want to mill around Zone 2 or 3 like a local with other people just as lazy as you.

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3. THE CINEMA COSTS SO MUCH MONEY. 

Want to watch a movie?

That’s fine – there are loads of cinemas in central London. Just be prepared to travel to zone three (ish) if you want to pay anywhere near normal prices. Where I grew up it was £3.50 for a cinema ticket. In London I’m lucky if I can grab a ticket for under £13. And don’t even think about watching something in 3D. ARE YOU CRAZY?

4. You never know true horror – until you’ve flat hunted in London. It’s even more hellish if you’re flat hunting with a time constraint. 

Coming back from New Zealand, and dealing with the London property market again was an eye opener. I HATE FLAT HUNTING. I hate it even more than usual in London. It is a shark pool.

But, Yes, you will find that perfect flat, or room, eventually.

But…. No, it won’t still be around tomorrow when you’ve slept on the decision. If you like it – take it before the estate agent has had chance to shut the front door. Because otherwise (if it really is that good) someone else is going to snap it up.

When people say flat hunting in London is bad, they are being nice. When people say it is hell on earth, they are being truthful.

The boys doing a solid job of moving furniture.

The boys doing a solid job of moving furniture.

5. You won’t live on your own in a one-bed flat like Bridget Jones.

No one can afford to live in a one-bed flat on their own. Not really. Unless it’s a studio in zone 3. Maybe.

Instead, you’ll live in flat-shares. Until you find that wonderful person you want to be with – and then you’ll cram all your stuff into a one-bed flat until you both get promotions and can afford something a bit bigger.

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6. You think you’ll be home by 5.30pm.

You won’t. But it not necessarily a bad thing. What with after work drinks, or the gym, or that trip to the super market and all that nice stuff, you’ll be getting home around 7/8pm usually.

And even if you cut all those things out, and leave work at 5pm on the dot – did you factor in the commute? Because that’s at least another half hour ether side whether you like it or not.

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7. Black cabs are for the rich and the frivolous.

Unless you have a company credit card – I doubt you’re getting black cabs. Although saying that, there are a few smart apps out there that offer discount fares – like Uber.

But yes, taxis are a luxury. And aside from those exceptions, you’ll probably only get in one if you missed the last tube home, and you don’t know which night bus to get on.

Or if it’s really raining (like bad ass rain) and you just got your hair done. I’m totally guilty of that last example.

 8. You will want to cry every single time someone who lives outside of London tells you their rent. 

Because it’s like a slap in the face.

“YOU HAVE 3 BEDROOMS A GARDEN AND A UNICORN?! FOR £350 a MONTH!??!” That’s kind of how the conversation tends to go.

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9. Same goes for beers. And all alcoholic drinks in general. 

You go up North for a weekend. Beer is £2 a pint. Cocktails are only £3.

SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY.

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10. You think you’ll go on long jogs and wistful walks in Hyde Park. You won’t. 

You’ll live so far away from Hyde Park – it won’t even be an option that crosses your mind. Instead you’ll jog around your local common and do wistful walks to and from the tube station.

But of course, the good always out weighs the bad… 

– Most interesting and culturally diverse city in the UK

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– More career opportunities and exciting companies to work for than any other city in the UK

– Amazing history and beautiful buildings on every corner

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– So many incredible restaurants, you could literally eat out somewhere new every day for a year

Roast, Borough Market

Roast, Borough Market

– There is always something open (Sunday at 6pm? There is still somewhere you can buy tea!)

– More buses, trains and tubes than you can shake a stick at. There is no ‘every hour’ schedule here. It’s every 15 minutes at THE VERY MOST.

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– Theatre! So much theatre!

– Art! So much art!

– You’d struggle to find views better than the ones you can find here.

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– A different type of nightlife for every type of person and every mood.

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– Parks! So many parks! (Hyde Park, Richmond Park, Greenwich Park, Clapham Common, St James’ Park, Battersea Park – being my favourites)

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– Taxis might cost a lot – but at least there is always one nearby should you need it.

– Lots of Airports (so many, I don’t even know the exact number, but I think it’s 5/6) getting you pretty much where-ever you might need to be.

– There is always something happening, and something new to see and do.

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– When it’s sunny – it’s the best place on earth

What do you think of London? 🙂 

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