In case you didn’t know, Ben and I will now be out of office until Tuesday 19th January, while we travel round the South Island of New Zealand! If you want to follow us, here are the details:
Predicted average temperature: 26 degrees
Number of days: 24
Estimated number of photos to be taken: 600
Monday 28th December
Free days in Christchurch to recover from jet lag, catch up with Ben’s family, and explore Christchurch.
After mooching around Christchurch and the pop-up shopping area made from shipping containers, we will visit the seaside town of Sumner for an ice cream.
In the afternoon, we are taking a trip up in a gondola to gaze at the view across Christchurch, and learn about its history.
Tuesday 29th December
This will be my first introduction to more of Ben’s relatives, meeting his grandparents for a fish and chip supper.
Wednesday 30th December
Start the six-hour journey to Queenstown. On the way, we will stop off at the scenic Lake Tekapo for a picnic.
Thursday 31st December: New Years Eve
Our adrenaline levels will reach new peaks when we take on the Nevis Swing. At 160m high, it is the world’s biggest swing, and reaches out into the centre of a canyon.
Next up, we will head up the gondola to the highest point in Queenstown. At the top there is a Luge, which is like a sled/ go kart which you can ride down a track on the side of the mountain.
It will be time for New Years celebrations in the evening, starting with a three course meal in the Waterfront restaurant Prime. We’ll then make our way to Earnslaw Park for fireworks, live bands and getting a bit messy.
Friday 1st January
We will be kicking off the new year with a lazy day in Queenstown! Ben is hoping to introduce me to Ferg Burger, a burger phenomenon in NZ, which will hopefully cure our hangovers!
We will spend the day on the beach getting a bit sunburnt. In the evening, there is a walk you can do in the park across the lake from central Queenstown.
Saturday 2nd January
From Queenstown, we are getting a coach to Milford Sound for a boat cruise. We have chosen to do the ‘Discover More’ cruise, which should give us a tour of the beautiful landscape and waterfalls, where we should also encounter seals!
Sunday 3rd January
From Queenstown, we will drive northwards towards the Franz Josef Glacier.
In the morning, we will be getting up early to ride the Shotover Jet, which is a really fat jet boat that skims a cross the lake, riding close to the rocks either side of the river.
Afterwards, driving will take most of the day, but visiting the hot pools in Franz Josef in the evening will be a great reward.
Monday 4th January
The next morning, we will be up bright and early to visit the Franz Josef Glacier. This is accessible by helicopter, and I’m sure that being up on the snowy mountain will be a stark contrast to the summer temperatures we’ll be used to!
At the top of the glacier, you complete a two-hour trek a cross the ice, taking in all the beautiful views.
After visiting the Glacier, we will head straight on the road up to Marahau at the top of the South Island. This will take about six hours.
Tuesday 5th January
In Marahau, we will be meeting up with Ben’s parents who are staying in a house on the beach for the New Year period. The first day there will be a free day to chill out (and hopefully do lots of sunbathing!)
Wednesday 6th January
I think this day will be one of the many highlights of the trip. We have booked a kayaking tour around the Abel Tasman nature reserve, where we can stop at secluded beaches and visit the seals at Adele Island.
Thursday 7th January
We will go on a day trip to Nelson. I’m told that Nelson is a lovely seaside town which is great to mooch around and do a bit of shopping.
On the way there, we will stop for a coffee and a piece of cake at country cafe. On the way home, we are meeting one of Ben’s cousins.
Friday 8th January
We have another free day in Marahau with Ben’s parents. In the evening, fish and chips is on the menu!
Saturday 9th January
In the morning, we will head east to visit Ben’s uncle and aunt. They live in the Marlborough Sound, which is another picturesque area.
They have a lovely sun terrace where we can enjoy a few glasses of bubbly together and have a BBQ.
Sunday 10th January
While we’re in the area, we NEED to visit the Marlborough Sounds winery, to make the most of the fantastic New Zealand wine! I think we’ll have to draw straws to decide who is driving there…
Monday 11th January
It will now be time to start making our way back down the South Island to Christchurch.
On the way back down, will we stop in Kaikoura, which is a small seaside town renowned for its whale watching trips. We will have a mooch around, look for some paua (special New Zealand blue shell) and stop in a bakery to have a pie for lunch.
As well as whales, there are also many seals on this side of the South Island. Ben is taking me to a waterfall where the seals like to hang and play.
We will spend the night in Hamner Springs. There, we’ll have the opportunity to look around the town and stop in some of the pubs in the picturesque area.
Tuesday 12th January
We will visit the Hamner Springs natural hot pools for some relaxation after all our driving! But not for long, as in the evening we’ll be back in the car travelling down to Christchurch.
We will have the chance to stop in Riccarton Mall for some retail therapy.
Wednesday 13th January
We have another free day in Christchurch. Ben has invited his grandparents out for lunch. After this, we will go for a walk around Hagley Park, where the botanical gardens which give Christchurch its title the ‘Garden City’.
Thursday 14th January
This day is allocated to visiting the town of Akaroa, which takes about an hour to travel to from Christchurch. Ben is especially excited about taking me to his favourite fudge shop and a cheese factory here! He definitely has food on his mind…
Whilst there, we will go out on a Dolphin Watching cruise. This will be a great opportunity to see the Hector Dolphins, which are small in population and indigenous to New Zealand.
Friday 15th January
Ben and I need to wake up early to catch a flight to Rotorua in the North Island. From here, we have a few free hours in the morning to squeeze in some north island sight seeing.
We will work our way around Kuirau Park, looking out for bubbling thermal pools and geisers.
At 1pm, we’re getting the bus to HOBBITON! I’m expecting to meet all the hobbits and maybe find a magic ring.
In the evening, we will be going to a Maori experience, including dinner and an authentic Maori performance.
Saturday 16th January
We will fly back to Christchurch in the morning, arriving back home at 11am for the South family gathering! (Eeeek!) I’ll be able to meet any members of Ben’s family who I won’t have seen yet, and I hope they’ll make the obligatory family comments about how much he’s grown or how grown-up he looks now!
Sunday 17th January
If I end up having one too many beers the day before and embarrassing myself to the South clan, Ben and I will have an easy escape, because now it will be time to return to rainy London.
During the day, we are going to the newly opened Christchurch art gallery, and then coming home for a roast. Ben’s grandparents will also be stopping by to say farewell!