NEW ZEALAND: 2017

Dedication: This journal is dedicated to my children, my grand children and my great great grandchildren; Never stop exploring, Never stop dreaming, Keep seeking adventure, Create everlasting memories, Love with all your heart and Live in the moment.

With Love xo

DAY 1: SYDNEY-AUCKLAND

In the words of Bilbo Baggins..."we are going on an adventure"- a New Zealand adventure!

I've been overseas four times now and travelling to the airport to board a flight never gets old; it's an achievement really- the months of preparation and organising your journey beforehand; the adventure always starts at the airport. We are spending three and a half weeks in New Zealand; our adventure will begin in Auckland, in the North Island, and will finish up in Christchurch, in the South Island.

Waking up at 5 am to get to the airport is never fun, it is fun however driving down the motorway laughing at all the people making their way to work hahaha..... OK I'm digressing a little. After a short trip we make our way to our terminal where we do our regular check ins and make our way to breakfast....mmmmm did someone say food?! I'm starving! After breakfast and a couple of hours of working around the airport we are ready to board our flight; I love that our flight is only three hours long (no jet lag!)

After an easy 2 hr 50 min flight we arrive at Auckland airport. We do our regular check ins and make our way to the car rental kiosks to pick up our car for our drive through the North Island; love our car, it reminds me of the Goget car we drive back home.

It takes us 45 min to get from the airport to the hotel as we got a little lost; it's expected- a) I've been asked to navigate and b) I'm in another country.

Once we arrive in Auckland CBD I'm reminded of home; the CBD is a mix of Sydney and Manly. When we finally locate our hotel we are stoked that it's smack bang in the heart of the CBD with the shops, cafe's and supermarket literally at our doorstep.

At this point, of our trip, we are absolutely starving (here I go with the food again) as the only meal we've had today is the breakfast we had at Sydney airport in the morning. We check in to our hotel, leave our bags in our hotel room and head out to grab a bite to eat. We've been recommended a pub in the little alleyway just behind our hotel; any food at this point is good for the both of us, nom..nom..nom!

After finishing our burgers, chips and beer (which were amazing by the way) we decide to go for a walk around the CBD. I'm slowly starting to realise that New Zealanders are really laid back and low key compared to the people back home in Sydney who constantly run around like headless chickens. We walk around Queen St (which is

the main strip of Auckland CBD) for an hour; checking out the many stores and cafe's. In Auckland (and we'll soon discover the whole of N.Z ) shops close at 6 pm the latest (excluding Thursday night shopping), the only stores that stay open after 6 pm is the McDonald's and local Restaurants and Bars. We also head down to visit the ferry terminal where we check out the port and local artwork on display. You'll notice from the above photo that a lot of the buildings, in Auckland, have a European influence to them which we both found really interesting.

As the sun slowly descended we decided to walk back to the hotel for an early night; we have a big day of driving tomorrow.

WHO WE FLEW WITH: Air New Zealand

WHERE WE STAYED: Best Western President Hotel Auckland

PLACES WE VISITED: Auckland CBD, Queen St

DAY 2: AUCKLAND-HAMILTON

Today is our first official day on the road; After an early and quick breakfast we head off for some retail therapy in the CBD. We find some cute cafe's and boutiques nestled in the alleyways and arcades and come across the regular big chain stores on the main shopping strip of Queen St - all hail Dior and Gucci!

After an hour of shopping we decide to head back to our hotel to begin loading the car with our luggage so we can begin our journey down to Hamilton. After looking at our map, during breakfast, we decide to stop off at a few places along the way; our first "detour"stop was the quiet surf town of Whangamata, a 2 hr drive from Auckland (1.5 hrs for us). The town reminds me a little of Byron Bay - the beach, the surf stores and the alternate shops and cafes. We pick up some coffee and walk around for half an hour before the rain forces us back in the car and onto the road again.

We decide to begin the journey to Hamilton, from Whangamata, however the one thing that we are starting to discover when it comes to driving in N.Z is that you never plan to just go from point A to point B. On our drive down through one of the National Parks we come across the beautiful Karangahake Gorge; a gorge is nestled amongst a river an array of wilderness.

The pictures below show one of the bridges that were built in the 19th century to separate the town from the gold mining.

We spent 30 min walking around the gorge taking photos, walking across the bridges, exploring the old train tracks and going into some of the old mining tunnels; it was awesome to explore an area that we had just stumbled across, even while it was raining; the entire area was so peaceful and serene, even with the many tourists walking around.

Once we were back in the car we made our way back up the gorge and back onto the main highway towards Hamilton. The drive down to Hamilton felt long because we were both tired and hungry, plus we had done a lot of driving thanks to our detours.

Once we arrived in Hamilton the vibe was completely different to Auckland - it was very low key compared to Auckland, it was smaller and the vibe was a bit more relaxed.

We checked into our hotel, which was once again surrounded by shops, restaurants and cafes, and headed out to dinner. We walked the shopping strip to suss out what we wanted for dinner and ended up going to a Thai restaurant around the corner from our hotel.

After dinner we had fallen into a food coma so we decided to head back to our hotel and call it an early night

WHERE WE STAYED: Ibis Tainui, Hamilton

PLACES WE VISITED: Whangamata - Karangahake Gorge - Hamilton

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