Before I leave again for another long trip… let me share with you my next series of travel posts. This time around, I will be talking about a very exciting and adventurous trip, a trip that led me to a new place, a trip that allowed me to cross off a lot of items on my bucket list : New Zealand!
Yes, New Zealand, the land of sheep… wine and honey! And if you have been following me on Instagram for quite some time now, you would more or less remember how I fell in love with this amazingly beautiful and immaculately clean place — which I was fortunate to have seen a few months ago!
Our first stop in New Zealand was Christchurch, a quiet little town that has an eclectic mix of history and culture. For some, the city is most remembered by the strong earthquake that destroyed it in 2011. But fortunately, the city has bounced back with more energy, positive vibe and innovative new attractions — all while retaining its friendly character and favourite destinations.
On our first day, as was our usual tradition (and to beat our jet lag), I took the kids out for a stroll around the quaint neighborhood around the hotel, to get our bodies used to the new weather, time zone and to literally, just stop and smell the flowers! (Something we don’t really get to do back here in the crowded and polluted city).
We also visited the landmark Christchurch Cathedral which still stands firm and erect right in the middle of their bustling city. This in spite of the fact that it was completely destroyed and damaged from the intense earthquake that happened 5 years ago (2011).
The day after, we drove to our first New Zealand vineyard, the Waipara Springs! This winery is known for their impressive Riesling and Pinot Noir!
Of course, a visit to a New Zealand winery is always a big must, as they are known for their plentiful vineyards located in the most spectacular of locations — some of them close to a stunning shoreline while some are perched high on alpine peaks. But more than that, of course we all know how New Zealand wines are well-loved across the world for its purity, vibrancy and intensity.
Next up on our list was a visit to the Peninsula Seal Colony in Kaikoura, where we were lucky to see the seals up close!
From seal watching, we rushed to the Kaikoura Whale Sanctuary and experienced the most nerve-wracking, bumpiest boat ride of my life! Thank God after a couple of hours of being in the rough open sea, we were lucky to see the Giant Sperm Whale swimming right in front of our boat and followed by several Dusky Dolphins jumping across us!
And of course, a stay in Christchurch wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Christchurch’s Botanic Gardens . This 21-hectare garden is a massive museum that showcases a living collection of a variety of gardens, plants and flowers which change throughout the seasons. The Christchurch Botanic Gardens is home to an impressive array of exotic and local flora and fauna from New Zealand and around the globe.
We rode a tram around the gardens that came with a very friendly and knowledgeable tour guide (something I highly recommend especially if you are with restless kids!), so it became much more convenient for us to see the massive garden in just a couple of hours instead of one whole day if we just walked!
Christchurch was just our first stop in New Zealand, where we were blessed with fine weather and a relaxing and leisurely pace of seeing nature up close and personal.
Up next is the majestic and very exciting Queenstown, a place full of adventure and a place where I experienced a lot of firsts…! Stay tuned!
To see the rest of our photos from this trip, just search #TSMinNewZealand on Instagram, or click here.