For the past six months, I have been working on a rather enchanting little project. It involves looking at destinations in gorgeous New Zealand and exploring them from (alas!) my armchair. I trundle through the thicket, swim with the dolphins and indulge in some virtual zig-zagging on pristine snow-capped mountains. And I d-r-e-a-m. I dream of the day when I will finally set foot on kiwi soil.
When I first read about Yatra’s Creating Happy Travellers contest on Indiblogger, I realised it may be one of the best chances I’ll ever have to day-dream shamelessly about NZ! Perhaps the very act of writing about my dream holiday will encourage the Universe to set into motion mysterious forces that will make the trip actually happen. I believe in miracles, you see.
There are three things that will make this trip the happiest one ever – the place, the people and the experiences.
Okay, so dream destination – bewitching New Zealand – check. Next up, travel buddies.
My wanderlust has taught me that no holiday can be truly complete without the perfect companions. I have often travelled to far off lands and sighed wishfully, for I wasn’t with the people who I knew would have loved to be there too. Through trial and error I have realised my most compatible co-adventurers are my husband N, my sister Miss P, my Mum and my Dad.
Amongst this motley crew I can find a mate to try anything that chance will bring us on our holiday. Mum and Miss P are of course super awesome for shopping. Dad can pick out the most unique spots and vantage points. N can ferret out humour and a live music gig almost anywhere. I can hatch insanely detailed plans and Miss P brings her characteristic dash of eccentricity to make these plans fun. Mum, well she has enough enthusiasm and prudence to propel everyone into making the most of every moment. So all in all a good crew. Very enthusiactic prospects for ‘Creating Happy Travellers’ indeed!
Since I’m the maniac who draws up the travel plans, I can promise this will be an overly ambitious list of experiences. Almost always, I do bite off more than I can chew. However, I fancy myself to have matured a bit over the past couple of trips; wizened up to the fact that we may have to leave something off the list. Still, I think being over-prepared with a dream list never hurt anyone.
On a real holiday, we may be forced to focus on either the North or the South Island of New Zealand, since it may not be possible to cover all that ground in one trip. But since am freewheeling, I can go the whole hog. We could embark on the famous New Zealand bike trail, gaze at the amazing wildlife, camp on the brilliant camping sites along the ocean, cruise the scenic fjords and sounds or explore deep forests with ancient Kauri trees that are multi-centenarians. Go horse-riding near icy glaciers, sample scrumptious sea-food, watch as the Tasman Sea meets the Pacific Ocean in a great swirl of currents at Cape Reinga and stop at the Arctic Centre to get a feel for life on the Antarctic continent. Whether we can actually do and see everything or not, here are a few adventures that we definitely wouldn’t want to miss:
We’ll begin by spending a few days along a stunning coast backed by snow-dusted mountains in Kaikoura. Situated on the Eastern flank on the South Island, Kaikoura is a paradise for whale watching, scuba diving, dolphin spotting, seal meeting and lots of exploring. The natural diversity is as breathtaking as the views from atop the cliffs. And the scrumptious crayfish here gives the sea-side town a well-deserved spot on NZ’s culinary map.
Queenstown is called the adventure capital of the world for a reason. It offers you a host of adrenaline pumping activities to enjoy all year round. Take your pick from skiing, snowboarding, white water rafting, bungy jumping, ziplining, swinging, paragliding or skydiving. Phew! Add to that the charm of the Skyline Gondola, a bustling city, immersive Maori cultural experiences and it’s easy to see why Queentown is a hit even with the locals. While the youngsters (ahem! that includes me) may enjoy swinging like monkeys, I’m sure my mum and dad will also be able to enjoy more relaxing activities like cruising on peerless Lake Wakitapu and visiting an authentic high country farm.
Central Otago Wine & Food Nirvana
Otago has many exciting wine experiences in store for the four wine lovers in our troupe. We shall happily explore the boutique wineries and gladly sample some of the best wines in the world. It will be a great way to learn about wine and the local culture, followed by delectable tasting sessions in the cozy comfort of wineries. And mom will be rewarded for her patience with a pampering at a luxurious spa followed by a sumptuous lunch. Yay!
Thermal Pool & Hot Spring Rejuvenation
Soaking in natural thermal pools till the toes are all wrinkly is like a rite of passage for Kiwi littlies. We won’t be far behind, I say! After all the exploring, binging and adrenaline rush we’ll really look forward to the soothing waters of hot pools that can be found in many parts of New Zealand. NZ is a hot-bed for geothermal activities and you can find some natural, mineral-rich pools dotting the country. The ones in Rotorua, Hanmer and Miranda are most preferred, so we’ll take our pick.
I could go on about the many things I’d really like for my dream holiday. New Zealand is so diverse and rich in natural as well as cultural heritage, that the entire trip will be an unmatchable experience. It is a small wonder that the beautiful, bountiful ‘Shire’ of The Lord of the Rings movie is real and in New Zealand. NZ’s adorable ratio of 10 sheep per person, the love for outdoorsy adventure and a penchant for celebrating diversity, culture as well as history makes it such an exciting country to visit.
If we do make it to kiwi-land, I’m absolutely sure we will create happy memories and come away more enriched for life. Isn’t that really the best part of travelling?
All images used here are from Flickr and are available under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Yellow Eyed Penguin by Sarah M Stewart, Kaikoura by SidPix, Queenstown Sky Diving by mnapoleon, Central Otago by robertpaulyoung, Hot Springs by Erik Streufert