Getting There & North Island, NZ

I can’t believe our summer vacation is here and gone!!  We took a 17 day vacation (travel time included) to New Zealand and Australia.  Seriously this was amazing and completely different in so many ways.  I’d call our New Zealand portion a trip and Australia a vacation.  Normally, when we pick a destination other than the beach we are on a mission to see new sites and check places off of our list!   That sums up New Zealand pretty well and Australia–we had a few things we definitely wanted to do and see but can I just say this was the most relaxing vacation we’ve had in a while.  #tripsontrips  {Don’t get me wrong I LOVE our trips but sometimes you just need to relax!}

I’d say it is safe to say that prepping for a trip like this normally takes months in advance reservations, hours of preparation, extensive research for what you want to do and see while there etc.  If you know Grant and me that’s not how we trip!  We are extremely last-minute when it comes to our vacations/trips.  (I’m going to call them vacations just to save on the confusion.)  We have a place in mind well in advance and establish this is where we are going, Grant might ask for vacation time off a month or two before and then we know we are officially going!  At about six weeks before we leave we decide we better book flights (which by the way is the best time to book domestic travel). For our Australia vacation we waited entirely too long to find reasonable tickets for the trip (the reason why we went in June instead of March).  We had been waiting on Grant to figure out the end date of the California project and just never knew a definite so we literally were trying to book tickets less than 3 weeks before we had planned to leave! #keepingouroptionsopen We ended up booking in April for our June vacation–which was very reasonable! {June was perfect for our vacation after all since March thru May was so busy with life here in Indiana.}

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Our major flights were booked and Grant had scheduled his time off so we were ready to go!! 😂 Seriously though, the week before we left we decided we had better book a few accommodations, rental cars, and flights between the longer destinations in New Zealand. Oh and wait we can’t drive from locations in Australia because it’s like 30 hours so we better book a flight there too and crap Grayson isn’t added to any itineraries and we might need a passport (just kidding on the passport–we had planned for that in advance) 😅  Like I said, this vacation was so relaxed the travel plans and all!!

I also love packing last-minute! I don’t like the clutter so might as well just pack the night before– or in this case the day of so you don’t have things sitting around.  Our flight left at 4 pm so plenty of time to get everything done the day of, so I thought!  What I didn’t plan for was the unexpected– locking my keys in the apartment so I couldn’t go anywhere (including my apt) until the office opened and I could get a new key, being at the doctor’s office for Grayson’s last-minute check-up for three hours, or Grant working a half day–we obviously hadn’t talked and I thought he was taking the full day off!

Alright it’s noon on Friday and we need to leave home at the latest 2:45 pm.  Grayson’s clothes were laid out and that was it! Now I was getting a little flustered that I might not be ready in time but as always it came together! We were to the airport and checked in within our 45 minute time window.

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We made it through security (TSA Pre✓ is the way to go) and we weren’t really paying attention to time–taking pictures of Grayson with the toy airplane, using the restroom, just taking our sweet time when we hear FINAL CALL for our flight to Dallas!  #woof  We hurried there and made it on just in time!

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The rest of our travels there: Dallas to LA and LA to Sydney went smoothly! Grayson did amazing on the long 15 hour flight from LA to Sydney.

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Thankfully it was overnight so he slept most of time. #undertheseat

 

Nothing like a late night Stromboli pocket 😂

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After 30 hours of travel (they are 14 hours ahead of Indiana so we had practically lost a day) we arrived Sunday, June 3rd at 3pm.

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Arriving in the Sydney airport we found the ticket counter so that we could get our tickets printed for our flight to Auckland, NZ which was in a couple of hours!  The sweet Australian lady pulled up our itinerary and asked for our Visas.  We said we have passports, but Visas nope, nada, none!! She was super helpful but told us that to spend time in Australia we had to have a Visa. (Who are we anyway, flying 30 hours and hadn’t applied for a Visa?!)

Let me just stop and say that I love planning our travel.  We usually know where we are staying, and have our forms of transportation booked but much past that we leave ample room for flexibility to simply enjoy our time together–doing last-minute things along the way.  I usually check all of my boxes– passport, shots needed for specific countries, weather etc.  Not sure why I never thought we needed a Visa– probably because I thought an US Passport was good enough anywhere🤫😂 

Thankfully the attendant was extremely nice! She said that we could apply for one online while we waited and then she would help us get tickets printed.  I quickly applied for our Visas while Grant played with Grayson. I answered questions like: are you currently outside of Australia–basically they didn’t want you applying for one on their soil.  Well I may have had to tweak our answers since we were currently standing in the Sydney Airport applying for our Visas.  Note to self: Check if you need a Visa before you get there!  I applied and within minutes received a response saying they went through.  We went back to the ticket counter and she said, I was good but Grant there is an error on yours. Bahaha well that’s what I get for quickly applying.  She said his surname was incorrect and that we could call and fix it before we arrived back in Sydney next week. So we decided to take care of it at a later time!

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Phew, we made our flight to Auckland and arrived at about 6pm. #severaldayslater

 

A couple of things you should know about our trip before the picture overload begins:
• 12 flights
• No coffee only endless Americano’s = short blacks
• Left Side Driving only
• Sheep everywhere
• Grant was in charge of booking NZ and me Australia–Grant didn’t quite complete his portion of the bookings so I ended up assisting him😉
• Fish & Chips seemed to be a staple
• Grayson was held, photographed, and fed by more strangers than you know
• We were in bed early almost every night #timechange
• It’s their winter so temps in NZ ranged from mid 50’s down to 30’s and in Australia it was high 70’s down to 60’s
• I didn’t pack enough clothes nor did I pack warm enough clothes #sandalsinthesnow

Our first evening we checked in, had dinner, and just relaxed!

 

Grayson was exhausted! #werentweall

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On Monday we woke up and took off for our left side driving adventure where we made our way towards Rotorua.

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{The only other accommodation that was booked for the NZ portion of our trip was our last night back in Auckland where would fly to Sydney. This was perfect for a road trip because there weren’t restraints for how long you could stay in one place.} We stopped for a light brunch and short blacks at this random countryside cafe.

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On our way towards Rotorua we planned to go to the Hobbiton Movie Set— where they filmed parts of the The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings movies.  {This is such a neat place even if I had fallen asleep during all of the movies!} We took the two-hour tour where they bus you to the farm so you can experience life as a Hobbit😉

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Our afternoon was rainy but was quite beautiful nonetheless!

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At the end of the tour you are greeted by the quaint Green Dragon Inn where you get to enjoy a snack that is specific to Hobbiton.  Beer or Ginger Beer that are both brewed and sold only in Hobbiton!  They were yummy, Grayson even enjoyed the ginger beer🍻

 

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Oh hey stranger👋🏼

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Next we decided to change routes and drive farther, landing in the middle of Tongariro National Park instead of staying the night in Rotorua.  As we traveled I booked some evening accommodations in the middle of nowhere– which was the perfect location for Grant to do a little hiking. The Chateau Tongariro Hotel was a unique experience with its timeless elegance and New Zealand heritage inspired styles.

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We arrived at like midnight, checked in, and once again called it a night!  Grant got up and hiked while Grayson and I slept in.

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He loved the views!! {Mt. Doom from The Lord of the Rings- for anyone who might know what that is.}

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Morning views and sleepy faces from the Chateau…

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Brunch and dinners are our go to on vacation so we stopped at this cafe for brunch. #eggsandsausagefordayz

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We drove most of the day arriving in Wellington late afternoon.

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We stayed here at the QT hotel, a modern twist on life.

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Grayson loved all of the amenities!

 

We walked around for the evening and ventured into this free museum nearby.

 

 

Street pizza for an appetizer, which was amazing👌🏼

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and ended with dinner here!

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Wednesday morning we woke up early to head to the airport and fly to Queenstown on the south island of New Zealand! It was an eventful morning with luggage everywhere, blustery winds, and temps that I wasn’t prepared for!  I wanted to hibernate💁🏼‍♀️ As we were preparing for our flight into Queenstown several locals told us how beautiful it must be there this time of year, with all of that snow.  Snow?? (I had looked at the north island weather but didn’t realize the south would be even colder.) Like I said, so unprepared!

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Waiting on our flight to Queenstown

So much more adventure to be had… Queenstown and Australia coming soon!!🎬

{Until next time, Stay Classy}

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