November 15, 2011

Wandering around: North Island, New Zealand (vacation!)

A few months ago we booked out time to enjoy a week off from work. We originally planned to spend this time celebrating our five year anniversary by visiting friends in China and then spend some time somewhere warm and tropical.

But we procrastinated making plans because we were busy. Busy adjusting to life, to new work schedules, and settling in. Before we knew it, we were knee deep in paperwork, and realised we couldn't just book tickets to a few countries not knowing if we'd have a passport in our hand, and then we tried to figure out how we could apply for a Chinese visitor visa with our passport floating around to Canada and New Zealand. And then we got so stressed out about it that we forgot to come up with any plan for our week off.

In the week before our time off, we decided to travel the South Island. But with our travel luck, it was no surprise we weren't going anywhere fast. Just like that cancelled flight in Sydney, or the cancelled plane in Keri Keri, or even that time we made an emergency landing in Palmerston North due to wind and low fuel.

Last Monday our ferry made the front page news because it was cancelled due to mechanical issues with the fire alarm. While we were refunded and rebooked for the next day, we later learned our returning ferry for the following week had been ordered not to sail by Maritime New Zealand. Since it just looked like a big delay of trouble, we tossed our plans out, and hit the road to enjoy the North Island.

Here's the non-plan:

  • Wine tasting in Martinborough
  • Road trip south three hours to Napier (Hawke's Bay area) and enjoy some more wine tasting
  • Then drive inland 1.5hr to Lake Taupo to relax and kick our feet up (massage, hot pool springs, bar hopping, kayaking fun!)
  • At the end of the week, head home to Wellington and enjoy the last part of our lazy getaway

Driving out of our little big city to enjoy the country life, I never thought I could enjoy myself without a hotel reservation - it was so freeing and relaxing. The hardest part of our day was packing up to hit up another adventure!

And when you finally travel to New Zealand, like I hope you do, if it's off-season (not Christmas or school holidays) you can score yourself last-minute hotel deals by visiting the i-site (tourist information centre) locations. You'll find them so fast, they're everywhere you go, and they'll help you find a great place, for free! We used them so much, that they really planned our vacation. We kept showing up at a new one each day and would say "we got here by mistake, what should we do?" and just like that we had a vacation.

Enroute to wine country in Martinborough.

We rented bikes, grab a little map, and headed out. Martinborough is shaped like a union jack, with the vineyards on the outter square, so it was very easy to just bike and keep turning left finding a new place to visit. We stopped at Palliser, Martinborough Vineyard, Ata Rangi and Vynfields. It was Monday, very quiet, no lines, and we had the road to ourselves.

Only an hour from Welly, but might be a very long bike ride Kev!

A splendid day

Since we didn't put much effort into our planning, we hit up a store before we took off and I pick-up some new shades. Kev said they looked big. I huffed and puffed and said, "that's the point!".

But I didn't expect to look like a bug in my vaca photos.

Kev took pics of all the birds, and we made lots of animal friends with bread.

Next up, Martinborough Winery, enjoyed a chardonnay and a yummy pinot noir.

Ata Rangi winery, my fav from our Martinborough visit.

Ata Rangi vines

First stop on our bike ride wine tasting treat, Palliser wines. Enjoyed the pinot gris the most!

Cool Change bar and restaurant in Martinborough, loved the rustic country vibe on the street corner!

Our self-contained apartment/motel had a spa bath, BBQ, and included a continental breakfast. We had a squabble over the loaf of bread provided, and against my wishes, we took the whole loaf as we left. And then in came in handy when we met up made friends with ducks later on the week.

The next day we headed out to Napier and on our way we stopped at a wildlife centre. We've be wanting to see a kiwi bird, which is nocturnal and hard to find. The centre had a mock night room, and once you adjusted your eyes you could view the cute birds wiggling around poking the ground for food... no photos, sorry!

Kiwi bird, we stopped at a bird sanctuary and saw them in their noctural set-up, such cute funny things! They wobble around digging for food.

The drive to Napier was rolling hill after rolling hill, covered in sheep. I couldn't get enough of it, country living never looked so beautiful! We even passed sheep herding, and they were getting ready to cross the very road we drove on. If you look closely, you can see the cheeky sheep checking us out as we passed by!

Sheep herding in progress, they were off to cross the road we were on!

Sheep sheep, bah bah.

Leaving Martinborough, heading to Napier. Most of the drive looked like this, green rolling hills.

I saw this perfectly line of trees and grabbed the camera, I'm so glad it turned out because I want to try and paint this. And I'm not an artist, but I figure I could try, if it fails no big deal because this photo looks a painting anyways. One thing we learned (and love) about New Zealand, is that there are no boring roads.

Picture perfect, just waiting for me to take it's pic.

More to come, makes me wish we were on vacation all over again.


  1. Gorgeous photos! It seems like you had a great, impromptu, time. Those are sometimes the best! Can't wait to see more :)

  2. Can't believe all your travel bad luck - though it seems that it came out all for the better - these "random" trips are always the most fun. Your photos look amazing and it looks like you two are having a ton of fun!

  3. You guys must attract a bit of bad travel luck at the moment - I seriously have never had a cancelled flight in my life! Nor have I ever had trouble flying into Wellington (but I do know plenty of people that I guess I am the lucky one).

    Your photos make me miss NZ so SO much! It really is the most beautiful country and I love how you said "no road is boring' - this is why Jase and I love LOVE roadtripping around New Zealand. We discover so much, there are so many places to explore and find along the way - and of course, the countryside is gorgeous. You had stunning weather for your trip too!

    Ahhh Martinborough, one of my favourite places to relax ever!! The wineries always help haha!

    Can't wait to see where else you visited!!

  4. These photos make me want to jump on a plane and head back to NZ! It's such a gorgeous country :)

  5. @Katherine Thanks for stopping by Katherine! We're having a blast, not sure why all the travel drama, I used to travel frequently in the US with very tame stories. Hope you're gearing up for some holiday getaways!

  6. it looks like a fairytale :)


So glad you wandered by!