Travel Highlights of 2021

I want to start this post by acknowledging how fortunate I am to be able to write a post like this. The last 2 years have been exhausting, challenging and devastating for so many people. I write this with a thankful heart, very much aware of how lucky I am to be able to travel so freely.

I like to reflect, especally as 2021 draws to an end. Looking briefly back at all the photos I have uploaded this year, the locations, the activities, brings a smile to my face and I feel very grateful.

Initially I was going to do a recap on my favorite travel of 2021, but actually, I want to break that down a bit. My favourite moments, travel locations and activities.

Travel Moments

These are exactly that. Moments. They only last for a few minutes, or even seconds in some instances, but it’s enough to take my breath away and make time feel like it is standing still. These types of moments are what make life so sweet.

  1. Looking into the eyes of a wild tuatara. It was a very humbling experience, so much wisdom and years of time gone by lie behind their eyes. The fact that it was wild and not in captivity, made it all the more special. Exploring Matiu/Somes Island
  2. Sitting in a spa pool with a magnificent kereru perched on the other side. We get a lot of kereru in our garden, they are one of my favourite birds, but I have never been that close to one. To see it in so much detail was incredible, it’s iridescent feathers and pure white chest. Lake Swims, Wild Blackberries & a Kereru.
  3. Seeing a magnificent Kotuku (White Heron) fly silently and ever so gracefully across Okarito Lagoon. Kayaking with Herons.
  4. Looking into the eyes of a seal. We just stared at each other, underwater, taking each other in. That kind of thing doesn’t happen every day! Swimming with Seals.
  5. Looking up from beneath a waterfall. Who would have thought that falling water could be such a spiritual experience. Time just froze, while I looked up in awe at the water droplets slowly floating down on me. Doubtful Sound Tour – Day 2.
  6. Sitting outside, listening to the powerful rumbling thunder roll across the sky above me from left to right. Escape to the Country

Travel Locations

It wont come as any shock to you that I love New Zealand. I may be biased, but I think it is the most stunning place in the world (followed closely by Slovenia) Aotearoa, the Long White Cloud, is full of natural beauty and breathtaking scenery. There are many places to fall in love with, but here are some of my favourite.

Pukawa. Nestled into the southern shore of Lake Taupo, it’s the perfect place to have a quintessential kiwi summer holiday. Lake swims, BBQs and days spent soaking up the sun. I loved everything about this place and it was one of my favourite holidays of the year. Lake Swims, Wild Blackberries & a Kereru.

Hokitika. A small town on the West Coast of the South Island. We didn’t go with much expectation, it was just a convenient place to stop and break our traveling days. What we discovered was a delightful town full of crafts, amazing sunsets and fun activities. Discovering Hokitika

Westcoast Glacial Rainforest. Not one particular place as such, but I had to include it. I fell in love with the rainforest. It’s incredibly unique, there aren’t a lot of places in the world where rainforest meets glaciers and it’s something everyone should experience. It has an ancient feel to it and is the most vivid shades of green. It made my heart swoon.

Kingston. Located at the bottom of Lake Wakatipu is Kingston. I have never stayed here, only visited for half an hour or so, and passed by it a few times on our motorbike. Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Queenstown, it has a still, sleepiness about it which has me captivated.

Travel Activities

I love being a tourist in my own country and there is something for everyone. Here are my favourites from this year.

Caving in Charlestown Charlestown is a tiny little town, just south of Westport and home to some exceptional caves. The stalactites and stalagmites create some gorgeous formations. The cave is also very untouched. You won’t find handrails, lighting and walking platforms here, just a gorgeous cave in its natural beauty. Also home to the largest glowworm population I have ever seen. Think of the most magnificent starry night sky you have ever seen and that’s getting close to how it looks. Check out Underworld Adventures

Kayaking in Okarito Lagoon. This is an activity that has been on my bucket list for some time and it didn’t disappoint. The lake is incredibly still allowing some beautiful mirroring of the mountain on the flat water. There is also stunning forest and bird life to view. You could hire a kayak and do an independent trip, but I recommend a guided tour. Gemma was amazing and her in-depth knowledge made the experience so much richer. Check out Okarito Kayaks

Greenstone Carving in Hokitika. I often wear my hand carved pounamu. I love it. It was a really fun workshop and a unique experience. The tutors are also exceptionally talented. Check out Bonz ‘n’ Stonz

Swimming with Seals in Kaikoura. It’s rated Lonely Planet’s Top 10 best marine encounters and I can totally understand why. They are fun, playful, curious and so graceful, completely the opposite to the awkward masses I am used to seeing sitting on the rocks. Check out Seal Swim Kaikoura

Doubtful Sound Tour. Doubtful Sound is less well known than the very popular Milford Sound. And that is partly what makes it so special. You feel like you have the place to yourself. Kayak beside huge fiords, look for penguins, seals and dolphins, watch the sun come up and immerse yourself in a pretty remote, untouched part of the country. You can do a day tour, but an overnight tour is well worth the extra money. Check out Real NZ

So there you have it. What an exceptional year it has been. I hope you have enjoyed this recap of Exploring the Long White Cloud. What have been your favourite travel moments of 2021?

And just in case you are wondering, all the words I share are my own. I don’t get paid or earn any commissions. I share my stories with you because it’s something I love to do.

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