Reflecting on 2020

Happy New Year!! and Happy 1st birthday to my blog! A whole year of blogging, it’s hard to believe really. Thanks for coming on the journey with me.

2020 is a year that I’m sure no one will be forgetting anytime soon. As the year came to an end, I began reflecting on the year that has been. I am so proud of my country, for the massive effort we all put in, our commitment to sticking to lock downs and supporting one another. Because of this, life here in Aotearoa has looked quite different to the majority of the world.

I count myself very fortunate to be in the position I have been in. While international travel has been off the cards, I have been able to do a lot of travel around my own backyard this year. (And lets be honest, New Zealand is a pretty spectacular country to have as your travel playground)

I wanted to do a post on my top 5 experiences. Those WOW moments. The ones that stop you in your tracks, make time stand still and take your breath away.

It’s hard to choose, I have had many incredible experiences this last year, but I am making myself pick.

So here it is.

My top 5 WOW moments.

1 – Glamping on Waiheke Island. This was my first time glamping and I absolutely loved it. Falling asleep to the soft pitter patter sound of rain on the canopy of the tent and waking to the sounds of the birds, absolutely magical. Stripping back the busyness of life and getting back to nature, it certainly recharges the batteries. You can read about my full glamping experience here.

2 – The drive to Glenorchy. We did this road twice in 2020. Once on our motorbike, the second time in a hired Mercedes-Benz CLS 55 AMG. Maybe it’s because it was the first time, but I way preferred the trip on 2 wheels. We had bright blue skies, a dusting of snow on the mountains and instagramable moments around EVERY corner. Around every bend I would find myself gasping at the beauty before me. Not only does this rate in my top 5 moments of 2020, it also rates in my top 5 motorbike rides. Ever. The road to Glenorchy.

3 – Trust the Chef Meal at No. 5 Church Lane. It was a spontaneous dining decision. I found them on line, they had some good reviews, so we decided to give it a go. When we saw a 7 course, Trust the Chef option on the menu, well, we just had to try it. It surprised and delighted me far beyond what I was expecting. Every serving was creative, delicious and left me on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would be next. This was a culinary journey that left me wanting more. Dining in Queenstown.

4 – Kayaking in Wanaka. Kayaking (and now also paddle boarding) will always end up as a top experience for me, I just love it so much. The stillness, the quiet and being surrounded by all that water, it’s so rejuvenating and refreshing. Throw in crystal clear water and views of mountain peaks covered in snow and you have one very happy kayaker. Lake Wanaka is the perfect place to get out on the lake and experience some stunning New Zealand scenery. Chillin’ in Wanaka.

5 – Playing in the waves at Waitarere with my 4 year old nephew. Sometimes, it is the simplest of things that bring us the most pleasure. This was one of those experiences. It had been so long since I walked bare foot in the sand and felt the waves tickle my ankles. My nephew’s delight in jumping over waves and playing in the sand, so carefree, was contagious. We spent ages having childish fun and it was brilliant. A weekend at the beach

So there you have it. What was your favorite travel moments of 2020? Drop me a message, I would love to hear from you.

A Day Trip to Glenorchy

Glenorchy.

We have been here before. Only 5 months ago in fact, but we loved it so much, we just had to visit again. You can read about our last trip here.

This time, we are on 4 wheels. A Mercedes-Benz CLS 55 AMG which we have hired from Luxury Car Rentals in Queenstown. Daniel is normally pretty slow to get up and going in the mornings, but today it’s a different story. He can’t wait to take the Merc for a spin.

Its such a beautiful stretch of road to Glenorchy. It twists and turns, moving with the lakeside. Being winter, there are less cars on the road, but there is also grit and ice. Not quite the perfect place to open up the throttle! I have to say though, as much as I enjoyed the car, there are some roads that are just made for 2 wheels. This is one of them.

We only spend a little bit of time at the lake as we have been here before. I enjoyed being able to see it in a different season. (Surprisingly the place was quite flooded when we were here in Summer, but not now in Winter) The place is much quieter too, hardly any people and no hum from the jet boats.

We take a few photos, I ask Daniel to take a picture of me in front of the Glenorchy sign. I get ‘Norchy’ instead!

There are a few different walks you can do here and if you are into walking or hiking, I would suggest you check them out. However, walking isn’t really Daniel’s thing so we do the Glenorchy Lagoon Loop Track. A short, easy stroll around the lagoon. Some of it is along a boardwalk that goes over the lagoon which adds to the experience. It is meant to be a great place for bird spotting. We didn’t really see any, but maybe that’s more in the summer. We are here in the middle of Winter!

I am surprised at how little water there is in the lagoon at this time of year. The trees are bare, the mountains are dusted in snow. I love how distinct the seasons are here in the south. In Wellington it’s pretty common to have 4 seasons in one day. The landscape is gorgeous and yet again, I take soooo many photos!

I walk slowly around the track, breathing deeply, taking in the fresh, cool air. I am trying to take in as much as possible. I love the slower pace of life that South Islanders seem to have. The stillness, the quiet.

This is Glenorchy. Welcome to Paradise.

The road to Glenorchy

The weather is looking a lot more promising today as we head out to Highlands Motorsport Park for our second attempt at a fast lap. Unfortunately the Ferrari isn’t running today, they have the Porsche out instead.

I really wanted a ride in a Ferrari.

I am given a helmet to wear, and then get into the car and seatbelt up. Before we can do the fast lap, we have to do a slow lap around the track. I assume this is to warm up the tires and check for any potential hazards that may have found their way onto the track.

The track is 4.2Km long and the design takes inspiration from some of the world’s most famous racetracks. It was a very quick drive, only a couple of minutes but thrilling!

I was told we reached speeds of up to 220kph!

We have quite a powerful motorbike, so I am used to fast acceleration, and found the acceleration in the Porsche a similar experiance, but the corners are quite different. Braking happens far later than you expect so there were several moments where I thought we might not make it around the corner.

My favourite part was going over the bridge, we went flying over and I am sure the car left the asphalt for a moment. It is a unique experience and a must for any speed lover or automotive enthusiast.

After all that excitement, we decide to grab a quick coffee in the café while we check out Google maps and decide where we want to explore today. We settle on Glenorchy and The Crown Range.

We head towards Queenstown and then carry on straight through.

It is so busy!

Queenstown is known for being pretty touristy and expensive. We rode past the crowds of people, the traffic and straight past the famous Ferg’s Burgers, with its queue going out the door and down the street. We past more tourists taking selfies on the lake front , and then..

Wow!

What a ride. Spectacular scenery and an empty road. 

Just beautiful.

This easily ranks in my top 5 most favourite motorbike rides I have ever been on. The road is in good condition and follows the lake edge of Lake Wakatipu, twisting and turning along the way. There were so many wow moments on this trip, so many photo worthy spots.

We reach a sign that says ‘Glenorchy, Welcome to Paradise’ I believe it. This place is gorgeous! Glenorchy is a peaceful lakeside town, quite a contract to its flashy Queenstown sister. The mountain ranges are dusted with snow, the sun is shining, no wind, cool fresh air, the place is quiet and relaxing.

At Glenorchy we find a pub to have some lunch and sit in the sun warming up. We sit by the lake for a bit, watching the tourist head out on jet boats and then go for a wander to the old boatshed and jetty. There has been recent flooding; the water is up to the top of the jetty, giving the sense of walking on water.

Daniel was happy to be here!

Honestly, this place is just amazing.

Inside the boatshed are a series of old photos and information about the area. Tourists began visiting Glenorchy in the 1860’s, however the road didn’t open until 1962. Up until then, the only way to get passengers, mail, food, cattle and more to and from Glenorchy was by boat, one being a twin-screw coal-fired steamship, the TSS Earnslaw, which you can still take a ride on today.

This place really is paradise. I wish we were staying here longer. It’s certainly a place I wish to visit again.

On the way back we make a stop to get some photos across the lake of The Remarkables and they are just that  – remarkable!  Long, jagged and pointy, they certainly have a presence! Even when they are not covered in snow.

On our way back to Alexandra we take a couple of detours. The first being up the Crown Range. A series of hairpin bends, twists and turns, leading up the mountain side. There are uninterrupted, spectacular views of the Queenstown basin. It is well worth the little side trip.

Queenstown Basin

We also make a stop in the historic little town of Clyde for a fruit yogurt ice cream, which we eat in the shop courtyard amongst the lavender.

The Leaning Tower of Ice Cream
Clyde

A perfect ending to another great day.

The Details

The SuperCar Fast Dash at Highlands will cost you $179. It is usually in a Ferrari 488 GTB but this can change from time to time. You can book this experience online.

The ride out to Glenorchy takes about 45 minutes from Queenstown each way. The road is in great condition and the scenery along the way is magical. On a motorbike, this was amazing. It would also be great in a car.