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 Weekend at the Beach

Where ever you are in New Zealand, you are never far from the coast. Having holidays on the beach is part of the great Kiwi lifestyle. So this weekend, I headed away to Waitarere Beach with my family.

Waitarere is a small beach town located on the West Coast of the North Island, about an hours drive north of the Kapiti Coast. There are parks, reserves, a small shop and a wide, sandy beach. Perfect for a weekend escape.

We call in to see my Grandmother for lunch before heading on, making a stop at the RJ’s Licorice Factory to pick some essential supplies for our beach break.

I haven’t been to Waitarere before, well not that I can remember anyway. While I am looking forward to exploring the area, I think I am most looking forward to some R&R time, great food (my brother is an excellent cook) but mostly, just having chill time with my family. I am with my mum, dad, brother, sister in law, 4 year old nephew and 1 year old niece. Daniel has stayed home. He works Saturdays and holidays aren’t really his thing. (He is one of those fortunate people that love their job so much, they would rather be at work than on holiday!)

I have booked us a bach through Book a Bach. Its my first time using this service but everything goes smoothly. We arrive, decide on rooms, unpack and then before long we are down at the beach enjoying sun, sand and sea.

I can’t remember the last time I took my shoes off and walked barefoot on the beach. I am at the beach most weekends with my dogs, but our local spot is pretty stoney. As I sink my toes into the sand and feel the cold chill (yes, it’s Spring, but it’s by no means tropical) of the ocean swirl around my ankles, city life drains out of me as I connect with nature and the environment around me.

Lachie, my 4 year old nephew, is having the time of his life, jumping over waves, running away from them, getting buried in sand and squealing with delight. It takes me back to carefree childhood days and I feel so young again. My life has become so serious and responsible, I need to make time for childlike fun.

I turn around to find that Master 4 decided my shoes were to far away. He brought them closer and next minute the waves pick them up and they start floating away.

Back at the house, bubbles, chippies and cheese come out as we sit around the outside table chatting and soaking in the setting sun. Then a water pistol appears out of no where and I am the favorite target.

Dinner is a simple BBQ and salad, but shared among family in the outdoor setting, it is perfect.

The next morning, I start my day in the outdoor shower which is incredible. The water is hot and I slowly wake up while listening to the birds. It is then followed by a gourmet cooked breakfast courtesy of my brother.

After a leisurely start to the day, we wander down to the nearby forest. A wander through some tall pine trees brings us to the fairy forest. Its easy to miss the magic of a place like this, but I am given the opportunity to view it through the eyes of a child. They see beauty in the simple things and awe in the mysterious.

Continuing with our walk we come across an outdoor obstacle course of various difficulties. We all pick and choose the parts we want to tackle, I am no where near as agile as I used to be but manage a few of them.

We make our way back to the house along the beach, foraging for shells (now hanging on my Christmas tree) and other treasures. Shoes of course come off again and we spend a good hour playing in the waves and sand. We have also grabbed the petanque set and have a few games on the beach.

After lunch I take an afternoon nap on the deck, enjoying the warmth of the sun, until I am rudely awakened by the water pistol again. No, it’s not my 4 year old nephew, but my 35 year old brother. He still knows how to have childlike fun!

Dinner is another wonderful affair, simple, but isn’t it often the way that the simple things offer the most pleasure in life? I make one last trip down to the beach in the evening to watch the sun set. I am accompanied by my sister in law and her rabbit!

The morning is greeted by another outdoor shower. Today, I am on breakfast so I whip up some buttermilk pancakes with berry compote.

Our time here has come to an end but it has been wonderful. Knowing that places like this exist, so close to where I live, makes me again so thankful that I live where I do.

The family all agree that we should make this an seasonal event, so watch this space. I hope to be bringing you a summer edition in the next 3 months!