New Zealand for the Sunshine

Hobbiton2

Pat here:

Those of you who follow the wenches regularly know that I’m a notorious sun lover. Even though I now live in Southern California, the land of sun, I still love traveling to the southern hemisphere and enjoying the long days of summer while the US is experiencing Swingbridgemethe short days of winter. Since our son, the ultimate sun-lover, lives in the Philippines, we meet every other year in a warm place none of us have explored. This year, it was New Zealand.

The written history of New Zealand isn’t very long. The country was the last habitable place in the world to be discovered—the MuseumMaori didn’t arrive until roughly 1200 AD, after Polynesia became overcrowded. We have only their oral history for that.

The first European to discover NZ was a Abel-tasman parkDutch explorer in 1642, Abel Tasman. We visited a spectacular national park named after him, right along the western coast with untouched natural beaches, rock formations, and amazing wildlife.

But it wasn’t until Captain James Cook arrived in 1769 that traders began arriving regularly. While the US was fighting a revolution, New Zealand was no more than a lawless trading post, fighting with the local Maori for the valuables they Extinct Moacould strip from the land, and destroying flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world. (extinct Moa from the Auckland museum)

Not until 1840 did the British establish a government, in cooperation with the Maori. Maybe because New Zealand was established so late in history, it grew at a slower pace and in what I consider to be a more civilized fashion. Agriculture still seems to be the predominant business—no big box stores and sprawling suburbs. They still have real downtowns!

We could barely cover the entire country, much less delve deeply into culture and history, in our spare two weeks. But we did our best! Auckland has a fabulous museum where almost the entire first floor is devoted to Maori artifacts and history. From Auckland, we drove to Hobbiton—in the farmlands south of HobbitonMatamata. The rolling hills remind me of the Cotswolds. I could have spent far more time there, just as I’ve always wanted to linger in the Cotswolds. The Hobbiton movie set was built on a farm and if you arrive early enough, before the crowds, it’s a little like walking through the movie. You expect Bilbo or Samwise to step out of their homes at any time. The flowers are maintained by the young student employees, and it’s very much like walking through an old English village—except for the hobbit doors!

Ever onwward, we traveled south to Rotorua, home of fascinating hot springs that fill the town with the scent of sulfur when the wind blows the right way. There are several Maori Maorivillages there, where local families offer insight into the traditional language, music, and culture. I’m not too much on bathing in hot springs, but the Maori dances are a wonder to behold! (we have some great video, if only I could figure out how to download from an ipad!)

From there, we really should have gone to Christchurch, but due to various road closures, we were directed back to the opposite coast, where we explored the Abel Tasman park mentioned earlier.

Since we’re not athletic, don’t backpack, bicycle, or climb mountains, we spent more time driving through the mountainous south island than actually exploring it. At ChristchurchcathedralChristchurchgardenthe last minute, we decided to skip the glaciers and cross back over to historic Christchurch. I could easily have spent a week there, but we were running  out of time. So we trotted quickly through the botanical garden, adored the Nor'West Arch Morris Dancers dancers, didn’t have Morrisdancerstime for the animal reserve, which we really wanted to see. And then we hiked all over the vibrant downtown area, so sadly damaged by the earthquake.

We ended our journey in Queenstown, where we ate decadent chocolates, cooked our steaks on stones, visited a fabulous bird park, and surrendered the car to take a bus tour Birdto pristine Milford Sound, enjoying not driving anywhere for a while. Milford

The best part of the journey, of course, was visiting with our son, but I’d go back in a heartbeat. Is there some part of the world you’d love to visit? Why?

100 thoughts on “New Zealand for the Sunshine”

  1. What fun to read your account, Pat. My husband and I traveled to NZ some six years ago; it was my first time back in forty years as I’m a citizen who left as a child. We went to some of the same places as you though we also traveled down to Dunedin (all by bus plus one ferry) where our daughter was doing a semester abroad. We’d love to spend more time there. Glad to hear that you had a fine time with your son, too.

    Reply
  2. What fun to read your account, Pat. My husband and I traveled to NZ some six years ago; it was my first time back in forty years as I’m a citizen who left as a child. We went to some of the same places as you though we also traveled down to Dunedin (all by bus plus one ferry) where our daughter was doing a semester abroad. We’d love to spend more time there. Glad to hear that you had a fine time with your son, too.

    Reply
  3. What fun to read your account, Pat. My husband and I traveled to NZ some six years ago; it was my first time back in forty years as I’m a citizen who left as a child. We went to some of the same places as you though we also traveled down to Dunedin (all by bus plus one ferry) where our daughter was doing a semester abroad. We’d love to spend more time there. Glad to hear that you had a fine time with your son, too.

    Reply
  4. What fun to read your account, Pat. My husband and I traveled to NZ some six years ago; it was my first time back in forty years as I’m a citizen who left as a child. We went to some of the same places as you though we also traveled down to Dunedin (all by bus plus one ferry) where our daughter was doing a semester abroad. We’d love to spend more time there. Glad to hear that you had a fine time with your son, too.

    Reply
  5. What fun to read your account, Pat. My husband and I traveled to NZ some six years ago; it was my first time back in forty years as I’m a citizen who left as a child. We went to some of the same places as you though we also traveled down to Dunedin (all by bus plus one ferry) where our daughter was doing a semester abroad. We’d love to spend more time there. Glad to hear that you had a fine time with your son, too.

    Reply
  6. I am ENVIOUS, Pat! I’ve been to New Zealand three times, but never for long enough.
    One small point: I’m guessing the decadent chocolates and steaks on stones were Queenstown, not Queensland? The latter being a large chunk of norther Australia. *G*

    Reply
  7. I am ENVIOUS, Pat! I’ve been to New Zealand three times, but never for long enough.
    One small point: I’m guessing the decadent chocolates and steaks on stones were Queenstown, not Queensland? The latter being a large chunk of norther Australia. *G*

    Reply
  8. I am ENVIOUS, Pat! I’ve been to New Zealand three times, but never for long enough.
    One small point: I’m guessing the decadent chocolates and steaks on stones were Queenstown, not Queensland? The latter being a large chunk of norther Australia. *G*

    Reply
  9. I am ENVIOUS, Pat! I’ve been to New Zealand three times, but never for long enough.
    One small point: I’m guessing the decadent chocolates and steaks on stones were Queenstown, not Queensland? The latter being a large chunk of norther Australia. *G*

    Reply
  10. I am ENVIOUS, Pat! I’ve been to New Zealand three times, but never for long enough.
    One small point: I’m guessing the decadent chocolates and steaks on stones were Queenstown, not Queensland? The latter being a large chunk of norther Australia. *G*

    Reply
  11. It sounds like a wonderful trip, Pat. Thanks for sharing your travels with us. Mobility issues make it unlikely that I will be able to travel long distances, so I am especially grateful for those of you who post photographs and descriptions of far away places and make imaginative journeys possible.

    Reply
  12. It sounds like a wonderful trip, Pat. Thanks for sharing your travels with us. Mobility issues make it unlikely that I will be able to travel long distances, so I am especially grateful for those of you who post photographs and descriptions of far away places and make imaginative journeys possible.

    Reply
  13. It sounds like a wonderful trip, Pat. Thanks for sharing your travels with us. Mobility issues make it unlikely that I will be able to travel long distances, so I am especially grateful for those of you who post photographs and descriptions of far away places and make imaginative journeys possible.

    Reply
  14. It sounds like a wonderful trip, Pat. Thanks for sharing your travels with us. Mobility issues make it unlikely that I will be able to travel long distances, so I am especially grateful for those of you who post photographs and descriptions of far away places and make imaginative journeys possible.

    Reply
  15. It sounds like a wonderful trip, Pat. Thanks for sharing your travels with us. Mobility issues make it unlikely that I will be able to travel long distances, so I am especially grateful for those of you who post photographs and descriptions of far away places and make imaginative journeys possible.

    Reply
  16. We’re spending all our retirement money traveling while we’re still healthy, so we’ll have the photos to look back on when we’re not!
    I really wish we could easily post photos in our books as well. Maybe that time will come!

    Reply
  17. We’re spending all our retirement money traveling while we’re still healthy, so we’ll have the photos to look back on when we’re not!
    I really wish we could easily post photos in our books as well. Maybe that time will come!

    Reply
  18. We’re spending all our retirement money traveling while we’re still healthy, so we’ll have the photos to look back on when we’re not!
    I really wish we could easily post photos in our books as well. Maybe that time will come!

    Reply
  19. We’re spending all our retirement money traveling while we’re still healthy, so we’ll have the photos to look back on when we’re not!
    I really wish we could easily post photos in our books as well. Maybe that time will come!

    Reply
  20. We’re spending all our retirement money traveling while we’re still healthy, so we’ll have the photos to look back on when we’re not!
    I really wish we could easily post photos in our books as well. Maybe that time will come!

    Reply
  21. I love your post as it brought back memories from a trip 30 years ago. I am glad they still have active downtowns. I had wondered over the years if that had changed. I remember the Maori dances and that my very embarrassed husband was strongly encouraged to volunteer to dance by a very enthusiastic audience. I will never forget watching him rub noses with a dancer. Also there was a bird that looked like the one pictured that followed me around. We also visited the glaciers and I will never forget landing on one or the fact that we were heading directly toward a mountain peak and at the last moment the plane flew up and over it.

    Reply
  22. I love your post as it brought back memories from a trip 30 years ago. I am glad they still have active downtowns. I had wondered over the years if that had changed. I remember the Maori dances and that my very embarrassed husband was strongly encouraged to volunteer to dance by a very enthusiastic audience. I will never forget watching him rub noses with a dancer. Also there was a bird that looked like the one pictured that followed me around. We also visited the glaciers and I will never forget landing on one or the fact that we were heading directly toward a mountain peak and at the last moment the plane flew up and over it.

    Reply
  23. I love your post as it brought back memories from a trip 30 years ago. I am glad they still have active downtowns. I had wondered over the years if that had changed. I remember the Maori dances and that my very embarrassed husband was strongly encouraged to volunteer to dance by a very enthusiastic audience. I will never forget watching him rub noses with a dancer. Also there was a bird that looked like the one pictured that followed me around. We also visited the glaciers and I will never forget landing on one or the fact that we were heading directly toward a mountain peak and at the last moment the plane flew up and over it.

    Reply
  24. I love your post as it brought back memories from a trip 30 years ago. I am glad they still have active downtowns. I had wondered over the years if that had changed. I remember the Maori dances and that my very embarrassed husband was strongly encouraged to volunteer to dance by a very enthusiastic audience. I will never forget watching him rub noses with a dancer. Also there was a bird that looked like the one pictured that followed me around. We also visited the glaciers and I will never forget landing on one or the fact that we were heading directly toward a mountain peak and at the last moment the plane flew up and over it.

    Reply
  25. I love your post as it brought back memories from a trip 30 years ago. I am glad they still have active downtowns. I had wondered over the years if that had changed. I remember the Maori dances and that my very embarrassed husband was strongly encouraged to volunteer to dance by a very enthusiastic audience. I will never forget watching him rub noses with a dancer. Also there was a bird that looked like the one pictured that followed me around. We also visited the glaciers and I will never forget landing on one or the fact that we were heading directly toward a mountain peak and at the last moment the plane flew up and over it.

    Reply
  26. Ma’am, you have shared wonderful pictures as well as your memories.
    Like Janga, it is not in my future to be able to travel. Also, like Janga, I always appreciate seeing the places I will not see on my own.
    New Zealand is a wonderful country and it happens to be a place I have always wanted to see and spend time.
    So again, thank you so very much for sharing your trip with us.

    Reply
  27. Ma’am, you have shared wonderful pictures as well as your memories.
    Like Janga, it is not in my future to be able to travel. Also, like Janga, I always appreciate seeing the places I will not see on my own.
    New Zealand is a wonderful country and it happens to be a place I have always wanted to see and spend time.
    So again, thank you so very much for sharing your trip with us.

    Reply
  28. Ma’am, you have shared wonderful pictures as well as your memories.
    Like Janga, it is not in my future to be able to travel. Also, like Janga, I always appreciate seeing the places I will not see on my own.
    New Zealand is a wonderful country and it happens to be a place I have always wanted to see and spend time.
    So again, thank you so very much for sharing your trip with us.

    Reply
  29. Ma’am, you have shared wonderful pictures as well as your memories.
    Like Janga, it is not in my future to be able to travel. Also, like Janga, I always appreciate seeing the places I will not see on my own.
    New Zealand is a wonderful country and it happens to be a place I have always wanted to see and spend time.
    So again, thank you so very much for sharing your trip with us.

    Reply
  30. Ma’am, you have shared wonderful pictures as well as your memories.
    Like Janga, it is not in my future to be able to travel. Also, like Janga, I always appreciate seeing the places I will not see on my own.
    New Zealand is a wonderful country and it happens to be a place I have always wanted to see and spend time.
    So again, thank you so very much for sharing your trip with us.

    Reply
  31. what wonderful memories, thank you for sharing! They have such adorable birds, but I don’t mind missing the plane flying into the glacier bit. 😉 we were on a tall ship that went under a bridge and we could have sworn the mast would rip off–perspective is everything.

    Reply
  32. what wonderful memories, thank you for sharing! They have such adorable birds, but I don’t mind missing the plane flying into the glacier bit. 😉 we were on a tall ship that went under a bridge and we could have sworn the mast would rip off–perspective is everything.

    Reply
  33. what wonderful memories, thank you for sharing! They have such adorable birds, but I don’t mind missing the plane flying into the glacier bit. 😉 we were on a tall ship that went under a bridge and we could have sworn the mast would rip off–perspective is everything.

    Reply
  34. what wonderful memories, thank you for sharing! They have such adorable birds, but I don’t mind missing the plane flying into the glacier bit. 😉 we were on a tall ship that went under a bridge and we could have sworn the mast would rip off–perspective is everything.

    Reply
  35. what wonderful memories, thank you for sharing! They have such adorable birds, but I don’t mind missing the plane flying into the glacier bit. 😉 we were on a tall ship that went under a bridge and we could have sworn the mast would rip off–perspective is everything.

    Reply
  36. I had a wonderful PEN PAL before computers in Auckland NZ and she sent all kinds of folders and info. on this nation! I love it and my pen pal got one for my mom to write to and we met relative from her penfriend who stayed with us for 3 days. Elaine (my pen friend) had a girl who worded with her call on us and they stayed for 1 week. WHAT FUN! The girl went to school with our younger daughter and gave a talk to her class and took questions!
    BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY both North and South Island!

    Reply
  37. I had a wonderful PEN PAL before computers in Auckland NZ and she sent all kinds of folders and info. on this nation! I love it and my pen pal got one for my mom to write to and we met relative from her penfriend who stayed with us for 3 days. Elaine (my pen friend) had a girl who worded with her call on us and they stayed for 1 week. WHAT FUN! The girl went to school with our younger daughter and gave a talk to her class and took questions!
    BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY both North and South Island!

    Reply
  38. I had a wonderful PEN PAL before computers in Auckland NZ and she sent all kinds of folders and info. on this nation! I love it and my pen pal got one for my mom to write to and we met relative from her penfriend who stayed with us for 3 days. Elaine (my pen friend) had a girl who worded with her call on us and they stayed for 1 week. WHAT FUN! The girl went to school with our younger daughter and gave a talk to her class and took questions!
    BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY both North and South Island!

    Reply
  39. I had a wonderful PEN PAL before computers in Auckland NZ and she sent all kinds of folders and info. on this nation! I love it and my pen pal got one for my mom to write to and we met relative from her penfriend who stayed with us for 3 days. Elaine (my pen friend) had a girl who worded with her call on us and they stayed for 1 week. WHAT FUN! The girl went to school with our younger daughter and gave a talk to her class and took questions!
    BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY both North and South Island!

    Reply
  40. I had a wonderful PEN PAL before computers in Auckland NZ and she sent all kinds of folders and info. on this nation! I love it and my pen pal got one for my mom to write to and we met relative from her penfriend who stayed with us for 3 days. Elaine (my pen friend) had a girl who worded with her call on us and they stayed for 1 week. WHAT FUN! The girl went to school with our younger daughter and gave a talk to her class and took questions!
    BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY both North and South Island!

    Reply
  41. Thank you for sharing your trip and photos. I don’t think I will be going New Zealand either, I really enjoyed your post.

    Reply
  42. Thank you for sharing your trip and photos. I don’t think I will be going New Zealand either, I really enjoyed your post.

    Reply
  43. Thank you for sharing your trip and photos. I don’t think I will be going New Zealand either, I really enjoyed your post.

    Reply
  44. Thank you for sharing your trip and photos. I don’t think I will be going New Zealand either, I really enjoyed your post.

    Reply
  45. Thank you for sharing your trip and photos. I don’t think I will be going New Zealand either, I really enjoyed your post.

    Reply
  46. Thanks for the armchair travel! I hope to get to New Zealand and Australia one day, but the UK and other European destinations are higher on my bucket list, mostly for the history. 🙂 But first, this summer, my sons and I are planning a road trip up the Pacific Northwest coast and to Vancouver–they’ve never been out of the US and I haven’t been to Western Canada, so it’ll be an experience for us all. Thanks again!

    Reply
  47. Thanks for the armchair travel! I hope to get to New Zealand and Australia one day, but the UK and other European destinations are higher on my bucket list, mostly for the history. 🙂 But first, this summer, my sons and I are planning a road trip up the Pacific Northwest coast and to Vancouver–they’ve never been out of the US and I haven’t been to Western Canada, so it’ll be an experience for us all. Thanks again!

    Reply
  48. Thanks for the armchair travel! I hope to get to New Zealand and Australia one day, but the UK and other European destinations are higher on my bucket list, mostly for the history. 🙂 But first, this summer, my sons and I are planning a road trip up the Pacific Northwest coast and to Vancouver–they’ve never been out of the US and I haven’t been to Western Canada, so it’ll be an experience for us all. Thanks again!

    Reply
  49. Thanks for the armchair travel! I hope to get to New Zealand and Australia one day, but the UK and other European destinations are higher on my bucket list, mostly for the history. 🙂 But first, this summer, my sons and I are planning a road trip up the Pacific Northwest coast and to Vancouver–they’ve never been out of the US and I haven’t been to Western Canada, so it’ll be an experience for us all. Thanks again!

    Reply
  50. Thanks for the armchair travel! I hope to get to New Zealand and Australia one day, but the UK and other European destinations are higher on my bucket list, mostly for the history. 🙂 But first, this summer, my sons and I are planning a road trip up the Pacific Northwest coast and to Vancouver–they’ve never been out of the US and I haven’t been to Western Canada, so it’ll be an experience for us all. Thanks again!

    Reply
  51. I join with those who have already said that long travels are probably not in my future (although we’re still trying to achieve our 3 North American ones). So I also am very grateful to you for taking me along.
    —In case you’r curious, North American because 2 of the three involve Canadian detours.

    Reply
  52. I join with those who have already said that long travels are probably not in my future (although we’re still trying to achieve our 3 North American ones). So I also am very grateful to you for taking me along.
    —In case you’r curious, North American because 2 of the three involve Canadian detours.

    Reply
  53. I join with those who have already said that long travels are probably not in my future (although we’re still trying to achieve our 3 North American ones). So I also am very grateful to you for taking me along.
    —In case you’r curious, North American because 2 of the three involve Canadian detours.

    Reply
  54. I join with those who have already said that long travels are probably not in my future (although we’re still trying to achieve our 3 North American ones). So I also am very grateful to you for taking me along.
    —In case you’r curious, North American because 2 of the three involve Canadian detours.

    Reply
  55. I join with those who have already said that long travels are probably not in my future (although we’re still trying to achieve our 3 North American ones). So I also am very grateful to you for taking me along.
    —In case you’r curious, North American because 2 of the three involve Canadian detours.

    Reply

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