So in the middle of August several things happened at once:
It was our 1 year ‘NZversary’ aaaaaaaannnnnndddddd Emma came to visit, proving herself as our most committed and loyal friend! And it was awesome.
We grabbed Emma the morning after her arrival in Auckland and bundled her straight back onto a plane to Queenstown on South Island. Although it was winter, the sun was shining and it was only blue skies ahead!
We hit the ground running, going on the shotover jet that afternoon!
And arranged our next 2 days activities – heading to the slopes at Cardrona Ski Field halfway between Queenstown and Wanaka. So begins the tale of how I embarked on my professional snowboarding career.
Emma decided she too would have some lessons…..however bailed on day 2 deciding she is better off sticking with ski’s… and I actually managed to spend some time upright on my board….long enough to make it down a green run! Success! And clearly long enough for my instructor to note – ‘Laura, you are like a giraffe, you must bend your knees more, your legs are so long i can see exactly what you’re doing!’. This is unfortunately not the first time this similarity has been made.
After an exhausting and highly successful 2 days playing in the snow during which time we all found muscles we didn’t know we had and i developed a rather tender posterior and knees….we decided to get up early again and head to Milford Sound. ‘Sound’ is kiwi for fjord, and Milford Sound is a solid 290km, 4hour EACH WAY trip through stunning snow capped mountain scenery including a tunnel THROUGH a mountain!
Unfortunately after taking this photo and getting back in the car we found we had been invaded – by flies! I think the whole lakeside colony collectively entered the car,and so we spent the remaining 2 hours with the windows open, itching and squishing left, right and centre! But it was worth it.
The boat trip was beautiful…and we saw fur seals, bottlenose dolphins (Emma lost it at this point) and….a yellow crested penguin ( i may have lost it at this point). Then there were Kea (alpine parrots) on the way home (lost it again)!
On our last day in Queenstown we took it easy, went for a wander and went on the LUGE! As we all know…we LOVE to luge…and the views from the top were spectacular.
Turns out, to no ones surprise, Emma’s not such a speed demon, and so we continued our travels and headed to Wanaka, a windy windy drive, culminating in some wine tasting at Rippon vineyard – with a beautiful outlook across the lake, and ended the day with a beautiful sunset.
The next day we returned to Auckland early and got the ferry across to Waiheke island where we rented electric bikes and went on our own little winery tour. Electric bikes are great fun and were a great way of seeing the island….and we only lost Emma for about 45minutes….somehow…I mean inevitably. And Phil obviously didn’t get hideously frustrated by this at all. And I honestly really did find the whole thing hilarious.
The next day we trundled down to the glow worm caves at Waitomo – Basil may have 3 seats….but he’s arguably not comfortable for 3 people. But the caves were stunning, there were so many glow worms, it was magical.
Despite exhausting days and sleep coming easy for one member of our group, Phil and I had forgotten how much Emma SNORES! GOODNESS GRACIOUS! So it was with mixed feelings that we headed homeward, back to our flat…and banished Emma to the airbed in the living room.
For Emma’s second week in NZ, Phil and i had to go back to work, with me on nights. Ems entertained herself though with hot pools, ziplining, more wine, exploring Tauranga and beach walks. During the very final weekend we also packed in a walk up the Mount (a bit of cursing from Emma), some more luging but this time in Rotorua, a bit of Maori culture at a hangi, a walk in the redwoods and a walk up to the top of Wairere Falls (significantly more cursing from Emma and the claim of being both one of the best things but also the worst thing we did over the 2 weeks!)
And then it was all over…and we drove Emma back up to Auckland, spending the last day having lunch up the skytower. We had such a good time and are so grateful for Emma making the effort to come and visit us. WE LOVE YOU EMMA!