Here we are: back in NZ! She can’t get rid of us just yet.
While we still have the South Island to explore, we decided to also check out the capital and surrounding areas.
After our two week break in Fiji, we flew back to Wellington. We had a lot of recommendations around the capital with plenty of options to explore, but most of all this was to become our location to celebrate Christmas and New Years.
Our first impression of the capital was: windy, funky, cool, pretty, scenic.
We stayed in Mornington, which is just a short drive from city center and with that, close the many awesome things Wellington has to offer.
On one of our first days we explored Te Papa, New Zealand’s National Museum. It was incredible and vast and free. We came back twice to take it all in.
There was a pretty awesome LEGO exhibit that we thoroughly enjoyed.
I highly recommend checking out Te Papa to learn about pretty much everything New Zealand. The Maori and maritime life section were among our favorites.
The kids also had a blast in the interactive play area.
After the Museum we had a stroll down Taranaki Wharf which boasts of pop up shops, vendors, life events, restaurants and the Jump Platform that allows you to leap off a 5 or 8 meter platform into the cold harbor waters.
Brrr…while we didnt dare get our tushies all wet and cold, it was so much fun watching others jump and splash everyone in sight.
On a side note: When we arrive somewhere new, we try to balance city and nature as best as we can.
So, here are our favorite outings around the city:
Red Rocks Trail for its beautiful vistas, red rocks and sighting of fur seals in the winter months. It was an all around nice walk that took us about 2hrs to complete.
Mount Victoria Lookout is a must in my opinion. 360 degree views of the city, harbor and beyond make it an all weather gorgeous pitstop.
Riding the Wellington Cable Car up to the lookout and walking back down through the gorgeous Botanical Garden while checking out a super cool playground, space station with observatory and cable car museum! Another favorite!
Walking in elven footsteps at Rivendell aka Kaitoke Regional Park.
What a stunning park full of gorgeous rainforest tracks, rivers and a truly elven feel to it.
One day we drove out to Plimmerton Beach which is an about 45min drive from the city. Cute shops, restaurants and coffee shops greeted us and made up a perfect little getaway for the day.
Since Wellington is the movie making capital of New Zealand, a trip to Miramar and The Weta Cave is a must do.
Many movies came to live there and best of all entry is free.
Cuba Street is named the coolest street for a reason. The boho vibe, unique shops and amazing restaurants make it a good place to hang out. We lived very close to it, so it was a constant go to for food, fashion and of course the eclectic vibes.
After celebrating Christmas and New Years in our cozy Airbnb, we took the Interislander Ferry from Wellington to Picton to begin our journey to the South Island. Cruising through the crystal blue waters of the Marlborough Sounds is a treat for the senses. The journey takes around 3 hours and is well worth it, even if it’s only to stare at nature’s magical beauty.
On our drive towards Nelson, we stopped at a wonderful spot called Pelorus River. It is halfway between Blenheim and Nelson and is a must stop and location for Sir Peter Jackson’s Hobbit. It has middle earth magic written all over it and makes for a perfect picnic stop with its forest glades, rock pools and waterfalls.
Nelson & Abel Tasman National Park
For our next two weeks, we hung out on a farm. It was such a beautiful, grounding and cool experience for our kids in particular.
Our farmstay at Harris Hill Cottages was both dreamy and very magical.
The family run farm is set high up on Harris Hill, overlooking the Tasman Sea and the coastline of Abel Tasman National Park.
The family was so kind and generous. The kids and us had so much fun feeding the many sheep, goats, calves, horses, dogs, pig and chicken.
Although I got sick with a sinus infection and had to lay low for a bit, I wouldn’t change this experience for the world.
We decided to stay in Nelson as a base to explore the surrounding parks. Little did we know that we picked the sunniest and most creative spot. The town with its many galleries and great restaurants made it very easy to enjoy our next two weeks here.
Onto Abel Tasman National Park!
We drove to Kaiteriteri base and took the Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle to Awaroa.
What an otherworldly experience that was already. Stunning crystal blue/green water, rising granite rock faces and the world famous coastal trek.
Upon arrival in Awaroa, we chilled at the gorgeous beach there for a picnic, marveling at the stunning beauty that was surrounding us. White and golden beaches, a mild climate, an abundant bird life and the clearest water I have ever seen.
We made our way to Awaroa Lodge, a favored pitstop for the Abel Tasman Trek hikers and from there hiked to Tonga Query.
After taking a short break at the lodge, we made our way through forest up to the Awaroa saddle, passing world class beaches, scenic seaside. Personally I was pinching myself the entire trek in awe and kind of disbelief of so much beauty in one place.
Close to the end of our trek we had to cross the Onetahuti Estuary. Let’s just say looking back, I’m relieved we didn’t plan the trip right around high tide, which can bring the table up to 12feet at the crossing AND the water isn’t exactly warm.
We ended up crossing at about knee deep, realizing shortly after that we had lost track of time, sprinting back to our pick up location. Luckily Robin arrived first and was able to hold the boat for us.
The alternative would have been an unplanned camp out in the park over night.
What a stunning adventure that day was. Our kids really enjoyed the ride over and back and had a blast trying to catch our ride home.
So loves, I’ll be back with more soon.
Next up is our trip down from Nelson to the Westcoast of the Southisland.
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