Our trek to the Tongariro Crossing on New Zealand’s North Island was the trek that almost wasn’t. Winds were fierce, rains continued to pour down and visibility only seemed to get worse right up to the day before we were set to hike.
As night fell, winds began to subside and the rain slowed, but it still didn’t look good. We prepared ourselves for the worst.
The next morning, however, a shift. Timed for our late start, winds died further, clouds burned off and blue skies emerged. This was our Tongariro Crossing. Open up the panorama to full screen to see what we found: the Emerald Lakes, the Red Crater and hints of Mordor. Continue Reading »
This is our on-the-ground introduction to the New Zealand wine scene, focused on the South Island regions of Marlborough, Central Otago, and Nelson. It includes recommended wineries, a wine cottage experience for the romance bucket list, and an insight into how wine tasting in New Zealand can be more frightening than jumping off a bridge.
Can you spot the vineyards in the distance?
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Imagine going to one of the wettest places on earth, only to be greeted with sunshine. This was our experience in Doubtful Sound on the very southwest tip of New Zealand’s South Island. Blue skies in the land of socked-in clouds and precipitation — lucky, we were. Continue Reading »
Confession time. This week’s panorama is really for us. We’ve been enduring the tail end of a long winter in Berlin. (Yes, it’s still going!). Gazing at beach scenes like this one offers a respite, a way to escape to New Zealand for a few moments to forget the lingering snow on the ground outside. We, too, travel vicariously — even back to the places we’ve already visited.
Even if you’re not sitting in cold and snow this week, we hope you’ll still enjoy one of our favorite picnic lunch spots: a white sand beach in the beauty that is New Zealand’s Abel Tasman National Park.
Open up the panorama to full screen and take a virtual stroll around Stillwell Beach. Continue Reading »
This is a story about living in someone else’s shadow. It’s also the beginning of our answer to the question: New Zealand, North Island or South Island?
Imagine a geeky younger boy who grows up in the shadow of his brother, the all-star. The big brother gets all the attention, all the fame. But it’s the younger brother with whom you develop a special relationship, who was allowed to surprise you because you spent some time with him.
The New Zealand advice mantra of choice: “Get amongst it!”
This is our relationship with New Zealand’s North Island. It lives in the travel shadow of its South Island brother. Sure, the South Island is spectacular (yes, we’ll get to that), but it’s on the North Island that our New Zealand love affair began.
While most may steer you directly to the South Island when asked about New Zealand travel, we take a different approach. Visit both. Really. You can thank us later. Continue Reading »
One minute, you’re in the center of the town of Franz Josef, a cafe on one side of you, a pizzeria on the other. Then, within minutes, you are transported to another world. Your helicopter pops up into the air, through jagged mountain crags, just before dropping you into the heart of a glacier, an otherworldly ice field of turquoise blues and glowing whites.
This was Franz Josef Glacier. Continue Reading »
This is a story about losing our surfing virginity on the beaches of Raglan, a town on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. It’s also about taking a step back to appreciate that learning to surf is a lot like learning to live life itself.
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Perspective. There are times to sit and relax on a white sand beach and enjoy the proximity of the crashing waves. And then there are times to climb up to get up above it all.
Waewaetorea Island is one of those times to take the climb. From the top you get a 360-degree view of around 35 islands that make up the Bay of Islands in the North Island.
Open the panorama up to full screen. Would you take the climb? Continue Reading »
I am starting to wonder about you guys. every time you celebrate your ‘love’ (V-day, anniversary) you jump off something very high. Please explain.
— A good friend responds to our Valentine’s Day bungy jump, capturing a little problem we seem to have.
So there we were in New Zealand, Valentine’s Day approaching. We find ourselves in Queenstown, the so-called adventure capital of the world where just about any adrenaline-pumping, blood-draining exercise can be found. So we think: What sort of shared experience, that we haven’t done before, can we do together to celebrate Valentine’s Day?
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Whāia te iti kahurangi, ki te tuohu koutou me he maunga teitei.
Pursue that which is most precious. If you should bow down, let it only be to a lofty mountain
— Maori blessing
Sometimes in life, we find ourselves fortunate enough to be surrounded by so much beauty that we can feel a bit like we are drowning. In these moments, we need a dose of wisdom, an aid in context that allows us to grasp it all at once, to properly honor it, to put it into perspective.
Beauty aloft: The Emerald Lakes — Mount Tongariro, New Zealand
And so it has been with our experience in New Zealand. Breathtaking moments, sweeping landscapes, pure adventure — the word abundance doesn’t quite do it all justice.
Then we heard the words above. Continue Reading »