Mountains & Lakes & Icebergs, Oh my!

I’m happy to say our first night was a success!  Well other than the trucks passing by and the occasional horn honking. We were greeted with a beautiful sunny morning and a glorious view. I mean who can be mad at this view:

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After packing up we made a short stop at the Church of the Good Shepherd then headed off to Mount John Observatory to get some seriously stunning views of Lake Tekapo and the surrounding valley. Let’s just discuss for one moment how an RV handles an alpine road, scary, it’s scary ya’ll. I mean we made it up and eventually back down but it was a bit of a butt puckering experience and I’m sure it’s not the last time we have this experience. But the view, and the coffee was amazing!

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From there we headed down through Twizel and then out past Mount Cook to the Tasman Glacier. Along the way we were greeted by a familiar weather anomaly we haven’t seen in quite a few years, snow and rain mixed. The closer we got to our destination the more it happened. As we began the steep stepped climb the rain turned to snow then the snow to ice. Fun. We were cold and wet but completely worth the trek when we stood looking down at the icebergs floating in the icy blue water.

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As we traveled back out to the main road and we were greeted with icy blue rivers and breathtaking mountainscapes. IMG_3232IMG_3231

It isn’t hard to see why so many people fall in love with this country. Each day is filled with as much beauty as the previous one. Tomorrow we head to Te Anau to see Fiordland National Park and have a day of rest.

The Road Trip Begins

We did it!  We picked up our campervan and have headed off on a driving tour of New Zealand. I have to say the folks at Wilderness Campervans have been amazing this whole trip. From all my questions before we arrived and the fantastic serve when we arrived to pick up the van. I would recommend them to anyone.

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Once in the van we headed to a supermarket. Always a must to visit in a forgein country, it gives you a real feel for what local cuisine is like. And I’m here to say NZ takes the prize in the worldwide supermarket race. OK it’s not really a race but if it was they’d win.

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Kiwi is my favorite fruit. More specifically, Golden Kiwi is my favorite. That bin in back made my squeal like I was a 5 year old school girl. 

After the supermarket and lunch at Subway, yes I know, but seriously they had lamb subs with Tzatziki sauce! Decisions were made and there are zero regrets that sub was fantastic!

Anyway ok off track (I do that we’ll all be alright). Once we were stocked and fuel we got on the road. Thankfully we drive on the same side of the road as they do, so that’s normal.  The wind is a bit strong. And the scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. One of the reasons we came isn’t because my husband and I are huge Lord of the Rings & Hobbit fans, as are our children. The views here look like something straight out of the movies.

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We stopped for the night and slept on the side of the road in Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve. It’s a 4300 sq km area near Lake Tekapo and Mount Cook and is the only one in the Southern Hemisphere. My oldest is studying astronomy this year and what a better way to get some first hand learning done than upclose and personal with the Milky Way.

The night ended with some Rummy around our table and was full of laughs and frustrations (teaching a new card game is always a good time you know, you’ve done it).

Now we’re off to bed to sleep and start our trek further south.

An Antarctic Adventure

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Our day started with our Edoras Tour being cancelled due to weather on Mt Sunday. So, we hopped into action with our Plan B the International Antarctic Centre.

They have a free shuttle that runs from the Canterbury Museum.  Off we went for a walk across town to catch our Penguin topped chariot (not kidding there were penguins on it ya’ll, check out the picture.) We arrived a bit early so we spent some time walking through the Botanical Gardens (more on that later) and just enjoying the nice sunny, yet cool day.

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The penguin shuttle awaits to take us on a chilly adventure to the bottom of the world.

Upon arrival we were met with warm smiles to carry us through our adventure, which we would need to survive the storm we were about to endure. With our map and tickets in hand our day planned out we went to the Antarctic Storm room. That’s exactly what that sounds like, a room that simulates a storm and temperatures in Antarctica  let’s discuss what -18°C feels like, DANG COLD! That’s what!  Like freezing your tail end off, and my husband was in there with shorts (SHORTS for goodness sake!) on, and someone took his picture. I didn’t but some random stranger has a picture of him so I’m sure it will end up on FB with a caption like, “look at this crazy dude we saw in the Antarctic Snow room. He’s crazytown!”

 

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I digress, back to the adventure, next was my favorite part of the day, the Hägglund Ride. What’s a Hägglund you ask, I’m glad you did, it’s pretty much the coolest vehicle ever. Here check out the stats on this bad boy:

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Our carriage awaits.
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This is an insanely awesome vehicle.

See it’s pretty much the coolest, most badass off road vehicle on the face of the planet. They have a whole course set up with hills, logs, tires, a meter wide “crevasse”, steep inclines, and water. We did it all,  it handles perfectly, and I want one.

The rest of our day was filled with 4D movies, Blue Penguins, trying on the gear, and learning all about the frozen continent.

We were sad that our original plan got cancelled but I’m glad we got to experience what Antarctica is like to work and live there.  Here’s just a few pictures from our day.  Enjoy!

 

 

The adventure continues tomorrow…

The Journey Begins

Welp the time has come. The bags are packed. The car is safely in the hands of our favorite parking service here in Okinawa, thanks Honest Parking for always being amazing! We’re all checked in (easiest check in EVER!) and now here we sit waiting, or sleeping if your the oldest, to board our first flight.

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My oldest taking a nap while we wait.

Super exciting stuff going on, I know. I do have…

Well we boarded and took off before I could share so I’m sharing after the first leg.

10 Days and a Playlist

I can’t believe it!  We have 10 days until we leave for New Zealand.  There are so many things that still need to be done (mostly because I procrastinate) but one of the biggest is our road trip playlist.

Ok, lets jump back to 2015 when we went home to the good ole USofA to visit family.  While home we went on a MAJOR road trip.  I’m talking 4 states and Canada kind of trip. One thing that was a little lacking was our road trip music.  I mean who doesn’t want to sing along with 80’s/90’s pop or R&B, Michael Jackson’s greatest hits, an occasional Celine or Whitney song, or rock out to some hair band metal circa 1985 and classic rock.  Well, I had most of that on my playlist but it was still lacking in true road trip music. You know the good music that the whole family can sing to and appreciate.

So here we sit 10 days out and my dear son has requested an update to the road trip playlist.  He’s not wrong.  We plan on being in our vehicle driving for 3 weeks, we need some serious tunes going on.  Now to sift through the proverbial sea of songs and put together one seriously fantastic playlist.

When you are traveling what’s on your playlist?

 

A Day Late but the Kid Was Vomiting

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Planning a trip like this takes all the resources you can get your hands on.

I was supposed to write this yesterday.  Why you ask, well that was our official six week mark until we embark on our New Zealand adventure. But life happened and my youngest woke up vomiting, always a great way to wake up, right? Wrong, no parent likes waking up to a vomiting child.

So here I am a day late but hey the youngest is much better today.  We are on countdown day 41! Yikes!  This is really happening.  We have already hit some major milestones in our planning.  Plane tickets were bought months ago.  We recently made the final payment for our camper van from

The beginning, kind of

I mean everything has a beginning, right, so this is kind of it.

I started this blog to document our upcoming trip to New Zealand, but we’ve had so many adventures and will continue to have many more. However, I may have to step back in time every once in awhile and share some of those past journeys.  Thank you for joining me as we set off on our very own “unexpected journey” to Middle Earth.