Now let me start by saying I hate the saying to “do” a location. Firstly it is poor English and secondly, in my opinion, you can never “do” ie, see, explore, complete a destination no matter how long you stay as a visitor. It is similar to the relatively recent introduction of “Can I get a coffee?” At this stage Jonno would be shouting “No No No! The barista gets the coffee you ask if you can have one”. It also seems to negate the need for the word please which is another pet hate. How old fashioned are we? Sorry it just had to be said and now I can get back to what the post should be about.
A Honeymoon Down Under
After their wedding in July 2017 our son and daughter-in-law, Shaun and Katie, have been planning their honeymoon to New Zealand. Using some savings along with the very generous wedding gift money they have made the dream and reality and leave in about 2 weeks for their 3 week adventure.
I can’t remember if our advice was actually sought or whether we just muscled in but with two trips under our belt we felt we had something to contribute to the planning of this adventure. Granted we had the luxury of time on our trips but we could help them focus on priorities. So they combined our recommendations with those of their friends, kept some, ditched some, added others, spent hours researching and came up with a plan. Annual leave was arranged and Emirates flights booked. They were committed. Let the countdown begin.
The Wall Planner
Once the flights were booked Jonno got somewhat excited at the thought of them going to, by far, our favourite country so far in our travels. To be honest I think he thought he was going himself but he did kick off things with a legendary Jonno wall planner. Not wanting to play it down but basically it is a home made over-size calendar to stick up on the wall to juggle dates, routes and even mark up what is booked and not booked. In their absence, this was duly drawn up and stuck on the wall of their spare bedroom. That was back in October and here we are 2 weeks from lift off.
We left various books and maps that we had gathered on our travels with them so that could get an idea of geographic locations and places that were “possibles”. The final 3 week plan will not be for everyone. The city lovers will want to have dedicated time in Christchurch, Auckland and Wellington, the wine lovers time in the Marlborough area, island lovers Waiheke and the Bay of Islands but this is a time focused taster for them and who knows they may want to return as S&KWalkers in 30 years time to carry on the family tradition.
Recommended Do’s and Don’ts
- Don’t do too much driving in one day
- Do wear tracksuit/elasticated clothing on the flight
- Do set aside at least a day when you arrive to recover a little from the flight before driving
- Don’t spent any time in Christchurch and Auckland (controversial perhaps but a city is a city and NZ is all about the wild open spaces, beaches, alps, lakes)
- Do get petrol and cash when you are in a town. It’s not like the home counties where everything is on your doorstep.
- Don’t drive via GPS. Use a map/guide where you get much more of an idea what to see
- Do ask your Airbnb hosts about local sights/places to eat
- Don’t expect 5* resorts. It is not Dubai.
- Don’t try and see too much – just enjoy what you do get to see.
- Do fall in love with everything and encourage the whole family to move there!
Is Jonno working on another NZ wall planner for us?
There has been the inevitable knock on effect. Yes you’ve guessed it. Should we plan another trip? With Kiwi friends regularly asking us to return, so many places yet to see, is it on the cards? What are those large pieces of white paper in Jonno’s backpack? Are they board markers in his coat pocket? Why are we getting Emirates updates?
Some would think we are crazy with so many other places in the world to explore but there is always an underlying fear that we would not love it as much as the Land of the Long White Cloud.
Honestly it is too early to say, but Shaun and Katie’s trip has definitely woken a sleeping long-haul travel giant within us. We have a busy 6 months ahead of us but I am sure lots of thought and discussion will be dedicated to this. More flip chart paper may be required.
As if to make it even harder for ourselves, we will be taking Shaun and Katie to the airport and collecting them on their return. A rendezvous at the Premier Inn Gatwick is planned the night before where I’m sure the excited honeymooners will get very little sleep. On the eve of this massive journey and adventure, the excitement will be palpable. After a breakfast feast we will drop them at the airport and after lots of hugs, tears and fond farewells head straight for the stationery shop for some extra large paper!