New Zealand is a fantastic and amazing country. A country so diverse with breathtaking scenery. A place I always wanted to visit. So when we had an unexpected opportunity to visit the beautiful country I jumped at the chance. 

And so it begins

New Zealand is a country I always envisaged I would visit at some time in the future, but not quite this soon. We were going half way across the world to a wedding. We only had a a short time to get everything organised, I must admit I did feel a little apprehensive. I immediately started investigating flight, hotels, stop overs, car hire, trips, wedding outfits, the list seemed endless. Well as the time grew nearer, I became more excited than apprehensive. Everything was booked.  

 

Essential planning

So what next? I decided a list was the way forward. A list helps you prepare for anything and it is a great feeling as you tick things off.

  • Check out and book flights
  • Hotels
  • Car parking at the airport
  • Overnight stops during the journey
  • Are passports up to date?
  • Do we need visas
  • Travel insurance
  • Trips when we arrive 
  • Car hire & insurance

Always check reviews, this can be very time consuming, I find 'Trip Adviser' a good place to start. Don't get too bogged down with them and remember there will always be some bad reviews, but as long as there are more good than bad, then it will probably be ok

12 Essentials for a long haul flight

The next thing is to consider the flights. We had 23 hours of flying time between three separate flights, the longest being 13 hours, so comfort is of paramount importance. I researched online to find out how I could make economy class feel like business class, or at least make it as comfortable as possible. I felt another list coming on. I would recommend the following

  • Quality neck pillow
  • Flight socks
  • inflatable foot stool
  • Freshen up face spray
  • Face wipes
  • Roll on deodorant
  • Toothbrush & toothpaste
  • Light comfortable clothing
  • Change of clothes
  • Shawl or scarf
  • Slippers
  • Eye mask

On our way

Checking in was simplicity itself and as our suitcases went of down the conveyor belt, I knew we were truly on our way.

The first flight out was fine, 7 hours to Abu Dhabi. A couple of hours at AbuDhabi airport and we were back in the air again for a 13 hour flight to Brisbane, we were travelling on the Dreamliner, I'd flown on this for a short flight, but I wouldn't recommend it for long haul, even though that is what it was built for. The seats are cramped, which is not beneficial on such a long flight.

Never mind though the films were good and there was plent of entertainment. We stopped overnight in Brisbane, which was a welcome relief. Shower and bed what luxury. 

Arrival in Christchurch

We arrived in Christchurch the next day. After almost 48 hours of travelling. All went relatively smoothly and we had soon picked up our hire car and were on our way. 

The motel was lovely and had lots of amenities and very easy to reach. The first experience of Christchurch was of a gentle easy going way of life. There was a feeling of the England of yesteryear. People were.very friendly. All in all it felt very comfortable and I knew we were going to have a fabulous time. 

There were also some very poignant moments. In Christchurch there were so many reminders of the earthquake in 2011. So many buildings destroyed, so many lives lost. But there was also a vibrancy and resilience in this community and many of the buildings were restored. There was many large lorry containers being used as shops/cafes.   

Places to visit

Botanic Gardens Christchurch

A lovely place to visit was the botanic gardens in Christchurch. These were very peaceful and tranquil, they are located in the central city of Christchurch, they were founded in 1863 when an English oak was planted to commemorate the solemnisation of the marriage of Prince Albert and Princess Alexandra of Denmark

Akaroa - A lovely little coastal town

Akaroa, with its own beautiful bays and harbour and French and English history has an enormous range of activities to keep you busy. In Flea Bay you can take trips to the largest little penguin colony on mainland New Zealand. Akaroa waters are home to the rarest and smallest marine dolphin and all around you will find fantastic sea kayaking in spectacular surroundings. Don't miss seeing the Hector's dolphins and other special wildlife on a harbour cruise. There is so much to see and do in Akaroa that you will need more than a day trip.

Tranzalpine Experience

Another great experience is the Tranzalpine train journey across the Southern Alps, this is a wonderful experience with stunning scenery. You journey commences in Christchurch, taking in the Canterbury Plains, deep gorges the Waimakariri River. At times the river is so blue it looks unreal.

There is a stop off at Arthur's Pass which is the highest pass over the Southern Alps. Named after surveyor Arthur Dudley Dobson. Way before it was named after Arthur it was known to Maori hunting parties as a route between east and west.

The journey takes you to Greymouth, where you spend about an hour, before the return journey. Although there is the opportunity to have a stop over at Greymouth or Arthur's Pass if you want to explore further. 

Hamner Springs

Surrounded by mountains and forests with crisp alpine air and award winning natural thermal pools,  the village of Hanmer Springs is a simply magical place.

The most popular attraction is Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa - a stunning complex of natural thermal pools, massage pools and masses of fun in our family friendly area complete with a water playground, hydroslides and New Zealand's only Superbowl aquatic thrill ride. 

We had an amazing time here. The springs are suitable for all members of the family, though some of the pools were not suitable for young children, because of the sulphur content. 

What do you think?