Travel Diary: Napier & Hastings, NZ

In addition to exploring wine country we also rented bikes and rode along the coast in Napier which was unreal. Their beaches run for miles and miles, all untouched and barely used due to the very heavy and strong surf here. Even the locals told us they won't swim or surf in the waters - it's just too dangerous. Stunning to look at though for us tourists!

Napier is a small town, and I would definitely suggest coming during the summer when I hear it's busier and more lively. We were there in their winter making it a bit too sleepy of a town for me, with everything closing down at around 8 or 9pm. However, we were still able to enjoy the sights and rented bikes to ride along the coast and into their downtown.

Similar to Christchurch, Napier was hit with some awful earthquakes 15+ years ago and when they rebuilt they went for an Art Decco style making it one of the most unique towns we saw along our NZ adventure.

Following 1 night in Napier we were on our way north to Hamilton & Auckland stopping off at the beautiful Lake Taupo on the way. 

This reminded me very much of Tahoe...just a bit more upscale with beautiful shops & restaurants, bustling downtown and surrounded by 5-star lodges and resorts. If we make it back to NZ this place is on my list.

Next and final on our NZ travels is the city of Auckland, see you kids tomorrow.

xo - margaret

Travel Diary: Wellington & Napier, NZ

Following our stay in Christchurch we were off to the Northern Island in NZ to visit Wellington & Napier.

(On a side note, domestic flights here are insanely different than what I am used to. There is nearly zero security, no checkpoints, no baggage x-rays and you are limited to a carry on size of about 15 pounds...and I mean seriously who can achieve that?! Such a culture shock for this silly American.)

Wellington is an absolutely breathtaking city, situated on the bay with stunning panoramic views of the water and surrounding hills. If you have ever been to Laguna Beach, CA it reminds me very much of their set up but with an actual city instead of the town. Coming around the bend and seeing the view of the water and the city was an unreal experience, these photos (although amazing - thank you husband) cannot begin to do this city justice. You must see it for yourself to truly experience its beauty. Definitely one of my favorites along our NZ travels.

We enjoyed a short one night stay at the Museum Hotel, a boutique and extremely eclectic property with all kinds of unique artwork, artifacts and collectors pieces. I would highly suggest staying here if you are in town and visiting the restaurant and bar on the top level, it's like stepping back in time with an old world meets modern art feel. 

Next up after Wellington was Napier/Hastings where we stayed for two days and started off with a trip to Elephant Hill Winery which was situated outside of town along the coast among the rolling hills. It was just as I thought NZ should look like and was almost straight out of a storybook.

The winery featured an amazing restaurant and tasting room where we had the second best meal of our entire trip - their food, service and wine were impeccable. 

Part deus of our stay in Napier will be up tomorrow as well as our travels up to Hamilton through the mountains and beautiful town of Lake Taupo.

xo - margaret

Travel Diary: Christchurch, NZ

As some of you may know, last month we were lucky enough to have traveled to New Zealand and Australia for one of the most amazing trips of our lives. These two countries are absolutely beautiful, the culture is rich & vibrant and the sights to see are unbelievable. Over the next week or so I am going to recap our stay, and I hope it helps for anyone who is planning or even thinking about planning a trip to these countries. 

Our journey started in Christchurch, NZ on the Southern Island of the country which is actually the largest city on the island. We stayed right in the city at the Novotel Christchurch, which was a lovely hotel with amazing guest services, great views of the city and a cozy room which was perfect after nearly 2 days of travel.

Sadly in 2010-2012 they were hit with a devastating earthquake and multiple aftershocks that destroyed much of what this city used to be. All through the city you can see the damage and destruction that these quakes caused - which is heartbreaking because from what I understand the downtown area used to be a booming area filled with historic buildings. Now it is very quiet...but they are slowly rebuilding and one of the very unique things is the way in which they are doing so which is with shipping containers (like above).

They are literally taking old shipping containers and have built them into amazing shopping centers with stores, restaurants and coffee shops. Quite possibly one of the most unique and creative things I have seen in all our travels. These were no ordinary shipping containers!

They really brightened up the city - making it a cozy spot to sip the amazing Flat Whites that we quickly became addicted to.

Following our city exploration we took the city bus up to the mountains for a ride on the Christchurch Gondola to the top where we were able to enjoy panoramic views of the entire city and countryside. It was absolutely breathtaking in every direction. Rolling hills, lakes and the ocean...unreal. Honestly, it wasn't until this point that I finally felt we were in New Zealand and that was a crazy sensation to think about how far we actually were from home!

Well worth the trip to take in these views.

Tomorrow we will be off to Wellington & Napier on the Northern Island. Stay tuned!


xo - margaret