Saturday, December 30, 2023

A beautiful country - New Zealand

I am writing this currently back in SFO, and I cannot tell you how grateful I felt during the entire time in New Zealand. It was beauty everywhere. We loved every day we were there. Kids also had a good time exploring places with us and doing some fun activities. Even after 2 weeks in this country, there are tonnes of places we have not covered for which we definitely have to plan a second trip sometime.

Presenting our itinerary with exciting highlights:

  1. Arrive in Auckland - Unwind at the iconic Sky Tower. Overnight in Auckland.
  2. Journey to Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach, and Pour House Brewery. Stay in Waihi.
  3. Explore Waihi Beach, embark on a Maori village tour and enjoy the Luge in Rotorua. Overnight in MataMata.
  4. Discover Hobbiton, Waitomo Caves, Mangapohue Natural Bridge, and Marokopa Falls. Rest in Taumarunui.
  5. Travel day: Drive to Wellington, ferry to Picton. Overnight stay in picturesque Picton.
  6. Enjoy a hike in Picton, visit Monkey Bay, Wade Beach Boulders, and Black Sand Beach. Drive to Christchurch, with a unique stay at an Alpaca farm.
  7. Explore Christchurch: Antarctica Center, Riverside Market. Continue to Mt Cook via Lake Tekapo, Lake Pukaki. Overnight in Mt Cook.
  8. Dive into Mt Cook National Park, then head to Wānaka. Overnight stay in Wanaka.
  9. Wander Wanaka - Lake walk, Lavender farm, Cordonna Distillery. Drive to Queenstown, where you’ll stay for the next 5 days.
  10. Queenstown delights: Lunch, Glenorchy, and Paradise.
  11. Experience a Milford Sound Cruise.
  12. Thrilling day with Bungy, Shotover Jet, and Arrowtown. Cap it off with dinner in Queenstown.
  13. Explore Cromwell and Queenstown Gardens.
  14. Queenstown Zipline adventure, lunch, and a flight back to Auckland.
  15. Conclude with a Mt Eden Hike in Auckland before departing for SFO. Safe travels!

I would have really preferred to cover these places too

  • North Island 
    • Lake Taupo and Huka falls 
    • Tongario National Park
    • North of Auckland and West Auckland
    • More places along the Bay of Plenty 
  • South Island 
    • Abel Tasman
    • Arthur Pass
    • Franz Josef and Fox glaciers ( helicopter ride )
    • Dunedin
    • Stewart Island
    • Bluff


  • All around the cafes are all great. 
  • Kiwis do their coffee super good.  Even the gas station coffees are good.
    • Smoko Cafe - they did their chai latte very well. 
    • Toasties in Picton
    • Poppy’s cafe - mt cook to Wanaka route.
    • Ferg burger 
    • Boliwood in Queenstown if you want Dosa :)
    • Patagonia chocolates - yummy icecream
    • Ferg Bar - loved the food and the drinks 
    • Big Fig in Wanaka 
    • The Store ( route from Picton to Christchurch)
  • There is enough Indian food takeout places all around NZ. So if you are craving Indian food, there is a way out
  • Definitely try toasties and also their savory pies and the Manuka honey


  • Definitely rent a car. You will soon get used to driving on the left side.
  • Try to take the ferry from Wellington to Picton, that way you drive through all of North island and also most of South Island and can view beautiful scenery. But yes, you need to keep a day for travel in this case 
  • Put in a few extra days if you can, and definitely visit Fran Josef and Fox glacier and if possible the Tongario National Park and Arthur Pass National Park. We could not accommodate this into our schedule and this will be something we have to do in a future trip. 
  • Ideal number of days for New Zealand is about 7 days for North Island and  10-11 days for South Island. There is always more you can see, but atleast this many days will take you to most of the sites. Also, there is no way you can cover most places unless you have like 4 weeks+. So its best not to stress covering everything and do the most that you can. A second trip to NZ is a good investment in itself.
  • Book Hobbiton, Waitamo Caves, Milford Sound and any other activity ahead of time. Luge, Antarctic center, Tepapa museum extra you can get tickets at the counter. 
  • Download offline maps if you can. Some places don’t have range. 
  • The SkyTower : I felt this was most touristy of the lot. You can still go up for the views, but we also got the pics they took, because its the first activity we did. You can totally avoid getting the pics. Its not that great and it was expensive.
  • Milford Sound Cruise - I think its best if you can stay in Tenau for a night, and drive on your own to Milford Sound, finish cruise, and come back to Tenau to rest. The travel from Queenstown to Milford Sound is a long journey, and would advice to book a coach, instead of driving this distance if you plan to do this in one day.
  • Don’t drive to Skipper’s Canyon. It’s too dangerous and not worth it. You can book a skipper canyon jet tour if you really want to see the canyon, so that a licensed operator who is familiar with the road can take you there. 
  • The road to Paradise is all gravel for around 8 kms. You go through all the trouble just to take a pic under the Paradise board. In Sree’s opinion, not worth it. 
  • If you drive from Picton to Christchurch, you can avoid the detour to Gore Bay to see the cliffs. It’s not as impressive for the detour unless you plan to spend some time in Gore Bay
  • The black sand beach (Kekerengu Beach) between Picton and Christchurch is not the best beach for kids to play. It’s beautiful, but if you want playtime, this may not be the one. 
  • The sky tower was ok. The cost of it made it feel more of a touristy thing to do. 

This is the start of the detailed blog, and the above summary should suffice for making your plan. But if interested you can read on...

Day 1 - Travel day.

We started on a Thursday evening. Our flight was at 10:35 pm from SFO. We ubered to the airport. With the holiday season it was super crowded and it took us an hour and 30 mins to complete check in and security. Post this, we walked to our gate, and got some yummy Vietnamese food for dinner and waited for the boarding call.

Starting our journey!

We were super exhausted, so once boarded , we all watched the entertainment for sometime and then, slept for the rest of the time. 

We landed in Fiji and had a 4 hr layover here. We had the lounge access and this truly was a blessing. Very yummy complimentary breakfast with lots of options and good seats to lounge on. We spent a good 3 hrs in the lounge and then boarded our flight to Auckland. 

At the Fiji airport lounge

This was a short flight, and landed in Auckland

We finished customs, collected luggage and got the rental car. There was a bit of confusion on taking the rental car out, as I think the person missed giving us the pass to get out, and Sree had to go back all the way to the office at the airport to get this pass. 

We reached our hotel which was just 2 miles away from the airport. We checked in, rested and explored the beautiful hotel premises. they had a nice pool, and they also had this huge garden chess which the myself and Pappu enjoyed playing. We were hungry and Indian food was calling to us, so ordered from an Indian restaurant and enjoyed an early dinner sitting in the premises of the hotel. 

First pic into Kiwi land - Auckland airport

Got our car

Too hungry- doordashed Indian food!

Huge chess at the hotel

After this, we all got dressed and took an uber to the sky tower. We have a lot of driving tomorrow so wanted to take it easy today. We went up the sky tower and saw the beautiful views of the Auckland city from there. We spent some time here and also in the upper deck and then came down. We walked in and around the city center, got the kids some Boba tea and took an uber back to the hotel.

The kids watched some iPad and we called it a day. 

Sky tower views 

Christmas decor!

Day 2 - Coromondal Peninsula 

Officially this is our first full day in NZ. We all got some good sleep and woke up around 6:30 am. We got dressed and had breakfast at holiday inn. It was a pretty decent breakfast with many options. 

Breakfast diaries

We checked out, and started our drive to Cathedral cove. This was 3 hrs and initially during the drive, I had a little bit of a migraine, but post that, enjoyed the lovely scenery! Pappu had a bit of nausea and we had to stop couple of times in between so he feels better, but finally he slept and was ok post that. 

New Zealand has a lot of cafés and we stopped in Smoko cafe and I loved their chai latte and also the sandwiches and macadamia nut brittle. 

We started to see beauty everywhere!

On the way to Cathedral Cove

Smoko Cafe. Their chai latte was so good

The rest of us caught some sleep in the car, and we reached the HeiHei beach. When I went and checked this was not the entrance to water taxi, and so we went another mile and found parking. We changed kids into swim suit and found out that the the next water taxi is in 5 mins. 

The Heihei beach in itself was very pleasant and then we took a short ride to Cathedral cove. 

It was just as in the pics and we took many pics here. We spent a good one hour here absorbing the beauty and how peaceful it felt here. Our first look into a part of New Zealand. The beach was so peaceful. The kids loved playing in the water. In an hour the water taxi took us back.

From here we went to the hot water beach. The speciality here is that people dig holes and sit in the warm water. Apparently there are geysers near the area. We did not have a showel, so we just enjoyed watching everyone do it, while Pappu had a ball of a time in the water again.

We spent about 30 minutes here and when hunger took over went to try the local brewery - The Pour house. We got a good spread and enjoyed an early lunch + dinner. The kids got ice creams from here we drove back to our hotel - The Goldmine hotel. Our room had an additional room with beds for kids. So we all took a quick bath and settled in. 

Cathedral Cove - Beach!

So pretty!

My fav click

Hot water beach

The pour house - enjoying the beer


Day 3 - Waihi and Rotarua 

Today, we had a bit of a late start. We got out of the motel by 9:30 am only. The kids played with the 3 dogs there, as we packed and checked out. 

Small town of Waihi

They make the best coffee

We first went to the Waihi town area to have some breakfast. Went into one of the cafes there and had breakfast and coffee. 

Post this, I thought I had forgotten to take shorts and went and got some expensive shorts. The weather was so hot, that I could not imagine wearing jeans everyday. I was short on time and could not shop around so got what I found. 

After this, we went to Waihi beach. This was again a beautiful beach and there was a small trail around it. We walked up the trail for sometime, it had some lookout points for some lovely views. Came back down to the beach and spent some time here. 

The kids loved collecting more shells and playing in the water. 

It had a beautiful tree branch extending into the beach which became the backdrop of many of our pics here. 

Waihi beach

Hike to a lookout!

From here, we drove down to Rotarua. Got some lunch on the way. Again sandwiches. Then went into the Warakaware Mowri Village for a 1 hr village tour. It was drizzling so we all took out our rain coats. The tour was generally nice and we could also see many of the geo thermal activity and also saw Pohito geyser erupting. 

Mouri Village tour

Geothermal pools everywhere!

Post this, we went to Skyline Luge. This was an activity we have not tried and the kids and us enjoyed doing this. A gondola takes you to the top, and then we all got into the luges and did two of the routes. 

Enjoying burgerfuel - a chain in NZ

Post this, we drove down to Matamata and loved the motel we checked into. 

After freshening up and some browsing, we all called it a day. 

Day 4 - Hobbiton and Waitamo Caves 

Today is our most planned day with tours booked prior. We started early, did a quick stop in a cafe in Matamata and reached Hobbiton early. We got into the shop, and got some goodies and then started the tour. 

It was exactly as you see in the movies. This was called the Alexandria farm which was the hobbiton in the movie. It’s very picturesque with green rolling hills and sheep’s gracing everywhere. Walked around all the hobbit houses and also explored the insides of Gilbo’s house, the grounds. It was really nicely done and the kids enjoyed seeing all the rooms. I am glad we watched the LOTR movie before our NZ trip. 

It was a bit too hot and hence that was the only challenge. We then, went into the Green dragon which was the pub in the movie but is run like a cafe now. We had some beer, and cider and some scones, and biscuits and got back into the bus which dropped us back. 

Inside Gilbo's kitchen

At Green Dragon


Post this we drove 1 hour into Waitamo. We were pretty early for our tour, so waited for almost an hour or so for the tour to start. We changed meanwhile as it might be cooler in the caves. 

We waited for an hour and the tour started. This was a walking tour through the caves and we could also see some glowworms. The guide was super friendly and had a good humour about him. 

The kids walked through the cave without too much of a fuss. We saw glow worms, stallectites, stallemites, and also challenges in building the pathway for this tour through the cave. 

Glow worms

Post this, we went 30 minutes further and checked out the Maripowa waterfalls and the natural bridge. Both very short hikes but stunning! We took turns to do these as kids were tired and sleeping. 

Stunning waterfall for a short hike

at the Natural bridge 

We drove 2 hrs after picking up some Indian food, to Taimarunni where we were greeted with a 5 bedroom beautiful airbnb. They had a Christmas tree and Christmas decor and such a beautiful place! 

Christmas decor in our airbnb

Day 5 - Drive to Wellington and Ferry to South Island 

Today we are saying good bye to North island and taking the ferry to South Island. 

We woke up at 5 am, got dressed and started from the Airbnb at 6:30 am. 

We drove about an hour and half with varying scenario. We crossed the Tongario National Park and seeing the huge peaks made me want to spend sometime there. But we were really short on time, and would hardly have time in Wellington, so we drove on.

We stopped for coffee and then reached Wellington around 11:45 pm. 

We checked out the dinosaur exhibition in the museum there. It was really impressive and the kids enjoyed touring this. We got some coffee and sandwich from the cafe there. 

We went to the viewing platform to catch a glimpse of the waterfront and later went down and walked around the waterfront area for a bit. 

Te-papa museum - Wellington


Wellington Waterfront 

We drove down to the ferry area by 2 pm, and got checked in. There was a long wait till we could get our car into the ferry and get onboard. The ferry take off was delayed by 30 minutes. 

This was the first ferry ride for the kids and the interislander had everything including movie theatre, face painting, baby sleeping area, toddler play structures, a full dining which included 

Indian food - I think NZ is filled with butter chicken and rice everywhere. 

We settled down in the lounge area and spent the next 3 hrs, browsing, checking out the deck area. 

When it started going through the sound, it was really beautiful and we spent a good amount of time on the deck watching as the ship went through this. 

Ferry ride

We reached Picton, and drove our car out of the interislander.

We checked into the Picton Inn, a basic hotel with a view of the docking port and ended the day with a glass of wine

Day 6 - Picton to Christchurch 

It’s our first day in South Island. We got ready, and checked out of our hotel. We went into Picton downtown and had breakfast with a lovely view of the Picton Harbour at Le Cafe. I also bought one toastie from Toasties. 

Breakfast at Picton

Picton Harbor

We explored a little bit of the small Picton beach and lawn area around it and went to do the Tirohanga trail. We thought this would be a short hike to view Picton from the hilltop and started walking. 30 minutes into it, the kids got tired and we figured there is another 30 mins up. So we got a good view of Picton from the point we reached and turned back. This was a steap trail, but I am sure the hilltop view would be worth it. A highlight was we found a hen and it’s 3 chicks on our way, and observing them was fun! 

From here we drove down to Monkey bay. This was lovely. A secluded spot just about 200-300 meters from parking lot. We spent about 20-30 mins here and started back. 

Monkey Bay

View point

We were driving through the wine country Marlbaro and reminded us of Napa in SFO. They also had golden hills unlike green hills of north island. 

We stopped at Makana Confectionary and bought some chocolates. From here we went to Ward beach. This involved some off road driving for a bit. We parked and walked 800 m to the left of the beach to find some fun boulders. The entire walk was fun and the whole scene was beautiful. We loved how some of these rocks extended into the beach. 

Ward Beach

Boulders at Ward Beach

From here, we went to The Store - and had some yummy lunch, and explored the Black sand beach. I don’t feel this is a very child friendly beach as the sand area was less and the waves were a bit high. But we still spent a good 30 minutes there and started to Ohio point to see seals. 

The hike from here to the waterfall apparently was closed 

The Store

Black Sand Beach

cool life

We stopped at Kaikora, the scenary has drastically become dramatic and loving the new change! We grabbed some cold coffee from here as most coffee shops was closed. And walked a bit around and started to Gori Bay. This was a 15 min detour which I feel was not that worth it. We went to the Cathedral cliff lookout which showed the cliff and Gori bay behind. 


Cathedral cliff view - Gore Bay

Post this, we drove to a nearby grocery store - got some noodles, and some snacks for dinner, and reached the Alpaca farm stay. This was beautiful! There were Alpacas in the field and the small cottage was so lovely. 

We made some quick dinner of thai egg curry and rice and noodles and called it a night with some wine. 

Day 7 - The beautiful drive - Christchurch to Mt Cook

Today was yet another beautiful day. We woke up early and the owner of the farm Kit, came over to take us on the 8 am Alpaca tour. The kids and us went into the area where all the alpacas were and Kit gave us some hay, and we had so much fun feeding these gentle creatures. The kids loved this and Kit was also giving us a lot of details on Alpacas. Their biggest fear and enemy is a dog. They get very stressed when there is a dog. After feeding Alpacas and getting some lovely pics, we went into the barn to check some alpaca wool and then went into another room where Kit showed us some Alpaca wool products. They were so soft and we got a soft toy for the kids and a shawl for Sree. 

Checking out Alpaca fur

Post this, we checked out and then went into the Antartic Center in Christchurch! The kids loved this place too. They had a very good simulation of a storm in Antarctica and we all got a sense of how cold it is there. They also had a great ride in a truck on a road simulated for Antarctica surface. And we saw penguins. Overall a lovely place! 

its pretty cold!

Super fun ride

After this we stopped at the Riverside Market which was a lovely indoor center for different kinds of food. We found Dosa kitchen there and Pappu had his much wanted Dosa. We also ordered chicken 65, chicken and egg Kothu, masala tea. Sree also got some Vietnamese street food. We found a spot and enjoyed the food. We ordered dinner also from Dosa kitchen as Togo and got ourselves coffee and the kids Boba tea . 

His love for Dosa!

Riverside market - Christchurch

Christmas time!

After this we started our long drive to Lake Tekapo. This was around 2.5 hrs away and we reached Lake Tekapo around 5 pm. We walked around the Good Shepherd church, took some lovely photos with the lupins around the lake and Ofcourse went near the lake itself. 

Lake Tekapo

After spending a good one hour here, we moved onto to Mt cook and stopped at this magnificent view at Lake Pukaki. It was so beautiful. We took more pics here. Everything was perfect apart from a small fall by Pappu. Nothing major. Little scratch on the side. 

Lake Pukaki can compete strongly with Moraine Lake in Banff. 

Lake Pukaki

After this we drove through amazing scenery to reach Mt Cook where we were staying at the Heritage hotel. So happy to be staying here as this is one of the most popular hotels in Mt Cook Village. Our room had this beautiful view of mount cook and we had a lovely drink and the packed dinner sitting at the balcony. 

View from our room

Moon and the mountains

Day 8 - Exploring Mount Cook. 

We woke up, got dressed and decided to have the breakfast in the Hermitage hotel itself. Though expensive they had a large breakfast buffet. The kids really enjoyed the variety and had many mango smoothies! 

Post breakfast, we got some trail mix and water and started the Hooker Valley Track. This was a 6 mile hike. Fairly simple but it makes you tired due to the length. We were fine but Pappu was a bit whiny. We went through 3 suspension bridges and beautiful scenary! We reached the hooker valley lake and spent some time there throwing stones into the water and taking a break. 

It started to drizzle and we started back. This time we encouraged Pappu to walk with counting number of steps to each milestone of first bridge, second bridge and third bridge. The return was fairly quick. 

Hidden Valley Trail - Mt Cook

We had a quick lunch in the car with bread, jam, and left over food from yesterday along with Bananas. 

After this we went to the Tasman Lake Glacier lookout trail. This was a short trail but with many steps. Me and Sree took turns doing this while Pappu stayed back with us in the car. 

Tasman Glacier Lookout

Blue lakes- but green in color

Tasman Valley

While I was exploring I wanted to also do the Tasman river lake to Terminal river. The directions were not clear and I took the Blue lake path and went deep into it with another couple who was also interested in it. But soon I was wary of time and returned back. I later realized that I had to take the fairly short easy Tasman River hike and I would have reached the spot were I could spot some floating icebergs. But it was kinda late. 

I returned back and then we drove to Wanaka again through breathtaking scenary. On our way, we stopped at Poppy’s cafe - where kungu tried her first Mocha. And later at Lindin Pass Lookout. 

On our way here we saw so many Lupins on the roadside and it was so pretty. 

Reached Wanaka, checked into our apartment and now chilling with noodles and wine :)

Day 9 - Wanaka and Queenstown

We woke up, packed. We had to redo the laundry a bit yesterday night, so post folding all that, we started off to the Wanaka town center. We had breakfast in Big Fig which had some very different options like Shakshuka, and smoothies for breakfast. Post this we walked around the Wanaka river in search of the lone Wanaka tree. This was a nice stroll. We found the tree, took pics and then strolled back. 

The lone wanaka tree

Can I still carry her?

We got into a gift shop and then left to the Lavendar farm. This was really nice. it was a huge farm with lots of Lavendar and things they had also made some really nice photo spots. We took tonnes of pics here and we got some Lavendar honey that Tara wanted and Pappu also did a scavenger hunt, for which they gifted him something. 

Lavendar Farm!

Lavendar Macaroons!

Post this, we were thinking between Puzzling world or the Cardonna Distillery. 

And we decided to go to Cardonna Distillery. This was such a beautiful place!! They had this huge rose garden! And we also had lunch there which was so so tasty! 

We spent some time on the grounds. The whisky was good and we got some and then started to Queenstown. 

So many lupins on the way and stopped over at one place for some more pics. 

Cordonna distillery! Yummy food!

Beautiful Rose garden here

Being Goofy!

A wall of bras - supporting breast cancer foundation

Queenstown looks so beautiful. We got some groceries for tomorrow as it’s Christmas and the countdown grocery store in Queenstown was packed with people and many of them Indians! 

Then, we checked into airbnb and later went to meet our friends Mukesh and family who were also in Queenstown that time. We spent a nice evening with them in the park area and then went to an Indian restaurant for some much needed Dosa for Pappu. 

We bid goodbyes and then came back to our airbnb and watched a Christmas movie - which was really nice - it’s called Christmas as usual and had Kannan gill in it. It showed Norway and how they celebrated Christmas there. 

Day 10 : Merry Christmas and exploring Glenorchy & Paradise 

We all slept in today and all of us woke up only by 9:30 am or so. We were thinking through what we should do for the next 5 days. Some options of rafting, kayaking etc came up, but did not finalize anything. 

Merry Christmas

We made some brunch especially to eat in as it’s Christmas in NZ. After the brunch, we all got dressed and left around 1:30 to explore Glenorchy. 

The drive was very beautiful. We stopped at a lookout point and then later at the Glenorchy Jetty. The town is a small cute town. All shops were closed as it’s Christmas and we were glad we had taken some sandwiches and snacks with us. We sat down in the grass area and had our jelly sandwiches. Post this, we walked into the jetty for some nice views of the mountains around. 

After this, I wanted to do the Glenorchy boardwalk but the kids did not. So Sree and kids played in the water there, while I went to explore this flat trail. This takes you to the Glenorchy Lagoon and some spots were really so pretty and I also saw black swans. I returned and Sree picked me up from a spot on the road. 

We then proceeded to see the town of Paradise. But the road was pretty bad. We first stopped at the LOTR spot. But other than some woods I could not make out anything else. Then we proceeded to where the maps took us to Paradise. This was just the Paradise sign and the diamond lake behind it. Not sure if this was really worth the drive all the way on bad roads. We also saw a car turned over on the side of the road which proves how rough and narrow the road is. 

Kawarao Bridge 

After this I wanted to checkout the Kawarao bridge. I had booked for bungee and just wanted to check it out. So went to this place. I was feeling the jitters in my stomach. We came back, made Pasta for dinner and slept in early as we have a long day tomorrow for Milford Sound. 

Day 11: Milford Sound

Today was a long day. We woke up at 5:30 and got ready and parked near the bus pick up for Milford Sound. We were early and waited for the bus to arrive. 

The coach arrived, we all boarded and started of the long journey to Milford with a stop at Tenau and some beautiful stops at Fiordland National Park. The beauty was breathtaking during this entire drive. 

It took us 5.5 hrs to reach the boat depot of Milford Sound. 

We boarded our boat, and had a quick buffet lunch inside the boat and rushed upstairs to see the beauty of Milford sound. Loved the waterfalls and the greenery around along with seeing other cruise ships. We spent two hours on the cruise and then started our journey back in the coach again through these beautiful landscapes. 

Milford Sound

We reached Queenstown at 8 pm, got into Boliwood restaurant again for Pappu’s Dosa and then reached home around 9:30. 

I was too anxious to sleep, and hardly could catch any sleep. I was overthinking the bungee jump a lot. Started whining and just getting anxious. 

I hardly slept a wink. 

Day 12: Bungy

Today with just 1.5 hrs of sleep, I got up, got dressed and took an uber to the Bungy center in Queenstown. Here I checked in and waited for my bus at 10 am, while talking to other folks who are also doing even more thrilling activities than me. I was trying to calm my nerves. We got into the coach, and then we reached the Bungy center and then was quickly checked in, and used the restrooms. 

Post this, we got immediately strapped into our harness and it was time to jump. 

On the ledge, I was feeling too nervous to let go, and finally I let go, and was so terrified that I hardly understood any of the emotions. Adrenalin, and the upside down posture everything was all over in 30 seconds and I was put on the boat, and then got ashore. 

Man, what an experience I don’t even know how to describe this. I need sometime to really process my jump :)

Post this, I collected my t shirt and got something to eat and checked into the coach back to town. The group of 12 of us or so who did the bungy was a super nice group. 

I met Sree and kids in Queenstown and we went to shot over jet from here. After some wait and seeing multiple jet boats doing the spins, it was our turn. 

We boarded the boat, and started the amazing journey through shot over canyon. It was really beautiful, the boat was powerful and the spins the driver did was amazing! It was an Adrenaline pump. Kids enjoyed. 

super fun jet ride 

After this, we went to the bungy center to watch people jumping. We spent a good 30-40 minutes here with some food from the cafe. It was fun to see the experience post my jump. Post this, we went to Arrowtown, checked out some shops here and the Chinese settlement area. It was so hot and the kids were getting tired. 

Chinese settlement at Arrowtown

Then we went to Queenstown, and I waited in the fergburger line for almost an hour to place the order and pick up our burgers. 

this place was thriving with people and I felt like it brought along the tourist community together here. I met some very nice people from Australia, originally from India and started chatting about our trips. Along with some lovely conversation, I spent the 1 hr in the line. After getting the food, I went to the beach area where Sree and kids were. We had our burgers and yes I loved them. It was worth the wait. 

yes Fergburger!

Pappu played there a bit more, as Sree got the car back. Then we came back home. 

Day 13 : Exploring Cromwell

Today morning did not start right for me. I woke up with excruciating pain in my arms and decided to go into urgent care in Queenstown.

This took up the morning time and I was glad we did not have any planned tours or activities for today. 

I went to the Queenstown medical center. They quickly helped me to check in with urgent care and the doctor checked me without too much delays. They gave me some medicines - muscle relaxant and painkiller. I liked the service here. Post this I went up to collect my medicines from the Pharmacy upstairs and got some food from Bespoken Kitchen. 

I returned back, and then we all started off to explore a route to Cromwell which we had not done. Cromwell is a small town, it has a fruit statue and mainly has a lot of fruit orchards. We stopped at a bookstore for Tara to purchase a book, and took some pics and went to see Cromwell precinct. This was an old town, which they have preserved. Took a few pics and explored some shops and we took off to see Skippers Canyon. On the way to Skippers we stopped at the John’s family fruit stall and they had a lot of interesting home made dried fruit snacks and spreads. We got some and got icecream and also explored their beautiful garden. Post this we also stopped at the roaring Meg lookout for a quick 10 minutes and started our journey. 

With his fluffy :)

Cromwell heritage precint

Johns fruit stand

Roaring Meg

We reached the road leading to Skippers Canyon and it was gravel. Later we went about .5 kms or so on this and the road turned really narrow. It was not comfortable to see with steep cliffs on the side. We made the decision to turn back and this was the best decision we made. 

Later checking the net, we found that this is one of the most dangerous roads to drive in NZ. Only certain tour operators can actually drive here. I mean, I was really happy we did not move forward beyond this point, because if we had chosen the other way round, we might be scared and stuck! 

Beautiful views 

We came back to Queenstown and with time to kill, we walked in Queenstown gardens and after Pappu played in the playground, we went to Ferg Bar for some drinks and food. We loved the drinks and the shareable plates they had was really yummy! 

Post this, we went to the play area for some more time and then, went back to our airbnb and packed as tomorrow is our last day. 

Queenstown gardens 

Our love for playareas!

Day 14: Ziplining 

Today we woke up, checked out and went to catch the Gondola for our Zipline tour. 

The 4 of us went up there enjoying the views of Queenstown and then, checked into Zipline. We had take the 4 line Zipline, which was more apt for families and suitable for Pranav’s weight. 

This was great fun for Pranav. Tara did the first line and she was very scared to continue, so she and Sree went back up, while me and Pranav continued. We did the 4 lines and then caught up with Sree and Tara. Pranav really wanted to do the luge here too but we decide we won’t have time for that and came back down. 

Just before ziplining

In the Gondola

We had lunch at a Thai restaurant. It was good food and then went to Patagonia chocolates for some yummy icecream, and tiramissu coffee cake. 

Patagonia chocolates

Post this, we checked out a gift shop, and drove to Queenstown airport. 

We returned the car, and then, went into the airport. We hanged around and relaxed till they called us for boarding and boarded our flight to Auckland. 

The flight landed around 9 pm. I was feeling a bit weak, and tired. And I believe high amount of caffeine and the muscle relaxant that I was having could have led to some uneasiness in my body. 

Since I really wanted to make sure everything is ok, I took an uber to a nearby emergency where they checked me and told me all is well. 

I came back and crashed. 

Day 15 : Celebrating Sree’s Bday and Travel day

Today, we woke up, packed, and went to the restaurant to have breakfast. I got a small cake from the kitchen and surprised Sree for his bday with that. 

Happy Bday Sree

Post this we took an uber to Mt Eden walking trail. This was a short walking trail with amazing views on the top, and the entire trail was well maintained and the views of Auckland from here was beautiful. 

Mt Eden - stroll

Fantastic views of Auckland!

We took the uber back to hotel, took our luggage and went to the airport. Here after check in and security, we were waiting in the lounge where we were told our flight is cancelled. 

We called united and they booked us in the air New Zealand flight going later in the day at 7 pm. We had to go to air new Zealand and we managed to check in and get seats allocated together. 

Now we have a lot of time so we hanged around in the airport with our devices, walking around and eating 

Our boarding started at 7 PM, and we settled into our seats. Grateful that we got seats with leg space. We all watched some  TV and dozed off into sleep until we reached SFO. Post this, it was getting luggage, and catching an uber to our home sweet home with a lot of memories of this beautiful country - New Zealand. We definitely have to come back in a few years to explore more of the country.