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New Zealand- The Farewell Tour

It's the final countdown...

We finished up our road trip on the South Island leaving scenic Kakanui.

My cousin's house in Kakanui was in full bloom as spring arrived here in the south and the sea was calm as we left. Our next stop was Lake Tekapo in the foothills of the Mt. Cook National Park. On the way to the lake, we passed through Oamaru, a quirky little Victorian town. They have the Steampunk Headquarters there.

Steampunk is a genre of Sci-Fi that is set in Victorian England and features steam powered machines. It was such a cool place to explore and play.

There were cool art exhibits throughout the museum like this trippy lights show.

We got really into it. The scenes reminded me of Mad Max, the movie.

Around town they had interesting features like an old timey bike that was hard to balance on. Why one big wheel people?!?

They even had a coal powered train that they drove through the streets.

There was a beautiful harbor with a playground and café nearby.

David got the BIG New Zealand breakfast. It was no joke! And he finished it.

Even the playground was Steampunk themed! Fay loved it!

We then drove for 2 hours to Lake Tekapo which is next to Mt. Cook, the highest mountain in New Zealand. There was still snow on the mountain peaks adding to the mystique of the mountain range. Lake Tekapo is supposed to have one of the clearest sky in the world. However, there were full moons both nights we were there which were so bright that we couldn't see many stars.

The lake itself was gorgeous but chilly. We dipped our feet in but that was it. However, the Kiwi folk don't mind the cold and were brave enough to swim in it! Nearby were some hot spring pools that we soaked in instead.

They also had mini golf course which was fun and we all got a hole in one!

The lake was nice and the lupines in full bloom which was great to look at but did not help my allergies. Fay made a sweet friend at our campsite whose family was from Toronto. She cried when we had to leave because she really enjoyed her company. The parents were doing a similar multi-month trip with their 3 kids.

But we had to say good-bye and return our Apollo in Christchurch. We made it in one piece back to the rental place and everyone let out a sigh of relief. First camper trip in the books! The next day we flew to the North Island to check out Rotorua.

Rotorua is made up of thermal lakes that were sacred sites to the Maori people before the British arrived. Now it is visited because of the hot pools and also because of the adventure tourism. The first thing we did was a canopy tour which took us on hikes through an ancient NZ forest and up trees to go Ziplining!

It was Fay's first time and she was fearless! She rode mostly with our guide but the last zipline she did by herself and loved it!

Next up was mini golf with giant Flemish bunnies. It was across the street from the Canopy Tours headquarters so Fay begged us to do it. She had a blast!

Most of the time she she just pet the bunnies but D and I had a competitive golf game. He won by one stroke! I want a bunny rematch.

Then we went to downtown Rotorua to visit the town and the lake, which is the 2nd biggest on the North island. We found black swans with red beaks! They had cute little cygnets- baby black swans. So crazy and cute!

The next day we checked out the Agrodome which is a working farm that does farm tours and explains a lot about NZ farming. We saw 19 different kinds of sheep- the Merino, the most coveted sheep with the most expensive wool, sat at the top! We even saw the farmer shear a sheep in only a few minutes!

Fay got to bottle feed lambs.

And we fed Alpacas! They surprisingly didn't spit on us. We loved visiting the farm and seeing the sheep up close that we watched along all the highways.

At night we visited the Mitai Maori village.

They had a historic village that we walked through to show how people lived hundreds of years ago in Rotorua.

The Maori men rowed in on a Waka, canoe, up a creek in the village. The waka was beautifully carved and the men had tattoos to show their family history and knowledge.

After that we ate a Hangi, a traditional meal that's cooked for hours in the earth.

We also got to watch a Haka, a ceremonial dance. They taught us a lot about the traditions and myths of the Maori people and how the language and stories are still being passed down. It was enchanting and very educational. Fay now wants to study the Maori language. Maybe she'll end up back in NZ for her studies? ;)


Tomorrow we head to Auckland and then Monday we fly out to New York. We probably will have some culture shock but being in NZ has eased us back into Western ways, like large indoor grocery stores instead of outdoor markets.


Hope you have a wonderful December!

Salutations from the Southern Hemisphere!


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Rachael Straus
Rachael Straus
Dec 01, 2023

Love seeing everyone's smiling faces! Looks like you're having a great time.

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Aww thanks Rachael! Can't wait to see your smiling faces at Christmas time. ❤️ 🎄🎁

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