21-30 November 2014 Hanmer Springs, Kaiteriteri and Malborough. Dear Friends,

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1 Dear Friends, Here comes a few sunny greetings from our family trip to the north end of the South Island of New Zealand. After two years, we finally embraced the adventure of travelling with our children in New Zealand. They were definitely ready for such an adventure! Philip and I were also more than ready to start exploring again some familiar and some previously unseen parts of New Zealand. This trip woke up my sleepy adventure genes after a few years. That is not a good sign! For nature lovers, in this letter you will find tons of beautiful scenes from the far south Let the adventure begin 1

2 We went on this one Friday after work picked up kids from their daycare, put them in the truck and off we went. Both Adriana and Oliver were asleep within 15 minutes. It was a wonderful hour of silence in the truck Ahead of us was 6 hours of driving north to the town of Hanmer Springs When Adriana woke up an hour later, she asked us: Mommy, are we there yet?. Ne, Adriana. Imamo jos mnogo da se vozimo., [ No, Adriana. We have a long drive ahead of us. ], I responded. Adriana: Oh Why are we going so far? It was a moment when I thought to myself, indeed, why we were going so far?... After two hours of driving, we stopped in the town of Timar for a few hours of play on a playground. Adriana immediately started to enjoy this trip After many questions Are we there yet?, late that night we arrived to Hanmer Springs 2

3 The next morning in Hanmer Springs, I went for a run and Adriana rode her bike with me. It was a run with stopping every 100 meters to tie a shoe lace, drink water, push the bike into the wind, such the thumb,, and, as a cream on a cake, to stop at the playground for a few minutes. Needless to say, it was not an intense run but two of us had lots of fun together. We spent most of that day in the thermal hot springs which are the main tourist attraction in this town. Adriana and Oliver played and played. The favourite part was climbing and descending a small slide on a side of the pool hundreds of times. Endless fun! Here are a few photos from the hot springs. 3

4 The next morning I decided to go for a run alone to enjoy the beautiful scenery of this town and visit some hiking trails that Philip and I hiked on 5 years earlier when we visited Hanmer Springs in December It was a beautiful morning. Amazing familiar scenery was still breath-taking and bringing lots of wonderful memories from Philip s and my travel 5 years ago. From all that excitement, I managed to get lost in the forest so my run extended to 1 hour and 45 minutes At least I had a good run! Here are a few scenes from Hanmer Springs and surroundings 4

5 Later that day, we started driving from Hanmer Springs to the town of Nelson (a 4-hour drive). When Philip and I drove down this road 5 years ago, it was foggy and rainy so we did not see any of the scenery. This time we enjoyed a wonderful summer day and the beauty of nature of this part of New Zealand 5

6 After an hour of driving, we stopped at the mountain pass Lewis Pass and I took Adriana and Oliver on a short nature walk. They enjoyed walking on a boardwalk, crossing small bridges, collecting rocks, observing plans Our little hikers I enjoyed spectacular views of the snow-covered mountain peaks and recalled many unforgettable hikes in different parts of the world. I hope that opportunities for such hiking adventures will return soon Enjoy the beauty of nature 6

7 Our drive continued through the valleys, forests, among the mountains We stopped at the Alpine Fault line where the Pacific and Australian tectonic plates overlap (such a cool place to be at! ). We enjoyed the views from the lookout points along the way and stopped in the town of Merchison for Philip to get a coffee from the same hotel like 5 years earlier. Many new wonderful memories 7

8 In the late afternoon, we arrived to the town of Nelson. We walked down the city center that on Sunday evening looked just as deserted as the city center of Dunedin. It was a very different atmosphere from Christmas holidays in this town that Philip and I experienced 5 years earlier. Fortunately, playgrounds are always amazing places for having fun regardless whether there are others around or not That evening we arrived to Kaiteriteri, a village on the coast 10 km away from the Abel Tasman National Park. This cute little village left a long-lasting impression on Philip and me when we visited it 5 years earlier. Kaiteriteri was our base for next 5 days. Adriana and Oliver enjoyed the playgrounds, beaches and walks in the area. Philip and I tried to find some time to get out for a run or a bike ride. It was wonderful to relax for 5 days just 100 meters away from the beach 8

9 Here are a few more scenes from Kaiteriteri 9

10 One of those days we went on a tourist boat ride along Abel Tasman National Park. One of the famous New Zealand multi-day hiking trails, Abel Tasman Great Walk, is in this national park. Although I dream that one day we will be able to hike this trail, a ride on a tourist boat was an excellent compromise to experience the magic of this national park this year. Here are a few scenes (According to the Murphy s Law, that was the only cloudy day that we had on this entire trip ) 10

11 A part of our boat trip was a 4-hour stop in Ancorage (one of the bays in this national park) and a short walk through the forest (Pitt Head Walk) to experience a bit of the Abel Tasman Great Walk. Here are a few photos of us and our little hikers on this ~4 km walk. It took us only 3 hours to walk 4 km! But, we succeeded 11

12 Here are a few more scenes from Abel Tasman National Park November

13 One afternoon we also went to the start of the Abel Tasman Great Walk in the village of Marahau. The nature was amazing 13

14 We took our bicycles with us on this trip (although Oliver at 2 years age is still not too excited about trying to use his balance bike). Since the village of Kaiteriteri is in a hilly area, we went 10 km further to the towns of Riwaka and Motueka to try a new (flat) biking trail. Adriana rode her big bike while Oliver enjoyed riding (and sleeping!) in a bike seat on the back of Philip s bike. What a wonderful family bike ride! The bike trail took us through the towns, fields, orchards, along the ocean The next day when we measured the mileage of this bike trail by car, we realized that Adriana cycled ~18 km that day not bad for a 4-year old! 14

15 After Kaiteriteri, we went to the part of New Zealand that we had not had a chance to explore before: Malborough Sounds (between the towns of Nelson and Picton). The road from Nelson to the town of Hawelock was very interesting, winding though the forests and valleys and over the mountain passes. The town of Hawelock is the New Zealand centre for green lip mussels so we went to try them in one of the recommended restaurants (The Mussel Pot) in this town. The mussels were great! We definitely recommend trying them if you find yourself in this part of New Zealand! Outdoor area and the garden of this restaurant soon became a big playground for Adriana and Oliver 15

16 Our trip continued towards the Malborough Sounds on Queen Charlotte Drive. What a beauty of nature!... Here are a few views from Mahau and Kenpuru Sounds and the villages of Te Mahia and Portage What a spectacular part of the world and a fantastic road for bike riding 16

17 This road was going near Queen Charlotte Great Walk another famous hiking trail in New Zealand. This time we did not hike on that trail. Instead, Philip and I experienced the joy of cycling in this part of New Zealand between the towns of Te Mahia and Portage. And there are so many more paved and unpaved roads calling to be explored by bicycle in this area Here are a few more scenes from Kenpuru Sound 17

18 This part of New Zealand will be a destination for our next New Zealand family travel in the upcoming years. Here are a few more spectacular views from the Queen Charlotte Drive overlooking Queen Charlotte Sound between Hawelock and Picton 18

19 That evening and the following morning we enjoyed the town of Picton. Philip went on an unforgettable bike ride while Adriana, Oliver and I enjoyed strolling through the marina in the city centre. We played on the (real size) pirate ship playground, watched the departure of the huge ferry Interislander that connects South and North Island of New Zealand (Picton-Wellington), observed a few yachts leaving marina and enjoyed the take-off of the hydro-plane on the water. It was a wonderful sunny morning in Picton. 19

20 And then came the time to slowly make our way south towards Dunedin (~750 kilometers). In mid-day that day, we drove ~30 km south to the town of Blenheim. In Blenheim we discovered a fantastic park for picnic and playground fun and great paved cycling trail along the river. Of course, we went for another family bike ride as far at the paved trail went. Adriana has become a real little cyclist, particularly liking to race with her daddy. Adriana: Daddy, I winned you! (I won). 20

21 In the late afternoon, we continued driving south for another 150 km to the picturesque town of Kaikoura with spectacular views of the snow-covered mountains in the background. Here are a few scenes from that drive. 21

22 Kaikoura is another famous tourist destination in New Zealand. Philip and I spent a few days in this town on our way to the North Islan of New Zealand 6 years ago when we just arrived to this part of the world. Here are a few beautiful views from Kaikoura 22

23 Adriana and Oliver had lots of fun playing in a nearby playground. Speaking of playgrounds, Philip and I have been amazed seeing the creativity of playgrounds around New Zealand some very low cost, others modern and quite sophisticated, but all of them with many different things for children to explore and enjoy. So here are some of photos from different playgrounds that we as adults enjoyed seeing almost as much as our children enjoyed playing on them. 23

24 And a few more New Zealand playgrounds for children 24

25 That day in Kaikoura we went out for a dinner and continued our drive around 7:30 pm. We planned to sleep that night in Christchurch about 2-hour drive from Kaikoura. Oh, if we only planned to drive the entire distance of 750 km from Picton to Dunedin that day we would have left Kaikoura a bit earlier. When we were near Christchurch around 9 pm that evening, Philip and I decided to continue driving all the way to Dunedin that evening (a 4-hour drive from Christchurch) and sleep in our home that evening. Children fell asleep, the traffic slowly disappeared, night hours were passing, and the sky was packed with stars with amazing views of the constellations of Southern Cross and Orion and the Milky Way. It was a spectacular scene which Philip and I remember from our travels in Argentina and Chile in 2008 Finally we arrived to our home, sweet home that night/morning around 3 am Overall, it was a wonderful family trip! We travelled over 2,000 km in 10 days. Our children became good travellers. It seems that we are ready for our family round-the-world trip in 5 months! More about that plan in one of the upcoming s and letters Tons of positive energy and best wishes for a Happy New Year! Sandy, Philip, Adriana and Oliver Dunedin, New Zealand 23 December

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