In Queenstown

Sometimes life gets a little bit too busy, and it takes me forever to post photos from our holidays. I try to find more time to spend at my computer but instead I collapse in a heap whenever I have a free moment (that is when Daniel is having his naps and he is having less and less of them). So, here we are, exactly two months after we came back from our favourite place on Earth, but somehow it feels like yesterday. These pictures take me back to those priceless moments when rainbows were welcoming us back to Queenstown, when trees were losing the last of those beautiful yellow leaves, when the air was crisp, when we were standing aboard T.S.S. Earnslaw, surrounded by the turquoise waters of Lake Wakatipu.

Oh how grateful I am for the camera in my hands.


Lake Tekapo

We spent a few quiet days in Lake Tekapo, doing nothing really, just wandering along the lake shore, watching the rabbits hop, throwing stones into the cold waters, discovering quaint little streets lined with cozy cabins, where mushrooms were growing just on the side of the road and the air smelled of autumn leaves, cold wet earth, and smoke. We took a few drives to the top of Mount John and to Lake Alexandrina, and also to Lake Pukaki again, because Daniel fell asleep in the car and you don’t wake the sleeping baby – you just drive wherever the road takes you and enjoy the views and the adult conversation. The weather was wild and windy quite often during our three day stay, but we were blessed to witness the fresh snow covering the tops of the mountains on our first morning there.

Oh Lake Tekapo, what a special place you are to us. I remember the first moment we saw your shores many years ago – as we were nearing our destination after the three hour drive from Christchurch, and the sun was already behind the low clouds, and everything was pretty dark and gloomy around, but suddenly, as we took another turn, we saw your turquoise waters in front of us, so very blue even in that low light, and we just gasped. There is something magical in that place. It’s no wonder we keep returning there.

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Our Mountain

Mount Cook is “my mountain”. It took my breath away the first moment I saw it many years ago, and it never fails to make my heart beat fast every time I am blessed to have another chance to stand in front of it. We have my paintings and photos of it hanging on the walls at home, and Daniel waves good bye to Mount Cook every night he goes to bed. Mount Cook witnessed some of the happiest moments of our lives, so naturally I had been dreaming of taking Daniel to see it from even before he was born. So our first family holiday had to be in New Zealand, naturally.

We saw Mount Cook from the plane as we were flying towards Queenstown. It was such a sweet surprise to be flying so close to it, but I couldn’t show it to Daniel as he was peacefully asleep in my arms after long hours of travel.

As we were leaving Queenstown three days later to start our drive to Mount Cook and Lake Tekapo, I kept checking the weather forecast which was, unfortunately, not very promising. It was supposed to rain, rain, rain for the next three or four days. Which meant heavy clouds hanging low on the mountain, hiding it from our view, with no chances to see it. And rain it did. We spent two days inside our motel room or inside the car, taking shelter from the rain and the wind, but still venturing out for the drives around Lake Pukaki as the mountains are stunningly beautiful in any weather.

But on the morning of our last day in Mount Cook Village we woke up to starry, clear skies, despite the forecast. We quickly dressed our little one in layers and layers of warm clothing, and rushed to the lookout in front of The Hermitage. And my mountain was there, in all its glory. I lifted Daniel up, and pointed towards Mount Cook. “There.” I said. “This is our mountain, my little darling”.

We were lucky to have that clear morning, so lucky. We even managed a trek along Hooker Valley, to walk closer to Mount Cook, to be surrounded by one of the most stunning landscapes we ever witnessed. The clouds came back in the afternoon when we were already in Lake Tekapo, and it rained in Mount Cook village for days, so we never got the chance to see our mountain again during our holiday.




Autumn in Arrowtown

I dreamed of visiting the South Island of New Zealand during autumn for many years. And it has finally happened. The circle is complete as we have seen the South Island in all four seasons now, and I must say autumn is one of the most spectacular times to visit despite the occasional rain. We were there in early May which meant we missed the peak of autumn colours by a couple of weeks but it was still gorgeous everywhere.

Arrowtown is a short twenty-minute drive from Queenstown and is a must-see for sure. The streets are quiet, the air is pure, the autumn leaves are covering the ground as a soft warm carpet, and there is the smell of smoke and of wet leaves that creates the most cosy feeling. We took a very slow (as in “we have a toddler who has just learned to walk” slow) stroll along the river. And you know what, following Daniel’s lead gave us plenty of time to stop, look around, breathe in, notice the littlest things, and just be.

And seeing Daniel’s face light up as he was playing in the piles of leaves was the sweetest moment which has now become a very precious memory.


Our Little Tourist

We took our little one to New Zealand! It was our fourth holiday on the South Island, and, as usual, it was the loveliest experience. Since we knew the exact spots we wanted to see this time, we stayed in the same places for longer and it gave us plenty of opportunities  to let Daniel explore at his own (very slow) pace. It was so exciting to share the places dear to our hearts with our little one, and to see them in the new light through his eyes. It was wonderful and inspiring.

We decided to fly directly into Queenstown instead of Christchurch this time to save time on driving, and I must say landing in Queenstown was exhilarating and spectacular – we flew over Southern Alps, saw Mount Cook (and that sight made my heart flutter), and then the plane was flying right above The Remarkables.

Here are a few photos from our first couple of days there. We walked around the town a lot, checked out the playground next to our hotel, and took a drive to Glenorchy which we always do as that place is pure magic.


The late afternoon sun on the mountains makes me feel like we are in a fairy tale:


Checking out the view on our first morning in NZ:


He was ready to jump into the water. We had to stop him which resulted in a little drama but nothing that a slide and a swing couldn’t fix:


Autumn, glorious autumn. That smell of wet fallen leaves and the crisp air and the gentle sun are so invigorating:


On our way to Glenorchy. Look at those views:


Finally at our destination (someone was extra happy to roam free and play with all the sticks and stones he could see):


This drive is one of the most stunning we have ever done:


Nothing like a glass of local Pinot at the fireplace at the end of the long day of exploring and toddler wrangling:


I will post our photos from Arrowtown next, and trust me, you wouldn’t want to miss it – the autumn colours are magic!