When we had our son last summer, we decided to make use of shared parental leave, taking three months off at the start of this year.
We were wanting to go on an adventure, take in the views, go on hikes, lounge on beaches and do a spot of wildlife watching while we were at it. Quite a list, eh?
Adding to that list, we wanted it to be somewhere where travel would be straightforward and, as baby would be about 6 months old at that time, somewhere safe with good health care if anything were to go wrong.
Keith eyed up hikes in the Canary Islands and one massive trek in New Zealand. I eyed up mad travel around South America. We compromised and decided on mad travel around New Zealand!
It had everything we were looking for. The first hurdle was going to be getting there…
Three flights and 36 hours later, our fun began. (A separate blog may be coming up for dealing with flights that long with kids… Hint? Grumpy people are going to be grumpy regardless… )
Our most memorable hike had to be the hike up to Mount Fyffe by Kaikoura. It was 900m straight up, on a giant track up to the hut, but we chose to sleep out in the tent, with views down to the coast on one side and snowy mountains to the other side.
We saw yellow eyed penguins (one of the rarest types of penguins), glow worms, sperm whales, we fed sting rays, saw fur seals, marvelled at dolphins, saw albatross, wetas, takahes and a lot more rare New Zealand wildlife. Our son absolutely loved all these encounters; our favourite being the whale watching trip!
We stayed in some great places; wild camping, basic DOC (Department of Conservation) campsites, little campsite huts, and when our budget allowed even some basic motels. Our son vividly remembers his first ever stay at a campsite – he couldn’t get over the size of some of the tents and that some he could stand up in and some even had multiple rooms!!!
Outdoor activities :
We went white water rafting twice, hiking, caving x 3 times, jet boating, indoor skydiving, river swimming, beach bumming, body boarding. It was an incredible fun-filled 8 weeks having to cherry pick activities that we could fit in to that time!
We couldn’t go to New Zealand and not go to Milford Sound and the underwater observatory. We saw glaciers and drove along brilliant blue glacier lakes, ate A LOT of ice cream, fed salmon before eating salmon sushi (felt a bit macabre…), uncovered fossils, picked blueberries, explored geology at Moeraki Boulders, ate some more ice cream, visited steam punk towns, saw waterfalls, visited geothermal areas with geysers, crossed dodgy swing bridges, changed plans because of roads getting washed away, saw cultural shows including the Haka, went on ferries and broke two hire cars (though we weren’t trying to!) . We listened to the Moana soundtrack 3581 times, Trolls 2873 times and our sons favourite, Imagine Dragons 8651 times. We took a lot of pictures, ate even more ice cream, made loads of great memories and LOVED spending time together.
We scrimped and saved to be able to take this opportunity and gave ourselves headaches trying to sort out paperwork for shared parental leave but it was all so worth it though!!
New Zealand is a brilliant place to visit for ease of travel with kids if you’re in to outdoors, wildlife and adventure! We’d definitely recommend it!