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Australia & NZ

    Christmas & New Year, Kiwi-style

    Forget that it’s already a month after Christmas. Ignore the fact that New Years Eve has been and gone. Overlook the fact that blogs are meant to be on-topic reflections of all that is trendy (which probably isn’t my dowdy forte at the best of times). Consider it a suspension of disbelief that I’m such a tardy blogger.

    Let me take you back a few weeks, to a time far sunnier and entirely upside down in a completely different hemisphere. It was Christmas Eve in New Zealand: the sun was shining, we had our drinks fridge all chilled and the ham was in the oven slowly being honey-glazed. One by one car loads of family were pulling into the drive before unloading copious amounts of kids and presents under the Christmas tree.
     

    Expat holiday celebrations Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Expat holiday celebrations Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Over the course of the next few days we gathered around the kitchen table for feasts (Mr Kiwi turned to me at one meal and goes “this will be your favorite moments of the holiday won’t they?” I gulped my drink in answer…), played some seriously competitive games (some unnamed adults elbowing other adults off the slip and slide), snuck a wedding in, spend the maximum time running about on the lawn, dragged the clan to the beach (Mount Maunganui, the same that I spend last Christmas Eve on) and just revelled in the family time.

    Mount Maunganui beach New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Mount Maunganui beach New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    It was so much fun I caught a few moments on film… (don’t worry, this is as close to vlogging as I’m EVER going to come…)



    We eventually made our way back up to Auckland for New Year celebrations. After two days of drizzly rain and movies (by that point actually
    a rather welcome reprieve from a busy Christmas and the sun for our almost
    translucent London complexions) we wandered out of our hotel towards the busy
    waterfront area of Auckland harbour. Our New Year plans were
    simple; watch the fireworks then retire for a celebratory drink back at the
    hotel.

    Well, if the wind and rain played ball.

    Luckily, for my first home New Years evening for nearly a
    decade, around 6pm the miserly grey seemed to lift (not always a guaranteed
    thing in Auckland, our city of sails) so we watched the sunset play out from our
    17th Floor Balcony.

    #Sunset in Auckland business-land. Magnificent. I think that means cocktail time… #visitauckland #QueenStreet #instaaddict #sunset #architecture #design #cocktails #nzmustdo #nz #kiwi #prettypursuit #home #Viewfrommytable #latergram #aucklandcbd #purenewzealand #realmiddleearth #kiwiland #newzealandnatural #kiwi_photos #newzealandfinds #foodbloggers #foodpic #yum #potd #moodofmytable

    A photo posted by Emma (@londonkiwiemma) on


    The last New Years Eve we actually planned to celebrate
    the clocks chiming was under Big Ben in 2013/2014, literally half a world away. We
    had to wear thick duvet-esque coats, knee-high boots under our jeans and pack a
    flask of hot chocolate liberally spiked with whiskey.

    This year, we wandered
    around in T-Shirts and popped into a pub here and there for a beer or two
    before meandering our way along the marina pier. Families milled about, couples armed with selfie sticks
    puckered their pouts and yaughties lounged on their moored vessels, full
    vessels in hand. We had been recommended the Wynyard Quarter (or the Parnell
    Rose Gardens) for the atmosphere and views – they didn’t disappoint.


    Mount Maunganui beach New Zealand Adventures of a London Kiwi

    < Insert gratuitous pavement photograph >

     

    Sure, it’s no London extravaganza with 2 million people gathered
    and a gazillion more watching it live on TV, but we do pretty well for such a
    small country. *cough* Rugby world cup *cough* 

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    Friday figments and photos – the globetrotting festive edition

    The last month has been wonderful. Full of chaos, sunshine, excitement, watching the rain from a comfy seat, Christmas Jumpers, making friends with camels called Sheila, too much cake, skyscrapers, wild dolphins, champagne, cheese and crackers on the beach, a family wedding and so many more memories.

    Tauranga Harbour Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We skipped away to New Zealand (well, I say skipped, but it involved an 8-hour flight to Dubai, a 15-hour flight to Brisbane that should have been 13 which is bad enough, a much delayed 3.5 hour flight to Auckland and an urgent call over an airport tannoy which was pointlessly stressful) but upon landing it was worth every second.

    Kiwi Christmas Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Christmas ornaments + palm trees = necessary selfie

    We began with brunch over glasses of New Zealand rose with London friends, as our delayed suitcases followed us a day behind from Australia (but it worked out better for us in the end & is a case in point – apologies for the pun – for taking at least one change of clothes and your favourite bathroom stuff as carry on) before we made our way to the New Zealand coast for some much anticipated family celebration.

    This is New Zealand summer bliss. #VillaMaria #NewZealand #wine

    A photo posted by Emma (@londonkiwiemma) on

    Greeted by gardens full of birdsong, a pool “for the kids”, a gigantic chiller for filling with bottles of plonk and cupboards full of our favourite treats, we left our shoes at the door and simply wandered barefoot for the next two weeks. Utter bliss.

    Kiwi Christmas Adventures of a London Kiwi 

    My lovely Englishman dug his first Hangi, exercised the rules of beer pong, braved the UV rays slathered in sticky sunscreen, impressed the family with his beer drinking skills and spent his first summer christmas in amused bewilderment.

    I bang on a little about how much I adore hugs, I guess that’s the expat in me – they matter so much more when you decided to make another country home, and this year I have been ridiculously lucky in the quantity that I’ve had. 3 visits to the other side of the world in one year is crazy, so I’ve made the utmost of them whilst they were there.

    It’s a hard knock life sometimes. (Not pictured are the kids splashing whilst I ‘lifeguarded’…) #summer #nzmustdo #family

    A photo posted by Emma (@londonkiwiemma) on

    Whilst there we also managed to fit a couple of touristy visits – we watched wild baby dolphins frolicking, celebrated in the 2016 New Year along with the first city in the world and drifted on a cave boat under a canopy of glowworms. That is the joy of holidays – no place to be that your heart doesn’t desire, no alarm clocks except for early start fun and simply being able to switch off.

    We ended our trip with a ridiculously good brunch, laughter with my Sister, soft jazz and a backwards glance towards the Skytower nestled in amongst rain clouds.

    Coffee & Cheesecake “for the blog” says the husband/partner-in-crime. The things we do… #foodbloggers #foodpic #yum #potd #foodie #foodography #foodlover #foodstagram #foodphotography #instafood #delicious #foodgasm #onthetable #moodofmytable #coffeeyouneed #nz #NewZealand #nzmustdo #purenewzealand #kiwiland #kiwi_photos #newzealandfinds #coffee #coffeeoftheday #yummy #happy #food #foodporn #sweet

    A photo posted by Emma (@londonkiwiemma) on

    Getting back from New Zealand we opted for a lengthy stopover in Dubai before returning to the arctic conditions of England in January (which I’ve spent mostly planning as many distractions as I can fit in) and a plentiful supply of piping hot tea.

    I can’t wait to share more of our adventures – I took a quick strawpoll on the Twitter and instead of bombarding y’all with a barrage of adventures I’m going to share it over the next few weeks, so stay tuned…

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    Travel Contrasts – The East and West Coasts of New Zealand – #travellinkup

    We stood, transfixed as the waves tumbled from glass rumbles to lace froth. A lone seagull dipped and wove through eddies of unseen air currents. The sunshine shimmered through breathtaking blue skies. Winter seemed like a distant thought, rather than close on the heels of our New Zealand Autumn.

    A day (or 30 hours later to be precise) we landed back in amongst the silver skyscrapers of London.

    PIHA BEACH Auckland New Zealand

    Living in New Zealand, no one is more than 3 hours drive from a beach, and it is one of the things I miss most about living in London. (And having to take wind breaks will always make me giggle, sorry British friends!) We managed to sneak in two beachy visits during our New Zealand whirlwind.

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    5 Day trips from Christchurch, New Zealand

    Once you have had your fill of exploring Christchurch (and drinking the cracking coffee) there are 5 places you have to make a day trip of whilst at the tip of the South Island.

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

    Crowning the list is one of the top railway journeys in the world – the Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.


    Cross the fertile farmlands of the Canterbury Plains, and enjoy
    thrilling vistas over deep gorges as you travel alongside the ice-fed
    Waimakariri River. Traverse the mighty Southern Alps, where spectacular
    views of the chiselled alpine landscape will take your breath away at
    every turn.

    Descend through thick stands of native beech forest to your
    destination, Greymouth – a great base for exploring this unspoiled
    region with its mighty glaciers, wild rivers and famous Punakaiki
    pancake rocks.

    I couldn’t put it better myself!

     

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

    We unluckily ran into a few problems insofar as a hour into the comfortable 4 hour train ride (we breakfasted on Afghan biscuits and sipped Flat Whites – oh how I adore being home) an elderly gentleman drove over the train tracks ahead of our train but sorely misjudged the timing.

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

     

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

    The train couldn’t slow quickly enough, hitting the car and damaging the locomotive engine. Luckily he was absolutely fine, walking away just with shock, but it
    meant we were transferred to a coach for the remainder of our trip to
    Greymouth. Ironically enough my Uncle had recommended getting the
    Transalpine train one way, then catching a coach to see a slightly
    different view of the incredible scenery.

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

    The view no matter what transport you take is breathtaking. With winding
    roads hugging the side of sheer moutain sides and running over shingle
    river beds we were entranced.

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.

    Due to the short turn around time, once we arrived in Greymouth we just grabbed a sandwich and hopped back onto the coach, but had considered staying the night to pop into the Monteith Brewery and explore the Punakaiki “Pancake” rocks. Next time, next time.
     

    Tranzalpine journey from Christchurch to Greymouth.
    I wanted to stay in that Campervan. Imagine waking up to that view! i

    Swim with dolphins or whale watch in Kaikoura
    I have always dreamt of doing this – and sadly foiled at Christmas in Tauranga due to stormy seas, we booked in with much excitement to travel up to Kaikoura (all my kiwi friends will be grimacing with the tourist-yness of this statement) but alas also owing to stormy conditions, our trip was cancelled whilst we were in Christchurch. It will be third time lucky, right?

    Relax in the Hamner Hot springs
    A 90-minute drive from Christchurch is one we weren’t able to fit in (no thanks to our dolphin cruise being cancelled and the operator pretending to have notified our hotel, but hadn’t) but remains on the must-do list. Leyla from Cutlery Chronicles has though…  

    Cable car overlooking Lyttleton Harbour
    This is more of a half day trip, but beautiful nonetheless. We relaxed in the cliff top restaurant with a coffee and a beating heart (I do not love cable cars) but the view was more than worth the journey.

    Cable car overlooking Lyttleton Harbour

    Cable car overlooking Lyttleton Harbour

    Enjoy a beer in Akaroa
    Who doesn’t love a relaxing sunset beer before returning to their hotel for pies a lovely meal?

    Cable car overlooking Lyttleton Harbour

    Have you been to Christchurch? (ps this is in no way a sponsored post, just sharing a little travel joy we found in New Zealand).

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    10 things to do in Christchurch, New Zealand

    Christchurch broke our hearts. 4 years after the 2011 6.3 magnitude earthquake, there are still families affected by the violent tectonic shaking and insurance companies running out of budget to get them back on their feet. Everywhere you walk through the quiet city there are reminders of the devastation – a half standing Cathedral surrounded by fallen masonry, orange construction cones barring entry and staircases leading to nowhere.

    10 things to do in Christchurch New Zealand

    On the flip side, the ‘number-8’ wire sensibility – the particularity Kiwi knack for making do and succeeding with whatever
    is to hand (and if you’re a farmer it’s usually 8-gauge fencing wire) – is everywhere. Take the surprisingly beautiful Cardboard Cathedral, the stunning murals painted on the exposed walls of buildings, wire fences set with colourful patterning and the ReStart mall made from shipping containers.

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