New Zealand Adventures!

Feb 4, 2018

6 years ago today, Ryan and I secretly got legally married in our blue jeans. To celebrate, we headed for burgers and Starbucks and then headed to the tiny town of Penhold to spend the remainder of the evening singing karaoke. We’ve always done things just a bit differently. 
Our family vacations are no different.  Instead of packing our bags and jetting off to an all inclusive resort in Mexico (which is also one of my favourite places in the world), we packed for 3 weeks of life in a camper van, on the other side of the world. 

Let’s rewind a few days for a better recap of our trip thus far. 
It was Tuesday afternoon and we were officially on holidays! All that stood between us and fun were 15.5 hours of flights... With a 2 and 4 year old... Overnight. 
I tried to stay optimistic but I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t terrified for the journey. In this case, it was all about the destination. 
We flew from Edmonton to Vancouver and Aaralee asked why it took so long approximately 68 times. Boy, was she in for a shock on the next sector.
After months of anticipation, we finally boarded our flight from Vancouver to Auckland. Long haul flying used to be ordinary life for me, but as a passenger it’s much less pleasant. 
The girls watched Paw Patrol a few times while we waited for dinner. Once we were served our typical airplane platters of disappointment, it was time to attempt bed time. I got the girls into their pajamas and tucked them into their seats as comfortably as I could. It worked! Briley immediately fell asleep and Aaralee followed suit shortly after. Life was good! Ryan dozed off and I tried to do the same, but every time I’d get remotely comfortable, Briley would wake up and need to readjust. I slept maybe 2 hours of the flight, but our kids were sleeping or well behaved for 90% of it. I was exhausted, but my kids were quiet, so I was satisfied.

We finally landed in Auckland, on a rainy afternoon. The remnants of a cyclone were passing through the city and people hid from the weather indoors. Not us. We basked in the humidity and 23 degree weather. We bought rain ponchos and sipped perfect lattes, while the kids ran through grass squealing with joy. It was summer, and we had no complaints. 
To fight jet lag, we tried to stay awake as long as possible on day one, but around 8 pm we were all done and called it a night. We crawled into our cozy beds in our fancy hotel room and slept until 6 the next day. 
By day 2 we felt far more energetic. The sun was shining! My cousin Jay and her husband Shane had flown in from Australia to join us on the adventure. They have a new baby and I was so excited to meet him! 
We all met for breakfast, before they headed to pick up their camper. We had opted for one more day in Auckland to ensure that we were over our jet lag prior to hitting the road. 
We spent the day exploring the city. We walked to the water to look at the boats. We went to the top of the Skytower and checked out the views that spanned for miles. Briley loves the glass floors, Aaralee was a bit more hesitant.

After one last night of sleeping in a cozy hotel room, we were off to pick up our camper van. It was pouring rain and we loaded into our new home. I was nervous about how the kids would sleep and about Ryan driving on the other side of the road. We set off for the coast, chasing the clear skies. It was a gorgeous journey through rolling hills and fields of sheep. 

We eventually made it to Tauranga, and headed straight for the beach. It wasn’t swimming weather and the waves were massive, but the girls were in their glory. Briley played in the sand while Aaralee gathered more seashells than she was capable of carrying. 

We trekked a bit up Mount Maunganui to enjoy the incredible views of the beach from above. I was so proud of our girls. For 3 days they’d trekked along like little champs, walking as far as their little feet could take them. 
We left the beach and set out in search of dinner. We settled upon fish and chips at a busy restaurant in fisherman’s wharf. 
After grabbing a few groceries, it was time to find a place to sleep for the night. Jay and Shane were in a campground, but New Zealand allows “freedom camping” in certain areas so long as you have a self contained vehicle. We drove to one park, but all of the spots were taken and we were concerned that perhaps finding a place to sleep would be a bigger challenge than anticipated. We decided to check one more spot, and to our surprise we found a spot to park. It was right beside the water and would do just fine. 
We stuck the kids in the top bunk and pulled out of bed below. The girls were chatting and being silly and I was worried that they’d never sleep, but as soon as the lights were out, so were they. Night one in the camper: success! 
We woke up to the sounds of birds singing and the cool sea breeze. It was the latest that the girls had slept since arriving. 
Maybe I’m being overly optimistic, but I have a feeling that the next couple of weeks are going to be some of the best memories our family will make together. 


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