Grandmother in New Zealand

NZ_2053Our three wonderful March visitors!

In early March, my Grandmother Miriam, her sister Lois, and Lois’ husband came to New Zealand. They did a bit of their own traveling, then headed to the South Island to visit with the four of us. Their visit was packed with checking out Queenstown, heading into Fjordland, and visiting Wanaka. They also spent additional time with Sarah and Brett while Gordon and I were working.

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Queenstown
Since Gordon and I had become pretty familiar with the town by this point, we served as tour guides. We still managed to pick a few places we had yet to go, and got to continue our local cuisine experience. We also showed off some of the local shops and gardens, since the weather cooperated pretty well.

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One of the coolest things we did was the Kiwi Birdlife Park in Queenstown. We took a nice tour checking out different New Zealand birds, and finally saw some kiwis (still hoping to see some in the wild at some point)! They also have a Tuatare (the closest living relative to dinosaurs – even closer than the Komodo Dragon).

 

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Pretty much a dinosaur…

 

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Brett and Sarah with the visitors, all wearing their sweet tour headphones.

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Doubtful Sound
The “sounds” (actually fjords) are a must-see in New Zealand. We had already visited Milford Sound, the most renowned, but had heard Doubtful Sound was just as beautiful, but possibly even better because it was less visited. So we booked a cruise with Real Journeys to Doubtful Sound.

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We took a bus from Queenstown to Manapouri, during which our driver shared heaps of information. Unfortunately it was really early, so his calming voice just lulled me to sleep. From Manapouri, we boarded a ferry, which took us across Lake Manapouri to the location of the Manapouri Underground Power Station. We then transferred to another bus, which took us on a tour of the Underground Hydro Power Station, New Zealand’s greatest engineering feat. We traveled down a 2km (1.2 miles) spiral tunnel (we went in four complete circles heading downward) underground. In the tunnel, Gordon kept expecting to see Bane’s clan of thugs, whereas I was pretty sure we had entered Gringotts and were heading to Vault 713.

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From there, we traveled along New Zealand’s most expensive road, at five cents per centimeter. This took us into the sound where we boarded yet another boat.

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Doubtful Sound was fantastic. Parts were similar to Milford but they each have their own unique attributes. We had a lovely calm day, so we were able to travel out into the Tasman sea a bit, and even Brett, with his propensity for motion sickness, did just fine!

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They pulled the boat up next to a seal colony, and we even saw a crested penguin swimming in the water. At one point, the captain stopped the boat and turned off all the engines and electronics, and asked all passengers to sit in silence for a bit. It was cool standing in one of the most remote places in the world, hearing nothing but birds and nature. Obviously Gordon and I just stared into each other’s eyes lovingly during this moment… Obviously.


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Wanaka
Other than skydiving, we hadn’t spent much time in Wanaka, even though it was just one winding road away from Queenstown. So we decided to check it out with the gang. I love puzzles, and before coming to New Zealand, I read about Puzzling World, so although I thought it might be cheesy, I decided that would be a good activity.

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A quick stop at Lake Wanaka

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It was awesome. They had all sorts of mind-bending rooms and displays. There were optical illusions and games. Most importantly, there was a massive maze. We split up into teams and decided to see who finished first. Grandmother and Aunt Lois completed the shortened version first by finding their way to each of the towers, though not in any particular order. Brett and Sarah had  a disagreement over a turn, and ended up parting ways. Brett would have finished the specific order of towers first, but since it was a partner game, after he completed his trip through the maze, he then had to help Sarah through. A couple times Gordon and I nearly split, but we ultimately finished together, long before Sarah. So really there was no clear winner, but luckily we all made it out of the maze without being eaten by a Sphinx.

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Leaning Tower of Wanaka

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Part of the maze

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Even the restrooms were cool!

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The games were too tough for Brett…

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For a joint birthday dinner for Sarah and me, we stopped at Cadrona Hotel on the way back. Cadrona is a cute little hotel and bar and one of the oldest hotels in the region, and made for a perfect celebration spot!

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We were so lucky to have so many awesome visitors during our time in Queenstown. It enriched our experience and gave us a chance to share our new lives with others.

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4 thoughts on “Grandmother in New Zealand

  1. Thanks for sharing all your journeys, especially this with your grandmother. She is a precious person and I love love her like a sister. Continue to enjoy—-these are really special adventures. Mary Taylor, friend of Miriam Lamm from Monroe, North Carolina

    • Thanks for reading! It’s been so wonderful and we love sharing with others. I hope grandmother had lots of great pictures and stories to share with you when she returned home!

  2. Love how your Grandmother and her Sister got in on the Adventure. Thanks so much for sharing….loved all the pictures!

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