Moriartys New Zealand & Fiji 2018
December 13, 2017
In a couple days, we are embarking on a 3-week excursion to New Zealand and the Fiji Islands with our daughters, Ellie and Hanna. We can’t wait to learn a lot, spend time in nature, and visit our awesome Global Works partners. Our general itinerary is below. Stay tuned for trip updates and photos!
December 15-17, 2018
We finally arrived in New Zealand! Last Friday, we were lucky to get a ride to DIA with Aunt Katie and Leo who blasted the Gogos Vacation All I Ever Wanted to send us off on our adventure. Polly and Ellie were nervous- did we pack everything we need? Did we remember the passports? Will we make our flight on time? What about the camper van reservation when we get there? Fritz and Hanna balanced us out with jokes and their excitement.
It was a long, 13-hour journey across the Pacific. We all slept and binged watched on our devices. Getting to Auckland and going through customs and immigration was surreal, both due to sleep deprivation and due to the fact that everything was so smooth and easy in the airport, and the New Zealanders extremely friendly. En route to pick up our camper van, Ellie proclaimed, “Hope for the worst” so that we would have low expectations for our home on wheels. She and the rest of us were relieved to find our van in solid working order with everything we could hope for in a moving home for two weeks: comfy bedding, a little kitchen, a French press, and Wifi access. Grace, Annabel, and Finn, you will be glad to know that we named the van rather quickly. “Fuzzball” aka“Fuzzy” aka “Mighty Fuzzy” has treated us well so far! Hanna’s funniest moment of the trip so far is when I (Polly) tried out the camper van potty for the first time and the shower turned on by accident!
December 18, 2018
Karioi Lodge was our home sweet home for the first 2 nights. It’s a surfer’s haven in Raglan (about 2 hours south of Auckland) and we found a spot in the lodge’s car park overlooking the sea. Surf lessons at Ngaruniui Beach were a huge highlight so far. We loved our awesome instructors, Ben and Emily, from Raglan Surf School. The afternoon activity was to hike to Bridal Veil waterfall- check out the photos below! Then we each did our own thing, exploring the trails of Karioi Lodge. Fritz, by the way, is driving on the left like a pro!
December 19, 2018
We awoke to watch the amazing surfers at Manu Bay point break and all of us promised that we’d come back one day and get good enough to try it out. We said goodbye to the little town of Raglan and headed out of town about 15 km to the home of Jan Mitchell. She runs a working/ educational farm with sheep, geese, an alpacas named Denver, llamas, bees, a goat named Vincent Van Goat, and eels. Hanna and Ellie’s favorite moment was giving a bottle to Lily the lamb. I loved learning about the various projects that Global Works groups had worked on including re-planting native plants, removing invasive species, cleaning up a flooded area, and more. We had a lovely tour and a scrumptious lunch of BBQ, asparagus quiche, sweet tea, the yummiest bread & butter. The dessert was something out of Hanna’s dream- a huge fruit plate and delicious chocolate cake covered with berries and fresh whipped cream… she took the photos.
December 20, 2017
Today we went to a big cave. In the cave, we saw thousands of glow worms hanging from the ceiling. The glowworms are shiny and blue. Looking up at the cave ceiling, it looked like the night sky. The cave is in Waitomo. We also stayed there at a camp where you can get a cabin or just stay in your RV. Next, we drove to a place called Ohakune and got ice cream and presents for our family’s Secret Santa. Later, we drove up a mountain and went hiking. Also, we found a camping spot and played chess and checkers. That was another day in New Zealand!
– by Ellie
December 21, 2017
We woke up at our campsite and Daddy made pancakes. Then, we rented some bikes and went on a MAJOR bike ride. It took the whole day. I cried a couple times. The rocks were really bumpy and big and are called “cobblestones” … which I didn’t really like. Other parts over the grass were slow. My dad and I took a break under a tree. I had Skittles, M & M’s and peanut M & M’s. After the ride, we had a really good chocolate milkshake.
– by Hanna
Epic. Awesome. Ohakune Old Coach Road mountain bike ride. 10 miles through and bordering the Tongariro National Park. Amazing views of Mount Ruapehu. It was a challenging ride, but very picturesque and informative with a lot of historical signs along the way. A highlight was riding over a viaduct over a dramatic steep canyon, followed by a picnic lunch.
— by Fritz
December 22, 2017
Today we woke up really early to get to a ferry. The ferry didn’t look very nice from the outside, but the inside was amazing. We found a spot on the Sun Deck, ate a delicious breakfast, watched a magic show, and then enjoyed the amazing scenery through the Cook Straight. We arrived to Picton after 3 1/2 hours. After we left the ferry, we got to look at seals and baby seals aka pups. The baby seals were playing and they are so cute. – by Ellie
December 23, 2017
We woke up early again and had breakfast and then we went straight to a building called Encounter. We got all geared up with fins, wetsuits, a mask and snorkel and watched a safety briefing. Next, we took a boat out and actually swam with dolphins. In order to make them stick around us, we had to “entertain” them by singing Christmas carols (“Frosty the Dolphin…”), snapping our fingers, and doing spins and flips in the water. It was incredible! Fritz took about 10,000 photos that we will share later! – by Ellie and Polly
December 24, 2017
Today was meant to be a rest day, but we cannot get enough of the marine life and being out on the water in Kaikoura. So…we rented some sea kayaks and headed out to sea. We were fortunate to witness some more fur seals as well as the elusive yellow eyed penguin. Being out on the water also allows for an amazing view back at the Kaikoura Peninsula with cliffs dropping dramatically into the sea. A very important part of the day was locating our Christmas tree. Luckily, there was a pine forest adjacent to our campground and the friendly hosts loaned us a handsaw to cut down a seedling. She was named “Ferny” and the grandparents in the site next to ours helped us decorate with flowers and foil stars. Fritz treated us to a Christmas eve feast at the Pier, the top-ranked restaurant in town.
December 25, 2017
A Christmas to remember! We all enjoyed opening a few Santa presents as well as the Secret Santa surprises that we had shopped for since arriving in New Zealand. We got back on the road for an epic travel day south, driving through Christchurch and then over the pass, along Lake Tekapo –with double rainbow views!–to land in Glentanner, a park just south of the iconic Aoraki/ Mt. Cook (Aoraki is the Maori name and Mt. Cook named by the Europeans. It goes by both). We found an open pub, much to everyone’s delight, that had awesome mountain views, cheesy Christmas tunes, bad food, cold pitchers of beer, and foosball. It wasn’t what we are accustomed to on this holiday, and we missed our family, but it’s certainly one that will remain in our memories!
December 27, 2017
Well, Fuzzy did not want to let us go today. We packed up and were excited to drive off when we found her battery had died. Our camper van service team came to the rescue and we were back on the road within an hour or so. The rest of the drive went smoothly and we rolled into Albert Town, hometown of Craig and Family about 1pm. It’s been great to meet Mel and their awesome boys, Carter, age 2, and Hudson, age 5 weeks.
December 28, 2017
We’ve lost track of how many boats and other water toys that Craig has. Today, he took us out on a speed boat across Lake Wanaka. I had permagrin the entire time. The lake is HUGE, something like 45 km long. We drove about 30 minutes and landed on one of the islands, Mou Wahu. We ran into Chris Riley who runs eco-tours to the island and also works for the Dept. of Conservation. He told us about working with various Global Works groups to plant native trees on the island and was happy to report that they were doing well. We hiked about 1 km straight up (we’ve discovered that New Zealanders prefer the direct route rather than switchbacks), to another lake called Lake Arethusa. In that lake, there was another little island. Check out the final photo in the gallery of Ellie and you’ll see behind her that little island in a lake, on an island in a lake, on an island in the ocean!
December 15: Flight Denver to Los Angeles and then on to Auckland!
December 16: The lost day! Crossing the international date line.
December 17- 19: Karioi Lodge, Raglan
December 20: Camping near Okahune
December 21: Camping in Wellington
December 22: Ferry Crossing! Peketa Beach Holiday Park, Kaikoura
December 23-24: Peketa Beach Holiday Park, Kaikoura
December 25-26: Glentanner Park, The Mount Cook Experience
December 27-30: Home of Craig F. and Family, Wanaka Lake
December 31: Flight from Auckland to Nadi, Fiji, Oasis Palms Hotel
January 1: Village stay, Nativi
January 2: Back to Nadi, Oasis Palms Hotel
January 3-6: Blue Lagoon Resort, Yasawa Islands
January 7: Flight home!