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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 26, 2017
A short window of good weather permitted our Air Safari to go as planned. Boarding our 7-seater plane, we had a bit of butterflies in our stomachs, which turned quickly to ooohhhs and aaaahs as we lifted off over the turquoise blue waters of Lake Pukaki. We flew up the Tasman gorge towards the West Coast then made a U turn to fly over the Tasman, Fox, and Franz Josef glaciers. Finally, we buzzed by Aokari/ Mt. Cook at 3,724 meters, it’s aptly called the “Cloud Piecer”. The afternoon was both for a hike up the Hooker Lake track (aka trail) across swing bridges and for a long nap in the van as the weather turned to cold rain. We enjoyed a smorgorboard dinner for our last night with Fuzzy.

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 29, 2017
Today’s we got to raft Clutha River from Wanaka Lake back to Craig’s doorstep! Well, almost! We all took turns paddling and Craig taught us about eddys, currents, and rapids. It was a float trip reminiscent of the Bairs, Bartons, Doyles’ Harpers Ferry wild expedition and made us want to explore more rivers in the future! We are also loving the Kiwi’s tradition of BBQ’ing most nights of the week. Tonight we grilled out at the Wanaka Yacht club where Craig head’s up the youth sailing program.
December 30, 2017
Although the winds weren’t quite cooperating, a trip to Wanaka would not be complete without trying out Craig’s sailboat! This was not a leisurly sail. Hanna was smart enough to stay home to play with Hudson, Carter, and Mel. Ellie, Fritz, and I took Craig’s yellow dingy out to his speedy sailboat and had a ride that I will never forget. In the afternoon, the Fahey’s attended a family wedding, so we had decided to be tourists and hit the most popular Wanaka attractions, Puzzle World and the famous Wanaka tree. It was so much fun!
December 31, 2017
It was sad to say good bye to Craig and fam, but we promised that we  would see them again soon. We departed from Wanaka early for an epic travel day including a shuttle to the Queenstown airport, flight to Aukland, long walk between terminals, and a flight to Nadi, Fiji on the main island of Vitu Levu. Upon arrival in Fiji, we rented a car and drove to our hotel for the night, Oasis Palms. We took a swim before dinner and did our best through our exhaustion to ring in the new year!
January 1, 2018
We are all nervous for today! We are headed to the mountain village of Nativi, where our Global Works groups have been welcomed for the past 10 years, for our homestay. The plan is to drive north, around the island, to the town of nearby town of Rakiraki. There, our Global Works liaison, Solomon, will find us. We have a grocery list of things to buy and also need to buy our sulus, which are the traditional, colorful skirts that all Fijians wear. The 2 hour drive feels like double the length due to both the heat and the trepidation of the unknown. However, we soon know there is nothing to worry about. Within 60 seconds of arriving to Rakiraki, Solomon greets us and tells us “it’s ok, it’s all ok”. We spent a couple hours buying provisions for the next 24 hours including: chicken and veggies for dinner, cookies, flour, rice, a kava root, ground kava, soap, Purel, water, a volley ball, and electricity credits.
Arriving to Nativi felt both like a dream and extremely comfortable. We are taken in by Millie who serves us tea, crackers, and peanut butter. When any visitors arrive to a Fijian village, a Sevusevu ceremony takes place to welcome them into the community. Ellie, Fritz, Hanna, and I were no exception. The elders gathered and we presented them with the ceremonial kava. Prayers, speeches, singing, and dancing commenced for about an hour. Afterwards, Solomon gave us a tour of the town, the school, and community center and showed us all the projects that the  town members and Global Works community have worked on since 2008.Fortunately, no one in Nativi was harmed; however the most structures were destroyed. Hurricane Winston devastated Nativi and all of Fiji in February of 2016 and the town of Nativi is still re-building both the physical structures and emotionally.
This is turning into a long blog post, but this day felt like it lasted forever! After the tour and a delicious curry dinner, Ellie and Hanna met up with a dozen or so of the kids in town to play soccer, card games, and sing songs. Around 9pm, it was time for kava ceremony #2. It was predicted that this one would go on until sunrise at 7am. Hanna and I made it until 11:30pm and Fritz and Ellie came home shortly after midnight. Highlights included lots of dancing, glow sticks (provided by Ellie and Hanna) and a kids-only kava ceremony with orange juice. Seriously, a experience that we will remember forever. We are hopeful to return…but predict that Ellie and Hanna will return with a GW group before we do. 🙂
January 2, 2018
by Hanna
What was your favorite thing to to in Nativi? Glow sticks.
How was it the same as your home town? It had lots of kids. 
If your best friend was going to Nativi, what would you tell her to bring? Water
by Ellie
How was Nativi like you expected it to be? The houses are close together. Everyone is really friendly. They play games like soccer, volleyball, and rugbee. Also I liked playing with the glow sticks.
What surprised your in Nativi? What surprised me was how much the loved glow sticks and that the drank a lot of kava! 
What do you want to do if you return one day? I want to explore more and swim in the river. I also want to play more games with the kids. 
January 3-7, 2018
Today, we took a 5 hour ferry ride to Nacula Island, one of the Yasawa Islands. We had four nights where we stayed in a beachfront bure. A coral reef in a blue lagoon greeted us each morning and we snorkeled, swam, rested, and hiked throughout the days. The girls made some wonderful friends, Anna from Singapore and Bella from Australia; and we could not have had a more happy, restful time to end our trip! Photos tell 1,000 words- check out photos below ~ thanks for following along with out trip!

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!