We got married back in September 2011, and had a mini honeymoon down in Dartmoor where we got married. We knew immediately when we got engaged that we wanted to go to New Zealand for our honeymoon . We wanted to make sure we had enough money to do lots of amazing things, so we decided to save up for it and delay our honeymoon about a year after the wedding (which also helped make the most of the best weather).

We went to New Zealand (South Island) for 3.5 weeks from 5th to 30th December, with 2 days in Sydney first and an unexpected day in Dubai too.

We had a truly awesome time, it was both of our favorite holidays ever. We took 6,803 photos, a lot of video and drove 3,800km!

I’m going to write separate posts on the details of what we did as there is a lot of it. There will be photos and videos on the relevant tabs soon too. For now, here are the Top 10 highlights (in no particular order as its too hard).

Dolphin watching in Kaikoura: Lizzie Short got this for us as a wedding present and it was excellent. There were over 200 dolphins around our boat and they were really acrobatic, doing loads of jumps and somersaults. We saw albatrosses too.

Somersaulting dolphin in Kaikoura

Somersaulting dolphin in Kaikoura

Sky diving Lake Wanaka: I’ve wanted to do a skydive for ages and where better than somewhere with excellent weather, fantastic views of lakes and mountains and bargainacious prices compared to the UK too. This was definitely my favorite adrenalin experience and i’d love to do it again.

Skydiving at Lake Wanaka

Skydiving at Lake Wanaka

Kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park: Abel Tasman is a beautiful National Park where tree covered mountains roll down into the sea and lovely beaches. We kayaked from a place called Tata beach in a duo to a secluded beach and did a walk to Separation Point with excellent views of the park and saw a seal swimming in the sea. The weather was lovely, and best of all, we saw a penguin, in the wild! He popped up by our boat, looking all cute, floated about for a bit, dived off, then popped up somewhere else about 8-9 times. Sadly I didn’t catch him to take home.

Kayaking in Abel Tasman - Wharwharenghi beach

Kayaking in Abel Tasman – Wharwharenghi beach

Staying with the Millis family: We spend a week over Christmas in Wanaka with Paul, Jo, Kath, Sarah and Tom Millis (Paul and Jo are Matts uncle and aunt). We had good fun and a nice relaxing time too with warm hospitality. We got up to lots including Puzzling World, seeing the Hobbit, Christmas Games, lake picnics and archery in the garden.

Leaning Tower of Wanaka at Puzzling World

Leaning Tower of Wanaka at Puzzling World

Canyoning on the Niger River: Matt loved canyoning. It was very wet with lots of abseiling, slides, jumps and swinging.

Canyoning on the Nigel River

Canyoning on the Nigel River

Rock climbing: Up in Abel Tasman we went one night to camp at a climbers campsite. It turned out they hired out equipment so people could go and climb at the crag next door (Paynes Ford), which is apparently the best limestone climbing in New Zealand. It doesn’t take much to work out what happened next! We did three climbing sessions with Paul Millis down by Wanaka too in some very convenient and very scenic roadside crags.

Matt at the top of the Tombstone near Wanaka

Matt at the top of the Tombstone near Wanaka

Caving in Clifden: Our guidebook mentioned a place you can go caving, by yourself. You go to a tourist info, pick up a standard size leaflet with a map and some safety advice, and off you go. I really enjoyed my first proper caving experience, partly because of the craziness of just going in with a leaflet, which is pretty unlikely to happen in the UK! The climax of the caving was “the swimming pool”, a spherical cave, about 5 meters across, half filled with water. On one side was a ledge, sloping in towards the deep dark water in the middle of the cave, with limited had holds. Oh, and did I mention the ledge was about a foot under water?! Matt went without his shoes, I soaked my boots and socks! We both got through without more getting wet than necessary – luckily the leaflet says you will probably get wet so we were prepared. Fun fun fun.

Matt in Clifden caves

Matt in Clifden caves

Christmas at 31 degrees: We had Christmas in Wanaka at 31 degrees. After coming to terms with the weirdness of it, the whole day was really good and Christmas in the warn definitely has its advantages. We had fresh hot croissants for breakfast in the sun in the garden, went for a picnic with kayaking and swimming in the lake over lunch, cycling back and played archery in the garden in the evening. Awesome.

Kayaking on Lake Wanaka on Christmas day

Kayaking on Lake Wanaka on Christmas day

Yummy foods: We ate lots of good things on holiday, including Fergburgers from Queenstown, a lot of excellent ice creams and my favorite  hot, freshly baked double chocolate cookies from the Paradiso cinema during the film interval.

Fergburger in Queenstown

Fergburger in Queenstown

Epic scenery: All around New Zealand was just amazing scenery. Mountains, rivers, bush, coast, plains, lakes, it was a stunning country just to be in and drive around.

 

View from Key Summit near Milford

View from Key Summit near Milford

Jet boating: I know this is now 11 things but I personally loved the speed, noise and general craziness of jet-boating down a gorge. 

Jetboating on the Buller Gorge

Jetboating on the Buller Gorge

Any comments or questions?