Our amazing family holiday in New Zealand

We’ve just arrived home from a glorious two-week family holiday in New Zealand.

Two whole weeks in the beautiful South Island, my husband Dave’s birthplace and old stomping ground.

Dave has been mad keen for a long time for the girls to experience winter in New Zealand. We prayed there would be enough snow for them to play around in. We needn’t have worried. There was so much snow roads were closed!

New Zealand put on a spectacular winter wonderland for us. Everywhere we went was achingly beautiful. Snow-capped mountains rising above golden grass whipping around wildly in the wind. Thick fogs mysteriously hiding turquoise lakes below. Beautiful Snowflakes dancing delicately on our eyelashes, dusting our hair and melting on our tongues. Big, fat snowflakes and flurries that came thick and fast, and stunning red, gold and black autumnal colours that made my heart ache.

Around every bend, there was a spectacular photo opportunity. Dave made sure he stopped at nearly all of them, eager to savour the beauty of his homeland and cement the memories deep in his mind until his next visit.

I could write a blog post about every place we visited – and I will with some of them – but for now, here are the highlights from our two-week family holiday in New Zealand.

Horses, donkeys, deer – oh my!

Our first stop was Dave’s aunt’s property just outside of Christchurch. Our city kids loved riding with bales of hay in the back of a truck to feed miniature horses and donkeys. They loved getting up close and personal with the animals. I don’t know who was more nervous, the animals or the kids! We oohed and ahhed over beautiful deer and a stag, who we later found out would end up in the freezer. Eek!!


Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools

Oh yeah, baby. Oh yeah! These pools are the absolute bomb. This was the second time I visited Hanmer Springs and I will definitely visit again. We soaked in hot pools ranging from 38 – 42 degrees surrounded by towering trees and snow-capped mountains. It was nothing short of breathtaking. The pools have a great kids’ area, which was a little chilly, but the kids didn’t mind.

Do you wanna build a snowman?

When we arrived in Hanmer, there was a buzz in the air. Whisperings of snow – big snowfall – were on everyone’s lips. Temperatures plunged over night and we awoke to snow falling. Let’s just say that excitement levels were Off.The.Hook.

Hanmer Springs

Hanmer Springs road

Hanmer hot springs in the snow

Imagine sitting in your bathers in steaming hot pools with delicate snowflakes dancing around you. Imagine being out in the snow in your bathers, but feeling as warm as toast. Imagine doing a mad dash between hot pools, while the snow is falling around you. This is a memory that will be etched in my mind forever.

Mt Hutt skiing

Driving to the Mt Hutt ski fields before sunrise was nothing short of spectacular. Spectacular, but also freaking scary driving up dark, icy roads. Every time our back tyres skidded, I pictured us crashing to our death off the side of the mountain. When we reached the top, the sun was slowly painting the sky purple and pink above a sea of shimmering white. All four of us were in awe.

Unfortunately, we got off to a rough start with the skiing. There were a few tears from Miss Four, which is understandable because it was freezing and new and a little scary. It wasn’t long though before we were having a blast like regular ski bunnies  – or something.

Mt Hutt

Mt Hutt learner skier

Let the storm rage on

You know that one time Elsa was like ‘Let the storm rage on!’? That’s what our drive through the Lindis Pass was like. We drove through a snow storm with snow coming at us sideways. People were putting their snow chains on left, right and centre. It was an unforgettable experience.

Lindis Pass

Day trip to Queenstown

Queenstown is so beautiful, it’s a crime. After getting mobbed by overzealous ducks, we decided to take the Skyline Gondola for a birds’ eye view of the beauty below. When we reached the top, a kind stranger offered us two free luge rides. Dave and Miss Seven made the most of them hooning down the mountain.


Skyline Gondola New Zealand

There be gold in them rivers

We spent only a short time in the quaint, old gold rush town of Arrowtown, but it was a good time. We arrived mid-afternoon, when temperatures were rapidly dropping. It was so cold my phone turned itself off! The entire trip the girls were obsessed with finding crystals and gems in the lakes, so the first thing we did was head down to the river with gold and gems on our mind! As we walked to the river, ice had formed in shallow areas. There was not another soul around, just the four of us. The trees surrounding us were something special. Charcoal black trunks with golden leaves. I’d never seen anything like it. It was eerie and mesmerising all at the same time.

Once I dragged the family away from the river, we ducked into an old hotel, where we warmed ourselves by an open fire. A couple of glasses of pinot gris and a divine blueberry risotto with caramelized orange and I was in heaven!


A special birthday

One of our darling girls turned seven while we were away. Her birthday wish was to ice skate at Lake Tekapo and take a dip in the hot pools afterwards. We spent more than three hours on the ice. Talk about fun! The girls quickly became obsessed with ice skating and we returned the next day for another three-hour session. Highlight for me: Sipping mulled wine by an open fire as we watched the girls’ confidence on the ice grow. Miss Seven even made a friend. Seeing them skate hand-in-hand was beyond cute!

Lake Tekapo ice skate

Snow, stars and a special treat

Walk or drive up to the top of Mt John and you’ll be guaranteed spectacular 360 degree views of Lake Tekapo, the Southern Alps and the Mackenzie Basin. When we reached the top we were gob-smacked. There was snow as far as the eye could see. The photos just do not do it justice. While we were taking in the view, a friendly old chap asked us where we were from. When I told him we were from Brissie, he asked if we’d like to see a telescope. Little did we know at the time that the friendly stranger was heavily involved in the University of Canterbury and Mt John Observatory’s astronomical research. Mt John Observatory, you see, is the premier location for star gazing in New Zealand. The night sky is so amazing there they want to world heritage list it! The telescope we saw was massive. We felt so fortunate to gain insight into the university’s research.

Mt John

Family time

We were thrilled to be able to spend quality time with Dave’s side of the family and quality time as a family of four. There were plenty of laughs, fun and adventure. We were so grateful to be able to take this trip. We created some very special memories.

Lake Tekapo

Have you been to New Zealand? What were your highlights? What’s the last family trip you went on?

Linking up today with Kylie for IBOT.

11 comments on Our amazing family holiday in New Zealand

  1. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
    August 1, 2017 at 6:49 am (2 years ago)

    I loved following along on your NZ adventure on the socials and am so pleased you wrote about it in more details so I can have a more thorough sticky beak. It really does look like a winter wonderland – I’ve never been to New Zealand but I really want to go now, although I might pass on the skiing and skating and just fast forward to the mulled wine instead!

  2. Deb @ inner compass designs
    August 1, 2017 at 6:59 am (2 years ago)

    Your Instagram pics were amazing and this recap is just making me long to take this trip. We have only done the north island but know we will get there someday. Do you think winter is best for a visit to the South Island or is it just as fabulous in warm weather (am sure Dave would have an opinion on that lol)

  3. Nicole @ The Builder's Wife
    August 1, 2017 at 8:14 am (2 years ago)

    I love everything about New Zealand, your photos took me back there in a flash. I adore snow and skiing, I love the fresh air and the amazing people. Your holiday looked amazing, I am sure the girls will remember this for a lifetime!

  4. Vanessa
    August 1, 2017 at 10:20 am (2 years ago)

    Those hot pools sound AMAZING. Like, take me there right now!

    If I wasn’t already scared of winding roads without ice and snow though…not sure I could handle it. It’s a real phobia of mine.

  5. Bella
    August 1, 2017 at 10:23 am (2 years ago)

    New Zealand is gorgeous! We went to the south island for our honeymoon last year. It was April though, so it was chilly but not snowing. Milford Sound was spectacular!

  6. Ingrid @ Fabulous and Fun Life
    August 1, 2017 at 10:26 pm (2 years ago)

    This brings back so many memories from my New Zealand holiday about 5-6 years ago now! My kids loved going to Puzzle World at Wanaka the most.

  7. Denyse
    August 2, 2017 at 4:21 pm (2 years ago)

    It was so good seeing your photos on IG and now this, the words to go with the pics! You have made some amazing memories and experiences far beyond what the girls could have back in Qld. A magical time had by all! Denyse xx

  8. Robyna May
    August 7, 2017 at 8:37 pm (2 years ago)

    I loved seeing your pics and reading about your adventures was even better. We are think about NZ as a family holiday destination so will definitely be saving.

  9. Jo @ You had us at hello
    August 7, 2017 at 11:43 pm (2 years ago)

    Oh your holiday looked sublime Renee!! Ive been to NZ 8 times as my Dad (one of 8) was born in NZ. I had oodles of cousins and always have THE BEST FUN when we catch up. We went to South Island for our honeymoon. How didne is Queenstown and Arrowtown?? We even bumped into about 6 couples from our neighbouring town as they were going to a wedding at the same time. So we all went out for tea together 🙂 Must go beck and show our boys. You’ve reminded me it’s a must!! #teamIBOT

  10. Claire
    August 8, 2017 at 2:05 pm (2 years ago)

    Love doesn’t hearing about your trip! We’re doing something similar in a few weeks in September. Although now I’m regretting not going in June with all that beautiful snow falling!! Love making memories as a family.


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