A Family Reunion in Queenstown

It still amazes us how far the kids have come with travel.  We had a short, 5-hour red eye flight to Melbourne, Australia, followed by another 3-hour flight and everyone took it in stride.  After an uneventful couple of flights from Bali, we arrived in Queenstown to shockingly cooler weather! We were so happy to not be sweating through our clothes for the first time in six weeks!

We spent our flight talking about all the things we were excited about for New Zealand. At the top of the list was drinking fresh, clean water from the tap, clean bathrooms, and not sweating ALL the time! Funny enough, we found out that the city had recently discovered bacteria in the water and were under a boil water notice.  We couldn’t believe it! Another week of bottled water! But we still had cooler weather and of course, spending time with cousins to look forward to. 

Queenstown is a beautiful mountain town and claims the title of adventure capital of the world. Any activity you could possibly imagine, they had available, from the shotover jet boat to paragliding, parasailing and much, much more.  We initially thought about renting a caravan in New Zealand but since we are already together all the time, we thought being confined to such a small area for a month would be a bit much!  Ultimately, we rented a lovely townhome called the Twins and it had a breathtaking view of Lake Wakatipu and the mountain range.  We were especially excited for our time here because my brother, Eric (Instagram @theearthbyfoot) and his wife, Mariola, and their kids, Ethan and Luci were visiting with us for a week.  They too are on a gap year and had just finished a cruise from Australia around the islands of New Zealand. 

Our first night in Queenstown was Thanksgiving! I was still recovering from a GI issue that put me out of commission for several days. Thankfully, James and the kids made a feast of steak and potatoes and I was so, so grateful! We each took time to make a list of all the things we are thankful for and shared them over dinner. While we miss our family, we all expressed how grateful we are for these experiences together.

Thanksgiving Dinner in Queenstown, NZ

We spent our first few days in Queenstown enjoying all the hiking and biking that the mountains have to offer.  One of the first activities we tried was hiking the Queenstown hill, which included a panoramic view at the top and a pass by a fairy village. 

Our favorite part of traveling with our kids in Queenstown is being outside.  This is Manji, on our hike up the hill in Queenstown

Manji in front of the cairns and fairy houses on the Queenstown hill trail

We biked from Arrowtown to Queenstown, riding past the Remarkables.  Biking is one of our favorite things to do as a family. It’s a great way to get some exercise and see a new place. This ride was beautiful, with three nice climbs and multiple views of the Kawarau river. Manji even spotted a black swan while on the ride!

The ride from Arrowtown to Queenstown is the thing to do when traveling with kids in Queenstown and we loved enjoying the scenery along the way

Beautiful views on our bike ride from Arrowtown to Queenstown

We also went to a bar made entirely of ice at Below Zero Ice Bar.

Goose couldn't resist licking the ice at the ice bar

Goose enjoying the ice bar

Finally, my brother and his family arrived! We were so excited to catch up on all our travels and the kids couldn’t wait to play! We spent our time together, hiking near Arrowtown, riding the alpine luge in town, visiting Deerpark Heights to feed some animals, and biking from Arrowtown to Gibbston Valley.  The bike ride was epic and went past Kawarau Bungy Bridge and to the wine region of Gibbston.  We loved watching people gather the courage to jump!

The best part of our family reunion in Queenstown was all of the cousins playing together

“Which path should we take?”

The luge in Queenstown was pure joy for our kids.  Traveling with them and stopping for this was so much fun, especially since it was a one week family reunion in Queenstown

Ready for the luge!

At Deer Park Heights in Queenstown, this picture captures the sheer joy of our kids and their cousins during our family reunion in Queenstown

Having fun at Deerpark Heights

The night before we parted ways with my brother, the kids decorated the townhome with homemade Christmas decorations. They also put on a Christmas performance!  It was the “icing on the cake” of a week filled with family and so much love.  It was very hard to say goodbye knowing it may be a while before we see family again. But, we had an amazing week together!

The four of us adults enjoying some time together before my brother, Eric, and family left to continue their adventures

Goodbye for now!

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