New Zealand: A Family Travel Dream Come True

Sometimes, I wish they would stop walking.


When I took this shot, I knew what it would say to me forever. I knew that what I was seeing in front of me was the eternal conundrum of parenthood, you want them to grow, you want them to walk forward day after day, but then again, maybe not!

You wish they could stay just like they are. I know Kim and I think that way all the time. This picture, printed at poster size and hung on the living room wall, has always reminded me that I better get while the gettin’s good!

Everything Boils Down to Pizza

Pizza! How can pizza lead me to talk about this picture? Well, we’re not talking just any ole pizza here, we’re talking fancy pizza, special pizza, magic pizza. You’ll find out more tomorrow on Tasty Tuesday.

But for today, I’ll just tell you that this particular pie reminds us of a trip to New Zealand and Australia we took in December 2004 (Dec. is summer Down Under). It was an amazing trip, an unforgettable string of days that we would recommend to everyone!

Red Tale Saleqantas

It started with a sale on tickets. Some people are a sucker for shoes on sale, some for furniture, some (like my dad) for the best clothes at 80% off. Kim and I, we’re suckers for an air fare sale.

What a sale! Qantas had a sale that had the total price of the tickets at hundreds lower per person than the best fares we’d seen. We haven’t seen them as low since. On an impulse, we booked ’em. Cool!

The dance went like this: We’re goin’ to Austrail-ya, we’re going to Austrail-ya…excitement filled the house. New Zealand was part of the itinerary too, but we had no idea how magical of a place it is.

New Zealand is Beyond Description

We flew into Auckland from LAX and arrived at about 6:30 am local time. We had not slept much in about 30 hours. But the excitement and the early hour gave us the energy to push ahead.

127 new-zealand-map copy

We rented an SUV and we were off. I was mentally competing against the Amazing Race contestants I had seen get so lost leaving this very airport. I did not get lost. We would so win that show.

Waitomo Glow Worm Caves

Our first stop was just completely out of this world! Really. The Waitomo Glow Worm Caves has to be one of the most amazing displays of God’s creation that we’ve ever witnessed.

Caverns alone are pretty neat. Awesome caverns (a technical term) are a step up. Awesome caverns with little actual glow-in-the-dark bio-luminescent little creatures all over the ceiling is just something else altogether.

glowworm hero

The whole area around the caves is a beautiful hilly area with farms, sheep, and all the uniqueness of a foreign culture.

The immediate surrounds of the cave facility is captivating in it’s natural beauty. The place is very nicely done and blends in with the landscape perfectly.

The tour through the caves is magnificent and the highlight is a boat ride, on an underground river with glow worms all over the ceiling. Check out the picture to the right!

Unreal! Sure enough, the light at the end of the tunnel appears and the boat emerges into a rain forest. Truly a highlight of all of our travels.

The Show Must Go On

We only had three nights in New Zealand and a whole list of things we wanted to see, so we moved on pretty fast. We left the caves and asked around for directions for a place to go on a hike in these amazing forests.

After a bit of confusion about the word “hike”, Kiwi’s call it a “bushwalk”, we were directed to a great hike nearby. After that we had an incredible meal of New Zealand Style Barbecue (this was lunch!). And we were off.

The Huka Jet

A few hours of travel through the countryside brought us to one of the things New Zealnd is famous for: Jet Boating. Wow! Take a look at the smiles on our faces:


That was in this: After doing this:


The Huka Jet ride is best explained by video at their website. You really want to see this.

What Could Top That?

Would you believe that the trip kept getting better? Kim and I often discuss which of the umpteen amazing experiences on this trip was the most thrilling. She often settle on the Huka Jet (unless we count Australia). For new Zealand I usually settle on the next place we went.

Rotorua, New Zealand

Adventure central! This medium sized city is surrounded by endless outlets for the adrenaline junkies of the world! New Zealand has some different rules about lawsuits and insurance, so they can get away with more than we can.

Like this for example:


That’s AJ and I in a tricked out dune buggy out letting it rip on a racetrack (and off)! We did this at Off Road New Zealand, just outside of Rotorua. Of course, there is another adrenaline pumping, airline ticket selling, video at the website.



Adjectives fail me. How do I describe being put inside a giant inflated plastic ball with a little core in the middle (that’s where they put you). This core is lubricated with hot water (free from the geothermal activity in the area) so you basically feel like you’re in a giant washing machine. And then they shove you down a mountain, okay a hill. A big hill.

This is what they call a Zorb:


And here is the hill you roll down in it:


We all laughed as hard as we could all the way down, and came out saying “Dad, can we go again?” Oh wait, I am the dad…I wish my dad had sent his credit card! Um, let me think, I could choose fiscal responsibility, OR, I could choose another trip (or two) down that hill for the most amazing experience EVER. “Oh yeah, we’re goin’ again!”

Another amazing video is available at the website: Zorb Rotorua


After all of that, Kim and I figured we could use a little break from the non-stop action. We thought the Agrodome would provide a little breather. While it wasn’t non-stop thrills, the place was amazing. Here is the website for Agrodome. They have a whole menu of things to do, we stuck with the tame Farm Show and it was awesome. The petting zoo was a big highlight:


Back to Auckland

We wrapped up our stay in New Zealand back in Auckland which could be a whole post in itself, but I’ll just put up a simple picture that warms my heart.


I doubt myself sometimes. I worry that I should have buried the money we spent on this trip in a coffee can in the backyard. Not only this trip, but all of the travel we’ve done. But then I look at the picture at the top of this post, and this picture here and I realize that the time with the family, the experiences we’ve shared, the places we’ve seen…they’re priceless.

Two final things I’d like to say:

1. For most of us who can’t afford a trip like this right now (and I’m right with you, it should be obvious that we know how to SPEND money!) there are very inexpensive ways to get memories like this. I’m going to write a post soon about camping with kids, either in an RV or in a tent (which we’ve done for a week in Colorado). That will be a little more down to earth.

2. For those of you who DID bury your money in a coffee can. My advice is to do the following…click on this link right hereQantas Airlines

They are having another sale…not a bad one either. $720 round trip fare.

To see some more photos, check out our Photobucket Album

15 thoughts on “New Zealand: A Family Travel Dream Come True”

  1. Hey! Congratulations, you won my giveaway! Send me an email with your mailing address and your preference of white or terra cotta tiles.

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  2. Hello! I just wanted to thank you for visiting my decorating blog and for leaving a comment, I love comments,lol! Your trip to New Zealand looks amazing. My husband works for a company based out of New Zealand and with a possible opportunity to travel there for business, I have been wondering if it would be worthwhile to tag along with my boys! After seeing your post, I definitely think we should all go! I hope you don’t mind if I link to your site on our family blog?

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  3. I love the pic. of your boys walking. What a sweet moment to capture! And what an amazing trip creating memories to last a lifetime. I can’t wait to read your post on camping, we are thinking of attempting our 1st family camping trip this spring, with a 1yr old, 3 yr old and 5 yr old, no less, one thing is for sure — there will be memories made (let’s just hope they are good ones)!

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  4. Hi Tim….thanks for sharing this wonderful vacation…it looked fabulous…almost 40 years ago when me and the husband were working for the airlines we recieved 2 free tickets on Quantas to fly anywhere they flew….for some reason we never used those tickets and after all those years i still have them….I’m sorry now after seeing your beautiful pictures that we never went….maybe I can figure a way to alter the

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  5. Tim,
    When I look at that photo, I see two boys of my own who are now the Dads looking at the back of their sons! WOW!
    This was a trip that I can vouch for was worth every nickel. The boys talk about it all the time!! Good Call Dad!

  6. What a cool story and the funniest thing is I’m a kiwi at home making pizzas tonight and thinking I fancy a chicken and cranberry but not quite sure what to put on it. So I google and up comes your pizza! Then I read the story about where you got the idea etc. and about your cool trip. Such a strange world!

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