We were blessed with 4 weeks of utter blissful, relaxing and fun-filled days. Now that we are home, we are all pining to go back. It's always nice to be back amongst your own things, but we could easily have stayed for another couple of weeks! The best part - Jaron and I had a bedroom downstairs away from the main living areas of the house and the kids were upstairs with my in-laws and sister-in-law...most mornings we would roll out of bed after 9am to find the kids fed, dressed, beds made and happily playing and we didn't even have to do a thing :) Simple things like that make for a perfect holiday for parents, right?!
So, the holiday started with leaving sunny, blue skies in Tasmania.
The kids were sooooo excited to get going and were amazing little travellers. There was a lot of waiting at the airport in Melbourne and then a 4 hour flight to NZ, but they did a great job and were still chirpy when we arrived at midnight!! We flew a combination of Jetstar and Air New Zealand and if we did it again, would definitley fly Air New Zealand (or Qantas) for the longer flights. We arrived to rain, rain and more rain - in fact, it rained pretty much our whole trip! But that didn't stop us from having lots of fun!!
There was no messing around when we first arrived, the next day we headed out to our very first Polkadots concert! These guys are great - if you haven't heard of them, I guess they could be likened to a Kiwi version of The Wiggles.
Our little sister, Ashleigh is a Polkadots girl - she is a pro dancer and started out back-up dancing for the Polkadots and now is there fill-in when one of the main girls have babies or other business to take care of. Three cool things about the Polkadots... 1. They are all young Mums so know exactly what kids want, 2. Their messages are all about keeping healthy, and 3. They are all members of our Church and have great values, in fact, you can watch a cool video about pink Polkadot Dionne here.
We were especially lucky that Aunty Ash is filling in for one of the Polkadots at the moment and could see her in full action - she was great and the kids are massive fans now!
We managed to squeeze in our traditional Christmas family activity, making gingerbread houses from biscuits - but this time we mixed it up a bit with lots of NZ-style biscuits and lollies...yum! Jaron was taken back to his childhood indulging on Griffins biscuits galore!
Jaron's parents live about a 10 minute drive from the city centre of Auckland, so this was the view from the highway each day - the city is sooo beautiful.
We did LOTS of driving on this trip - we tried to do an activity every day and also took a few overnight trips to other parts of the country. Of course, lots of driving means lots of taking photos of ourselves in the car ;)
One of our first day trips was to Kelly Tarltons Antarctic Encounter. This place was pretty cool - like an aquarium with focus on the antarctic. There were the most adorable penguins there and even a really fun ride that we took through their enclosure. Lots of interactive things for the kids to do and it was really well set out.
We took the ferry into the city this day and had a wander along the waterfront later on. Soooo beautiful. Auckland is such a clean and quiet city. Quiet enough for Tommy to have a nap during our walk...
And continue napping while we feasted upon some of the most delicious gelato I have ever tried - yum!
There were certain things that we had to do while away, things that Jaron loved doing as a kid growing up in NZ - and one of them was to go to Rainbow's End...this theme park has been around since 1982 and parts of it had real "vintage" character! The kids could go on most rides - some of them seriously didn't feel safe but we took them anyway! All three of our kids have really weak stomachs and were pale-faced and crying after the first ride. We had to continually bribe them with fairy floss and extra turns on the more tame rides to make sure they got the complete Rainbow's End experience!! There was a cute kiddies ride section that they were happy to go back to again and again...
This ride was my favourite by far - I pulled out the "Nan scream" and had to apologise to the man sitting next to me for the saliva I felt dribbling across my cheek...hmmm - maybe that is why he is leaning so far away from me!!